A year ago, one of Africa’s most obscene tragedies occurred: the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok, in the northeastern region of Nigeria.

Some of the Chibok girls escaped their captors, leaving the number taken at roughly 219.

The raid of the girls’ hostels happened at night as Boko Haram threatened to kill the girls if they refused to enter the extremist group members’ trucks.

Why exactly would the unscrupulous organization Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is forbidden,” even be able to seize an unthinkable number of girls from school in a country regularly referred to as an African giant?

The first reason is that Boko Haram had been virtually unmonitored in the northern region of Nigeria for over half a decade.

The country’s government, run by President Goodluck Jonathan, had been too busy with corruption scandals and pilfering the country’s robust oil reserves to care what happened up north (the wealth is in the south) and to whom.

Thanks to his administration’s reckless abandonment of the entire northern region for over five years, many young girls — and boys and women — have been abducted, some forced to pledge allegiance to Boko Haram, and many raped, according to Africa Check. Some children were even used as cannon fodder, according to Amnesty International.

The second reason is that the Nigerian military, though sizable, is poorly trained.

Reports have shown that some Nigerian military officers purchase their own uniforms, sometimes their own weapons, and commit gross human rights abuses themselves.

Neither of these two grievances makes sense for Nigeria, whose economy is the fastest-growing on the continent and whose wealth is remarkable.

“The whole world is asking why the Nigerian army, which is a big army … is not in a position to stand up to untrained kids armed with Kalashnikovs,” President Idriss Deby of neighboring Chad told French magazine Le Point in an interview in late March.

It makes no sense.

Nigeria has a $6 billion military budget. At the very worst, the military budget could have been quietly increased to stamp out the weeds of Boko Haram before it began its reign of terror and summoned the gall to seize whole towns and people—yet the president could not achieve that incredibly low standard.

Nigeria’s incredible oil wealth, which could be easily allocated toward the safety and welfare of its citizens, not to mention the military—the single most important faction of any serious nation-state—is apportioned generously among those in the highest offices of the land.

Army generals, who are key in protecting the nation-state’s borders, ensuring weaponry and safety, pocket a sizable amount of the country’s military budget — leaving the country vulnerable.

The culture of Army and government bribery had long been understood and accepted by the populace and elected officials—but now 219 schoolgirls have exposed the dangerous and bewildering consequences of an untethered government.

The loss of the Chibok girls has shown that the powerful care nothing about the powerless in Nigeria until an international tragedy embarrasses them.

We saw, for example, how, in a last-ditch effort to ensure his re-election, the same president Goodluck Jonathan who ignored the northern region of Nigeria for all six years of Boko Haram’s emergence managed to shift the country’s election from February to March this year in the hope that doing so would allow him to use military aid from less “giant” countries like Niger and Chad to regain some of the territories captured by the extremist group.

The president also used foreign military contractors from South Africa and other regions in his final-hour push against Boko Haram in February.

He knew that he needed to quickly care about recovering the missing girls if he were to retain his power in a country whose conscience had been delivered a massive blow by the loss of the girls.

Unfortunately for him, suddenly rushing to find the girls who had been missing from Chibok for almost a year did nothing to secure his re-election and instead ushered in a new president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari — a former military general who will take office May 29.

The Chibok girls may have literally paid with their lives to show Africa just how deeply the issues of corruption and poor governance can displace a million citizens in a major country, thrusting it into the realm of more anarchic, refugee-laden countries.

It is unclear whether the retired Gen. Buhari, who once briefly ruled Nigeria under a strict dictatorship, will #BringBackOurGirls, as the global hashtag says, but he said Tuesday that in an effort to keep his new administration honest, he “cannot promise” to find the girls.

The “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign organizers, whose tenacity in bringing this unforgivable loss in Nigeria to the world’s attention, insist that we hold both outgoing President Jonathan and incoming President Buhari to the task of finding the girls.

They have changed their slogan on this one-year anniversary from “Bring Back Our Girls — Now and Alive” to “Never to Be Forgotten.”

Sadly, even if the girls were to be found, even if Boko Haram comes to an end once and for all, the psychological damage to the innocents and to the northern region of Nigeria is insurmountable.

A selfish old government and a cautious new one have the weight of this tragedy on their hands.

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