President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday met the 21 Chibok girls who were released by Boko Haram last week, pledging to “redouble” his efforts to rescue those still being held.
Speaking at the presidential villa in Abuja, Buhari addressed the girls and their families saying “we shall redouble efforts to ensure that we fulfil our pledge of bringing the remaining girls back home”.
Buhari said that he hoped the girls would go on to complete their education after their ordeal at the hands of Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language spoken across northern Nigeria means “Western education is sin”.
“Obviously it is not too late for the girls to go back to school and continue the pursuit of their studies,” Buhari said to the girls, who were clad in new, brightly coloured dresses and head wraps.
“These dear daughters of ours have seen the worst that the world has to offer. It is now time for them to experience the best that the world can do for them.”
The 21 girls were part of a group of over two hundred schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014.
They were released last week following negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Swiss government.
On Sunday, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said that the government was hoping to secure the release of 83 other girls believed to be from Chibok being held by a different Boko Haram faction.
The release of the 21 Chibok girls is a triumph for President Buhari, who was voted into power on a platform vowing to stamp out corruption and crush Boko Haram.
But Boko Haram still poses a threat to the war-torn region, launching sporadic raids on remote villages in Nigeria and deadly attacks on soldiers in neighbouring Chad and Niger.