One month after kidnap, Jonathan yet to visit Chibok

The missing Chibok schoolgirls held captive by Boko Haram

The first public statement by the president was three weeks after the kidnap.

One month after Boko Haram insurgents abducted more than 250 teenage girls from their school in Chibok, Borno State, President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, or any member of the president’s cabinet is yet to visit the school or the town where the abduction took place.

The girls were kidnapped late at night on April 14, when insurgents, said to be over 200, stormed the small town, and headed straight to the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State. They overran a scanty security checkpoint at the school, killing one soldier and another guard. Over 250 girls were forced out of their dormitories and loaded into trucks. About 50 of the abducted girls escaped and were reunited with their families.

The school was also burnt down by the insurgents.

Parents and community members, on hearing of the abduction stormed the Sambisa Forest where the girls were taken and went as much as 50km into the forest, a known bastion of the Boko Haram terrorists.

They only withdrew when they were told that their lives and their daughters’ were at risk if they went deeper into Sambisa.

While Nigerians and the international community condemned the kidnap and called for urgent action by the government, the first public statement by the president was three weeks after, on May 4, during a media chat.

Mr. Jonathan had told the world during the chat that the federal government did not know the whereabouts of the girls, the actual number of girls taken, and indeed the group responsible for the kidnap as no one had claimed responsibility.

In other words, three weeks after the kidnap, the Nigerian government, despite all its security and intelligence agencies, had no information, whatsoever, on the kidnap.

The president also compared the kidnap to the missing Malaysian plane saying his government would strive to ensure that the girls’ case did not turn out to be like that of the missing plane whose debris is yet to be found.

However, unlike the Malaysian plane where authorities identified families of passengers and provided regular briefing on search operations to the families and to the general public, Mr. Jonathan in his speech only asked the families of the kidnapped girls to help the government with more information.

In what appeared a response to Mr. Jonathan’s admittance of government’s ignorance about the kidnap, a day after the president’s speech, the Boko Haram released a video claiming responsibility for the kidnap. In the video, the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, also threatened to sell or marry off the girls.

A week after, the group released another video showing some of the kidnapped girls. In the new video, Mr. Shekau claimed majority of the girls, who were Christians, had converted to Islam. He threatened not to release the girls until Boko Haram members arrested for terrorism related incidents are released.

Despite protests in Nigeria and beyond asking government to do more to free the girls, as well as condemnations for the government’s initial apparent nonchalance at the kidnap, federal officials in Abuja have refused to go show solidarity with the families of the victims in Chibok.

Jonathan sits tight in Abuja

The first major public official to visit Chibok was the Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima.

Mr. Shettima visited the community one week after the kidnap on April 21. During the visit, he heard first hand experiences from parents who narrated the efforts they made to secure their daughters’ freedom.

“We have trailed the abductors of our daughters far into very dangerous places inside the (Sambisa) forest, but we couldn’t go far because we were warned against going further since we have no sophisticated weapons that could match that of those holding our daughters,” Shettima Hamma, a parent of one of the kidnapped girls, told the governor.

The various family members shed tears and wept as they narrated their suffering to Mr. Shettima.

They asked that the government do more to free their daughters with Mr. Shettima and his entourage saying there was little he could do.

“You should know our limitations here in the state concerning the security deployment, neither the governor nor I has control over our security; we can only plead with the federal government to assist us,” Ali Ndume, the senator representing the area, who was on the governor’s entourage, told the victims’ families.

Apart from the Borno officials, the closest to federal officials from Abuja to visit Chibok are Nigeria’s military chiefs.

In a statement on May 8, the Defence Headquarters spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, said the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, service chiefs, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, visited Chibok on that day.

The military chiefs may have gone there to boost the morale of soldiers and security operatives who have been battling the Boko Haram in Borno, a state that, like Yobe and Adamawa, has been under emergency rule since May last year.

A week after the military chief’s visit, no other senior official from the Jonathan administration has visited Chibok.

