For the parents and guardians of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls still in Boko Haram captivity, it has been a torturous four years no one but they alone could feel bitter about.
And for the parents of Leah Sharibu, the sole remaining captive from the Dapchi abduction by the insurgents, the length of captivity of the Chibok schoolgirls and the circumstances regarding how their daughter was held back after the release of her peers, offer neither succour nor hope.
This is just as the Presidency last night confirmed that negotiations between it and Boko Haram for the release of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls suffered some unexpected setbacks. It said the development was due mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors, whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.It added: “We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you.
“However, this government is not relenting. We will continue to persist and the parents should please, not give up. Don’t give up hope of seeing your daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfill our promise of reuniting you with your daughters.“Don’t imagine for a moment that we have forgotten about your daughters or that we consider their freedom a lost cause. “Their daughters will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate, despite four long years since they were taken away by terrorists,” the Presidency said.
Today, the Chibok schoolgirls still being held have spent four years of their youth in captivity, while Leah, despite having almost breathed freedom, has spent 55 days in captivity.Out of the about 276 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State, kidnapped by the insurgents on April 14, 2014, as they prepared to write their West African Senior School Certificate Examinations, about 112 still remain in captivity, as others were either released or died while being held.
All the living Dapchi girls abducted on February 19, this year, except Leah, have been released, with some reported to have died in captivity.Controversy, allegations and counter-allegations have trailed and still trail the abduction of the Chibok girls regarding the authenticity and actual number of abductees, as some people remain in denial.It was one of the contentious issues of the 2015 presidential election and a little over a year to the next election, the issue of Leah, the only Christian captive who remains in captivity because she could not recite the Quran or refused to do so, being against her faith, is still a thorny issue.
There have been series of videos released by the captors on the Chibok girls, who have been used as cannon fodder and bargaining chips by the insurgents to extort money from government and get their arrested members released in exchange. Former minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, and Aisha Yesufu, among others, have been at the forefront of calls for their release, through the now famous Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign.
As the federal government intensifies efforts to secure their release, including through dialogue, for the parents of the kidnapped and still in captive, the waiting continues until their children are back, preferably alive.A statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, yesterday quoted the President as assuring that as long as he remained the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Chibok girls would never be forgotten and all would be done to have them reunited with their families.
The President joined the Borno State Government, parents of the children and Nigerians in commemorating the fourth anniversary of the sad incident, praying that the event at the school yesterday would go well.He urged the parents to keep their hopes alive on the return of their daughters, noting that the recovery of over 100 of the girls through the federal government’s determined effort should give confidence that all “hope is not lost.”
Buhari re-affirmed that the government remains focused and determined to see the girls return to their homes, urging the parents to be expectant of more good news in due course, adding: “We are concerned and aware that it is taking long to bring the rest of our daughters back home, but be assured that this administration is doing its very best to free the girls from their captors.”