It has become apparent that the federal government is irritated by the continuing sit-in protests by the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners who have remained undaunted in their quest to force the government to live up to its responsibility of rescuing the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. This irritation and disdain for the mainly women led campaigners has been evident since the sit-ins began over a month ago. At every opportunity, government officials claim that the protesters are members of the opposition out to tarnish the image of the Jonathan administration.
It was, therefore, no surprise that the President refused to receive the protesters when they marched to the presidential villa to make their voices heard by the commander-in-chief. Instead, he sent his ministers to deliver a message that again showed how displeased he was with them. As has become characteristic of him since the Boko Haram debacle began, President Jonathan acted in a manner unbecoming of his office by refusing to realise that the buck at all times stops on his table when it comes to issues affecting Nigerians. Through his emissaries, he told the protesters to direct their anger at Boko Haram and demand that they release the abducted girls.
Perhaps seeing that that message was not accepted by the protesters, plan B was put in motion to destabilise and demoralise the women led by former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili. A group of pro government protesters suddenly appeared one morning at Defence headquarters with placards and banners asking Boko Haram to free the girls. Despite this distraction, the #BeingBackOurGirls protesters remained unshaken and continued their sit-ins at the Unity Fountain in Maitama, Abuja.
With plan B an obvious failure, plan C was pushed into gear. Thugs were sent to disrupt their peaceful protests. The thugs who descended on the hapless protesters with bottles and sticks, broke chairs and seized phones and handbags of some of the women. Shockingly, policemen who were at the venue kept their distance from what was happening even after they had been informed of the unruly behaviour of the thugs before the attack. A statement jointly signed by a former Vice President of the World Bank, Oby Ezekwesili, and another leader of the #BringBackOurGirls group, Hadiza Usman, said the opposing protesters “snatched phones and handbags of ladies in our group and also attacked the local and international media correspondents, confiscating and breaking their cameras. The police, at a point, arrested two of the ring leaders, but before our very eyes, released them barely 10 minutes after”.
We salute the courage and resilience of the #BringBackOurGirls protesters and urge them to continue their peaceful campaign until the poor Chibok schoolgirls are reunited with their families. It is only such pressure that can force this government that has remained in denial to do what it is supposed to do. Like other Nigerians, we are disturbed that there still is not a coherent plan by the government to rescue these girls after all the outcry from within and outside the country.
We are at the same time disgusted by the evidently sponsored attack on the women by thugs of the government. The fact that the police on duty at the scene refused to act to stop the attack strongly suggests that they knew those behind the incident. More so, the thugs were said to have arrived the venue in government owned SURE-P buses.The Inspector General of Police and his men have failed again to discharge their duties honourably and without bias. As the All Progressives Congress (APC) said, ‘’Nigerians voted for Goodluck Jonathan as President, and not for the terrorist called Abubakar Shekau. It is therefore right for them to demand action to return the girls safely from their President, rather than from the anarchist, Shekau”. Mr. President, the buck stops with you; bring back our girls now, alive.