The ruling All Progressives Congress has reacted to the apparent drift in the relationship between the Federal Government and the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group.
Responding to a tweet by a leader of the BBOG, Oby Ezekwesili, suggesting a volte face by President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue, the APC said it remains committed to BBOG’s struggle but has only changed its strategy since it is now the party in power.
Before the May 2015 presidential election, the APC was a powerful voice behind the group’s campaign for the rescue of the over 200 Chibok school girls abducted by the extremist group, Boko Haram.
The then opposition party made the missing Chibok girls a campaign issue against the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Now in power and the girls still not rescued, APC’s relationship with the campaigners has become frosty.
The BBOG members were on Tuesday prevented by the police from marching to the Presidential Villa, Abuja. A pro-government group had on the same day also joined to block the group’s path to the villa.
Miffed by the development, Oby Ezekwesili, a former minister of Education, and a leader of the BBOG, took to Twitter on Friday to remind President Muhammadu Buhari that it was 879 days since the Chibok girls were abducted.
“No More excuses. Decide now. Act now,” Ms. Ezekwesili said to the president.
The series of tweets released by Ms. Ezekwesili, since after the Tuesday incident, give a picture of what the BBOG now think of President Buhari and his administration.
The former minister, in her tweets, said that by slandering, renting a crowd, and attempting to stop their protest march, “officials of low degree” thought they could destroy BBOG, so that the group would stop “disturbing” the government.
As a reminder of what the group insists the president owes the people, Ms. Ezekwesili quoted a line from President Buhari’s inaugural speech on May 29, 2015 in which he said: “We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons.”
She also referred APC to the party’s December 2014 tweet, in which it said, “It’s hours to New Year celebration. Our Chibok girls aren’t home yet. If you talk about it, they label you ‘opposition’. Things must change.”
The APC, in its response to Ms. Ezekwesili, said it is committed to the BBOG’s struggle, but that its strategy has changed since it is now the party in power.
“As opposition then, #BringBackOurGirls was an open campaign, since that was the only way we could pressure government into action,” the APC tweeted.
“However, as leading party, our strategy changed. We’re most concerned with actual efforts to rescue the girls and our efforts are evident.”
The party said the BBOG leader would agree that Mr. Buhari’s administration is succeeding in its war against insurgency.
“Dear @obyezeks, we respect your resilience and commitment to the #BringBackOurGirls struggle and would do anything to encourage you, Ma.
“As a party, we’ll continue to work with government and security forces, as much as legally allowed, until they #BringBackOurGirls.”
The Nigerian police, on Friday, reversed itself and declared that public protest was allowed in Abuja, and other parts of the country.
The police statement said public protest was part of democracy, but that it must conform to the rule of law and public order.
“The Nigeria Police Force recognises the constitutional rights of every law abiding citizen to express his or her view through public protest/procession and other legitimate means,” the statement said.
The BBOG has demanded that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, apologise for the police’ attempt to block them in the first place.