BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
ABUJA – THE solidarity visit of the ‘#Bringbackourgirls’ campaign led by the former Minister of Education and Solid Mineral Dr. Oby Ezekwesili to the Senate President, Senator David Mark, Tuesday turned into altercation and hot exchange of words as the group after listening to the Senate President and accused him of not telling them anything tangible about the rescue of the girls.
Dr. Ezekwesili had in her presentation expressed anger and frustration over the manner the Federal Government had handled the abduction of the over 200 girls in government secondary school Chibok, Borno State by the Boko Haram Sect, alleging that in other clime, it would not take up to five days for the government to embark on the rescue operation of the girls.
She also complained that members of her team had faced harassment and molestation in what she claimed to be a genuine agitation and that to get into the National Assembly was a herculean task as the group was allegedly stopped and thoroughly searched by the security apparatus at the gate.
She said that they were not embarking on the campaign because they were jobless rather because they were touched by the plight of the girls as mothers, adding that the biggest problem of her group was the fear that the girls could become a history as many other strange things happen in the country on daily basis.
Ezekwesili said they came to meet the Senate President to ask him to help in giving them information as they were in solidarity with the girls, adding that there had not been information on the efforts of government towards rescuing the girls to them.
Responding, Senator Mark told the group that the federal government had made frantic efforts towards ensuring that the abducted girls were released and that it was the government determination to see that the girls regained their freedom that made it to bring countries with experiences to help in the search of the girls.
The Senate President said that at war time all war resources must be brought together to fight, and that the government cannot fight terrorism successfully without information by the people.
He told the group not to work at cross purposes with the government and urged various campaign groups working for the release of the abducted to collaborate with all relevant government agencies for their eventual release.
He said, “I am not sure any Nigerian with blood flowing in his vein will be indifference to the plight of the Chibok girls. Government has not ruled out any option in the quest to free our girls. Let us be on the same wave length and free the girls alive.
“The case of the Chibok girls is a sad commentary. Nobody anticipated this ugly trend. We are all under stress locally and internationally. The situation does not call on anybody to grand stand. All hands must be on deck to rescue the girls.”
Although he said that he appreciated the campaign led by Dr. Ezekwesili and Mariam Uwais but he reminded them that Boko Haram had declared war on Nigeria, a situation he noted demanded tact and purposeful approach.
“We must do everything humanly possible to rescue the girls alive, end insurgency and terrorism in the land. What is important to all of us is to work hard to bring our girls alive. Nobody should politicize this. Lives are involved and we are all fathers and mothers here. It is better imagined than witness.”
The Senate President who noted with concern the plight of the girls in the hands of their captors told the campaign team that nobody should put a time line on the release of the children, adding, “We don’t want the children to be released in a manner they cant come back.
“My appeal to you is to adjust not to be seen as working at cross purposes with government. I don’t think any group should play politics with it. Our girls are suffering, whatever we can do to bring the girls back, we will do it.”
However, the response by the Senate President who received the team alongside other senators did not give conviction to the former World Bank Managing Director who immediately told the Senate President that they were embarking on the agitation on not personal issues other than the Chibok girls.
“We talk with almost with anger because of conflicting reports we are getting,” Dr. Ezekwesili and wondered why it took the federal government a long time before action could be taken on how to rescue the girls.
She said that the bringbackourgirl campaign wanted a united front against the common enemy and a result from the rescue operation, noting,” this group is a group for the citizens and a group for Chibok girls.
“You haven’t given us a very tangible response we can hold unto. I hope when we come back, we will have a tangible response.”
But angered by her choice of words, Senator Mark replied, “I am sure you weren’t expecting me to tell you the girls are going to be rescued tomorrow. Let us not reduce it to what the people discus in classroom.
“The point I am trying to make is that we should be at the same wave length, government is doing whatever they can, I don’t know the tangible answer you want, you have not received. I am not in any dialogue with any member of Boko Haram. I am not a party to anybody rolling out option.”