President Muhammadu Buhari has told parents of the schoolgirls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State who were abducted five years ago that there is hope for their return.
Mr Buhari said he has not forgotten their daughters, who were kidnapped from their dormitory five years ago (April 14, 2014).
Mr Buhari promised the parents this when he met them (parents), at the beginning of his first term as president, that he would bring their daughters home. He is yet to fulfill his promise.
His spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement Saturday said the president is aware that the promise he made is the main reason the people of Chibok voted overwhelmingly for him in the February elections.
He said although his government has so far succeeded in bringing back 107 of the girls, he will not rest until the remaining are reunited with their families.
‘Still on the matter, five years on’
Mr Buhari assured the parents that “his administration is still on the matter.”.
“Diverse efforts are being intensified to secure the release of the Chibok Girls, along with all hostages in Boko Haram captivity, including Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped from her school, Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018,” the statement said.
On Leah Sharibu’s abduction, the statement said, “the interlocutors have reported encouraging progress so far”.
“The report reaching us says her return to her family has unfortunately been hindered by the fear of the militants.
“They worry that heavy military presence in areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety after they return her to the government.
“At the same time, the military cannot jeopardise the security of the entire north-eastern region by halting their operations to accommodate Boko Haram’s fears.
“Leah Sharibu will be reunited with her family as soon as any conclusions are reached on a number of options being considered for her safe transportation,” the statement said.
It said the success of the Nigerian military in subduing Boko Haram is evidenced by the large numbers of militants who have surrendered recently, especially in neighbouring Cameroon and Niger.
It said a similar mass surrender of militants is expected to happen soon in Nigeria.
“While Nigerian military operations are ongoing, the government is also engaging with the militants but the talks have been affected by the factionalisation of Boko Haram – with one group adopting a hard-line attitude and intensifying attacks on Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and another group engaging with the government for peaceful resolution.
“President Buhari also uses this opportunity of the commemoration of the Chibok tragedy to commend the girls, now women, who have triumphed over it all.
“He sends special greetings to the 106 girls sponsored by the Nigerian government to continue their studies at the American University of Nigeria, Yola.
“He encourages them to stay focused on becoming women, who will inspire girls in Nigeria and around the world to triumph over the daily battles they face in a world that is often unfair to the girl-child,” the statement said.