Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: #BringBackOurGirls - First Lady's Intervention Distracting, Counter-Productive - APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has decried the melodramatic intervention of First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan in the abduction of over 200 school girls as distracting, counter-productive and calibrated to scapegoat others with the sole intention of exculpating her husband rather than finding the girls.

"Make no mistake about it, there is nothing wrong in the First Lady, as a woman and the mother of the nation, playing a role in resolving the unfortunate abduction of the girls, but that role must be within the realms of social activism, not in policy making or conduct of state affairs," the party said in a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

It warned that melodrama, highlighted by the shedding of made-for-television crocodile tears, cannot and will not bring the girls back safely to their parents.

Group of Muslim sisters during a Peaceful Protest -"Bring Back our Abducted Girls in Chibok Borno state "- to Lagos state Gov Mr. Babatunde Fashola organized by Women for Peace and Justice Coalition, in conjunction with Market Men and Women Association of Nigeria. Photo: Bunmi Azeez

"What will bring them back is a purposeful and sustained effort by the Federal Government, which has hitherto been tentative and lethargic. Therefore, enough of the distracting, absurd and overbearing show that the First Lady has put up in the past few days," APC said.

The party advised the First Lady to stop grand standing and to get real by leading a protest of other First Ladies from all the 36 states of the Federation from the Eagle Square to Aso Rock to pressure her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, on whose laps falls the responsibility of leading the nation to find the girls, to act fast.

It also urged the First Lady to stop apportioning blames at this time so that all efforts can be geared towards finding the girls

"Our dear First Lady needs to be told clearly that her husband, the President, is the nation's Chief Security Officer. Our dear First Lady needs to be informed that because Borno State, where the unfortunate abduction took place, is under a state of emergency, her husband, the President, has automatically assumed all security powers. It is therefore wrong for our dear First Lady to be threatening to march on Borno to ask the Governor to produce the girls. That march should be to Aso Rock instead," APC said.

The party wondered where the First Lady derived the powers to summon elected and appointed officials to Aso Rock to answer her queries over the missing girls, saying by doing so, she is usurping the President's constitutional role, making him to look weak and ineffective in conducting the affairs of state and also making Nigeria the butt of jokes in the international community.

"The First Lady has summoned the Borno State Police Commissioner; the Divisional Police Officer for Chibok; the Borno State Commissioner for Education, the relevant Local Government Chairman, the school principal and the school gate man, among others. Where did she derive the authority or power to issue such summons? Does she know the implication of forcing security officials to divulge, on public television, sensitive information that could even hamper the search for the girls? How can a Police Commissioner, who is not accountable to the Governor of a state, be subject to the First Lady? Where in the Constitution, or any law for that matter, is the role and powers of the First Lady delineated or articulated?" it queried.

APC said if the First Lady would not heed the advice to stop summoning public officials to her executive chambers, then the officials should stop honouring such illegal and unconstitutional summons.

The party also took the First Lady to task over her comments that anytime she comes out, like a masquerade, something happens, wondering why then she did not deem it necessary to have come out in the first few days of the girls' abduction so that "something would have happened".

"Apparently, the First Lady believed, as she revealed on public television and as it has been insinuated in certain quarters, that the girls' abduction was a ruse aimed at embarrassing her husband, hence neither she nor her husband took the whole tragedy seriously. That explained their delay in acting.

"Now that the Boko Haram terrorists have claimed responsibility for the abduction and even threatened to sell the girls, the nation hopes that the First Lady and her husband now believe this is no 'politics'," it said

Meanwhile, the APC has condemned the clamour to release the names and pictures of the girls by those who are apparently doubting their abduction, including PDP National Women Leader Kema Chikwe.

The party said while publishing the names and pictures of the girls would not in any way facilitate their rescue, it would succeed in stigmatizing them for life when eventually they are found and returned home safely.

"These girls, who are mostly within the age-range of 16-18, are children, and deserved to be protected. Any attempt to publish their names and pictures, as being demanded in certain quarters, will stigmatize them for life, against the backdrop of the sex slavery conditions which many fear they may have been subjected to. Therefore, let us spare them any more trauma than they may have been subjected to already," it said.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed Interim National Publicity Secretary

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