Britain Re-iterates Commitment To Rescue Of Chibok Girls

Chibok Girls, BBOG, Presidency, Boko HaramThe British Minister for Africa, Mr Tobias Ellwood has assures Nigeria of Britain’s continued support for the rescue of the Chibok school girls abducted in April 2014.

Mr Ellwood gave the assurance in Abuja after a closed door meeting with members of the Bring Back Our Girls group at the United Kingdom’s High Commission.

According to him, he will be having another meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President, President Yemi Osinbajo to discuss the release of the Chibok school girls.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Bring Back Our Girls group, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, has said the group will continue to seek international support for the rescue of the girls.

Prisoners’ Swap Request

Britain’s assurance is coming days after Boko Haram released a video of the girls in their custody, demanding for prisoners’ swap to release them.

Over 200 girls preparing for their final year examination in Chibok secondary school in Borno State were taken from their school’s dormitory.

After the Boko Haram released the video, parents of some of the girls asked the Federal Government to swap suspected members of Boko Haram terrorist group held at different detention facilities with the girls, as requested.

The Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, thereafter renewed his commitment to rescuing the Chibok girls, saying the government will not give up in the search.

In tweet on his Twitter handle, President Buhari paid glowing tributes to the military for their efforts in the war against insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast.

The President also said he was willing to swap Boko Haram prisoners for the Chibok girls.

But that is on condition that they are able to list those they want released and then come out to discuss with the Federal Government.

He says the Federal Government will want the girls out safe without any harm done to them.

Recently, the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners had called on the President to accept the swap of the Boko Haram prisoners for the Chibok girls who were kidnapped in Borno State two years ago.

At a bilateral meeting with the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon,on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting held in New York few days ago, President Buhari said Nigeria would welcome intermediaries from the United Nations as a show of commitment, to swapping the abducted Chibok girls with Boko Haram fighters in custody.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said that”the challenge is in getting credible and bona fide leadership of Boko Haram to discuss with”.

“The split in the insurgent group is not helping matters. Government had reached out, ready to negotiate, but it became difficult to identify credible leaders. We will welcome intermediaries such as UN outfits, to step in.”

The President reiterated that the teachings of Boko Haram were far from being Islamic, as neither Islam, nor any other religion, advocates hurting the weak and innocent.

“The fact that they kill men, women, children, and other people wantonly, and shout Allahu Akbar (God is great) shows that they do not know that Allah at all. If they did, they would not shed innocent blood,” President Buhari said.

Denmark Pledges Support To Rescue Of Missing Chibok Girls

Head_DanishThe Foreign Minister of Denmark and Head of the Danish delegation to the Bring Back Our Girls sit-out in Abuja has pledged the support of the government of Denmark to ensure the Chibok girls are rescued alive.

Addressing members of the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners in Abuja, the Foreign Minister of Denmark, Mister Kristian Jensen, said the search for the Chibok girls has assumed a global dimension requiring international collaboration.

Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, said the campaigners are not giving up hope of rescuing the Chibok girls.

She however laments the inability of the Federal Government to conclude the search for the girls after 665 days.

Army Sends Advance Team To Maiduguri For Military Command

Military CommandThe Nigerian military has sent a reconnaissance and advance team to Maiduguri, Borno State for the establishment of the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) for ‘Operation Zaman Lafiya’.

This is in compliance with the Presidential pronouncement and the Chief of Army Staff’s directive for the fight against terrorism and insurgency.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sanni Usman, said, “The team, which is led by a 2-Star General, has already commenced work in earnest and it is comprised of elements of the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, all the relevant Army Headquarters Departments and other combat support components.”

The Centre, according to Col. Usman, will serve as a forward command base for the Chief of Army Staff and other Service Chiefs.

He added that the Military Command Centre is essentially an elaboration of an already existing Army Headquarters Command and Control arrangement which will monitor, coordinate and control the fight against terrorism and insurgency would be coordinated and controlled from this centre.

He said that the MCCC would not create another layer of command structure but would add renewed vigour to the ‘Operation Zaman Lafiya’.

He also said that an alternate command centre is also being established in Yola.

Opinions Differ On Relocation of Command Centre To Maiduguri

Command CentreBorno State has been on the receiving end from Boko Haram attacks but there are high hopes of a turn of events as the Command Centre relocates to Maiduguri.

The Nigerian President announced the planned relocation of the Command Centre to Borno State during his inauguration on Friday, May 29 and Nigerians have continued to comment on the directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The former Minister of Education and leader of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign organisation, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili says Nigerians should just wait to see how that speech will be translated into action.

Mrs Ezekwesili, who spoke to Channels Television in Abuja, described the speech as inspiring as it is loaded with action, one of the attributes of a good speech.

She, however, noted that translating the speech into positive results is what would determine if it was indeed a great speech, starting with the rescue of the Chibok girls.

A security expert, Capt. Aliyu Umar, is also one of those who believe that the decision to move the Command Centre to Maiduguri was a good one.

He said that the relocation would give the military the edge to fight the militants, recalling several instances where similar decisions had yielded positive results.

Capt. Umar said that the Nigerian Army might not have had a high number of soldiers running away from battle if their commanders had been around.

The retired Nigerian Army officer also frowned at times in the past when military chiefs have had to stay back in Abuja waiting to be told what was happening in the North-east, highlighting the constant breakdown of communications as a major set back in Nigeria’s fight against insurgency.

