DAY 7, #DAY1000 GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION OF CHIBOK GIRLS ABDUCTION
DAY 7: THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF OUR 83 CHIBOK GIRLS AS COMMITTED TO BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
JANUARY 14, 2017
Today marks day Seven, the final day of our Global Week of Action for #Day1000 of the Chibok Girls’ abduction and the 1006th day of the Girls’ abduction. For the past seven days, our Movement has embarked on 24-hour daily marches with each day attached to a theme associated to a specific aspect of the Boko Haram insurgency and – by proxy – to our Chibok Girls.
A RECAP OF OUR #DAY1000 GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION
On Day One (#Day1000): We told the President that 1000 days is far too long for our Chibok girls to be in the hands of terrorists. The Federal Government needs to get them out now.
On Day Two (#Day1001): We told the President that the humanitarian situation in the Northeast has degenerated into an embarrassingly abysmal level. It is unacceptable that more than two million internally displaced persons have been made vulnerable, not only Boko Haram, but by the government agencies mandated to care for their welfare. This needs to change NOW.
On Day Three (#Day1002): We told the President that our troops are the key to finding our Chibok girls and all other abductees, and must be properly catered for, along with families left behind once one of our heroes is killed on the battle front.
On Day Four (#Day1003): We told the President to eradicate corruption and the impunity with which public funds are siphoned off into private bank accounts by putting the appropriate checks and balances for accountability and transparency to be put in place, and for perpetrators to be named, tried, and punished.
On Day Five (#Day1004): We told the President to begin to prioritize rebuilding our dilapidated educational system and ensuring that they are safe for both boys and especially girls to go to. Girls must be allowed to be girls and be given the full support to prepare to become fully-contributing members of society.
On Day Six (#Day1005): We told the President that the killings and bloodshed across Nigeria must stop. The Federal Government can no longer afford to prioritize regions with oil over the rest of the country. No Nigerian is more Nigerian than any Nigerian!
The Federal Government’s Response to #Day1000 of Chibok Girls Abductions
TODAY is Day Seven (#Day1006) of our Global Week of Action but our Movement, the nation, and the world are still asking: WHERE ARE OUR 83 CHIBOK GIRLS?
Our movement found it interesting to learn that during our Global Week of Action, President Muhammadu Buhari, on January 10, 2017, in a written reply to the young girls education Advocate and Nobel prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, reiterated that his government would not proclaim victory over the extremist group, Boko Haram, until all the kidnapped Chibok school girls are rescued. His ability to reply Malala Yousafzai letter concerning the 1000th Day of the Chibok girls abductions might possibly mean that he will also reply the letter by the then 8 year-old, Hauwa Abubakar Yusuf during her visit to the State House on July 8, 2015. This nod to little girls and young women who defy all types of odds to pursue an education is definitely a step in the right direction in letting them know that their lives and education matter.
Perhaps, most importantly, our Movement also believes that this repositioning can begin to provide the critical political direction and energy required in bringing back first, the batch of our 83 girls whose imminent release was announced in October, and then the remaining 112 girls. Their release and return will signal to Nigeria and to the world that while our leaders have long prioritized and mismanaged the nation’s oil resources, that it will not squander and mismanage its most valuable resource – its citizens.
All of this brings us back to our main question: Where are our 83 Chibok girls?
On October 17, 2016 Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu was quoted in a Vanguard article as saying:
“These 21 released girls are supposed to be tale bearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls. The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them,” He added that the state is prepared to negotiate with the branch of Boko Haram.
In an October 14, 2016 interview with the NTA, Senior Special Advisor to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said:
“You can be sure that there will be many more releases. How many batches, I do not know but there will be many more releases. As many of the girls that are alive will definitely return to their parents”
Should we take the silence around the return of our 83 girls to mean that the negotiations with the said Boko Haram leadership have broken down; or should we still be expectant? How soon is soon?
On October 13, 2016, The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, said:
“We see this as a credible first step in the eventual release of all the
Chibok girls in captivity. It is also a major step in confidence-building
between us as a Government and the Boko Haram leadership on the
issue of the Chibok Girls”.
The Minister went further to say:
“This is the beginning and we are very optimistic that VERY SOON, another batch, bigger than this will be released.”
Should we take it as contradictory that the recent claims of victory over Boko Haram are not backed up with Federal Government’s continued search for our Chibok Girls in Sambisa Forest? If that region is no longer in the hands of Boko Haram, WHERE ARE OUR GIRLS???
WHERE ARE OUR 83 CHIBOK GIRLS?
While receiving the released 21 Chibok Girls on October 19, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said:
“…we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfil our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home.”
How long are citizens supposed to wait between hearing from the Government in October 2016 that 83 of our girls are coming back soon, to hearing in January 2017 that the Government is “hopeful” that the girls would come back “someday”?
MR. PRESIDENT: WHERE ARE OUR 83 CHIBOK GIRLS?
WHERE ARE THE REMAINING 112 CHIBOK GIRLS???
It’s a depressing irony that the final day of our Global Week of Action happens to coincide with the one-year mark of our movement’s visit with the President at the State House on January 14, 2016. At that meeting, the President promised to address the following three points raised by our movement, none of which has been addressed to date.
1. The NSA’s commitment to leading the institutionalising of a structured feedback mechanism that would keep the parents, community, and our movement updated on progress being made with the Federal Government rescue operation.
NOTE: It may be recalled that this was one of our specific demands during the 8th July 2015 engagement with Mr President.
2. A proposal related to the rescue of our Chibok girls already approved by Mr President, to be unveiled shortly.
We were subsequently informed that a new investigation would be launched by the Federal Government into the abduction of our Chibok girls.
NOTE: It would be recalled that our movement made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to access the reports of the Presidential Fact-finding Committees on Crisis in the Northeast, and the Abduction of the Chibok Girls.
Also, a parent requested for same at the January 14, 2016 re-engagement with the President.
3. The NSA pledged to work more closely with the parents, community, and our movement to encourage the critical security-civic collaboration and information sharing that could help the intelligence-gathering effort of the Federal Government.
To date, none of the points on feedback platforms has been addressed.
In conclusion, we believe that trust and confidence building are critical hallmark of good governance. If there is anything that has been the source of disagreement between our movement and successive governments since our Chibok girls were abducted, it is the matter of the erosion of social capital. It is also the matter of government’s disdain for the full tenets of social contract between government and the citizens. All functional democracies are founded on the overarching power of citizens to demand accountability from their government and for their government to be responsive to that demand. When government makes a statement, we expect to trust this statement. Citizens should be trusted to hold government to account. Silence, indifference, and arrogance, are not values associated with good governance.
Again, the fact that today is one year since we last met with President Muhammadu Buhari, and not one of the promises on the platforms for quarterly feedback on the rescue operation of our Chibok girls has been set up, is indicative of a poor sense of accountability to citizens. It has no place in a democracy.
MR. PRESIDENT, NO MORE EXCUSES – BRING BACK THE 83 PROMISED!
MR. PRESIDENT, NO MORE DELAY – BRING BACK ALL OF OUR GIRLS!
MR. PRESIDENT, ACT NOW – GET OUR GIRLS OUT IMMEDIATELY!
And, should our girls not be back over the next one month as we monitor the actions and the words of government, our movement will embark on the next level of our advocacy!
Signed: For, and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls movement!