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Assessing efforts to rescue Chibok girls


A News Analysis by Constance Athekame and Folasade Folarin, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Concerned citizens note that rescuing more than 200 girls abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno on April 14, 2014 has been the major concern of the Federal Government.

They note that although redeeming the abducted girls through various efforts has not yielded the desire result, security agents have not abated in their search for them.

On many occasions, the Nigeria’s military officials have also assured the public that there is hope of redeeming the missing girls and reconciling them with their respective family members.

Giving the assurance recently in Abuja, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.- Gen. Kenneth Minimah, said in spite of the challenges encountered in the search, the security personnel would use every methods in bringing back the girls.

“In all the liberated areas, we have made inquiries but the truth is that when the terrorists are fleeing, they run away with their families and other residents.

“But those we have come into contact with have not made any comment suggesting that the Chibok girls were taken away.

“We are optimistic that as the war gets closer, the territory is getting out of the authority of the terrorists and we will get further details on the whereabouts of the girls,’’ Minimah said.

In the same vein, President Goodluck Jonathan said his administration was determined to defeat the insurgents to enable residents of the area to return to normal life.

At the laying of foundation stone for the rebuilding of the Government Secondary School, Chibok recently, he said the Federal Government had made concerted efforts to ensure that the Chibok girls were rescued.

Jonathan sympathised with the community and assured the residents that the Federal Government would provide enough facilities for the school.

“We know what you are going through. I want to assure you that we are working day and night to make sure that life returns to normal both in your community and all others affected by terrorism.

“This administration promise to rebuild the Government Secondary School in Chibok which was destroyed by terrorists.

“We will not forget the Chibok girls and we are working hard to ensure that they return home. “As a father, I can feel the pain of the parents. What happened was tragic. But I want you to know that this administration cares. We will not abandon our children.

“We will support them and we will do everything we can to support their parents and the entire community,’’ Jonathan said.

Among those who have lent their voices to the search and return of the schoolgirls is Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl-child education campaigner who made a donation of 200,000 dollars (about N32 million) from the Malala Fund to child-girl education in Nigeria.

“I want to see my Nigerian sisters being released from their abduction and I want them to be free to go to school and continue their education.

“I ask Boko Haram to stop misusing the name of Islam; Islam is a religion of peace; Islam allows every girl and every boy to go to school and get education. Education is compulsory in Islam.

“I ask the Boko Haram members to think about their own sisters; if they suffer in the same brutal and harsh situation, how you would feel.

“If your sisters are homeless, if they are under the captivity of someone who is so violent and cruel, how would you feel?

“Those girls who are under your imprisonment are like your sisters; Islam preaches a message of brotherhood; we are all sisters and brothers.

“Release the daughters of this nation; let them be free; they have committed no crime,’’ she said during her visit to Nigeria in 2014.

Also, in an effort at redeeming the girls, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili and Mrs Hadiza Usman, the coordinators of #Bring Back Our Girls# group, have advocated for the release of the abducted girls.

Usman says the group will keep up the advocacy until the girls are returned, insisting that the ultimate goal is to ensure their redemption.

In the same vein, Ezekwesili called on President Jonathan and the President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to exchange ideas and collaborate on methods of rescuing the missing girls.

“We have reached a point whereby we don’t care who is leading us again. All we need is to bring back the Chibok girls because they have over stayed in the hands of their abductors,’’ she said.

By and large, concerned citizens insist that rescuing the Chibok girls will be a landmark in the fight against insurgency that will guarantee security and confidence in governance for strengthened democracy in Nigeria.(NAN)

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