“FG committed to Chibok girls’ rescue” – Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that the Federal Government government was committed to rescuing the Chibok school girls abducted in 2014 despite the tantrums of Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.
He made the assertion on a special programme to mark Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary on Channels television.
Mohammed stressed that the federal government had the same goal as the BringBackOurGirls group, which is the safe return of the girls.
He also said that the federal government’s commitment to bringing back the girls was not in doubt. ‘’I want the Bring Back Our Girls to understand that this government appreciates what they are doing. We are all batting on the same side and we are as concerned as they are and we are well ready to work with you.
‘’Clearly we need a closer working relationship so that there will be no communication gap. Clearly, I do not see the objective of the BBOG group as different from ours,’’ the Minister, who appeared side by side with the BBOG Co-Convener, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, added.
While reiterating the President’s statement that there would be no closure to the Boko Haram issue until the Chibok girls were released and returned safely to their families, noted that apart from parents of the girls, no other individual or group had a higher stake in the release of the girls than the Federal Government.
Alhaji Mohammed said there was no contradiction between the fact that Boko Haram had been defeated and the fact that the girls remained in captivity.
“There shall be no closure on the Boko Haram issue until the Chibok girls are released and returned to the safety of their families. I think that does not contradict what Mr President has said, that we have defeated Boko Haram.
‘’Of course, anybody who is familiar with the philosophy of insurgency will understand that it is not the regular kind of war where you sign an armistice and the guns become silent forever, but rather, it is a kind of guerrilla war.
‘’But what Mr President said, which cannot be contradicted, is that as of May 29, 2015, when he took over, we had a chunk of our territory in the hands of Boko Haram. As at 2015, a part of the North East could not be accessed because of activities of the terrorists, but the same cannot be said about the area today,” he said.
The minister said it is necessary to situate the Chibok saga within the proper context, noting that the girls had been in captivity for over 400 days before the Buhari administration came into power, yet there have been attempts by the government to establish contact with Boko Haram to secure their release (but) the fictionalisation within the terror group made it difficult for the deal to go through.
“I want us to put things in correct perspectives. Yes, the issue of the kidnap or abduction of the Chibok girls is one that should affect everybody, it is not out of place for anyone to be emotional about it but at the same time we must be rational in our approach to the issue.”
‘’Yes, today might be 901 days since the girls were abducted but it must also be understood that these girls were abducted 400 days before this government came to power, this must not be forgotten and by the time we came in, the trails had gone cold. The first 48 hours after any kidnapping constitute the most critical period.”