Featured Storyteller

NIGERIA: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Holds the Key to Peace

Aramide Oikelome
Posted January 3, 2019 from Nigeria

After witnessing the violent rise of Boko Haram, Aramide Oikelome identifies a key solution to creating security in Nigeria.

“Women are the answer to numerous questions on the minds of our policy makers.

In the last decade, Nigeria has witnessed an unimaginable upsurge in killings due to insurgency and instability. Northern Nigeria has been especially affected by violence as the Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram unleashed terror on all, including infants, children, and women. Like ravenous wolves, Boko Haram militants raided villages and devastated hapless citizens.

When I think about peace and security for my country, I cannot help but think about the pivotal role of our women in the home and in society. When I think about the wars, the bloodletting, the unrest, destruction, and wanton waste of lives and properties, I cannot help but ask—where are the women?

Women are the central actors in the human family and they hold the key to societal peace and stability. I agree with the popular saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

One event in particular has made this clear to me. On 14 April, 2014, 276 girls were abducted in Chibok and whisked away from their school by Boko Haram. At the time, it felt as though the entire nation was held hostage by this terrorist group.

At first, the news of the girls’ abduction was greeted with disbelief. Even the government at the time, headed by President Goodluck Jonathan, dismissed the incident as a carefully crafted rumor targeted at discrediting his government. When later it became clear that the girls were indeed captured by terrorists, Nigerians went livid with anger. It seemed that the government was completely clueless as to how to secure their freedom.

Men, women, youths, mothers, civil society organizations, students, clerics and people from all parts of society stormed the streets in heart-wrenching protests, demanding that government swing into action to rescue the girls.

With time, the international community threw their weight behind our agitation, calling on the Nigerian government and all stakeholders to take responsibility for the tragedy and do its best to rescue the girls.

Gradually, days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Now, it’s been four full years of indescribable pain, frustration, nightmares, agony, hopelessness, and endless waiting.  

Although some of the girls were released through the intervention of the present administration, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, many are still held in captivity. We learned from the accounts of girls who were released that they were compelled to renounce their faith, raped, and subjected to all kinds of inhumane treatment. The Chibok girls have not only been physically raped but also emotionally raped and disrobed.

In 2017, there was another case of abduction of innocent schoolgirls from Dapchi. All of these girls were released except for one, Leah Sharibu, who has remained in captivity for her refusal to renounce her faith and convert to Islam.

Out of the many questions on the minds of Nigerians, one thing has remained incomprehensible: Why would anyone choose to kidnap innocent girls seeking formal education and the prospect of a brighter future? Why would any sane person parade such girls as bargaining tools in a fight against the government and in the name of religion?

Who actually raised these men and women who have turned into beasts? Where are the mothers that tendered and nurtured them? How and why did they become a societal menace? Where is their sense of remorse or sympathy for fellow humans, and especially for vulnerable groups like women and children?

I refer to the field of psychology for answers. A child that grows up in an atmosphere of hostility and rejection is more likely to be resentful, hurtful, and harmful. Conflict in the home is also believed to trigger psychological and behavioral problems in children, which if not well managed, can lead to negative outcomes when those children become adults.

Research also shows that trauma in the home can compromise the social and emotional well-being of children by threatening their sense of security in the family, which can stir problems during adolescence, including depression and anxiety.

I believe these are some of the reasons our youth today are increasingly demonstrating a strong sense of restiveness, dissatisfaction, and disaffection toward authority, not only in the nuclear family but also in the nation at large.

Added to this is the harsh economic condition, which has subjected many youth to untold hardship. Many youth have had to abort their dreams and aspirations.

Where do we go from here? How do we ensure a stable, safe and secure society?

I believe that the future of security is women. I believe that women mold lives, and thus hold the key to shaping the mindset and character of children. I believe we are the real changemakers, the answer to numerous questions on the minds of our policy makers.

Security for me means love in the family, in the community, in the workplace, at religious centers, the marketplace, and in the sports centers.

I believe when women are given the necessary support, trust, and encouragement, a well of love is unleashed to nourish one and all. The warmth spreads around and everyone gets to savor the blessing. The aroma of peace and serenity spreads to all in society.

So let’s start from the home. As daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, friends, mothers-in-law, let's demonstrate genuine love. I am calling for a love devoid of suspicion, envy, jealousy, selfishness, bitterness, and hatred.

