Friday, 14 October 2016

CHIBOK GIRLS: Has GEJ Gone Into Hiding?

The release of 21 Chibok girls by the terrorist Boko Haram group on Thursday, October 13, was a rescue the world never thought could ever happen. The girls –nearly 300 – were abducted by the extremist sect Boko Haram on April 14, 2014, from a secondary school in Chibok, in Borno state, during the Goodluck Jonahan administration.
Some 50 of the girls managed to escape and about 218 of them are still missing. Previous efforts by the previous administration to free the girls was not successful, resulting in the most embarrassing episode in the history of Nigeria.

But hope for the missing girls was rekindled after Amina Nkeki, one of the school girls, was rescued in May 2016 by the Civilian Joint Task Force and Nigerian troops. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Amina Nkeki, one of the abducted Chibok girls was rescued in May 2016. Amina, who was found nursing her 4-month-old baby on the fringes of Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest stronghold, was taken to Abuja to meet with the President Muhammadu Buhari.

President Buhari who spoke while receiving the girl, her mother and brother at the presidential villa, said her recovery had opened a new window of hope to Nigeria and an opportunity towards vital information. The president reassured Nigerians of his government’s determination towards rescuing other girls still at large.

Buhari had told the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in September that Nigeria would welcome negotiators from the UN in talks that could lead to an exchange of Boko Haram fighters in government custody for the release of the abducted Chibok girls. It seems that move has paid off as the latest success in the release of some of the girls came after the intervention of the Red Cross and the Swiss government.

“The release of the girls, in a limited number is the outcome of negotiations between the administration and the Boko Haram brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government,” a statement issued by presidential spokesperson,” Garba Shehu, disclosed in a statement on Thursday. The Welcome home Since news on the release of the 21 Chibok girls broke, some organisations and prominent personalities have celebrated the release of the girls.

According to Amnesty International: “The release of 21 of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls by the armed group Boko Haram is a big relief. However, it is vital now that they receive adequate physical and psychosocial counseling and support so that they can fully reintegrate in their communities.”

Similarly, the Human Rights Watch said: “The good news of the girls’ return should serve as a beacon of hope not only for families of the 197 girls still missing, but also for hundreds of other women and children, including 300 Damasak school children, abducted by Boko Haram.”

Some prominent personalities who have reacted to the release of the girls include President Muhammadu Buhari,  Nigeria’s minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Obi Ezekwesili, a former minister of education and a leader of #BringBackOurGirls campaign, Nigeria’s Senate president, Bukola Saraki,  Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar among others. Jonathan’s deafening silence But one person who has kept mum following the release of the 21 Chibok girls is Goodluck Jonathan, under whose administration the girls were kidnapped. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Jonathan who has been vocal on many other issues has chosen to be silent on the release of the Chibok girls.

The deafening silence by Jonathan on the issue has come as a surprise because the former president in recent times has commented on both national and international issues via has twitter handle, @GEJonathan and his face book page Goodluck Jonathan. One also cannot help but take note of Jonathan’s adherent supporters who then trivialized the Chibok girls kidnap saga with an array of insensitive arguments that the kidnap was all a ploy hatched by the opposition to discredit the Jonathan administration.

One of those who championed this insensitive ideology was Patience Jonathan, the former first lady, who came on television insulting our sensibilities with grammatical bazooka’s and shedding crocodile tears screaming “Na only you waka come, principal, chai chai there is God o, while Boko Haram was busy ferrying the girls far beyond reach of their loving parents. R

Jonathan and his supporters politicised the kidnap of the Chibok girls even after Nigerians and the international community condemned the kidnap and called for urgent action by the government. April 15, 2014, would always be remembered as the day Jonathan missed the chance to write his name in gold, after failing to rescue of hapless girls who needed their commander in chief.

Jonathan’s response to the case of the kidnapped Chibok girls is a reflection of a president who spent his entire presidential tenure fighting imaginary enemies and in constant denial of reality while burning issues were left unattended to.

Now, the best he can do at this moment is to welcome home the girls his administration failed to protect. His silence over the issue is more suspicious than comforting.

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