Large Turn out as Jonathan Finally Hosts Chibok Girls, Families, Leaders

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President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Tuesday in Abuja reassured the Chibok
community that his Administration is doing everything humanly possible to
rescue the over 200 girls abducted from a college there in April and return
them safely to their parents.

Speaking at a meeting in the Presidential Villa with parents of the
abducted girls, some of the girls who escaped from their abductors and
leaders of the community, President Jonathan appealed for their patience,
understanding and cooperation.

“Anyone who gives you the impression that we are aloof and that we are
not doing what we are supposed to do to get the girls out is not being

“Our commitment is not just to get the girls out, it is also to rout Boko
Haram completely from Nigeria. But we are very, very mindful of the safety
of the girls. We want to return them all alive to their parents. If they
are killed in any rescue effort, then we have achieved nothing,”
President Jonathan told the parents and community leaders at the meeting
which was also attended by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State,
Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and the Senate President, Senator
David Mark.

The President said that although he was yet to visit Chibok in the
aftermath of the abductions, his heart was constantly with its traumatized
parents and people, and his desire was to visit them when their daughters
have been freed and they can receive him with smiling faces of joy, rather
than with tears of anguish.

“Our duty now is to take all relevant steps to recover our girls alive
and our primary interest is getting them out as safely as possible. I will
not want to say much, but we are doing everything humanly possible to get
the girls out.

“This not the time for talking much. This is the time for action. We will
get to the time that we will tell stories. We will get to the time that we
will celebrate and I assure you that, by God’s grace, that time will
come soon,” President Jonathan told them.

Responding to appeals from the community leaders for more help in
overcoming some of the challenges imposed on Chibok and neighbouring
communities by the Boko Haram insurgency, the President said that the
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Federal Medical Agencies
will intensify their efforts to provide them with additional relief aid and

He also assured them that Chibok and other communities in the three
North-Eastern States most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency will be the
first beneficiaries of the Victims’ Support Fund, the Presidential
Initiative for the North-East, the Safe Schools Initiative and other
developmental programmes which the Federal Government is evolving to
address the damage, losses, setbacks, economic and social dislocations
occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.

“We solicit your maximum cooperation. Let us work together. Evil can
never overcome good. We will surely overcome Boko Haram,” he told them.
In his remarks at the meeting, Governor Shettima called for more sobriety,
reflection and unity of purpose in the fight against terrorism in the
He pledged that his state will give President Jonathan the fullest possible
support for his efforts to address the problems caused by terrorism and the
Boko Haram insurgency.
Dr. Pogu Bitrus presented the Chibok community’s address to the
Other speakers at the meeting included a district head, Mr. Zannamadu
Usman, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Aminu Foni
Chibok, parents of the abducted girls and three of the girls who escaped
from their captors, Godia Simon, Dorcas Musa and Joy Bishara.
National Security Chiefs, Ministers and other senior government officials
were also present at the meeting.
Jonathan was joined in the meeting by the President of the Senate, David
Mark; Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State; Governor Isa Yuguda of
Bauchi State; National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, ministers of
Information, Labaran Maku, Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Education, Ibrahim
Shakarau, Interior, Abba Moro, Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, among other
Federal Executive Council.

Journalists were asked to leave the venue at about 11.20am when the
meeting started and were not allowed to interview any of the persons at
1.56pm when the meeting ended.

The Chibok delegation were brought in four Abuja mass transit buses‎
and were guided by well-armed security operatives even when they had their
lunch at the end of the meeting and when they got back to the buses, all in
a bid to stop newsmen from interviewing them.

Answering questions on the refugees that have spill over to Bauchi State,
Yuguda disclosed the state was playing host to over 2 million refugees, saying this was putting a strain on its resources.

According to him, “It’s been a major challenge, you know Bauchi is
Surrounded by all the states having security challenges and many refugees
have been pouring into it. Presently we have over two million refugees in
Bauchi‎ but the good news is that we have been able to settle them down.
No refugee is any camp, we have given them land to settle and have provided
some shelters for them. We have tried our best to provide water and some
basic facilities so that they can start life over again. It’s not been
easy, our resources are over stretched, the little we have has to be shared
with the refugees”.

