A leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Audu Ogbeh, on Tuesday apologised to the BringBackOurGirls campaigners for insinuating that the group is an appendage of the APC.
Mr. Ogbeh, had during the former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration for the APC presidential ticket, extolled the group for its selfless campaign to secure the release of the over 200 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgence over six months ago.
“We believe that one day; they (Chibok girls) will be reunited with their children even though those children have seen a lot of trauma,” Mr Ogbeh had said.
He also said the group’s leaders are members of the APC.
“We commend the #BringBackOurGirls movement led by members of this party; we thank them for their commitment to Nigeria because they remain the only living evidence that Nigeria has a conscience.
“We hear that the Federal Government wants to take them to court, let the courtroom be large enough to accommodate all of us when they sue them,” he concluded.
Following Mr. Ogbeh’s statements, many Nigerians lashed out at Mr. Ogbeh and APC, saying the party was attempting to make political gains out of the girls’ misfortune.
The presidency said the comments merely confirmed its belief that the protest group was politically-motivated to undermine President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.
Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, in a tweet on Thursday said the group and the party are merely politicizing Nigeria’s collective agony to score political points.
“Our longstanding view of BBOG movement’s hidden agenda to unseat the Jonathan administration received full Justification yesterday.
“Roles played by Dino Melaye and the presence of BBOG’s initiator Hadiza Usman at Buhari’s declaration is proof of their true aim of politicising the agony of the Chibok girls and their families.
“This is now fully apparent, the true agenda and prime movers of BBOG movement,” Mr. Abati said.
Referring to APC chieftains as #BringBackOurGirls activists, Mr. Abati urged Nigerians to reject the group’s “political partisanship and unjustifiable” bashing of the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.
In her reaction, Ms. Usman lampooned the presidency for attempting to discredit the group on the basis that some of its members belong to the APC.
In a two-page reaction, the initiator of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign confirmed her membership of the APC but denounced the insinuation that the group is political.
Ms. Usman stated, “Let’s be clear, when I worked to mobilize women, men, and Nigerians at large to come out on April 30th to protest that the government should intensify efforts to #BringBackOurGirls, I did so not as an APC member, but first as a human being, as a woman, a mother, a Nigerian and an African.
“It was never about politics or my political affiliations; it was rather about our shared humanity as human beings.
“As a mother, I have experienced the trauma of not knowing where my child is for few minutes; does it then surprise many why I would be moved to act on behalf of mothers who are yet to see their daughters for over 189 days after?”
Ms. Usman said members of the group are concerned citizens who are interested in the unity and development of the country.
She noted that those who appreciate the role an educated girl-child would play in the nation’s development would readily support the campaign to free the abducted girls.
“That these girls dared education in the face of terrorism, intimidation, insecurity, and other life-threatening circumstances, is a rare display of courage, doggedness, and hope.
“This is why I, alongside other #BringBackOurGirls campaigners, daily advocate to make sure these girls are not forgotten, but that they come home to contribute their quota to national development.”
But Mr. Ogbe in a letter dated October 20 and addressed to the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls group, offered apologies for his earlier statements.
“I feel obliged to let you know that my statement at our function last week was not intended to paint your group as an APC sub-group.
“This is because, from what we now know, less than two percent of the group are our party members, but members we value highly.
“The rest of you are and may not even belong to any political association whatsoever; this is not to say that you have no right to be if you choose to.
“If my statement caused you discomfort, I do apologise, but reiterate that I have nothing but respect and admiration for you for keeping a six-month vigil and telling the world that the Nigerian conscience is not totally dead.”
The APC chieftain noted that the world is watching Nigeria and making judgment while wishing the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners God’s blessing and protection.