*Laments rescued girls’ education in ruins
*Asks FG to account for $2m UNFPA Safe School Initiatives released by UNFPA
By Chris Ochayi
The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Sunday, raised concerns over the plight of the rescued 103 Chibok Secondary School girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists, lamenting that the Federal Government has abandoned the girls and dashing their hope of academic pursuit.
The forum in a statement by it’s National Publicity Secretary, Dr Isuwa Dogo in Abuja, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and save the academic careers of these girls.
The forum lamented that the future of the girls was still shrouded in dark clouds of hopelessness and despair in spite of $2 million released by the UNFPA under the Safe School Initiatives that was promoted by the UNICEF Education Ambassador and former UK Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, to salvage the careers of the rescued girls.
Dr Dogo noted that “It is ill-fated that the Federal Government abdicated its responsibility in fulfilling its obligations to the girls as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari. More worrisome, the government has refused to allow well-meaning individuals and organizations to come to the aid of the girls.
According to him, “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, has been drawn to the complete neglect of the rescue of the remaining 112 Chibok school girls out of a total number 219 abducted by Boko Haram terrorists while writing their final Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (SSCE) on April 14, 2014.
“The girls were rescued in two batches of 21, and 82, while four escaped individually at different times within the six years of their captivity in the terrorists’ den.
“The rescued girls, comprising 103 in number, were initially transferred to the Women Development Centre, Abuja, where they underwent Psychosocial Support (PSS) and treatment for Post Stress Traumatic Disorder (PTSD) facilitated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“Since May 2017 when they were rescued, rehabilitated and sent to the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, to prepare them to rewrite their SSCE, and proceed to various pre-degree programmes, neither the re-siting of the SSCE nor the pre-degree programme seen the light of day.
“The inability of the Federal Government and those directly responsible for the welfare and progress of the rescued girls to monitor and evaluate their level of Educational progress have cast a bleak on the future of the girls.
“Consequently, some of the rescued girls got frustrated and abandoned their studies, with some of them even married off. Presently, no fewer than 10 of the girls have since dropped out, and there are fears that more may not return after the easing off of the current COVID-19 lockdown.
“It is sad that the Presidency which had shown great enthusiasm on the fate of the girls when the sum of $2 million released by the UNFPA under the Safe School Initiatives that was promoted by the UNICEF Education Ambassador and former UK Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, has remained a mirage in salvaging the careers of the rescued girls.
“Despite advice by the parents of the girls, the Chibok Community and the#BringBackOurGirls. advocacy group that the Office of the Vice President is charged with the responsibility of monitoring the education of the kidnapped girls, the Federal Government maintained deaf ears and transferred the matter to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.
“It is ill-fated that the Federal Government abdicated its responsibility in fulfilling its obligations to the girls as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari. More worrisome, the government has refused to allow well-meaning individuals and organizations to come to the aid of the girls.
“The Forum recalls that both local and international organizations attempted to bring respite and rescue the career of these girls from the dunghill of hopelessness and despair.
“With the support of some local bodies, some of the 57 girls who initially escaped in the first few days of abduction have since completed their degree programmes in various Universities in the United States of America.
“It is a tragedy of unspeakable proportion that these girls who ought to have attracted the sympathy of the government have been mistreated and left at sixes and sevens.
“In the face of continued dark clouds of hopelessness hovering over them, we call on President Buhari to intervene and save the academic careers of these girls.
“We also call on Mr President to ensure the destroyed school where the girls were kidnapped from being completely rebuilt and open for prospective school-age children as the Chibok School is the only secondary school in Chibok LGA.
“The future can only be brightened through the education of citizens. The confusion that has trailed the academic careers of these rescued school girls should be resolved. We call on President Buhari to ensure the safe return of the remaining 112 school girls who are still under the captivity of Boko Haram.”