BBOG Leads Chibok Girls’ Parents March On Aso Villa | Independent Newspapers Limited
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BBOG Leads Chibok Girls’ Parents March On Aso Villa

Posted: Jan 15, 2016 at 10:49 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign leader Dr. Oby Ezekwesili yesterday led members of the group and parents of the abducted Chibok Secondary School girls on a protest to the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Over 200 girls were abducted in their school in Borno State on April 14, 2014.

The group was received by Minister of Women Affairs Hajia Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Defence  Brig. Gen. Dan Ali, National Security Adviser Babangana Monguno and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin, at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.

But the group decried the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to receive them at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari, at the time of the protest, was receiving the visiting Benin Republic President Boni Yayi in his office.

After addressing the group, Alhassan asked Ezekwesili to brief the gathering on their mission to the Presidential Villa, but she politely declined.

The ex-minister, who insisted on meeting with the President, explained that Buhari in July promised to rescue the girls and they were in the Villa to hear from him on what he had done so far.

According to her, members of the movement had nothing to say until they hear from the President.

After explanations from each member of the government’s delegation, the National Security Adviser announced that he would try to get the President to come and address the group.

Ezekwesili also decried  Alhassan’s remark that the group did not give enough notice before coming.

The former minister told Alhassan: “You have been unfair to the movement and Nigerians. When the minister, NSA, Chief of Defence Staff spoke, their tones connected with the parents.”

After about three hours of waiting, the President arrived  around 1:45 p.m. after ending his meeting with Yayi.

He held a closed meeting with the parents and others.

Reporters were asked to leave the venue of the meeting when Buhari entered the hall.

A copy of the speech presented by Ezekwesili to the President during the closed meeting showed that the President was told that the Federal Government could not claim victory over Boko Haram without rescuing the girls.

The document reads: “It is, therefore, with the deepest pain and disappointment that the parents, Chibok community and our movement are here again six months after our July 8 meeting to register our absolute dissatisfaction on the lack of progress.

“Our Chibok girls have neither been rescued nor have the measures the Federal Government pledged being instituted. Our disappointment was worse recently when Mr. President shocked the parents into a deeper throe of agony when you publicly gave the excuse ‘that there is no credible information about the girls’ ‘whereabouts’ as the reason our Chibok girls have not been rescued.”

She added that the President’s remark left the parents, the community, the movement and the rest of the world in shock, considering that the Federal  Government that had made the girls’ rescue a key indicator of success and defeat of Boko Haram, later declared victory on December 31.

“How can we declare that our nation has won the war when our 219 daughters and other abducted victims are still not back? The parents of our Chibok girls, whom you successfully persuaded at our July 8 meeting, had, following that meeting, told our movement that they had implicit trust in the words of Mr. President that “everything will be done to rescue our daughters…

“Mr. President, it is extremely sad that those same parents, who had placed their implicit confidence in your July 8 promise to rescue their daughters, are here today terribly traumatised, disconsolate and desperate for your reassurance and outline of convincing decisive action that would bring a positive closure to this historical tragedy.

“There is no better way to convey the depth of the devastation of these parents than the fact that we today have the largest ever contingent of them, who despite their meagre resources, have paid their way to Abuja to register their angst, disappointment and demand for rescue of their daughters by Mr. President and the military.”

Also speaking with reporters at the end of the meeting, Ezekwesili said: “Mr. President subsequently came to join this meeting and what the President said was that his statement during the media chat that they did not have credible intelligence was being truthful in the way that he knows how to be and that he was not prepared to tell any lies.

“That they do not have the kind of reliable intelligence that would enable them rescue the girls as immediately as we are demanding and that, therefore, we would continue to try to bear with him and that based on the fact that the government has recorded considerable success in decimating Boko Haram and its hold over the Northeast and that what remains is rescuing our Chibok girls and other affected citizens that are in abduction.

“And that, therefore, we will have to wait and that they would make the effort. He pleaded with the parents that his government would place as much efforts to rescuing the girls and that was the same message he had given to them before and that he was repeating the same message.

The President stated that he would also have expected us to acknowledge the efforts made, but that he wishes that we would agree that he was committed to the matter of our Chibok girls.

“He used the specific phrase that he sleeps and wakes up thinking about the rescue of our girls.”