By Ben Agande, Adekunle Aliyu and Ndahi Marama
Angry reactions yesterday trailed President Goodluck Jonathan’s last minute cancellation of a trip to Chibok, where over 200 female students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, GGSS, were abducted last month by Boko Haram insurgents.
Parents of the abducted girls who had lined up waiting to receive President Jonathan on his sympathy visit to Chibok, ended up frustrated, as their ‘’August visitor’’ never turned up.
Although there was no official reaction from the Borno State government over the development, a close associate of Governor Kashim Shettima who pleaded anonymity said that although there was no official communication between the state government and the presidency that Jonathan would visit Borno or Chibok yesterday, the state government had made preparations about the aborted visit of Mr. President, aware of the trip which the presidency was said to have wanted unannounced.
Apart from the parents of the abducted schoolgirls, traditional rulers and other officials state government officials had gathered in Chibok in the morning to welcome the President, but end up frustrated after waiting for some hours under the hot sun. They were later informed that the visit had been cancelled.
One of the parents, Mr. Amos Pagu said in a telephone interview with Saturday Vanguard that, “we are not disappointed by the cancellation of the visit, because, already we parents of the missing school girls have lost confidence in the government of the day for not rescuing our innocent daughters who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists over a month ago.
“We have now put our faith in God Almighty whom we believe is the only one that will rescue our daughters.’’
However, the trip was said to have been cancelled due to concerns about unfavourable security reports.
The president was billed to travel to the troubled town where the female students were abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists, triggering international outrage.
Though no official statement was issued on either the proposed visit or its cancellation, the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima who was out of the country flew back to Borno State in the early morning of yesterday, apparently to receive Jonathan
in Maiduguri. An ‘’advance team’’ from the Presidency made up mainly security details had left Abuja for both Maiduguri and Chibok before the abrupt cancellation of the trip.
Jonathan has been under severe criticism for failing to visit the community one month after the students were abducted.
But, Jonathan’s Spokesman, Reuben Abati, however said that the president never planned to visit Chibok yesterday.
Abati, said in a series of tweets on his twitter handle @abati1990 that the planned visit was a hoax.
’’Every official trip by the President is preannounced. There was no announcement of the president’s trip to chibok. Please ignore the runour,” he wrote.
His tweets came several minutes after a presidency source told the BBC that the trip was shelved for security reasons. Sources, however said that Mr. Abati, was just trying to ‘’save face.’’
Also, the Special Adviser to the President, Dr. Doyin Okupe, told the CNN yesterday that Nigeria had taken a decision to rescue the over 200 Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents on April 14, 2014. Okupe spoke in an interview with CNN Reporter, Isha Sassey late yesterday.
He denied that the President aborted the trip for security reasons and said that Jonathan could still visit Chibok on his return from France.
The aborted trip appeared an outrage in the international media and Doyin Okupe was almost in a shouting match with CNN’s Isha Sassey while denying that insecurity in Chibok are was the reason for the cancellationof the trip.
”If, as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he is afraid to visit Chibok because of security fears, he is simply telling the hapless people in the northeast that he cannot protect them and they should resign themselves to their fate,” said Debo Adeniran, of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders pressure group.
Lai Mohammed, spokesman for the main opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, said Jonathan had “lost all direction” and the cancellation was “a good example of his government’s policy indecision”. ”He has clearly abandoned the Nigerian people and Nigerians are conscious of this. Obama went to Afghanistan, so did Bush. I think Jonathan lacks good advisers.” Jonathan would have used the opportunity of the visit to the troubled Borno State, particularly the Chibok town, to see things for himself, the level of carnage carried out by the insurgents and hear from eye witnesses.
His working visit to Paris, France was said to be in connection with finding lasting solutions to the problems of insurgents in Nigeria. He is scheduled to meet with his counterparts from Benin Republic, Chad, Niger and Cameroon for talks on how to intensify collaboration against Boko Haram and other security challenges.
Britain, the United States of America and the European Union will be represented at the talks which will give special attention to the coordination and intensification of efforts to curtail the destabilising activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
Following local and international outrage over the abduction, the international community including the U.S, U.K, Israel, China and France among others are assisting the government in the search for the teenage girls.