By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Emmanuel Elebeke
Campaigners hoping to bring public pressure on the Federal Government to return the 276 girls kidnapped from the Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State are to march on the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
The decision was conveyed at the 18th day sit-in of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in Abuja yesterday.
The notice of the campaign which has been conveyed to the police came as one of the leaders of the campaign, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili vowed that intimidation and harassment from high quarters against her involvement in the campaign would not stop her participation. Ezekwesili told the gathering in Abuja yesterday that she was unmoved by the insults and other abuses directed
At the sit-in yesterday, several Abuja residents including lecturers, doctors and civil society activists reviewed strategies to press the authorities to realise the return of the girls presently in the custody of the Boko Haram Islamic sect. Among those at the gathering was a member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Sokonte Davies, Degema/Bonny, Rivers State Federal Constituency.
Yesterday, it was agreed that the campaigners would on Tuesday convey to the president their concern that little effort had been made in the war against terrorism despite over N3 trillion spent on security in the last three years. The protesters would also demand answers from the president on what the administration has done to trace and cut off the sources of funding for those waging the terror against the land.
Giving her resolve to forge ahead with the struggle until the girls are safely returned, Ezekwesili said that she was not moved by innuendoes and insults now being directed against her. She said that she and others involved in the campaign had legitimate businesses to do, but that their revulsion at the kidnap of the girls stirred them to set aside personal business and comfort to project the interest of the girls.
“And by the way, I don’t spend my time here loosely, the opportunity cost of my time is incredible,” Ezekwesili, a former vice-president of the World Bank said.
“Many of you don’t know, but I advise presidents on the continent, in the month of May, I was supposed to be with four of them with their respective cabinets on the kind of economic reform I give to them. I spend an average of a week in this country doing the work that I do for these countries, but I had to cancel them because of this.”
“God forbid that it should be said that Oby Ezekwesili was alive and 276 girls were taken and all we did was sit in our little rooms. You can continue with your insults, but all I say is bring back our girls,” she said to the wild applause of the gathering yesterday.