The Oasis Reporters
May 21, 2019
First, she defied death and terror. After 5 years of toil and travail, escapee Chibok school girl, Palmatah Mutah finally graduates from US college on Friday May 17, 2019.
MS Mutah was one of the 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko terrorists in Nigeria in 2014, earned an associate degree from a community college in the United States of America.
Her graduation came 5 years, one month and three days after the ignoble mass abductions that sparked global outrage and ignited the #bringbackourgirls campaign.
Emma Ogebe, Nigerian born human rights lawyer has accordingly, written a letter to Congresswoman Wilson, who has often shown commitment and consistent
support to the Chibok girls seeking for a private bill to confer citizenship/residency on Chibok schoolgirl survivor of terror Palmatah Mutah which read ( in excerpt)
“23 year old Palmatah Mutah who escaped that fateful April night by jumping out of a Boko Haram truck became the first escaped Chibok girl in the world to obtain an associate degree from an institution abroad. This amazing feat of defying terror and attaining success in a new country is the reason why I am writing to you today to kindly introduce a bill to confer upon Ms. Palmatah Mutah American citizenship/residency.
Many Nigerians were shocked that most of the 57 Chibok students who escaped could not speak English although they were final year students. However Ms. Mutah proved to be an exceptional candidate and after just one year in a two-year programme in the US meant to enable them complete their high school education, she took a Community College entrance exam and passed. She was the only one out of 10 Chibok girls I sent to school in the US to make it to Community College within the first year of arrival.
In January 2016, Ms. Mutah along with two other non-Chibok victims of terror and persecution from northeast Nigeria who had also successfully passed the entrance exams began their academic sojourn in a Community College in the Washington metro area.
One of the three gifted schoolgirls who was orphaned by Boko Haram in Maiduguri graduated last year with an associate degree in Science while Ms. Mutah also obtained her associate degree in science.
In addition to her courage, character and intellect, Ms. Mutah was also active in her campus Christian fellowship group. She volunteered in her church and also participated in the church’s seasonal mass choir.
Ms. Mutah has also shown exceptionality in other sectors of life. She learnt to drive a vehicle and obtained her Driver’s license. She drove herself to school for over a year and also drove her classmates as well.
On the whole Ms. Mutah is a well-adjusted, fully-assimilated “All-American” young adult with grace, poise and balance.
She models the ideals of what young girls given opportunity can blossom to become.
Sadly 5 years, 1 month and 3 days later while she is advancing in life, 112 of her classmates remain in terrorist captivity in what is currently the world’s longest-running mass abduction.
The fact that under the Nigerian Government and Murtala Muhammed Foundation, her Chibok classmates with whom she came to US have also made no appreciable progress beyond high school level after 3 years and millions of dollars spent, indicates that not only terrorist captivity can delay academic progress.
Ms. Mutah, who had rejected all entreaties and threats from the Nigerian embassy’s agents to silence her advocacy for her missing classmates and drop out of the schools I secured for her, however came out tops.
Ms Mutah’s success was a derivative of personal integrity, principle and discipline coupled with mentorship, nurture, faith and love.
To underscore this point, Ms Mutah’s other classmates who did not succumb to the Nigerian Government’s hostile takeover in 2016, successfully graduated from High School in 2017 also making history as the first escaped Chibok girls to obtain their high school diplomas abroad. While they are now in university, their classmates who dropped out of school and followed the Nigerian Government are still struggling with high school equivalency certification (GED/SAT) 3 years later.
Ms. Mutah’s determination, courage and tenacity are not new.
In 2014, she refused to abandon her classmates in Sambisa forest when she jumped after her and injured her legs. “How will I face your parents and tell them I left you in the forest?”, she replied when he friend asked her to leave and save herself.
It was that friend who when given an opportunity to school abroad then recommended Ms Mutah to be considered for school in America as well.
Ms Mutah again displayed remarkable perspicacity and tenacity during her escape when she went in search of help for her friend and found a Herdsmen who didn’t want to help.
“If you don’t help us, no one will,” she insisted until he finally went back with her on his bike to rescue her injured friend and ultimately to another village after his wife tended to them.
It was that same consistent tenacity, integrity and character to say “no” to being taken away by Boko Haram terrorists, “no” to abandoning her friend in the forest and “no” to being denied help in Sambisa in 2014 that enabled Ms. Mutah to say “no” to being taken away by the Nigerian Embassy in 2016 and “no” to abandoning her studies/sponsors and “no” to failing school in America.
The graduation of Palmatah Mutah is a highpoint of 5 years of toil and travail. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.
She is an illustration of the millions of brilliant kids in the world undiscovered for opportunity but for tragedy and even then until personal vision and intervention.
The government of Nigeria got over $25 million because of the Chibok incident but didn’t send her to America. The US government didn’t spend one dime on her. Rather every couple of years, she has to pay the US government visa renewal fees and fly abroad at great cost to renew her student visa.
In addition to the costs, the risk of traveling back to Nigeria for her is high. This weekend as she was graduating in the US, Boko Haram terrorists attacked her county/LGA in Nigeria again.
Granting her US Citizenship/Residency will mitigate the high risk and cost of returning to Nigeria for visa renewals.
Ms. Mutah has been a worthy ambassador of girl child education, courage against terror and especially of her still missing 112 classmates.
Ironically some people said the schoolgirls were not ready or worthy of America but we took the risk all the same. She has proven that any child with the right attitude and the right ambience can reach high altitudes.
College education in America is very expensive especially for international students. We paid about triple the cost of tuition for a citizen.
The vast majority of her tuition came from outside the US because of the active sabotage of the Nigerian government and their cohorts. US Citizenship/Residency will also help her be eligible for lower in-state tuition, college loans and grants. Right now she is restricted in her ability to work in the US.
Ms. Mutah lost her dad while she was here in America for her studies.
Yet in spite of her loss, she worked hard to make a success of herself. Her dad must be smiling from heaven at his daughter’s achievements today.
At the graduation ceremony of her college which is the 14th largest in America, she was one of less than 100 students on international visas from 45 countries to graduate.
During the recognition of special classes of students, she stood up amongst those who speak more than 2 languages and those who were born outside America.
The commencement speaker said, “I stand here as one but I represent 10,000,” little realizing that one stood there representing even the world’s most famous hostage group.
Ms. Mutah represents the best of what makes America America – hard work, perseverance, courage, character and integrity.
Years ago on a visit to the congress she mentioned how reading American history and the famous quote,“Give me liberty or give me death” resonated so much with her. It captured how she felt when she took the leap out of a terrorist’s truck – preferring death over bondage.
We all now see what Ms. Mutah has done with her life in 4 years of freedom in America. We can only imagine what she will do with the rest of her life if granted the full freedoms and benefits of being an American citizen/resident.
Please Congresswoman, help give her beauty for ashes by sponsoring a bill for her citizenship/residency.
I thank you for your kind attention.