Tuesday 3 July 2018


On the 25th of June, 2018 the Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD) in collaboration with Partnership for African Social & Governance Research (PASGR), organised a one-day stakeholders' dialogue on the research findings from the study of new forms of social and political activism in Nigeria. The case study is the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement in Nigeria. We recall that the BBOG movement began in 2014 when about 200 schoolgirls were abducted in Chibok, Borno state.

The BBOG movement began sit-outs at the Unity Fountain in order to call attention to the plight of the missing school girls, while calling on the Federal Government at that time to do the needful and bring back the girls safe and sound. This was a herculean task because at the beginning, there was denial that there was any abduction at all. This delayed the search for the girls. For more on the progress as regards the rescue of the girls, see for example, dayokusa.blogspot.com.ng/2014/05/bringbackourgirls-bbog-boko-haram-bh.html

We note that Nigeria is a fragile and conflict-affected setting (FCAST). Similar research has been carried out in other countries viz; Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar and Pakistan. The PASGR team was led by Prof. Tade Aina, while the following researchers came from the University of Ibadan (UI): Dr. Martin Atela, Prof. Ayo Ojebode and Prof. Fatai Aremu. To be sure, in Nigeria, there has been some agitation before BBOG came on board:

*Fuel price increases in Nigeria - 2012 & 2016
*Situations in FCASTS are difficult to predict.
*Under what conditions will protests in an FCAST country produce results?

         Photo L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Ms. Dorothy Njemanze & Mrs.Yemisi George

4 themes were under review:

*Emergence & structure of BBOG
*Operational strategies & context
*Impact & challenges of BBOG

The process for the research included the following: the BBOG strategic team, sit outs, BBOG members beyond the 'inner caucus', Chibok community and rescued abducted girls, Social media tracking of BBOG, 12 sessions of observations in Abuja and Lagos, 12 KIIs in Chibok, 4 KIIs in Maiduguri.


*There is none/weak command structure/chain. The members are held together by vision, an objective and emotions.
*There are some strong individuals on BBOG, who 'make things happen'.
*Very heavy online presence e.g. April 2018 - 219, 694 followers on Facebook; 26,300 followers on Twitter and 231,000 likes.
*There is strong city presence of BBOG in Abuja in particular.
*Collaboration with Chibok parents?


*Approximately 100 protests since inception. Protest appears to be the main form of protest.
*Press releases.
*On line campaigns.
*Daily sit outs in Lagos and Abuja.
*Tactics used are mainly adversarial, no lobby group or shift of ground.
*Presence of the BBOG movement in schools - 'Adopt a girl' project.
*BBOG's advocacy goes beyond Chibok girls
*BBOG is self-funded through member donations, sacrificial/silent giving and cash/kind.


*BBOG has kept the abduction story in the public domain, locally and internationally. This gives BBOG its own momentum.
*Produced, in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the very first missing persons register in 2015.
*BBOG has been able to 'extract' response from government.
*Secured the release of over 100 girls.
*BBOG ensures global outcry. There are branches of BBOG internationally.


*Physical harassment.
*Inadequate finances.
*Internal disagreement about tactics.
*Accusations about being an opposition and/or Christian movement.


1) Are we seeing a movement that is getting a life of its own or a movement running out of steam?
2) Isn't there a limit to what protest alone can achieve in FCAST (fragile settings)? Should BBOG begin to think collaboratively? Could there be sympathisers to their cause in government and other un-explored areas?
3) Given the migration of some of the original voices from activism to politics, did BBOG inadvertently empowered some citizens to become politicians? Could such politicians have ridden on the BBOG platform to politics?
4) What does this teach us about the power of citizens? Could power to the people become power to the powerful?
5) Could the insistence on financial/funding purity create some kind of exclusionary atmosphere that might have prevented potential sponsors from stepping forward?
6) BBOG says government should be accountable - whose accountability?
7) BBOG has demonstrated that ordinary citizens can produce results.
8) Is fragility both a product and an obstacle to the effectiveness of new forms of social and political activism?
9) How and under what conditions does social activism contribute to empowerment and accountability FCASTs?
10) If it ever collaborates with the political class, it is done in an atmosphere of mistrust, extreme aggression, fear of hijack, disconnect, etc.
11) Do social and political action contribute to empowerment and accountability?

Going forward, it may be necessary to interrogate the following:

*Other strategies employed by BBOG.
*Why Parliamentarians in Nigeria have an adversarial relationship with BBOG while those in Western countries embrace BBOG and even campaign for them.
*BBOG as a training ground for budding activists.
*Definition, description and structure of BBOG.
*Constraints BBOG members face in their commitment to the movement.
*BBOG as a women-led movement operating at a high level of intensity.

It is obvious from the foregoing that the current research is only a tip of the iceberg as regards what we still need to find out about the BBOG Movement. Kudos to the University of Ibadan research team that presented these findings for public scrutiny.

Programme Twitter Handle: @A4EA_Research
CDD Handle:                       @CDDWestAfrica
Programme Hashtag:            #BBOGSummit

15th October, 2018

*How BBOG went from hashtag to social movement, while rejecting funding from donors - From poverty to power   https://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/how-bring-back-our-girls-went-from-hashtag-to-social-movement-while-rejecting-funding-from-donors/
*Three lessons on research dissemination in fragile settings: healing, learning and more   https://www.ids.ac.uk/opinions/three-lessons-on-research-dissemination-in-fragile-settings-healing-learning-and-more 

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