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Published On: Mon, Jun 16th, 2014

Obasanjo may be right on Chibok girls

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ObasanjoFormer President Olusegun Obasanjo has carved a steely reputation of being one of the harshest critics of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. He has consistently been shooting from the hip of late and has been on the mark hitting his target with devastating effect. Notwithstanding his own culpability in foisting Jonathan on the nation back in 2007 on a joint ticket with late President Yar’adua, Obasanjo has not spared the rod in lashing out at Jonathan, describing his government as lackluster and ineffective.

He was at it again last week when he thundered that some of the missing Chibok school girls might never be reunited with their families. He added that the federal government has refused to give him the go ahead to negotiate their release from their captors to whom he said he has access. “I believe that some of them will never return. We will still be hearing about them many years from now. Some will give birth, but if they cannot take care of them in the forest, they may be released”, the former president said.

Officials in the Presidency may be quick to dismiss Obasanjo as an irritant seeking relevance as he is wont to do sometimes but in this particular emotive issue that has captured the imagination of the entire world, Obasanjo does have a point. And his point is reinforced by the fact that the Jonathan administration has thus far not demonstrated sufficient political will to rescue and reunite the girls with their families.

It has been over 60 days now since the abduction took place but Nigerians do not seem to get the sense that any hope is in sight of bringing this ugly saga to a happy conclusion. It is becoming apparent that we are losing the international solidarity and support that poured in in the wake of the abduction which should have galvanised the government to mount a clinical search and rescue operation. Instead, the initiative has been handed back to the insurgents who have gone on to brazenly abduct more women, according to some reports. Not only that, they have also continued their attacks, one of which led to the death of the Emir of Gwoza last month.

But for the untiring efforts of the BringBackOurGirls campaigners and other concerned Nigerians, the tale of the missing girls might well and truly have been forgotten by now. After all, that seems to be exactly what the Jonathan government would have wished. The government has not hidden its disdain for calls on it to do more to rescue the girls. The fact that Jonathan has still not deemed it fit to visit Chibok to commiserate and reassure families of the girls of his determination to rescue their wards tells just where the matter stands on his list of priorities as our leader.

When the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Baden, mentioned recently that the military had pinpointed the location of the girls, he raised hopes of an imminent end to the girls’ ordeal but that too faded when no further information or action was forthcoming from the military. This rather cheap publicity stunt that the defence chief embarked upon also lends credence to Obasanjo’s statement that we may perhaps begin to resign ourselves to the grim reality that some of the girls might just have been lost for good. As Jonathan focuses on reelection in 2015, we urge him to spare a thought for the girls and their parents and get serious about rescuing them.


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