kidnapping by Boko Haram demanded Wednesday that Nigeria’s president meet
everyone affected, describing a hastily-arranged plan for a visit with a
select few as offensive.
More than three months after the Islamist rebels seized 276 girls from a
secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok, President Goodluck
Jonathan has not met the parents of the hostages or with any of the 57
girls who have escaped.
Visiting Nigeria this week to campaign for the girls’ release, Pakistani
education activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived a 2012 assassination
attempt by the Taliban, urged Jonathan to hold face-to-face talks with
those touched by the abductions.
A meeting scheduled for Tuesday was called off at the last minute, with
the presidency saying the families had been manipulated by activists who
are exploiting the hostage crisis to damage Jonathan politically.
But Chibok community leaders told AFP that if Jonathan truly wants make
amends for his disappointing response to the abductions, he should visit
the town, or, at the very least, bring all the victims to Nigeria’s
– ‘We deserve a visit’ –
“It is embarrassing that the president had to wait for Malala to come all
the way to Nigeria to convince him to meet with us three months after the
attack,” said Dauda Iliya, a member of the Chibok panel of elders.
“We deserve a visit by the president,” he added, saying that if Jonathan
cannot go to the remote northeastern town for security reasons, he can
bring “all the 219 mothers to meet with him. This meeting should not be
Jonathan had scheduled a visit to Chibok in May but called it off at the
last minute, without providing an explanation.
“For more than three months all we are praying for is for Goodluck to come
and see what happened to us and see us crying,” said Ayuba Chibok, whose
nieces are among the hostages.
“If our governor (Kashim Shettima of Borno State) was able to come and go
back safely, why can’t the president, with all his helicopters,” he added.
Jonathan on Monday asked to meet a small delegation of parents and
escapees who were selected by Chibok leaders to travel to Abuja to greet
Chibok residents said the group would have faced significant backlash at
home had they met the president.
“It would have been a big insult to those of us who were not present,”
said a father of a girl who was kidnapped, requesting anonymity.
Jonathan spokesman Doyin Okupe charged that the group had been co-opted by
the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, which includes some of the president’s
Okupe told journalists the presidency had formally asked victims to meet
Jonathan next week, but the venue and number invited was not immediately