Last week the politics of the hapless students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect in April last year was again brought to the fore when members of the #Bringbackourgirls campaign group paid a courtesy call to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
The visit was the first major public outing of the #Bringbackourgirls campaigners who disappeared from the public radar immediately after the election. Prior to the election the campaigners were accused of playing politics with the fate of the abducted girls as they were alleged to be working hand in glove with members of the All Progressives Congress to bring down the last Peoples Democratic Party administration. Their visit to President Buhari came after Nigerians started asking questions as to why the campaigners disappeared after the APC won the presidential election.
The sudden appearance of the campaigners is already construed in some quarters to be a public relations gimmick to douse the suspicion that members of the group are actually politicians disguised as activists. This suspicion was reinforced when information filtered out three weeks ago that the Borno State governor Kashim Shettima has nominated the principal of the Government Girls Secondary School, GGSC, Chibok Hadjiya Asabe Kwambura, as the new commissioner for education.
It was reported that in a surprise development and a twist to the Chibok girls saga, Governor Shettima forwarded Hadjiya Kwambura’s name to the Borno State House of Assembly to be screened by the house and if approved by its members, will assume office as the new Borno State education commissioner.
Hadjiya Kwambura was the GGSS Principal when Boko Haram abducted 234 pupils from the school in April last year in the middle of the night. Although she was not on campus at the time of the abduction, having purportedly travelled to Maiduguri for a medical check-up, Hadjiya Kwambura was informed on the night about the kidnapping.
Condemnation had trailed the reported nomination as Nigerians alleged that the nomination has confirmed their fears that there is more to the abduction of the kidnap girls than meet the eyes. Conspiracy theory and high-level politics were also in the mix as the controversy over the abduction of the girls continues.
Following the outrage that trailed the nomination, Borno State Governor was forced to make a hasty retreat almost one week after the reported nomination of the Chibok Principal.
In its belated reaction the Borno State government describes information about nomination of Chibok school principal for the post of the commissioner for education in the state as a joke that should only be told during comedy shows to entertain audience.
Governor Kashim Shettima’s spokesman Isa Gusau, said “In the last one week, we have noticed a very strange information being circulated by some online media platforms claiming that Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State had nominated Asabe Kwambura, Principal of gGovernment Secondary School, Chibok for the post of commissioner for education” that it can be “nothing more than a joke that should only be told during comedy shows to entertain audience.”
According to Gusau, the rumours about Kwambura’s nomination might have been spread with the intent to harm Shettima’s reputation and to create doubts concerning his alleged involvement in Chibok girls’ abduction, as it had been attempted earlier by some officials supporting past PDP’s federal government.
The drama in Borno state also played out at the federal level in April when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed the founder of BringBackOurGirls campaign, Hadiza Bala Usman into the Presidential Inauguration Planning Committee. The same lady was also reported to have been appointed as an aide of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
The campaign, which has been criticized by observers for advancing the partisan interests of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had one of its frontline activists, Nigeria’s former Education Minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili making the 2015 TIME 100 list for her advocacy efforts.
Since the abduction of over 234 female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state on April 15, 2014 in very questionable circumstances, the issue has attracted global attention with leaders all over the world calling for the release of the Chibok girls. In Nigeria many questions were raised on the manner the girls were abducted from their school.
The girls were said to be in the school to write their West African Examination Council, WAEC examination. But after the abduction of the girls, WAEC came out to say they told the Borno State government to relocate the girls to Maiduguri metropolis to seat for the examination because of security challenges posed by the activities of members of the Boko Haram sect. Borno State government under the leadership of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, was said to have declined to relocate the girls to a safer location and gave WAEC every assurance that they would provide adequate security for the girls. This promise was never kept and the girls were eventually abducted in circumstances that are very questionable as none of the teachers or their children within the prescient of the school was among those that were abducted.
Not too long after the abduction caught global attention some group of Nigerians came up with a group called #Bringbackourgirls. The group started holding public demonstration in Abuja and other towns and evidently they had solid financial backing as several millions were spent printing Tee-shirts, face caps, feeding of protesters, daily welfare and other logistics. Some leaders of the group even had to take their campaign outside the shore of Nigeria and most times painted the Nigerian government in very negative light to their foreign audience.
