The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that the issue about the Chibok girls is a test of humanity to all Nigerians and not a debate between President Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress party (APC) on one hand and ex-President Jonathan and the opposition PDP on the other.
This is contained in a statement signed and made available to newsmen by the party on Monday.
It said the party greatly regrets doubting that the girls were ever abducted having seen the authenticity of the claims after the release of 21 out of the 218 girls abducted by the Islamist Boko haram sect in 2014.
It however urged the president not to renege on his unwavering resolve at ensuring the release of the remaining girls and ridding the country totally of the insurgents.
The statement read thus:
“On Sunday October 16, 2016, 21 of the Chibok girls released by the terrorist group Boko Haram were reunited with their parents and family members at an emotional ceremony in Abuja.
“The girls had been released after 913 days in captivity as part of negotiations between the terrorist group and the Federal Government. This is perhaps a watershed moment in one of the worst acts of terror to have occurred in the history of our country.
“The hope is that these negotiations would ultimately signal the end of captivity for all the Chibok girls and result in their reunion with their families.
“ The release of the Chibok girls is one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s finest achievements in his 17 month reign, one for which he must be commended. During this period, Nigeria has recorded gains against the terrorist group, with life returning to normal in many of the previously affected areas in the North Eastern part of the country.
“The weapons received by the Nigerian Military in the last few months of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan have formed the foundation for this push against boko haram. The retooling of the military in the most comprehensive manner in decades, perhaps since the administration of former President Shehu Shagari, as carried out by Jonathan cannot be de-emphasized.
“It is important to point out that, in the past, many people – including myself – doubted the veracity of the kidnap of the girls, questioned the integrity of the entire issue publicly and/or believed that the kidnap was stage-managed to rubbish the image of former President Jonathan. In reaching these conclusions, less premium was placed on the pain and suffering of the girls and their families than should have been.
“These doubts are deeply regretted. The sordid tales recounted by the girls as well as the tears of joy and relief by their family members show the error of judgment many Nigerians, including myself, previously made.
“This doubt was predicated on the information available to most of us at the time. However, after attending a meeting between former President Goodluck Jonathan and some of the parents of the Chibok girls at the Presidential Villa on July 22, 2014 my perception changed. After that meeting, I immediately called on Nigerians to stop doubting and to believe that the incident had occurred.
“These errors of judgment must be overtaken by our humanity. At this point, this issue of Chibok can no longer be about partisanship. It can no longer be a debate in the context of Goodluck Jonathan vs Muhammadu Buhari or APC v PDP.
“ I urge President Buhari to work harder to ensure the release of all the girls and their reunion with their families. I urge him to lead the fight against Boko Haram, the enemy that seeks to destroy our constitutional freedoms and impugn our territorial integrity, until they are completely defeated.
“ I also urge him to extend this resolve to defeat terror by combating the menace of murderous herdsmen that plague the North Central region of Nigeria as well as other parts of the country. Just yesterday, a group of herdsmen attacked Godogodo Village, killing more than 20 people and burning houses and properties worth millions of Naira. Several women and girls were raped during the course of the encounter.
“This has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria in 2016 during which more than 1,500 people have lost their lives to murderous herdsmen in various locations across the country.
“Nigeria can never be truly safe until this new spectre of terror is defeated.
“God bless Nigeria.”
By Deji Adeyanju