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Published On: Mon, Jul 28th, 2014

Mixed feelings trail Chibok girls’ campaigns at Unity Fountain

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Bring-back-Chibok-GirlsBy Stanley Onyekwere

As it marks 106 days, since the abduction of 219 Chibok school girls in Borno state, some residents of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed mixed feelings over the sustained protests against the girls’ continued stay in captivity, by pro and anti-government groups at the Unity Fountain, Abuja.

Many residents, who spoke to Peoples Daily, expressed their dissatisfaction over what they described as deceptive posture of those behind groups championing several campaigns directed towards the quest for the freedom of the kidnap Chibok girls.

They told Peoples Daily in separate interviews that the situation appears to have been hijacked by some highly placed individuals and groups as a tool for propagating their divergent selfish interests in the polity.

However, some people opined that it was too early for them to jump into conclusion that the groups behind the protests were being sponsored to do what they are doing, in the name of solidarity for the missing girls, since they have equal rights to expressed divergent views on how to go about the issue.

One of the residents, Mr. Peter Oke, said he has lost interest in the whole campaign by either of the divides as their utterances cast doubts over their objective for the protests.

Specifically, he questioned the choice of the Unity Fountain as the most preferred place for the sustained campaign for the rescue of the missing girls.

“It is unfortunate that the unity fountain, which should be a symbol of the country’s unity, has become a centre for promoting the message of disunity by rival selfish groups, claiming love and solidarity with the plight of the kidnap Chibok School girls,” he said.

Another resident, Akpan Okon, warned that both groups should stop heating up the polity by engaging in unhealthy rivalry using merely nomenclatures under the disguise of fighting for the freedom of the kidnap girls, still in captive.

 He alleges that none of the groups is sincere with its campaign; as they appeared to be more concerned with the tag they ascribed to their respective struggle rather than face the real issue of saving these girls.

For one Musa Abu, a student, both the pro and anti-government groups are saying the same thing: the immediate return of the missing girls alive.

“So whether anti or pro, they are all sending the same message to the insurgents that the girls are wanted back and alive.

“But as long as the fact remains that the girls are still in captivity, there is going to be more groups coming up with different messages on the matter; the student stressed.

“It’s been months now since the protests began, in Abuja, and they don’t seem to be growing in numbers, because people are not seeing them as having genuine motive in what they are doing.

“Although, the protests have help kept the matter in public view, but the growing rivalry among the various interest groups connected with the whole missing Chibok girls’ campaign, especially in the capital city,” says a resident, Eze Akachi.

Similarly, one Mrs. Halimatu Ibrahim, a business woman, expressed concerns that the location of the Unity Fountain, the venue of the protests, near the Abuja Transcorp Hilton Hotel, exposes the country to further damage to its battered image before the eyes of the international community.

According to her; “It is disturbing and shameful that these groups always gather at Fountain, to only to expose our country to ridicule before our international visitors, in the Transcorp Hilton hotels.”

She therefore called on the relevant authorities to ensure that the protesters are made to vacate the Unity Fountain, so as to save the country from further ridicule.

It would be recalled that the emergence of a new group of protesters with the tag “Release Our Girls now” campaigners at the Unity Fountain, allegedly working for the government, had led to several near fatal incidences in the area, culminating into the smashing of plastic chairs used by the old protesters with the tag: #BringBackOurGirls#, members of the Abuja Family group.

Many of the old group’s campaigns have been directed towards the government for failing to promptly rescue the girls, who were kidnapped by the dreaded Boko haram, since April 14, from their school in Chibok community, near the Cameroon border, in Borno state.

To this end, in what appears an attempt to stop BringBackOurGirls protesters from holding their meeting, the suspected thugs provided security cover for members of the new campaigners who staged a rally backing  government with “ReleaseOurGirls slogans, swayed round them singing “Wherever Bokos are gathered, Holy Ghost fire pursue them.”

Also, though popular among several citizens, the campaign by the Abuja family group has been a source of worry for the federal government, with the Minister of Information and some key government officials, accusing the protesters were sponsored by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

But, in commemoration of the 100 days of the kidnap of Chibok girls, a 3-Day prayer for the girls’ captors to release them alive, was observed last week by concerned citizens drawn from different youths and women in the FCT.

Also, in solidarity with the plight of the missing girls, the FCT minister of state, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, led other top officials of the FCTA, on Thursday, joined the groups at the ground finale of the 3-Day prayer for their release, after 101 days in captivity.

However, many strongly believe that the refusal by either of the groups to be cowed into abandoning their campaign, because of suspicions from certain quarter that they are being sponsored by others, was a clear demonstration that there is no end to their struggle, until the girls are rescued by the government or freed by their captors.

Recall that for the first time since the abduction of the schoolgirls, President Goodluck Jonathan, finally met with parents of the girls still in captive, alongside with the fifty-one of the girls, who escaped from their abductors- the Boko haram group, last week’s Tuesday.

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