BusinessDay

Hanifa Abubakar and matters arising

Only last week I spent my entire column discussing violence against women and girls in a column titled “Make 2022 your year of change”. I was concerned as most sane people are of the terrible violence meted out to women and girls in the country.

I had no idea that we were about to be plunged into an abyss of darkness and proprietor madness. In search of money, nationally, Nigerians have sold their souls. How did Tanko decide it would be Hanifa or any of his pupils for that matter? Given to care for as a proprietor, he took the life of his own pupil. From where do we begin to wail?

 And for those responsible for registering schools, we shall visit them and ask; what did they see in Tanko? How did he get a licence for a school?

I have looked at the picture of Hanifa over and over again. Such cuteness in one person. Her future smashed against the wall by a man whose looks are a great canyon of the divide between him and this child. Innocence personified. Then the questions begin to attack me as if I were in a dream. What did he say to her? How frightened she must have been in the hands of people who are not her family. Did she follow him in trust, after all, she sees him every day?

I am so numb it’s hard to wake up from the nightmare. It could have been anyone’s daughter, any one of us. After all, we trust our children to teachers, headteachers, and proprietors. It is heartbreaking. But the questions come amid tears. They would not be kept quiet. What did he use to cut off her blood-curdling screams? His shirt? A rag? Where did they sleep? Did anyone abuse her? What else have they done? What else has he been up to? And how is his wife involved? How many other kids have they kidnapped? Time to dig deep?

So how did he get her to ingest rat poison? I am at my wit’s end. Lovely name; Hanifa. Lovely face. Hanifa. Cutest ever. Hanifa. That face will remain with us forever. How did Tanko feel when he saw her dying? When he knew? When he buried her in that school? How did he think she would ever leave his head? He will have her in his head forever.

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See she can hurt no one but she would haunt Tanko forever. Sorry, Tanko. You should have thought about it when you thought about it. The consequences I mean. How much is 6 million? Here today. Gone tomorrow. We have all risen like post-George Floyd’s death in America We are woke! Wide awake post- Hanifa. Now we check Proprietors and teachers, the way we check domestics and drivers.

Now we check Education ministries in states and local government people. And for those responsible for registering schools, we shall visit them and ask; what did they see in Tanko? How did he get a licence for a school? Thug, Lecher, Fraud, Kidnappers, Murderer, add other names as you will. But we focus now on Hanifa’s parents. May they find peace. Amen. And Hanifa, may her soul rest, may God receive her soul. Amen. Our prayers. Justice for Hanifa. And we are all collectively working as a nation, as one voice. Justice will be served. Amen.

But this was also the week before the week that Ojonimi Osayi died. Coming from his Father in law’s burial. Kidnapped. Killed. And yet they collected a ransom. He worked for an oil company. They cut short his life. My father’s best friend’s son. A younger brother. Nigeria has lost her soul. Together we must do right. Find the soul of our nation. May Ojonimi rest. Amen. A difficult two weeks. Let us pray.

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