In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, President Goodluck Jonathan again on Monday said that the notion that the Federal Government has not been doing enough to find and rescue the abducted Chibok girls is very wrong and misplaced.
Speaking at an audience with Pakistani Girl-Child Education Campaigner, Malala Yousafzai, in Abuja Jonathan said that his administration was definitely doing everything possible to ensure that the girls were rescued alive and safely returned to their parents.
He however explained to Malala, who was accompanied by her father and other members of her Foundation, that the Federal Government’s efforts were constrained by the overriding imperative of ensuring that the girls’ lives are not endangered in any rescue attempt.
“Terror is relatively new here and dealing with it has its challenges. The great challenge in rescuing the Chibok girls is the need to ensure that they are rescued alive,” Jonathan said, stressing that the Federal Government and its security agencies were very mindful of the need to avoid the scenario in rescue attempts in other parts of the world where lives of abductees were lost in the effort to rescue them.
The President said that this challenge notwithstanding, the Federal Government was very actively pursuing all feasible options to achieve the safe return of the abducted girls.
“The time it is taking to achieve that objective is not a question of the competence of the Nigerian Government. We have had teams from the United States, Britain, France, Israel and other friendly nations working with us here on the rescue effort and they all appreciate the challenges and the need to thread carefully to achieve our purpose,” he said.
The President told Malala who met yesterday with some parents of the abducted girls that he fully empathised with their pain and anguish. He said that he would meet with the parents himself before they left Abuja to personally comfort them and reassure them that the Federal Government was doing all within its powers to rescue their daughters.
Milking the interaction for all it is worth, Jonathan reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring the safe and proper education of all Nigerian children.
“I personally believe that since about 50 per cent of our population are female, we will be depriving ourselves of half of our available human resources if we fail to educate our girls adequately or suppress their ambitions in any way. We are therefore taking steps to curb all forms of discrimination against girls and women, and have also undertaken many affirmative actions on their behalf,” he said.
The President said that the Federal Government was also proactively evolving and implementing policies and measures that will benefit the abducted Chibok girls when they are safely rescued, as well as others that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
These, President Jonathan said, included the establishment of a Victims’ Support Fund, the Safe Schools Initiative and the Presidential Initiative for the North East.
He announced that he would inaugurate a National Committee to oversee fundraising for the Victims’ Support Fund, which will also cater for families of security men and women who have lost their lives in the war against terrorism, on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
The President thanked Malala for coming to Nigeria to support ongoing efforts to rescue the abducted Chibok girls and promote girl-child education.
“We appreciate your efforts to change the world positively through your powerful advocacy for girl-child education,” President Jonathan told her.
Malala had earlier met with 15 parents and five of the 57 Chibok girls who escaped from Boko Haram custody.
The activist who just turned 17 said “I can see those girls as my sisters … and I’m going to speak up for them until they are released.”