Who says women are second-class citizens? Who says women have nothing to contribute to peace and security? Indeed, the future of our national peace and security lies with women.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the Future of Security Is Women digital event and is sponsored by our partner Our Secure Future. World Pulse runs Story Awards year round—share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

Comments 24

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Maya Iwata
Jan 03
Jan 03

Thank you for writing this piece, women indeed at the key to the future of security. As someone whose both parents have been through war, I know it has been the women in my family who have sought solutions and made things happen to take care of their children and families. Although there are many fine people of all genders, due to sexism in the world women are often not able to share their solutions and love starts at home and extends outward like a ripple. A well of love (and justice) is the center of real peace and security. Thank you for sharing your story.

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Dear Maya!

Thanks for shedding more light on the role of women in nation building. It is indeed amazing to know that women hold so much power to change the narratives; although sometimes do not know it or admit. The more reason why we must continue to encourage and support one another to maximize our potentials.

In Sisterhood,
Aramide

Lisbeth
Jan 03
Jan 03

Congrats on your award winning :-)

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Thank you Salifu!

Blessings!
Aramide

Thank you dear for such a wonderful piece,
In fact I have been so disturbed about what happened to the chibok girls and up till date when I am conducting trainings on conflict I will always go back to the situation to remind participants of that evil act on innocent girls, advocating for an end to such acts and will raise my voice high to say "No To Kidnapping of girls." We women must put an end to the pain experience by women and girls. Women bring forth life to the world, women are a source of happiness yet they still experience the greatest pain during conflicts and insurgency of armed groups like Boko Haram. Indeed the solution lies in the hands of women. Thank you

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Dear Fosah!

Thanks for adding your voice and passion to the advocacy for the protection of the girl-child.
We must not relent. We must raise our voice so high and stand up for the rights of our daughters. Together we can do much more!

In Partnership,
Aramide

Jill Langhus
Jan 04
Jan 04

Hi Aramide,

How are you? Congrats on winning the story award:-) Good job!

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Thanks for the encouragement and support Jill

Hugs!
Aramide

Jill Langhus
Jan 22
Jan 22

You're very welcome, dear:-)

Thanks:-) XX

Olutosin
Jan 05
Jan 05

You are very correct ma. I agree with you. Women own the key to lasting peace all over the world.

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

My Darling Sister,
Thanks for the encouragement and support. Women are the real powerhouse. We must keep up the good fight and continue to support one another to be the best.

Keep Soaring!
Aramide

Mahnaz Harrison
Jan 11
Jan 11

you are amazing and what an excellent pathway. thank you and keep up the good work.

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

I appreciate your encouragment Mahnaz.

Thank you
Aramide

ARREY- ECHI
Jan 14
Jan 14

Congratulations for this award.
You are right, when women come together,
they achieve much including peace.

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Yes Arrey,

We are stronger together,

Thank you
Aramide

Urmila Chanam
Jan 14
Jan 14

Dear Aramide,

Thank you for positioning women around the world as the solution to the current scenario of lack of peace and humanity not just in Nigeria but all over the world. Your article has touched a deep chord in my heart and I want to be able to read it again and again and reflect on many thoughts you have shared. I too started to mull over what you highlighted- "Where are the women?" I am praying for Nigeria.

Love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam,
India,
urmila.chanam@gmail.com

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Urmila my Shero,

You are simply amazing! I can feel your heartbeat here! I celebrate you now as always!
Thanks for praying for Nigeria. We need so much of it. May every woman receive strength and courage to be her best and wield such influence that will bring true peace and security to our world.

Sending Hugs and Blessings,
Aramide

Urmila Chanam
Jan 22
Jan 22

Sending you love from Bengaluru, India!

otahelp
Jan 15
Jan 15

Wonderful story. you really got it well. it is simple to follow and captivating. thank you Aramide

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Thank you Otahelp, I'm encouraged.

Aramide

This post is so apt, truly women hold solution to security challenges not only in Nigeria but throughout the world

Aramide Oikelome
Jan 21
Jan 21

Thank you Adeola! Welcome to Worldpulse. Its the world of changemakers! Sure you will be inspired to do more for humanity as you read of the incredible works women are doing around the world.

Blessings
Aramide

Anne Dupont
Jan 22
Jan 22

Aramide—thank you for this deeply thought provoking article. I, too, believe that women are the key to our future and we need to do everything we can to encourage them to find their voices, lift them up and take action. With that, we can move mountains. Thank you for your voice!
With gratitude,
Anne

Hello, Sister Aramide,

Congratulations for this well-deserved award!