Almost 100 days after the over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their hostel at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, some 160 parents of the abducted girls as well as 57 of the students who escaped from their captors, will meet with President Goodluck Jonathan today at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The visit is coming on the heels of the botched meeting of last week, wherein nine parents and some of the escapee girls had shunned the invitation of President Jonathan to meet with them, in the aftermath of the visit of 17-year-old Pakistani girl child education activist, Malala Yousafzai.
The Chibok students were abducted on April 14. It will be 100 days tomorrow since they have been in the enclave of their captors, the Boko Haram terrorist group.
The president had received some flak for neither visiting the Chibok community nor hosting the distressed parents of the abducted girls. The 160 parents and escapee students, THISDAY gathered, arrived Abuja yesterday, preparatory for the meeting billed for today. In a sense, the meeting with the president will also be laying to rest the speculations on the real identity of the parents and the possibility of hearing first hand from the girls the circumstances that surrounded their abduction and their experiences in the camp of Boko Haram.
The parents' meeting with the president was brokered by Malala, who extracted a promise from the president that he would see the parents of the abducted female students.
The poor representation of the parents, according to the Chibok stakeholders in Abuja, contributed mainly to the failure of last Tuesday's meeting between the parents and the president.
As exclusively reported by THISDAY in a statement released by the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Kiboku Chibok Area Development Association (KADA), Mr. Rotimi Olawale, the Chibok community in Abuja maintained that it was incorrect to blame the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners for the decision made by the parents in the interest of their community.
He said the decision to revert to other family members was to incorporate every stakeholder in the matter and to avoid discord and suspicion on a change of plan from the original mission to Abuja, and that it was why they reached out to Malala's team and through them to the Presidency to request a new date for an expanded and more representative meeting that has a legitimate mandate to meet with the president.
THISDAY learnt that the meeting with the president for the first time 99 days after the unfortunate abduction of the girls will afford the stakeholders in the campaign to hold consultations on the way forward over the matter.
The meeting, according to Presidency sources, would also enable the president to directly express his sympathy and solidarity with the parents, and also take the shine off various groups who have been making a huge political capital from the Chibok abduction saga.