#BBOGCountdownToMay29: Week 5: 17 – 23 May 2015
25 May 2015
Today is Day 406 since the abduction of our #ChibokGirls from their dormitory in Government Secondary School (GSS), Chibok on 14 April 2014. It is also Week 5 and the final instalment of our #BBOGCountdownToMay29; our weekly monitoring mechanism of the National Security Adviser’s (NSA) confident assurance on 14 April 2015, that our abducted Chibok schoolgirls would be rescued and returned home safely before the May 29 handover date to the incoming government, which is in 4 days’ time.
A. THE KEY ISSUE: Where REALLY are our #ChibokGirls?
It would be recalled that President Jonathan had on 4 May 2014 said that “whereas I do not know where our abducted girls are, but I promise to use my good offices to do everything I can to rescue them.” That promise is more than one year old and sadly only 4 days remain before the administration of President Jonathan ends on May 29th with still no information on where the girls are or any tangible indication of their rescue. It is a galling state of affairs that 219 young women who went to school were so tragically failed by their government and even now remain in the grips of terrorists. So as this administration concludes this week, their parents and all members of #BringBackOurGirls all over the world once again ask our government, “What really happened with the promise of rescue of our 219 girls?” “Where really are our girls; YOUR girls, Mr. President?”
In this past week, the military operations in Sambisa Forest once again had some successes to report; having sacked 10 terrorists camps, killed “scores” of terrorists and rescued 20 citizens. In all these commendable feats, curiously not a word on #ChibokGirls is offered the public.
For this reason, we condemn the insensitive silence of our Federal Government which has not deemed it appropriate to provide an update on the Sambisa Forest operations which the National Security Adviser to the President had promised would achieve the rescue our #ChibokGirls before May 29th 2015. Is the failure of accountability that prevailed in the execution of the counterinsurgency war not glaringly reflected in the fact that it was recently on April 14, 2015 that the last public promise to bring back our girls from Sambisa Forest was given? Over the course of our 391 days of consistent #BringBackOurGirls advocacy for the rescue of the abducted girls, we have been particularly astonished at the cynical approach to public accountability despite the huge resources deployed for the war. Our Movement wishes that the President and his NSA will in the next few days deeply reflect on and answer the following questions on the failed effort to rescue our 219 #ChibokGirls who have been unjustly treated as citizens of this nation:
– Where are the 219 precious children who trusted our country and answered the call to be educated under the watch of their local, state and above all Federal Government? How will History remember all who failed to act swiftly to dignify the lives of our citizens when it mattered most?
– What precisely does the Federal Government, military and security leadership that are responsible for executing their rescue operation in over one year know at this moment about the whereabouts of these innocent children considering the many contradictions they have fed the public regarding their whereabouts?
– What happened to military and human intelligence that our government has supposedly utilized huge security resources to procure? How come our government seems to be lacking even the most basic of intelligence on the whereabouts of our 219 girls? In this era of proliferation of technology, how did we colossally fail in the intelligence necessary to reveal any useful information on the captors and location of our girls?
– Why does our Federal Government continue to fail to understand that providing a #ChibokGirls-specific briefing before May29th is mandatory for leadership that respects democratic accountability to their citizens? We advise an immediate final briefing session to answer our persistent questions. “WHERE ARE OUR #CHIBOKGIRLS?”
Below are our other observations and concerns of this past week under review:
B. MATTERS ARISING
1. ECOWAS laments the continued stay of our Chibok girls in captivity:
These were the sentiments expressed by the ECOWAS chairman and president of Ghana during its 47th Ordinary Session in Accra, Ghana. We are convinced that ECOWAS as a sub-regional body has much more within its purview to do about rescuing these ECOWAS citizens who have been missing for 406 days, than the lamentation.
We in #BringBackOurGirls have found the remoteness of ECOWAS to the plight of these children who represent the future of our sub-region very unsatisfactory and grossly disappointing.
2. Worsening humanitarian conditions in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps/settlements and for returnees:
The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) says the humanitarian crisis in the northeast is the 3rd highest in the world. In a related outcry, the Borno State Emergency Management Agency says it is overwhelmed, as 5 to 6 births are recorded in each of the 21 IDP camps in the state on a daily basis. From our experience working with IDPs, we can confirm both pronouncements to be true, or possibly worse. Viewing of our video documentary “Surviving Terror” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sIPFqm2Ac_E would confirm this.
C. FINAL WORD
We once again demand the release of the report of the Presidential Fact-finding Committee on the Abduction of the Chibok Schoolgirls submitted over 9 months ago to the outgoing administration. We insist that such transparency is one of the least actions we expected of the government which early doubts about the abduction of the girls polarized our nation and delayed their rescue.
We wish to publicly announce to our incoming president that if by May 29, 2015 our girls are not rescued, our Movement shall immediately seek a public engagement within one week of the inauguration to receive an update on plans for the Federal Government plans for the rescue of our 219 #ChibokGirls. We reiterate the fundamental basis of our advocacy throughout the past over year that: it is the constitutional mandate and therefore the responsibility of our Federal Government to secure all citizens. We shall therefore unequivocally continue our demand for the rescue of our #ChibokGirls and all other abducted citizens of our country.
We demand urgent, sustained, focused and effective actions that are designed for success from the incoming administration.
We note that the incoming President has on several occasions, publicly declared the issue of insecurity especially in North-East Nigeria as one of his topmost priorities upon assumption of office. We also note that, he has rightly called the tragedy of the unjust captivity of our #ChibokGirls, an “embarrassment” and has promised to make their rescue a topmost priority. We dare say that it is more than an embarrassment and reaches the depth of abysmal failure of governance considering that the nation state and its institutions have been unable to locate and rescue the girls in over 406 days. The President-elect has equally, publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the way our military has prosecuted the counterinsurgency effort.
We welcome the signaling of such a serious disposition to applying the best endeavors in solving the terrorism scourge, rescuing the abducted, rebuilding our military, routing terrorists from our land and keeping our country and citizens safe and secure. We hope that the determination of our Movement to hold anyone who is the President of Nigeria, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, accountable for the duty they owe the country and citizens will be considered as part of our growing democratic accountability traditions by the incoming administration.
We charge our fellow citizens that if ever there was a time for citizens to be awakened, informed, active, engaged and vigilant in demanding for accountability and good governance, it is now. Now, is 16 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in our country and we must all work together to accelerate its consolidation. For us, as members of #BringBackOurGirls, discharging our citizens’ duties is a role for which we shall neither retreat, nor surrender. Our demand is simple and remains “#BringBackOurGirls Now and Alive!”
May 27th is Children’s Day in Nigeria. Painfully, this year’s celebration would be the 2nd Children’s Day without our #ChibokGirls. This year’s theme is “Violence Against Children”. In Abuja, we shall be hosting a special session to be anchored by our #ChibokGirls Ambassadors at our Unity Fountain meeting grounds. The well-regarded activist/musician Tar Ukoh “Mambisa” who has recently released a musical track for our #ChibokGirls shall launch it on that day and shall also be performing to demand for our 219 girls to be rescued at the morning event on the 27th May; as we celebrate all Nigerian children who must be guaranteed safety in schools.
Finally, we once again deeply appreciate the daily sacrifice made by gallant men and women of the military in the frontlines of battle and the collaborating Civilian JTF. We and all citizens of Nigeria will never cease to pray for you and remember your selfless service in securing the rest of us.
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls
Hadiza Bala Usman