Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
With exactly seven days to the end of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have stated that the administration did not live up to its promise concerning the release of Leah Sharibu and other kidnapped Chibok girls.
They also urged the media to intensify reports and remain committed to consistent reportage of the kidnapped Chibok girls abducted by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, on April 14, 2014.
Stating that the present administration used the incident of the kidnapped girls to ride to power through its campaign promises, the CSOs called on the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, and his Vice President, Kassim Shettima, to see to the rescue of Leah Sharibu and the remaining 93 Chibok girls as a priority, as they prepare to take over mantle of leadership, adding that leadership was continuity.
The call was made yesterday, at the media screening of, “Nine Years Life after Chibok Abduction” organised by Women Radio 91.7FM in Abuja.
A panelist and Executive Director of Gender Strategy Advancement International, Adaora Sydney-Jack, emphasised the need for the government to be more forthcoming in giving feedback and information to galvanise action towards the rescue of the girls.
She said, “The gaps between the time when the girls got missing, and the social mobilisation of the social media and attended by the traditional media was a lot of time and in between that, the international media and other countries have already taken a turn to decide what narrative that the story should take.
“The government needs to be more transparent and communicate more with the families and stakeholders. We need to know what they are doing and what steps they are taking to bring back our girls.”
Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal, urged members of the media not to relent in their reportage.
He said, “We need to keep hope alive and continue to press for action to ensure that this new government, and maybe one way we can hold them to account is that the person who has emerged as the next Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, was the sitting governor when this happened.
“So, maybe he would use the Office of the Vice President or the presidency infrastructure to respond to this call-to-action.”
On his part, Murtala Abdullahi, a journalist and panelist, raised concerns about lack of information available to Nigerians regarding the care of the rescued girls and their families.
He said, “We need to know what the government is doing to support the girls and their families. Nigerians need to hear more about the care and rehabilitation of the girls that have been rescued.”
In her contributions, Executive Director of Invictus Africa and member of Bring Back Our Girls Movement, Bukky Shoninare, emphasised the role of the media in creating a spotlight on the issue and making it a priority for the government.
She said, “The media needs to keep the issue in the public eye and create a sense of urgency. Whatever the media creates a spotlight on, the government will take as a priority of the people.
“We need a spotlight on that. The second is accountability in terms of the money allocated and the policies that were made. How can 216 school girls still be in captivity and nothing has happened?
“The resident himself tweeted this in 2014 and the Buhari administration leveraged in the issue of the Chibok girls to come power” she said.
Sonibare said the media should also look at the importance of the return of the girls themselves, the three areas of concentration for their healing namely rehabilitation, reintegration and resocialisation, as well as the missing persons register. According to her, the fifth would be in terms of victim support fund.
She said the victim support fund was created for this purpose and journalists need to ask what had been used and not being used.
Also, founder of LEAH Foundation and panelist, Dr. Gloria Puldu, encouraged the media to be more resilient and continue holding the government accountable.
She said, “We will to keep pushing the government to do more and hold them accountable for their promises. The media has a critical role to play in ensuring that the government takes action towards the rescue of the remaining girls.”