***as BBOG rolls out 13 demands
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – Following the incessant terrorist attacks in Nigeria and incredible number of deaths, President Mohammadu Buhari Wednesday expressed regrets that the country was not being rated with Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syria.
The president’s worries came on the heels of a high powered delegation of the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG which paid him a visit at the presidential Villa in furtherance of their campaign for the release of over 200 abducted Chibok girls from Borno State.
It will be recalled that the girls who were students of a secondary school in the remote town of Chibok have not been rescued from their abductors widely believed to be members of Boko haram for over 400 days.
Led by its co-founders to the Villa, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and Mrs. Mariam Uwaise, the group made 13 demands from the federal government.
Presenting the demands, Ezekwesili who was also a former Minister of Education said that the government must make public apologies to the group and Nigerians in general for the failure of government that led to the abduction of the students while also giving firm and urgent promise of rescuing the girls.
BBOG 13 demands
Other of the articulated demands included:
*The Federal Government should spare no resources in urgently rescuing our 219 Chibok Girls as promised by the President and the National Security Adviser of the President at various times. Our Federal Government has the constitutional duty to give justice to our Chibok Girls by ensuring their immediate rescue. The rescue of OUR Chibok Girls will amount to the strongest statement that our Government has respect for the “Sanctity and Dignity of Every Nigerian Life.
*An apology for the failure of governance that led to the abduction.
*An apology for the failure of governance that caused failure to rescue our girls for over 400 days.
*Strategies for curbing the emergence, and growth of curious sects.
*Immediately set up a structured feedback and communication system that is composed of the Federal and Borno State Governments through designated security and ministerial authorities, the parents of the abducted girls, the Chibok (KADA) community, and citizens, through the BringBackOurGirls group. The feedback mechanism is so the Parents and the public can have regular updates on efforts to rescue our 219 Chibok Girls.
*We as a movement have designed a global best practice system of Verification, Authentication and Reunification System (VARS) abducted citizens who are rescued. The VARS is holistic for Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Resettlement of victims of abduction and can immediately be adopted by our Federal Government. To implement such a systemic approach of authentication we recommend that the Federal Government inaugurates a team comprising:
The National Security Adviser, Leaders of the Counter Insurgency Task Force, the Department of State Security on one hand; and State Governments of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, aided and supported by Local Authorities and Traditional Leaders, on the other hand and the representatives of abduction victims on the other hand. The Team should be tasked with credible implementation of the VARS. The primary task of the Team shall be to work with every abducted victim’s family and community to accurately ascertain the true identity of every such individuals and following their accurate identification to make available the comprehensive program for Recovery, Rehabilitation Resettlement and Reintegration to the rescued citizens. We advise that this system should be adopted for the 200 girls and 93 women rescued on the 28th April 2015.
The rehabilitation, resettlement and reintegration following their authentication should be implemented by both the Borno State Government and the Federal Government that make up the VARS Team and supported by development partners, NGOs and public-spirited Nigerians. Our movement, BringBackOurGirls, stands ready to support this initiative. Furthermore, grant access for BBOG to Chibok girls when rescued; thereby accepting our offer to support re-unification of rescued Chibok girls with their families as well their rehabilitation and reintegration.
*That the Federal Government will immediately set up a Commission of Inquiry for Accountability on Abduction and Rescue of OUR ChibokGirls. The Commission should be charged with the task of transparently investigating and reporting on the security lapses that caused their successful abduction and the operational leadership failures that led to their long captivity in terrorist enclave.
*That all Nigerians will join our BringBackOurGirlsmovement to continue to advocate for our 219 ChibokGirls until they are rescued and be prepared to embrace and welcome our Girls back home. That all Nigerians will join us demanding for the rescue of all other abducted citizens of our nation and their authentication and rehabilitation.
*Immediately set up a Missing Persons Bureau.
*Formally re-affirm the legitimacy and relevance of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as a purely citizen contribution.
