Premium Times (Abuja)

6 May 2014

Nigeria: Chibok Schoolgirls - Tinubu Calls for Unity to Free Victims

A former Governor of Lagos State and leader of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, has called on all Nigerians irrespective of religious or political affiliation to join in the campaign to find the abducted Government Secondary School, Chibok, girls.

Over 200 female students were abducted from their school by members of the Boko Haram sect on April 14. Leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau appeared on a video Monday claiming responsibility for the abduction and threaten to "sell" the girls.

Mr. Tinubu in a detailed statement released to the media, titled, NIGERIA BLEEDS AND IT NEEDS ALL OF US, said Boko Haram's ultimate objective is to seek to destroy the spirit of the nation and pit Nigerians against each other.

"While I have no interest in partisan bickering at the moment, I also cannot allow the mere fact of my political affiliation to silence me on this transcendent issue," he said.

The APC leader stated that all Nigerians have a right and responsibility to let their voices be heard on the matter.

"Thus, I say what I believe must be said. If you think I do it for political purpose, so be it. Yet, I say it that I fulfill my civic responsibility as a citizen whose nation and way of life has been placed under siege by a hidden and sinister force. In this, I believe what I will say speaks for most progressives today."

Mr. Tinubu asked Nigerians to unite to defeat the insurgency of the Boko Haram.

"We stand united against this threat to our national existence. The twin-bombings in Nyanya are a challenge to us all. The explosion was craven attempt to demoralize the nation by striking an important transportation hub in our beloved nation's capital. The second bombing stands as an act of evil defiance of constituted authority. The terrorists now try to frighten us by showing that our security forces are unable to stop them, even in our nation's capital. However, whatever terrible lesson they think they teach us, we refuse to learn.

"Our classroom is life, liberty and justice. We do not take lessons in oppression, fear, hatred and death from them or anyone else. Whatever they think they won by this bloodletting, they have lost. They have made implacable enemies of every man, woman and child in Nigeria. We shall prevail. Boko Haram shall lose," he said.

Mr. Tinubu called on all Nigerians to let their voices be heard. He also called on the Federal government to do the needful and step up to defeat the terrorists.

"Ultimately, it is the people who will defeat Boko Haram. If the people were to see government as their ally and true guardian, Boko Haram will have no space to operate. Right now it operates in the space created by widespread indifference and cynicism," Mr. Tinubu said.

How to tackle Boko Haram threat

Mr. Tinubu further outlined five ways in which, he said, the government can through policy tackle the root cause of the present security challenges and make Nigerians more secured.

He said government must admit that its solely military approach is inadequate. He also said the government needs to reach out to northern Nigeria, especially those areas most blighted by terrorism.

"Much of that part of the nation now suffers severe economic depression," he said.

He added that government must refine its military operations.

"The military's hand has been too heavy and indiscriminate. It has committed abuses against the innocent in its clumsy attempt to pursue Boko Haram. These offenses only increase the pool of disaffected people from which Boko Haram recruits," he said.

He added that the government must improve its intelligence-gathering capacity, which is partly a function of the people's disposition toward government.

He also said the insurgency challenge has a regional dimension.

"Elements of terrorism are now trafficked across regional borders. As the largest nation in West Africa and the nation most affected by this problem, Nigeria has the standing to convene a regional summit to discuss with our neighbours ways to end this problem before it becomes a hot and pressing issue for our neighbours as well," he said.

The APC leader agonized over the missing girls and submitted that the nation is faced with a dilemma.

"With each day that passes, the likelihood that some of the girls may be transported across the border or suffer in their current surroundings increases. The people rightfully demand action to free our children but whatever action government takes must be geared to saving these children not to "doing something" just to avert the political pressure.

"Government must act with purpose and urgency but also with prudence and compassion for our captured, distressed children. This will require greater levels of coordination and planning by or security than we have heretofore witnessed. With all reasonable dispatch, we ask the government to plan strategically and execute with precision and care.

"This nation needs her children back and all of us, regardless of political stripe, religion, region and origin, stand behind government as long as government does its utmost to win back the lives of our daughters. Until then, we are reduced to peering into the sky and hoping for the hand of Providence to redeem us be you a Christian or a Muslim," he said.

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