The Presidency has appealed to officials and members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), campaign group not to waver in their support for the government in the war against terrorism.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, made the appeal in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday.
He called on the group to continue to support the government in the ongoing effort to free all Nigerian citizens taken captive by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
He described as untrue the group’s claims in a recent statement that Buhari had “broken all promises” made to the group about rescuing the missing Chibok girls and that the “government had been lackadaisical in the rescue mission”.
According to Shehu, the past year of President Buhari-led administration has seen the Nigerian military step up bombardment of the Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of Boko Haram terrorists, leading to the capture of hundreds of insurgents.
“Also, records from the army show the rescue of no fewer than 15,000 captives, mostly women and children from the terrorists from February to date.
In addition, dozens of communities that were previously under the control of the terrorists have been liberated, allowing thousands of previously displaced citizens to return home and resume their normal lives.
Thousands of these women and children freed from captivity have also been reunited with their families.
This huge number of rescued women and children may not be prominent names, and their disappearance may not have generated any massive media attention and campaign.
However, their liberation is just as important as that of every other missing woman and child, and a testament to the devotion of our military personnel who daily risk life and limb in the effort to bring back every Nigerian citizen kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists,” he said.
According to him, the Federal Government is focused on the welfare and rehabilitation of rescued Nigerians, many of whom were found in a state of severe malnutrition and illness.
“While their intentions are honourable, perhaps the BBOG leadership has not considered the collateral damage which must inevitably follow its riveting and dispiriting claim that the President has ‘broken all promises’ allegedly made to the group on this issue or that he has been ‘lackadaisical’ in rescuing the Chibok girls. The federal government’s focus has always been to free the Chibok girls alive and unharmed,” he added.
According to Shehu, the President is always conscious about the fact that terrorism in Nigeria is part of a global phenomenon, saying that since coming to office, his response to it has been firm and well considered.
He maintained that Buhari would never make bogus promises or play to the gallery.
“It is misleading of anyone to preach that the Chibok girls are within easy grasp. If the military under the President knows where they are held, they will bring the Chibok girls home today,” he said.
He further stated that the Presidency was open to renew cooperation with the BBOG group, international bodies, religious groups, social workers, and all others for smooth reintegration of those so far rescued from Boko Haram captivity.
He said groups such as the BBOG could also lend a helping hand to families of the military and other security agencies whose losses needed to be appreciated and focused upon.
“The life of every single Nigerian matters to this government and the security agencies. Administration will continue to exert all its powers to ensure that every Nigerian is safe from the brutality of terrorists and terrorism,” he said.