By Henry Umoru, Abuja
Seven years after hundreds of schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram militants in Chibok, Borno State, with 112 still missing and unaccounted for, former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume has called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, give parents of remaining Children and the public, monthly update of efforts made towards their rescue.
Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senator Ndume, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno South said that the government should brief the parents either monthly or quarterly.
According to Ndume, the action if carried out would ease the psychological tension of the parents against the backdrop that they will be assured that efforts were being made by the Federal Government to release the remaining School Children.
Recall that on April 14, 2014, Boko Haram gunmen ambushed an all-girls boarding school on the remote town of Chibok, Borno State in the middle of the night and seized 276 girls aged between 12 and 17 before vanishing into the forest. Some of the girls managed to escape on their own, while others were later rescued or freed following negotiations. But the fate of many has remained unknown.
Senator Ndume who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army has however lamented that since the ugly incident took place, the Federal Government has failed to rebuild the School in spite of the promises made by the Federal Government, just as he commended the efforts of Borno State Government that is planning to take over the school with a view to renovating it.
He also called on the Federal Government to fix the critical nerve road that facilitated the running away of these girls and that is the 40 kilometres long road between Chibok and Damboa which has been in the budget in the last 18 years.
Ndume said, “It is seven years since the Chibok girls were abducted. Up till today, 112 of them are not accounted for. We hear stories, but I am glad that the government issued a statement that they have not forgotten and that they are following the case. But I want to call on the government to be giving the parents and the public update either on a monthly or quarterly basis on the effort that they are making so that we will know what is going on.
“The government should identify the parents of the remaining 112 missing girls so that through the state government or whatever channel the government can be in touch with them and also assist them psychologically.
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“Also, the Federal Government, up till now, seven years after the school was destroyed, that school has not been rebuilt after the Federal Government took over and the Safe School Initiative where money was set aside – big money – nobody is talking about that. The Federal Government has not fulfilled its promise. In fact, the State Government is now struggling to take back the school from the Federal Government in order to rebuild it.
“And then there is a critical nerve road that facilitated the running away of these girls – the 40 kilometres long road between Chibok and Damboa. It has been in the Federal Government’s budget since I came to the National Assembly, For 18 years now, the federal government could not finish it and that road is critical access because if there is no accessibility, the military or the security agencies cannot be effective.
“So, these are the things we are calling on the Federal Government to look into as a matter of urgency or national importance because the issue of Chibok girls and the issue of Chibok itself and the parents of the girls sticks in the mind of not only Nigerians but the international community. The earlier the Federal Government does something in terms of providing more information as to the efforts that they are making, the better for all of us.
“We thank God there’s the presence of a Taskforce Brigade in Chibok but the other areas that the insurgents are because they are in the border of Sambisa, the other areas like Kautikari-Pemi that you hear of incessant attacks there are no soldiers there. And what is responsible for this is because, as I have been saying, we don’t have enough soldiers on the ground. What happened in Damasak now is not because of anything but because the soldiers there are not enough.”