By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
President Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated his determination to bring back the more than 200 Chibok school girls saying that his silence in the past was to avoid compromising investigations on the abductions.
In a 514 word opinion piece article published in Friday’a edition of the Washington Post, President Jonathan regretted that his silence on the issue has been misconstrued by critics as a sign of weakness as he confesed that being a father, he is touched by the feelings of the parents of the abducted girls.
In the article titled “Nothing is more important than bringing home Nigeria’s missing girls” the president said that the terrorism in Nigeria is not unique and that it was in that respect that Nigeria this month, alongside, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Britain and the United States established an External Intelligence Response Unit to share security information on such threats in West Africa.
He added that he would in September propose to the United Nations to establish an international force to tackle the activities of such terrorists anywhere they are found.
Saying he was not weak on the issue as portrayed, Jonathan said:
“I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria’s military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.”
“My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno state, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country.”
“My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important to me than finding and rescuing our girls.”
“In September, I will urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish a U.N.-coordinated system for sharing intelligence and, if necessary, special forces and law enforcement to confront terrorism wherever it occurs.”
Noting religious, political and ethnic cleavages that must be curtailed for Nigeria to fight off terrorism, he said:
“In Nigeria, there are political, religious and ethnic cleavages to overcome if we are to defeat Boko Haram. We need greater understanding and outreach between Muslims and Christians. We also know that, as it seeks to recruit the gullible, Boko Haram exploits the economic disparities that remain a problem in our country.”
“Something positive can come out of the situation in Nigeria: most important, the return of the Chibok girls, but also new international cooperation to deny havens to terrorists and destroy their organizations wherever they are — whether in the forests of Nigeria, on the streets of New York or sanctuaries in Iraq or Pakistan. Those who value humanity , civilization and the innocence of children can do no less.”