Ten days to presidential election, precisely on March 18, 2015, Nigeria’s President-Elect, General Mohammadu Buhari promised to rescue schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok village in Borno State by Boko Haram fundamentalists.
He made the promise at a town hall meeting Abuja, accusing the federal government of lacking the sincerity of purpose required to tackle the problem of insecurity in the northeast.
Buhari said: “I will give it all it takes to ensure that our girls kidnapped from Chibok are rescued and reintegrated with their families.”
The Street Reporters recall that Tuesday marks the first year since the over 200 girls were kidnapped.
The President-Elect in a statement from his Daura village in Katsina State maintained that from the first day of his administration, boko haram would be met with the “collective will” of the Nigerian people.
“As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them,” he said in a statement on the first anniversary of the abduction of over 200 students from Borno State owned Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.
The statement reads: “Today we remember the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok one year ago. This crime has rightly caused outrage both in Nigeria and across the world.
“Today is a time to reflect on the pain and suffering of the victims, their friends and families. Our thoughts and prayers, and that of the whole Nigerian Nation, are with you today.
“I want to assure all of them, and particularly the parents, that when my new Administration takes office at the end of May, we will do everything we can to defeat Boko Haram.
“We will act differently from the Government we replace: we hear the anguish of our citizens and intend to respond accordingly.
“This new approach must also begin with honesty. We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.
“But I say to every parent, family member and friend of the children that my Government will do everything in its power to bring them home.
“What I can pledge, with absolute certainty, is that starting on the first day of my Administration Boko Haram will know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas.
“Boko Haram” means “Western Education is Sinful”. When they are defeated militarily, as they will be, we will ensure our citizens in the affected areas have improved educational opportunities as a direct counterbalance to Boko Haram’s twisted ideology.
“In particular we will educate ever more young girls ensuring they are empowered as citizens of Nigeria.
“Let us use this anniversary to remind each other that the attack on Chibok was an attack on the dreams and aspirations of our young people.
“We stand united in our pledge to resist terror in Nigeria– not just through military means but also through the power of opportunity and the hope of a better future for all”, the general said.
The Street Reporters can also recall that during the period the girls were kidnapped, the retired general did not make any effort as former Head of State to ensure the rescue of the girls.
In June 2013, some concerned members of the Arewa Youths Forum had called on the former Head of State to desist from making inciting statements in his quest for political relevance.
The youths had also advised him to gauge the mood of Nigerians before throwing his hat in the ring come 2015.
Spokesman of the group, Jibril Mamman Vatsa, who made the position of the northern youths known in Kaduna, said spoke on the backdrop of a statements made by Buhari to the effect that the ongoing military operations to dislodge the Boko Haram sect were anti-north.
Buhari had also insisted that the Islamic insurgents must be treated as Niger Delta militants while reacting to the state of emergency declared in the north east by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Buhari had said: “You see in the case of the Niger Delta militants, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua sent an airplane to bring them, he sat down with them and discussed with them, they were cajoled, and they were given money and granted amnesty.
“They were trained in some skills and were given employment, but the ones in the north are being killed and their houses demolished. They are different issues, what brought this? It is injustice”, Buhari said while featuring on the “Guest of the Week,” a Hausa programme of the Kaduna-based Liberty Radio in June 2013.