A history of abandonment

Abandoning Chibok and resisting paying a visit to show solidarity with the victims’ families and assure them of  governments’ support is not new to President Goodluck Jonathan.

On February 25, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members stormed the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, killing at least 29 students (according to government figures), with residents of the area saying about 50 were killed.

Despite calls by Nigerians including the opposition All Progressives Congress, President Jonathan is yet to visit the school or the families of the victims.

The best the federal government has done since the killings is to shut all federal schools in Borno and Yobe.

Mr. Jonathan’s seeming apathy and nonchalance to victims of his government’s failure to provide security for Borno and Yobe residents
was condemned by the Yobe governor, Ibrahim Geidam, in a statement on Tuesday.

“We have seen over this period, however, that the federal government has neither provided the advanced weaponry and communications gear needed to defeat Boko Haram nor worked to build and sustain the confidence of the people in the affected states.

“From Izge to Konduga and from Buni-Yadi to Chibok, thousands of people have been affected in the most gruesome manner but the President has not even found it worthy to pay a sympathy visit,” the Yobe government said.

A comparison

The seeming lack of empathy and leadership of Mr. Jonathan towards the abduction that has attracted global outcry falls short of the reaction of world leaders when similar tragedy occurs in their domain. In 2012, after a lone shooter massacred 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut, President Barak Obama of the United States of America visited the school less than 48 hours after the shooting. Similarly, after the train bombing in Volgograd in the
North Caucasus of Russia, President Vladimir Putin rushed to visit the victims of the blast after a New Year address.

In Nigeria, however, without visiting Chibok or the victims’ families, Mr. Jonathan spoke officially on the kidnap three weeks later and only set up a committee to look into it.

However, Mr. Jonathan’s reaction towards the Chibok abduction might not come as a surprise to Nigerians. The president has displayed similar character towards national tragedies in the past.

After the April 14 Nyanya motor park bombing that killed over 75 Nigerians, just few kilometres from Government House in Aso Rock, the President visited the site of the bombing as well as some victims in hospital; with observers saying he did that because it happened close to his domain.

However, while the country was still in shock over the carnage, Mr. Jonathan travelled to Kano the next day for a political rally where he was seen dancing. He also left Kano to attend the centenary celebration of the traditional monarch of Ibadan, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Samuel Odugade.

Mr. Jonathan may not have visited the Chibok or the girls’ families, but at least local and international pressure has forced the government to seek and accept help from foreign countries to help secure the girls.

The U.S., U.K., and China are among countries that have pledged personnel and resources to help locate the girl with 30 American security officials already in Abuja.

Also, on Tuesday, the parents of the missing girls identified over 70 of them from the video released by the Boko Haram, a confirmation that majority if not all the abducted girls are still alive and can still be rescued.


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  • joe

    If Jonathan should visit every community attacked by boko haram,I think the president may as well relocate to Borno, Adamawa and Yobe/Jigawa. Boko Haram is the handiwork of northern politicians, only that the boys have grown beyond their masters.

    • Ayo Kellany

      How many as he dare to visit at all ?

    • Babs

      Your pay master, Dumbo Gej has failed. He is a disgrace to Nigeria. Nigeria has never had it bad as this time under the clueless, shoeless incompetent so-called president. Chai! Deris God oooooooooooooooooooooo! Prisipal na only you waka come. SHAMEFUL CLOWNS!

  • Ioseb Vissarionovich Dze Jugha

    Hmmn Premium times youre just wasting your time if you think oga GEJ will visit even maiduguri not to talk of Chibok, he never give a damn if the life of a common Nigerian is concerned, dont forget that he is so insensitive that after the girls had been abducted in the morning by noon he is in kano dancing to Kalangu Music and yet you think he gives a damn? Our president never gives a damn

  • Goddey

    When d clueless and dumb one leads a whole nation… Wish Premium Times or Sahara reporters will investigate his PhD. Chai! Dia ris God sha

    • Naijagogoodagain

      He doesn’t have a PhD! Didn’t they say Patience Jonathan got a BSc.? Chai! Dia ris God oh!