*Note, adopt and utilize BBOG Citizens’ Solution document to counter insurgency efforts.
*Note and adopt the #BringBackOurGirls Accountability Matrix with protocol, timelines and milestones to assist improve communication and synergy between all security structures and citizens.
*Consider the need for Community/Proximity Policing”
Government delayed action escalated the attacks.
Responding to the groups demands, president Buhari said regretted what he termed as the conflicting reports of the terrorist attacks, saying that the delayed response by the former government gave impetus to the escalated attacks.
He however promised to rebuild the ravaged communities, putting back its infrastructures.
“It’s unfortunate that the security and federal government conflicting report initially presented the government and its agencies in a very bad light both nationally and internationally because the law enforcement agencies and the government were conflicting each other sometimes within hours or within weeks. That is not very impressive.
“The delayed and late reaction by former government and its agencies was very unfortunate as I said. And I thank the leader of Chibok Community for the articulated priorities he has drawn about welfare of the families, of the communities and rehabilitation of infrastructure. I think government should provide these infrastructure as a matter of right.
Our efforts to end insurgency
President Buhari who gave a detailed account of the efforts of his achievements to end insurgency in Nigeria however assured the country that all hopes were not lost.
“I think you will agree that the present government take the issue very seriously. Within a week of being sworn in, I visited Niger, Chad and would have visited Cameroon but for the invitation of the G7 to go to Germany and listen to them.
“I’m very impressed with the leadership of this important group (G7) other than the United Nations itself. They are very concerned about the security in Nigeria led by abduction of the Chibok girls by the terrorists.
“When the terrorists announced their loyalty to ISIS, the whole attention again was brought squarely to Nigeria. And now we are rated with Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, this is very unfortunate.
“After Ramadan, I will visit Cameroon to see the President there and then Benin Republic. But the efforts we have been making, some we will disclose publicly because it will not be consistent with security. But I assure you that under the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the military have met. The ministers of defence have met. We the presidents have met here in Abuja except the President of Cameroon who was represented his Minister of Defence.
“Strategy and tactics have been drawn. Multinational taskforce has been put in place more or less with headquarters in Ndjamina with a Nigerian General as Commander. And then the troops delegated by each of the countries are to be put in place by the end of the month. And Nigeria, I assure you will do its best because we as I said are the battle ground and we are being helped by our neighbors”, he said.
Nigeria now rated with Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria
The president also regretted that Nigerian army known for its military finesse in the sub African region has been unable to root out the Boko haram in Nigeria.
“It is paradoxical what the Nigerian military has achieved from Burma to Zaire to Liberia to Sierria Leon to Sudan. But Nigeria has now to be helped by Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. How are the mighty fallen!
We will do our best to restore the respectability of our country and its institutions. And with you, your steadfastness and your seriousness, we will do what we can do. We will accommodate all your observations including the negative ones about the performance of the government and its agencies”, he said
List of demands
“At the G7, the leadership there ask us for our shopping list which I’m still compiling. The military has submitted theirs and I’m waiting for the governments of the front line states to submit theirs local government by local government in terms of infrastructure, schools, health care, roads, markets, churches, mosques and so on.”
We are pleased terrorists blowing themselves up
Buhari also discarded the speculation that Boko haram had any religious connotations, expressed happiness that the terrorists also blow themselves up in their attacks.
“We are pleased that in the excesses of the terrorists, they have blown themselves. I think they have to change their names from Boko Haram to something else because no religion will kill the innocents. You can’t go and kill innocent people and say Allah Akbar! Is either you don’t believe it or you don’t know what you are saying.
“So it has nothing to do with religion, they are just terrorists and Nigeria will demobilize all of them”, he said.
The visit which drew many of the BBOG campaigners also attracted the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki Chief of Defence and Service Chiefs, Head of Service, IGP, DG SSS and Permanent Secretary, State House.