Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said the remaining Chibok girls in the captivity of Boko Haram would never be forgotten.
The president, who made the promise on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the kidnap of the girls, expressed his good wishes to the people of Chibok, Borno State.
The people of Chibok are said to be holding prayers and thanksgiving services to mark the sixth anniversary of the kidnap of their daughters by Boko Haram terrorist group today.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said Buhari regretted that the current COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on movement, made it impossible for any government delegation to join them during the event.
According to the statement, Buhari assured the people of Chibok that he was still mindful of their welfare and their concerns, especially over “our daughters who are still missing.”
The statement further said the president explained the circumstances surrounding the conditions of the remaining Chibok girls held by the terrorists, disclosing ongoing efforts to rescue them.
“The armed forces of the country who are on general operations in the entire region continue in their hope that they would encounter these girls, as they encounter thousands of other hostages, rescue and bring them back home.
“The nation’s security and intelligence community, in whom a lot of hope, is reposed in rescuing the abducted girls is making a lot of efforts using backroom channels to get them back to their families.
“These are processes, formal and informal that involve different groups with links to the terrorists, and are very tedious and uneasy as is seen in different parts of the world.
“The issue of the Chibok girls is not a forgotten issue. We cannot go to sleep over this matter. We are optimistic that ongoing efforts will yield something positive,” the president was quoted as saying.
The president narrated what he described as an ongoing crisis within the leadership of Boko Haram, which he said had led to factions and breakaway groups.
According to him, the development had brought a number of unforeseen challenges to the process of negotiating with the insurgents for the young women’s release.
He also said in the past few years, the armed forces had recorded huge successes in the battle against Boko Haram, saying they had also carefully ensured that only few civilian lives were lost in the process.
Against this background, he said their goal was to ensure that the girls left in captivity were freed alive.
The statement said Buhari also reflected on the progress being made by the already freed ‘Chibok girls,’ being sponsored by his administration to study at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, saying he is proud of what they are doing.
“He encourages them to remain focused on their studies and on this unique opportunity that has been given to them by God, following their horrific time in captivity.
“President Buhari also commends Yakubu Nkeki, Lawan Zannah and Yana Galang, the executive officials of the Association of the Parents of the Abducted Girls from Chibok, on their steadfast efforts to advocate for the welfare of the parents, the freed women, and those still in captivity,” he added.