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Nigeria does not have any viable,capable,competent and responsible leader in president Ebele Jonathan except corrupt-ridden president Jonathan,who is very clueless,ineptitude,incompetent and incapable to administer the security affairs and other vital sectors affairs of Nigeria satisfactorily.Ebele Jonathan is the biggest joke to ever occupy Nigeria presidency and he will not visit Chibok,Borno State because,he is scare of Boko Haram insurgents might assassinate him.

    • Eze

      His name is Goodluck Jonathan. You need to stop the “Ebele” and “Azikiwe” dog-whistle. It is dubious and shameful. You know very well he’s not Igbo. Stop trying to make ignorant northerners think he is Igbo. If you feel a need for some ethnic cleansing, be man enough to organize it with your kind. Stop trying to get others to do it!

      • emmy

        Mumu, majority of igbo.

      • Claude

        He was sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Federation as Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan with his hand placed on the Holy Bible.

    • emmanuel

      Mumu

  • Tufiakwa

    Nwannaa Nicholas Ibekwe, this kind of ofe mmanu journalism with Propanda Times will not take you anywhere in the profession.

    • I know Tufiakwa

      He has already gone places with this sort of journalism because this is the sort of journalism he, as a professional, should practice. Besides, his awards his fellowship and being a chevening scholar, he has a heart to speak and write even when people like you roll out criticisms that are neither here nor there. Ok, what is constructive about “ofe mmanu”, umunnaaa! If you were brave enough to accept the truth, you would admit to the high level of ethics Premium times and its staff practice journalism. It is not perfect, but it will not turn its face on corruption.

      • Isiagwo

        According to reliable sources, Tufiakwa won those awards and more (Chevening …) long before Nwanna Ibekwe wrote his SSC. “One month after kidnap, Jonathan yet to visit Chibok” is not news, but an opinion piece dictated/suggested by a cowardly “editor” and certainly not of Chevening scholar standard. It’s mgbati, mgbati, tribal journalism. They will use you and dump you. By the way, a good Chevening scholar should be working for a proper international/national medium, not a tribal rag. As a journalist, you should question your professionalism when the focus of your reporting is aimed at one organization, one person or one race – with one objective.

  • Guguru

    Nigerians live in lies. How many times do i need to tell people that Jonathan does not care about anyone but members of his family and some few friends?

  • Muhammad dan dauda

    GEJ is the weakest and worst president on earth so far.

    • ifebuche

      Why not run for presidency mr big mouth.

      • Chibok

        You only see Igbos supporting Jonathan in Nigeria, even the Niger Deltans have started dissociating themselves from Jonathan. But Igbos would rather die for him, even if he is killing their parents, just because of the fake Nigeria bridge contract which was initiated politically just few months before Jona pack his blood stained luggages back to Utuoke to Hague.

        • Mr Igbo Sanity

          NOT ALL Igbos support jona. Igbo people are business people and do not need jona/pdp’s stolen money to survive. The fact is that 70% of Imo and at least over 50% of Anambra DO NOT SUPPORT jona/pdp

          • emmy

            Sure? Surprise I am.

          • Jakadiya

            That’s how I know the Ibos. Hard working, business oriented, exploring and always minding their businesses, though stupidly arrogant in a way. Some of them have been lured into political opportunism.

        • ifebuche

          You are obvious from Chibok. No need responding cos I guess ur reasoning is missing. #bringbackhisbrain.

      • emmy

        He is unfit, you try now if presidency is your father’s property, Mr smallmouth.

  • Muhammad dan dauda

    who ever politicise boko haram is as worst as them. God the almighty will surely destroy boko haram, their distorted teaching and all who sponsor them.

