98 days after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok
, Borno State, by Boko Haram
terrorists, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, met with parents of the girls. At the closed-door meeting were 53 of the girls, who had earlier escaped from their abductors as well as representatives of Chibok community and other stakeholders.
The meeting which started at about 11 o’clock ended at about 2:15 pm. Also at the meeting were Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State; Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and the Senate President, David Mark.JonaChibok
An earlier attempt to hold the meeting did not materialize as representatives of the community declined to meet the President after meeting Pakistani girl-child education activist, Malala Yousafzai
Speaking on the outcome of the Abuja meeting, Dr. Reuben Abati (Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity), said President Jonathan reassured the Chibok community that his Administration was doing everything humanly possible to rescue the girls and return them safely to their parents and appealed for their patience, understanding and cooperation.
Quoting the President, Abati said:
“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 truthful. 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.”
The President said that although he was yet to visit Chibok in the aftermath of the abductions, his heart was constantly with the 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 is 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 and assistance.
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 country. 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.
Other speakers at the meeting included a district head, Mr. Zannamadu Usman; a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, 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.
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