The “BringBackOurGirls” group in its continued advocacy for the release of over 200 Chibok Girls kidnapped by Boko Haram sect, was at the Peoples Media Limited office in Abuja on a courtesy visit to press home their demand as partners in progress. Ochiaka Ugwu, Tobias Lengan Danpam and Mashe Umaru Gwamna, were there.
Following the abduction of Chibok Girls, and with the poor attitude shown by the security agencies, a group known as “Bring Back Our Girls” campaigners made the voice of reason to prevail as the authority were so blinded by conspiracy theories that they did not believe there was any abduction until this group blew it open and attracted global attention focused on the girls. It is reality under our noses that the group raised the ante. It is the same group who played a crucial role in galvanising support and the attention of the world that opened our eyes to the realty of the abduction and even offered assistance. Being propelled by patriotism, they are not from Chibok, but interested in doing the right thing at the right time.
However, the group in continuation of their advocacy policy towards the release of the abductees visited Peoples Media Limited office in Abuja, publishers of Peoples Daily newspapers titles to thank the medium for being a worthy partner in the struggle and to collaborate more with them in sustaining the public attention on abducted Chibok Girls.
The group, led by the duo of Hajiya Aisha Yessuf and Hon. Dino Melaye said the media, for the most part, has remained largely visible in the quest to ensure the release of the abducted Chibok Girls kidnapped in their school by the Boko Haram insurgents on April 14.
They noted that the media Coverage of their group’ campaign and activities over the missing girls has dwarfed other stories of late with Peoples Daily featuring prominently.
Hajiya Yessuf lamented that 141 days after the girls were abducted by the sect members, the government had not been able to rescue any of them and wondered what their condition will be in the hands of their abductors while noting that the campaign to bring back the Chibok girls was neither political nor against the government, adding that the BBOG group was neither hijacked nor infiltrated as insinuated in some quarters.
The group had been widely accused by those in government circles for receiving money from politicians to discredit the present administration.
Yessuf, who led the delegation, insisted that the group was self funded and never received a kobo from any politician or group.
“We have never received money from any politician or group. We contribute amongst ourselves to ensure the success of our campaign. We have no bank account and we are not relying on anybody for support.
She informed that the movement is not politically motivated but out of the desire to rescue the Chibok school girls who have spent 141 days in the camp of the Boko Haram sect.
“When I think of Chibok girls personally, I think of my dear self in them. With all aspiration and dreams all of a sudden they were taken away, for a child at that age to be suddenly brutalised, that alone is breath taken.
“I remember one of the parents of the girls came and said his daughter still had her handset, so she called him on the phone and told him that, those that we cannot mention their names are here.
“I imagine the fear in those girls every day, a simple thing like going to a rest room, simple things we take for granted because we are doing it freely, which they cannot do.
“I wonder what those girls are going through, could they be moving freely? That is one of the questions we ask ourselves in the daily sit out, how they are faring, at their age they need a mother to talk to them and then there is no one” she lamented.
While narrating the ordeals of the parents of abductees, she said that their condition is better imagined than told.
“For me, let’s look at the point from the parents’ perspective. Sometime the fear of the unknown is better than dead. Psychological as human beings, no matter how tragic the situation you may find yourself to be, there is always a way to adapt to things.
“When we talk about the parents, every night at 11:45pm, they cannot sleep, they think of what their children are passing through. Their parents keep on imaging what happened and the tough time their daughters are passing. Those parents had died a thousand times.
On what the BBOG is doing to relieve these parents in terms of counseling them to overcome the psychological trauma occasioned by the abduction, Yessuf who admitted they don’t have people on ground to counsel them directly said the Borno State Government is doing its best in that area.
“We don’t have people on ground, but the Bonro state government is doing something. When their Commissioner of Health came in, this was part of the things they are working on. I remember when they said initially that the people should receive relief materials but they refused to collect, all they wanted was for the girls to come back.
“Even the escaped girls when they were asked what they need, they told the commissioner to bring the rest back that is what they need.
“The Borno State Government, the United Nation (UN) and the KADA community are in partnership with the Chibok community. They have been doing certain things and with some members of the campaign group that will give more inside to the details.
“They have been doing post psychological traumatic test, which the government is still working out. As of the last time the girls were here they had scares and wound”.
She stressed that the girls need psychological health review and the nation at large as well. A lot of people since the abduction of the girls are living in fear.
While calling on all Nigerians to partner with the advocacy group in its effort to press on government to rescue the school girls, she urged that everybody must collectively unite against evil devoid of religious and political affiliations.
The Edo State born activist noted that those in authority who have the mandate of the people must do what is necessary to protect them.
Speaking in the same vein, Otunba Dino Melaye, a former House of Representatives member, said the group is on an awareness campaign to resuscitate the consciousness of Nigerians to the sufferings of the abducted girls and also to remind those in authority of their responsibility to Nigerian people.
“The primary occupation of government is to protect lives and properties which boils down to ensuring the security of the country; it is not an agitation to condemn government but asking them to own up to their responsibility”, he said.
Melaye, who denied that the group operated a bank account, asked: “How can a top security agency come up with a policy statement that a group is a franchise and allow the continued existence of that group?”
He challenged the State Security Service to make public the purported account number and expose those funding it.
Melaye informed that the group will not be cowed into any cheap blackmail by some unscrupulous elements who are trying to discredit the movement.
He said the campaign will continue until the last girl is back.
Speaking earlier, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of PML, Ali .M. Ali, said Peoples Media identified with their struggle and will continue to support any genuine course that will set the country on the right path.
Ali reminded that the media is doing exactly what those in Civil Society are doing, that is working hard to correct society ills by always reminding government of their social contract with the people. He said that today makes 141 days since the abduction and lamented government poor attitude towards the release of the abductees.
“We believe in your aspiration and will always support it as well. You people are doing a good job and that is why we in the media are always reminding the sinking government of their responsibility in bringing back our girls.
He stressed the need for a collective action irrespective of our differences towards rescuing the nation which he said was at the brink of collapse. He praised them for shunning all sentiments towards this struggle saying that they are calling up a government which they believed was not living up to its responsibility. He noted that others would have joined the statuesque just for pecuniary gains.
While urging them to keep on the struggle which he believes was for the best interest of humanity, he informed that the task of keeping this country safer and united is a collective responsibility.
Ali said the PML will always identify with the people especially where the authorities have failed them.
However, Nigerians have always been grateful that at least some cared to come out and shout rather than sitting in their affluent homes and doing nothing. The campaigners have been described as the real heroes of Chibok, not busybodies or opportunists. They did it and they should keep on doing it.