Vulnerable And Attractive Target

Another Security Consultant, Dr Onah Ekhomu, however, believes that moving the military command centre to Maiduguri may not yield the desired results in the long run, because of the transformation of Boko Haram’s tactics into pure terror.

He said that the decision would make the command centre a vulnerable and attractive target for the insurgents, recalling the spirited attacks that the insurgents have launched on the Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri in the past.

According to him, it takes one IED to destroy an entire facility.

Dr. Ekhomu also stated that effectively combating the group’s terror would require more of intelligence assets, more planning and a strategic assessment of Boko Haram’s capabilities.

A command centre is any place that is used to provide centralised command for some purpose.

It is sometimes considered to be a military facility, but the centre enables an organisation to function as designed, to perform day to day operations regardless of what is happening around it, in a manner in which no one realises it is there.

The command cenrtre is a source of leadership and guidance.

Group Asks Military To Produce Video Footage Of Progress In North-east

Bring Back Our Girls Protest At Nigerian Embassy- MilitaryThe Bring Back Our Girls campaigners have tasked the Nigerian military to substantiate the report of its victory in the ongoing multinational counter insurgency in the northeast, with video footage that will authenticate such reports.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Sunday, the group said conflicting reports and lack of evidence had often trailed the claims by the military.

The group said while it fully supports the efforts by the military and government’s renewed commitment to decimate the insurgents through the Multinational Joint Task Force, there is the need to ensure that real progress is being made to bring back peace to the north eastern part of Nigeria.

Its only 51 days less than a year since the over 200 secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State, were abducted by members of the militant group, Boko Haram and about 300 days since the bring back our girls campaign group commenced their protest for the rescue of the girls.

Nigeria’s general elections were postponed on February 7 on account of the insurgency in the north-east, with the military announcing plans to commence a 6-week multinational offensive, to recover lost territories and decimate the insurgents.

One week after, the Bring Back Our Girls campaign group which commenced a monitoring initiative says claims of victory so far announced must be supported with evidence.

While the group lauded government’s efforts, they raised issues such as the delay in commencing this offensive and the continued suggestion from some quarters that the kidnap of the girls and the campaign for their rescue were scams.

Hopes are high on the on-going multinational counter-insurgency, especially by parents of the abducted girls who have consistently attended the meetings of the group, some who are also internally displaced.

Many of them say they look forward to going back home.



Bring Back Our Girls: Campaigners Take Protests To Presidential Villa

Bring Back Our GirlsThe ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group in Abuja has asked the Federal Government to increase efforts to rescue the Chibok girls who were abducted six months ago.

They made the call during a protest march in the Federal Capital Territory designed to mount more pressure on the Federal Government to ensure the release of the Chibok girls who have been in captivity for 183 days.

Leader of the group and a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, met with a stiff resistance when security agencies stopped them from gaining entrance into the gate leading to the Presidential Villa.

The group had vowed that it was a protest march that must take them into the seat of government no matter the circumstances but arm-totting security men were on hand to stop them.

On the other hand were government officials who came out to receive them at a certain point not very close to the Presidential Villa which was the original destination of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ protesters.

What looked like an altercation ensued between the leader of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group and the female ministers when the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe, challenged Mrs Ezekwesili on why a former minister should be leading the protest march.

However, responding to the group’s demands, on behalf of the Federal Government, Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, assured the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group that government was not resting in the efforts to rescue the girls.

Also among the protesters were parents of the missing girls who could not hide the agony they have faced all the days their girls have been in captivity.

Ezekwesili Demands New Social Contract From Leaders

oby okwesili

The Former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, has stated that for Nigeria to surmount its current socio economic and political challenges, Nigerians must demand a new and normal social contract from its leaders.

Ezekwesili made the call in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while delivering a lecture titled ‘Renegotiating Nigeria’s Social Contract after 100 Years of Nationhood’ marking the 80th birthday celebration of Nobel Laurette, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Ezekwesili, who also advocated on good governance, challenged the citizenry to live up to their responsibilities by putting their leaders on their toes in re-positioning the country’s path of sustainable growth.

She said; “It is not Nigerian to be known as an underperforming country, it is not Nigerian to be known as a corrupt country, it is not Nigerian to be known for every negative label.”

The lecture put together by the National Association of Seadogs, formed by Professor Wole Soyinka in 1948 at the University College Ibadan, was aimed at promoting good governance, social justice, and the advancement of democratic ideals.

It was also to honour the man fondly called “Kongi” by friends and admirers whom to them remained a different personality.

Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, referred to the celebrant as “a colossus of our current era”, he added, “the Government and the people of Ogun State are proud of Professor Soyinka, our illustrious son.”

The Catholic Bishop Of Sokoto State, Mathew Kukah, said, “I’m not assessing him on whether he’s a good footballer or whether he plays tennis well, I’m concerned with what church he worships in, if he worships at all, I’ve only come to celebrate what I consider the greatest human being to come out of our continent.”

In his remarks at the occasion, former Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, expressed confidence in the future of the country despite current challenges. He said that he believes in Nigerians being able to keep the country together.

Ezekwesili Seeks Good Governance For Nigeria’s Oil Sector

Nigeria in the next 50 years may not have access to as much oil has it does now, that is why it is necessary for the government to explore areas of revenue generation other than oil.

This is the position of former Vice-President of the World Bank for Africa and Senior Economic Adviser, Open Society Foundation, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, who also emphasized the need for the federal government to pay more attention to human capital and infrastructure development.

She was a guest today on Channels TV weekend breakfast programme, Sunrise.