President Muhammadu Buhari has defended his administration’s response to the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls, rating it better than the reaction of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014.
The President took a swipe at the previous administration on Wednesday when he visited Yobe State, close to a month after Boko Haram terrorists abducted 110 schoolgirls from a secondary school – the Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi – in the state.
“The Federal Government’s response to the unfortunate abduction of the schoolgirls is a clear departure from the insensitivity of the past administration which looked the other way while the Chibok girls were taken away in 2014 and held in captivity for over three years,’’ he said in Damaturu, the state capital.
President Buhari said this during a meeting in the Government House, attended by security and intelligence chiefs, community and religious leaders.
Although security agencies and the government has come under criticism for the Dapchi abduction and the response to it, the President insisted that his administration’s reaction was “the best in the given circumstances”.
He said after receiving the news of the abduction, he ordered the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take direct charge and brief him on a daily basis on the efforts to bring back the girls.
He added, “Within four days of the incident, the Minister of Information visited Dapchi and the next day, the Minister of Interior who was accompanied by the Minister of Information re-visited the school for on the spot assessment.
“I have ordered the re-strengthening of a Joint Operational Base involving relevant agencies and Services to coordinate the rescue mission. Consequently, the Service Commanders have not only established a unified Command Centre in Maiduguri, the Military has raised several rescue teams to comb the forests in the North East Theatre of Operation.”
Recounting the recent successes recorded by his administration in rescuing Boko Haram hostages and securing the release of many of the Chibok schoolgirls, the President gave the assurance that the schoolgirls will regain their freedom.
“I have no doubt that the Dapchi girls will be rescued or released. I want to reassure parents, Nigerians and the international community that we will do all that is within our power to make sure that the girls are brought back safely to their families,” he said.
According to the President, all options are on the table to ensure the girls are brought back.
“On 19th February 2018, we woke up to the painful news of the abduction of 110 students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi. Since this ugly incident happened, I have not left any stone unturned in making sure that the girls are rescued,” he said.
The steps being taken by the government include partnering with partnering with the international community including Nigeria’s immediate neighbours and holding talks with the terrorists.
‘‘Just recently, I reiterated our resolve to negotiate for the unconditional release of the girls,” the President said.
‘‘This is borne out of this administration’s conviction that doing so is safer devoid of risks and will not endanger the lives of our young girls who are in harm’s way.
‘‘There will be no rest till the last girl, whether from Chibok and Dapchi, is released. The girls, like all our citizens, must enjoy unhindered freedom and pursue their legitimate aspirations.
‘‘The Dapchi and Chibok students are our girls and must enjoy our protection. They must live to achieve their individual ambitions, to be great women of tomorrow. It is our duty to protect them.”
Beyond rescuing the schoolgirls and Boko Haram hostages, President Buhari said his administration would remain resolute in fighting terrorism.
He called on Nigerians to remember the level of terror Boko Haram was unleashing in the North East before he came to power.
He said, “Nigerians will recall that prior to our coming in 2015, the situation was chaotic with violent terrorist attacks being the order of the day. Terrorists had made life very unbearable for the people in Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Borno, Niger, and even the FCT, Abuja.
“Our mosques and churches witnessed daily suicide bomb attacks. Parts of Adamawa and Borno States were helplessly ceded to the terrorists.
“But today, we have so far shown clear determination in tackling terrorism which is a worldwide phenomenon. We have not only degraded the power and dominance of the criminal elements, our security forces have patriotically exhibited an uncommon zeal in executing their assignment.”
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