Parents and schoolmates of the 219 schoolgirls being held captive by Boko Haram insurgents yesterday at the last minute, pulled the plugs on a scheduled meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, who in turn blamed the development on the Abuja chapter of #BringBackOurGirls group for “playing politics”.
“It now appears that our fight to get the girls of Chibok back is not only a fight against a terrorist insurgency, but also against a political opposition”, the president said in a statement.
It would be recalled that on Monday, President Jonathan had promised Pakistani child education activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was in the country to show solidarity with the abducted girls that he would meet with their parents.
“I want to be clear, this government stands with complete solidarity with the girls and their parents. We are doing everything in our power to bring back our girls”, he said adding that “As a father of girls, I stand ready to meet with the parents of our abducted children and the truly brave girls that have escaped this nightmare through the grace of God”.
Not a few people saw the president’s sudden decision to meet with the girls’ parents and some of the girls that escaped over three months after the abduction took place as an international propaganda stunt.
The first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan had at onset of the abduction saga, denied it ever happened, alleging it was stage-managed by her husband’s detractors to pull him down and embarrass his administration.
The BBOG Abuja chapter daily sit-outs at the Unity Fountain have been harassed by hired groups under the watchful eyes of the police even though the campaigners, who have brought pressure to bear on the government to hasten the release of the girls, comprises mostly of women.
Recently, the BBOG campaigners had marched on Aso Rock to demand a meeting with the president, but security agents turned them back.
It is not clear why the parents and girls had a change of heart to meet the president on Tuesday, who was already waiting to receive them at the presidential villa, but it is believed that they were convinced by the BBOG group, led by a former minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, not to meet with Mr. Jonathan.
Other unconfirmed reports said the president’s insistence to meet only with the parents and girls without the BBOG group in attendance, led to the last minute cancellation of the important meeting.
President Jonathan in his statement yesterday, insisted that his priority was to see to the return of the abducted girls and not play politics.
“My priority is not politics. My priority is the return of these girls”, he said.
The president accused the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners of “psychological terrorism… playing politics with the situation and the grief of the parents and the girls. They should be ashamed of their actions”.
Jonathan has never met with the parents or the escaped girls, though they have been asking to meet with him for weeks. In May, he cancelled, without explanation a trip to Chibok, the remote northeast town where the girls were kidnapped.
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