The failure to rescue the last girl standing, Leah Sharibu, the only Christian victim in the February schoolgirls’ abduction by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State is a minus to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, writes Olawale Olaleye
From the subconscious, where it’s been long suspended, Leah Sharibu’s matter, again, crept into national consciousness, when a recent recording of her voice surfaced. Leah, the only Christian and girl standing from the 110 Dapchi Schoolgirls’ abduction in February 19, 2018, had appealed to the president, Muhammadu Buhari to show compassion on her and take her out of captivity. She was allegedly held back because she refused to renounce her faith.
In the 35-seconds-audio uploaded by The Cable, an online newspaper, Leah was heard saying, “I am Leah Sharibu, the girl that was abducted in GGSS Dapchi. I am calling on the government and people of goodwill to intervene to get me out of my current situation.
“I also plead to the members of the public to help my mother, my father, my younger brother and relatives. Kindly help me out of my predicament. I am begging you to treat me with compassion, I am calling on the government, particularly, the President to pity me and get me out of this serious situation. Thank you.”
Immediarely, the Presidency had instructed the Department of State Services (DSS) to probe the said audio, the voice which was later confirmed by Leah’s parents as hers, reports said.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who, in a message posted on his Twitter handle, @GarShehu, said government’s official reaction would be released at the end of the investigation, however, added that the president was committed to the release of all those in captivity and would not rest until the feat was achieved.
“We are aware of the audio in circulation concerning the unfortunate situation of our daughter, Leah Sharibu. In dealing with terrorists, nothing is too trivial. The secret service is analysing the voice. Our reaction will follow the outcome of the investigation. For President Buhari, nothing will be spared in bringing all our girls home. He will not rest until all of them are freed,” he said on his Twitter Handle.
Eventually, when what later passed as the official reaction was released through the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, government said only God knew when Leah would be rescued.
Asked to give a time frame for Sharibu’s rescue, Adesina, who spoke in an interview on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise, said God was the sole determinant of her return, a position, which clearly contradicted that of Shehu.
He asked: “For how much longer? I think that question can only be answered by God. I believe that God is interested in that young girl and will ensure that she is preserved.
“I think when that clip that we have is verified, at least, one will be sure that it’s her and when that is determined, we should all be glad that she is alive. When will she return? By the grace of God, the government is working on it and we believe she will be back.”
He also said the president had made a commitment to do anything to rescue the kidnapped girls, even if it meant paying for their release, although he denied reports that government paid ransom for the release of the other 110 girls in the first place.
“That is not confirming that there was payment on Dapchi, because the then director general of Department of State Services (DSS) was categorical the day the girls were brought back and it was in public glare that not a dime was paid for Dapchi girls. On Dapchi, there was no payment,” he said.
Cutting out the debate on whether or not government paid for the release of the girls even though the argument against this has never been convincing, the takeaway from this is the befuddling uncertainty that surrounds the fate of Leah.
Not minding the uncoordinated approach to the information management of the government, Buhari’s two media aides have subtly differed on this matter, further compounding the hope that was hitherto forlorn as far as Leah’s release is concerned.
As it is, everyone, who genuinely seeks the release of Leah, would do well by turning to God as against the government. Although some had tried to colour this debate on the basis of religion since it was the basis for which she was denied freedom, the government who can dismiss this has rather done less in securing her release and instead pontificate needlessly.
The question on how long more Leah will remain in captivity is far from securing the right answers. But thank goodness, her fate is in the right hands: her creator.