The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Federal Government of seeking to negotiate the timing of the release of the Chibok girls to create a public relations boost, rather than out of a genuine concern for the girls. They are in their sixth months in captivity.
In a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the clearest evidence of the government’s manipulation of the girls’ release came during President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
“Apparently assured, somehow that the girls were about to be released, the administration set up an elaborate publicity event in New York, rented the necessary crowd and booked back-to-back interviews with the international media to enable the President luxuriate in the girls’ release. This event was billed for the five-star Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, close to the UN headquarters.
“Nigerians will remember that on September 23, the military announced, on Twitter, the imminent release of the girls, only to retract the statement shortly after. In the intervening period, thousands of ‘supporters’ of the President gathered at the Pierre Hotel to welcome the President after the release of the girls, while media interviews were booked for him.
“Such an occasion required prior organisation and knowledge by the government and attendees of the timing of any release of the girls. This whole episode was timed to also coincide with President Jonathan’s speech to the UN General Assembly the next day – September 24th – and to secure maximum advantage for the government. Somehow, the whole process collapsed like a pack of cards, to the chagrin of those seeking to exploit the innocent girls for political advantage,” it said.
The APC condemned the politicisation of the plight of the Chibok girls, saying since the incompetence of the Jonathan administration led to the abduction of the girls in the first instance, it must not seek to make political capital out of their release.
“What should be paramount is securing the release of the girls as soon as possible, not securing their release to fit with a schedule that benefits President Jonathan politically. For the girls, their parents and indeed all Nigerians, this abduction saga has been a nightmare. It is time for it to end,” the party said.
It said the same Jonathan administration that rebuffed appeals from well-meaning Nigerians to negotiate the release of the girls in their early days in captivity, had suddenly swung into “feverish action”, sending its cronies to negotiate with the abductors and even expressing the readiness to swap the Boko Haram commanders for the girls.
“We believe the government should do whatever it takes to secure the release of the girls. We believe nothing is too much to do to get the girls back home safely and bring relief to their parents and families. But we suspect government’s sudden effort, which is aimed at giving a boost to President Jonathan’s candidacy for next year’s presidential election.
“This is most unconscionable, most exploitative and blatantly shameless. It confirms what we have been saying all along that the Jonathan administration knows more about the Boko Haram insurgency than it has admitted, and that the administration is exploiting the insurgency for the President’s re-election. Decent Nigerians are scandalised at this exploitative and deceitful behaviour of their government, and it must stop forthwith,” APC said.