  • Spoken word

    Deris God o

  • Richard

    You can not blame Jonathan for not showing human feelings for the victims. First , he is not a human being. He is also busy strategizing for 2015 election and how to conquer his electoral enemies in Ekiti and Osun states. It will be too much for him to concern himself with visiting Chibok and other places. The other Presidents cited above are elected by electorates and not chosen by INEC. They have manifestoes when they campaigned for their elections and they are accountable to the people that elected them but Jonathan campaigned without manifestoes . As a matter of fact the result of 2015 election is already being compiled in INEC office. So the people don’t matter to him and his cohorts in PDP. Therefore the comparison is absolutely wrong.

    • emmanuel

      Nicholas is the face of disparaging write up against Jonathan in PT.

      He thinks is been prolific, but playing tribal hate in the hands of cameloenic ethnicist.

      How many times have your editor visited Chibok?

      • Jakadiya

        Editor to visit Chibok? Only reporters go o the field. Please, you mustn’t comment if you don’t understand work-place hierarchy. Again, The President is the Commande-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. May be you’ll understand when I say, he’s th OGA AT THE TOP. on all security matters in the country. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

        • emmy

          Never mind him he is a sack like GEJ

        • Uwadiegwu

          Editors visit London, Washington D.C., Paris to cover stories. Why not Chibok?

        • emmanuel

          So your age nor make you get sense? Mu mu!

          Commanders in-Chief visiting disaster sites is a class thing not compulsory, so do not make issues out of Jonathan not visiting Chibok.

          Why did the Military commanders visit Chibok? So Editors are Kings.

  • Xunnu

    Where do you expect Ogogoro master to visit? Chibok? For what? When they have finished the Blood sharing there. I dey laugh o!

  • En

    President Goodluck Jonathan is a very corrupt and irresponsible person. A dumb weakling of the highest order! What a shame!

  • seriously

    What you you guys want from the man? He is overwhelm and burnt out.He didnt know that being a president will involve all this twist and turrn. Nevermind, he will soon quit.

  • emmy

    Even if Jonathan is going house by house killing people, the igbo people, northern elders that get money from him during election, including leadership of CAN and JNI, northern christians etc will ever support him. The country, is already doomed.

    • emmanuel

      Nigeria is not doomed. Mumum

      • emmy

        You are Emmanuel Mumu

  • emmanuel

    Nicholas, is Jonathan’s visit to Chibok what will qualify him as a good leader or reducing the spread of attacks from what it was three years ago?

    Your insincerity will not make you Acknowledged that the man is winning the war and that Boko Haram is in its dying days and has been quarantined to the three states.

    Any attempt to lift the state of emergency now in any of the three state will see Boko Haram migrate there to build up again.

  • Gideon Orkar

    when he was VP your Hausa brother told him to go into the creeks bc he is from SS. Now that he is President you people also want him to go into Sambisa and Chibok. Please send your Aboki VP. What is good for the goose…

  • tsunami1earthquake

    I am sure Jonathan should well know that one of his duties as Nigeria’s president is to visit any disaster area in the country, no matter how dangerous or volatile that part of the country might be. Even if he doesn’t know, he has advisers and members of his FEC who should advise him as to how to conduct himself in situations like this. His national security adviser is from the Northern part of Nigeria; his minister of defence is from the Northern part of Nigeria; his chief of police is from the Northern part of Nigeria, etc. Surely one of these people is capable of advising and urging him to visit Borno State and other parts of the North East. But, as we have seen, nothing like that happened. I want to take a philosophical stance to this matter and ask this question: is there something Jonathan knows other lesser Nigerians don’t know? Ms Okonjo-Iweala was caught unguarded when she said she was ‘tired of talking about Chibok’. All these people are within the presidency and the sanctus sanctorum of power. Could one take a cue from that utterance by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? What do these people in the presidency know that ordinary Nigerians don’t know? I ask this question because when a person falls short of a particular expectation, as the president has done here, one should begin to ask questions.

  • oyi

    He is very normal, must Jonathan visit there? With the deceit from the Northern military men and security officers lying in wait for Jonathan in the North? did you not read how the Major general escaped death from the Nigerian military after it was discovered that he deceived his men into the hands of insurgents?