Buhari meets BBOG campaigners, vows to defeat Boko Haram
EXACTLY 450 days after the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from the Government Girls’ Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok in Borno State, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners met with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday extracting from the president a promise to crush Boko Haram insurgents and ensuring the girls’ release in the earliest possible time.
At a meeting with the BBOG group in the briefing room of the Presidential Villa Abuja, Buhari lamented the failure of the previous attempts at getting the girls, who were abducted on April 14, 2014.
Besides, he also denounced the incoherent response both from the angle of government and heads of security agencies, describing the situation as unfortunate.
The Co-Conveners of the BBOG, former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili and Chief of Staff to Kaduna State Governor Hadiza Bala Usman, who is daughter of the late radical History lecturer of the Ahmadu Bello University ABU, in their presentations to the President blamed the previous administration of lack of sincerity of purpose in dealing with the matter when it occurred.
Besides, they alleged that the administration never believed the students were abducted until weeks later when the so called of the group, Abubakar Shekau started posing the pictures of the abducted girls on the social media, before the administration was spurred into action.
Buhari said the conflicting reports that emerged from the government and the security chiefs in the days shortly after the over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, Borno State, portrayed the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in bad light locally and internationally. He vowed that the government would do everything to ensure that Nigeria regained her glory.
“It’s unfortunate that the security and Federal Government’s conflicting reports initially presented the government and it’s agencies in a very bad light both nationally and internationally because the law enforcement agencies and the government were contradicting each other sometimes within hours or within weeks, that was not very impressive.
“The delayed and late reaction by former government and its agencies was very unfortunate as I said. And I thank the leader of Chibok Community for the articulated priorities he has drawn about welfare of the families, of the communities and rehabilitation of infrastructure.
I think government should provide these infrastructure as a matter of right.”
The President commended the campaigners for their doggedness, persistence and consistency in the way they have gone about their activities since coming into existence since April last year. Buhari said, “Nobody in Nigeria or outside could have missed your consistency and persistence, demonstration of the injustice meted on you, the parents, the community and Nigeria.
“In representing the government of Nigeria, we cannot rationalize the government incompetence in dealing with this issue. We only ask for your patience. I think you will agree that the present government has taken the issue very seriously. Within a week of being sworn in, I visited Niger, Chad and would have visited Cameroon but for the invitation of the G7 to go to Germany and listen to them.
He confirmed that after Ramadan fast, he would visit Cameroon to see the President there and then Benin Republic. “But the efforts we have been making, some of which we will not disclose publicly because it will not be consistent will security but I assure you that under the Lake Chad Basin Commission, we are taking steps to ensure that we address the matter once and for all.”
According to him, “Strategy and tactics have been drawn, multinational taskforce has been put in place more or else with headquarters in N’Djamena with a Nigerian General as Commander. And then the troops delegated by each of the countries are to be put in place by the end of the month. And Nigeria, I assure you will do its best because we as I said are the battle ground and we are being helped by our neighbors.”
The President said it was paradoxical that the Nigerian military that had achieved a lot from Burma to Zaire to Liberia to Sierra Leone to Sudan had now become the butt of ridicule in international community. He said it was unfortunate that Nigeria has now have to be helped by Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, noting, “How are the mighty falling
“But we will do our best to restore the respectability of our country and its institutions. And with you, your steadfastness and your seriousness, we will do what we can do, we will accommodate all your observations including the negative ones about the performance of the government and it’s agencies.”
Presenting the demands of the group to the President, Ezekwesili among others urged the Federal Government to spare no resources in urgently rescuing the Chibok girls as promised by the President and the National Security Adviser to the President at various times.
Secondly, Ezekwesili demanded an apology for the failure of governance that led to the abduction, an apology for the failure of governance that caused failure to rescue our girls for over 400 days. She also urged the government to immediately set up a structured feedback and communication system that is composed of the Federal and Borno State Governments through designated security and ministerial authorities, the parents of the abducted girls.
Also speaking on behalf of the Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA) resident in Abuja, Mr. Dada Illiya, their spokesman demanded on behalf of the entire Chibok community requested the President to Chibok within the first 100 days of this administration to have a first hand view of the plight of our people, while we look forward to the safe return of our daughters very soon.
Other demands placed before the President included the rescue of the Chibok girls, which is the most important priority of Chibok people. He said, “We are happy with the commitment of the President to rescue the Chibok girls as mentioned in the inaugural speech delivered on May 29 and we ask Mr. President to fulfill this promise by treating the safe return of the girls as a top priority.
“Secondly, we consider this to be of critical importance to our people. The parents of the abducted girls and the escaped girls have no doubt gone tough a lot of pain and trauma since the April 14 abduction of the girls. Some have died or have been killed by the insurgents in the subsequent and serial raids on the Chibok community.”
Speaking on the general welfare of the community, he said, “Besides the parents and the escaped girls the entire Chibok community is heavily traumatized and/or displaced since April 14 abduction and subsequent serial attacks. We therefore, seek your assistance in urgently providing relief materials to our people who are displaced, scattered and suffering all over.
On security, he said, “We make bold to say that most, if not all the challenges facing the Chibok, people today are symptomatic of the general insecurity in our homeland. Given your well-known pedigree and reputation, we have no doubt in our minds that the challenges of homeland security in Chibok, nay Nigeria will soon be a thing of the past. We appreciate the movement of the military high command to Maiduguri.”