Asked if he was getting assistance from any quarter, Yuguda said, “We are
looking forward to some support. Only recently we received some items –
food, blankets from NEMA but we need a lot more. I’m sure these guys are
not going back to where they came from, they have settled and settled
permanently and I think the federal government should take on that and see
how they can be properly resettled”.

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Speaking on meeting with the Chibok delegation Shakarau said, “The meeting
was intended to be an interactive session for Mr. President to listen to
the parents, community leaders and most importantly to some of the girls
that escaped from Sambisa forest. The parents were happy to listen to the
President assuring them of the commitment, of the determination of
government to rescue the abducted girls and in particular assuring those of
them that are now back with their parents of the continuation of their
education and protection of lives and properties.

On whether 99 days was not too late to meet the President, he said, “is not
a question of how many days, not a question of how long, is a question of
what is being done. And as various government spokesmen have been saying,
this is a very serious matter of security. Some people call it a war and
when you are talking of war, strategies to win the war, is not all of those
strategies that would be on the streets. I think we should appreciate this
and rather than counting the days and how long, I think we should be
concern with how much effort is being made and we should jointly pray for
this struggle. Another important aspect is for us to emphasis the
de-politization of the issue, is a matter of concern for all. I’m
particularly more concern that we are talking about girls and this is my
area of concern. It happened in school, it happened to students so it is
our concern that everything should be done for those now home to continue
their education”.

The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, described the
meeting as ‎successful and a good development as the President heard
directly from the persons involved.

“It was a very successful event and a good development because Mr.
President had always been looking forward to this opportunity. Before now
he had met with various stakeholders on the matter but today he heard
directly from the persons involved.

“Statements were made by all the representatives of people. They spoke
their minds and conveyed their feelings to the President. The girls who
escaped also gave an account of what they went through. Mr. President
reassured them of the federal government’s determination and his own
personal determination to ensure that the girls that are still in captivity
are brought out alive. That is the main objective of the government. Mr.
President also used the opportunity to empathise with the parents and the
girls and to reassure them that everything will be done to make things
easier for them, especially those who have escaped and the ones that will
also be rescued, that their education will not in anyway suffer and he is
convinced that evil will never prevail over good.

“Mr. President further assured that after the battle has been won and the
girls are brought back home, he, together with the parents and the state
government will focus on development, on building Chibok, on building all
that the terrorists had destroyed and on ensuring that every child, either
in Chibok or in any other part of the country, has his/her dream realised”.

Abati said ‎the parents of the Chibok girls were happy at the end of the
meeting and everyone was in high spirit.

Asked the specific promises made to the girls, Abati said, “Mr. President
made it clear that their education won’t be truncated. The government is
making efforts to place these young girls in other schools and that they
should not be afraid about their future because everything will be done to
protect their right to education”.

On the allegations that those in the meeting were not the real parents of
the girls, Abati said, “The parents made it clear that they are
representatives of other parents. And you can see that we have over 200
people coming from Chibok.

“The girls spoke in great details about their experiences and their
observations. It was an open and frank session in which everybody expressed
their minds”.

Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Mike Omiri, the Coordinator of the
National Information Centre, “What came out strongly is the commitment of
the Government of the Borno state and the willingness of the community to
work and wait on the government to do what is right towards rescuing their

“Of course there is no other option, it is not an easy thing to go in and
out, having known where the girls are. It is not something you will release
them with definitive action because these girls are held by people whose
minds cannot be easily controlled in a manner that you will expect them to
be save.

“So, you need to be careful in the actions you take, even in the way we
speak to ensure that the operational methods are not in anyway

“So, the parents and all Nigerians have shown the indication to wait as the
process continues and they have so far, demonstrated that on the present
and knowledge that at least they know that the Government is trying its
best to get the children out”.

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