At a point Nigerians began to suspect that there is more to the activities of the #Bringbackourgirls group than meets the eye. It was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, that first raise the alarm in late May that politicians in the All Progressives Congress have hijacked the campaign for the release of the Chibok girls just like they hijacked the fuel subsidy protest a few years ago.
The senator in a statement in Abuja, further alleged that the party was using the protests to score cheap political points and not in anyway joining the federal government and genuinely concerned Nigerians in finding ways of rescuing the girls.
He said, “It is not the ceaseless rallies on the streets especially in APC controlled states and the one being repeatedly carried out in Abuja at days interval by a particular group, or wearing of red dresses that will lead to the release of these girls by their abductors or their needed rescue from captivity by government forces . These APC politicians or sympathizers engineering these ceaseless rallies in some parts of the country over the abducted Chibok school girls have lost the usually needed hearts of Mothers and Fathers by openly and practically politicizing a national problem of high magnitude.”
APC leaders vehemently denied the allegation by Senator Enang that they were using the abduction of the Chibok girls to score cheap political point. They maintained that position until two leading members of the party, Chief Audu Ogbe and Senator Daniel Dino Melaye goofed at Eagle Square Abuja when General Muhammadu Buhari formally declared his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election.
In what has been described as a strange twist, the opposition All Progressives Congress through Ogbe and Melaye conceded sponsorship of the Bring Back Our Girls, #BBOG campaigns whose activities have called to question the genuineness of the group’s intentions.
Ogbeh said: “We send our greetings to the Chibok parents. We believe that one day they will be reunited with their children. We commend the Bring Back Our Girls movement led by members of our party for their commitment. They remain the only living witnesses that Nigeria still has a conscience.”
Ogbe’s speech was, however, strongly condemned by Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili, who is also a leader of the group.
She said on her Twitter: “I take very strong exception to what is being credited to Mr. Audu Ogbe of APC, another tragic low in making #ChibokGirls political pawns. It is false and wrong to say #BBOG Nigeria is led by members of APC. If Mr. Ogbe is being correctly quoted, he can only be referring to those of their members who are part of #BBOG_Nigeria. Never has there been any speck of political party consideration in anything that the strategic team of the group that I chair does.”
Following Audu Ogbe’s disclosure that APC members are spearheading the #Bringbackourgirls campaign the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan said it has unravelled a grand plan by the #BringBackOurGirls, BBOG Campaign Group orchestrated to unseat Goodluck Jonathan. Former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, confirmed that government has been able to understand clearly the hidden agenda of the group which finally played out when Buhari declared his intention to run for the 2015 presidential election.
Dr. Abati in a statement posted severally on his twitter handle said that the roles played by Dino Melaye, and initiator of the BBOG, Hadiza Bala Usman at Buhari’s declaration for the 2015 presidential election in Abuja is proof of their true aim of politicizing the agony of the Chibok girls and their families.
He said: “Our longstanding view of BBOG movement’s hidden agenda to unseat the Jonathan administration received full justification yesterday “Roles played by Dino Melaye and presence of BBOG’s Initiator Hadiza Bala Usman at Buhari’s declaration is proof of their true aim of politicizing the agony of the Chibok girls and their families.
Even before the Jonathan administration alleged that the APC is plotting to unseat the government with the #Bringbackourgirls group, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle described insurgency war as having more political undertones than a religious underpinning. The envoy made the statement while addressing journalists at a press conference convened at the American University of Nigerian, AUN in Yola.
Political observers in the country have already pointed out that these romance between APC leaders and those associated with the Chibok girls saga needs to be properly investigated, moreso, when the whereabouts of the girls is still a mystery after the military has combed the Sambisa forest where it was initially believed that the girls were kept. The election has come and gone and it is most inhuman for anyone to continue to play politics with the life of these innocent Chibok school girls. Nigerians need the girls rescued and not talk shows and presidential visits. President Buhari as a matter of urgency, go beyond mere promises and fulfil his campaign promise that he will rescue the hapless Chibok girls as soon as he takes over the mantle of leadership in the country.

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