President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Yobe State, said his administration's prompt response to the abduction of 110 students of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, was a clear departure from what he described as "the insensitivity of the past administration" that couldn't do anything when 276 Chibok girls were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014.
President Buhari also said the senseless bombing of worship centres, such as churches and mosques, which was rampant before his administration came into office, had also been curtailed, adding that his government has explored various strategies, including regional and international collaborations to exterminate terror.
But in a swift reaction, former President Goodluck Jonathan in a statement signed by one of his aides, Reno Omokri, said there was no iota of truth in the claim that the President is handling Dapchi better than he handled Chibok school girls' abduction.
President Buhari, who spoke when he met with the parents of abducted Dapchi school girls to console them on the ugly incident, said the Federal Government's response to the unfortunate abduction of the school girls was "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."
"Due to our commitment, over 100 Chibok girls have been rescued and reunited with their families, sent back to school and empowered with requisite skills," he added.
While expressing his heartfelt sympathy to the families of the abducted girls, President Buhari said: "I am here in Yobe State today to express my sincere sympathies to the parents, families, the Government and the entire people of Yobe State whose daughters were callously abducted by unrepentant terrorists.
"On February 19, 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.
"I have ordered the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to take direct charge and brief me on a daily basis on the efforts to bring back the girls. 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 also raised several rescue teams to comb the forests in the North East Theatre of Operation.
"In addition, the Nigerian Air Force has maintained aerial surveillance of the area. The Federal Government had earlier sent a delegation of senior officials to visit the Governor and the parents of the girls to re-assure them of the measures the government is taking as well as have an on-the-spot-assessment of the incident.
"Similarly, the Federal Government has set up a 12-member Committee to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the students. The membership of the Committee was drawn from among security agencies and local residents. It is my hope that any agency, person or group found to have been negligent or culpable in the abduction of the girls will be punished in accordance with the law."
President Buhari stated that the government was partnering with the International Community and organizations, including the nation's neighbours to ensure that the girls were safely returned.
He said further: "Just recently, I reiterated our resolve to negotiate for the unconditional release of the girls. 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.
"Since the inception of this administration, we have remained resolute in our fight against terrorism and Boko Haram insurgents. Nigerians will readily 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 world-wide 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.
"We explored various strategies, including regional and international collaborations to exterminate terror. We have re-equipped our armed forces, security and intelligence Services. They are empowered with improved welfare and better equipment. The outcomes have been good. Our achievement in maintaining security is such that the international community and even our critics commend our modest efforts in this regard.
"You may recall that recently, our negotiation efforts led to the release of abducted University of Maiduguri lecturers, some women police personnel, students and even an NYSC member. We, therefore, have no doubt that the Dapchi girls will be rescued or released.
"I can 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.
24 hour briefing on rescue efforts
"I have ordered a 24 hour brief to me by security agencies on its successes or challenges. While expecting the report of the committee set up to investigate the abduction for implementation, I have asked that appropriate Federal Government authorities to be in constant touch with the Yobe State government and other neighbouring states to ensure a common strategy and line of action.
"There will be no rest till the last girl, whether from Chibok or 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. We are determined to restore peace to all part of the country - from the West to the East; North to the South.
"While calling for calm, I implore affected parents and families to restrain from making statements that may jeopardize the success of the rescue mission.
"We are aware of orchestrations by some evil elements to take advantage of the development to score cheap political points. I call on law abiding citizens to shun activities and statements that may cause a breakdown of law and order.
"The government, under my watch, will continue to maintain normalcy and ensure that incidents of this nature are stopped. Be assured that measures are being put in place to achieve these objectives."
Responding, Governor Ibrahim Geidam and the Emir of Fika and Chairman, Yobe State Council of Chiefs, Dr. Muhammad Ibn Abali Muhammad Idrissa, thanked the Federal Government for its pledge to rescue the abducted girls.
At Dapchi, after the President sympathized with parents and guardians, chairman of the Parents Teachers Association, of the school, Bashir Manzo, insisted that the schoolgirls must be rescued and returned to their families safely.
"We are already traumatized since our daughters had been abducted by Boko Haram. Some of us are considering withdrawing our daughters from other schools, as the safety of our children may not be guaranteed," lamented Manzo.
Buhari's claims false -- Jonathan
Meanwhile, Jonathan's aide, Omokri, said in the statement: "My attention has been drawn to comments by President Muhammadu Buhari alleging that he handled the Dapchi girls kidnapping better than former President Jonathan handled the Chibok girls kidnapping.
"President Buhari, speaking in Damaturu said as follows: 'The Federal Government's response to the unfortunate abduction of the school girls 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. Due to our commitment, over 100 Chibok girls have been rescued and reunited with their families, sent back to school and empowered with requisite skills.'
"When the Chibok girls were kidnapped, the Jonathan administration did not "look the other way" as President Buhari claims and historical records prove this.
"The Chibok girls were kidnapped on April 14, 2014. Exactly three days later, on April 17, 2014, then President Goodluck Jonathan called an emergency National Security Council meeting at Aso Rock Presidential Villa. Is this the act of an administration or a President that looked away?
"Now more than two weeks after the Dapchi girls were kidnapped, has President Buhari held a National Security Council meeting to address the situation? No, he has not. As a matter of fact, to prove to Nigerians how inept he is, the President cancelled the Federal Executive Council meeting that was to hold after the Dapchi girls were kidnapped because of a conference he had to attend.
"Between a President who calls an emergency meeting after Chibok and a President who canceled an important meeting so he could attend an economic conference, who can be described as looking the other way?
"Which serious leader cancels the most important meeting in his nation at a time when Kaduna is facing ethnic and religious killings, Zamfara is facing mass killings by bandits, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Taraba are facing an onslaught from herdsmen and 110 girls were kidnapped in Dapchi?
"When Yusuf Buhari had an accident, President Buhari cancelled all his engagements and headed straight to the hospital. When the Dapchi girls were kidnapped, the same President Buhari carried on as usual and went to Kano to go and dance and socialize at a society wedding!
"After the Jonathan administration held an emergency National Security Council meeting on April 17, 2014, the Nigerian Army and Air force began searching for the Chibok girls with sorties being flown in search of the girls.
"Let me remind Nigerians that one of the people who undermined the then administration's anti-terror war was Muhammadu Buhari who on June 3, 2013, said the "military offensive against Boko Haram is anti-North". I urge Nigerians to google this direct quote to know their President better.
"Again, the President was not right when he said his administration "rescued" 100 Chibok girls. The Chibok girls were not rescued. As a matter of fact, they were released by Boko Haram after the alleged payment of huge ransoms and freedom of captured Boko Haram commanders by the Buhari administration.
"Only two weeks ago, Shuaibu Moni, one of the Boko Haram commanders released by the Buhari administration went back to Sambisa Forest and released a video threatening Nigeria.
"Who knows whether it was money allegedly paid as ransom to Boko Haram or individuals freed by the government that were used to facilitate the kidnap of the Dapchi girls and the recent killings of United Nations staff in Rann?
"Again, three weeks ago, Chief Mike Okiro, the head of the Police Service Commission, revealed that under President Muhammadu Buhari, 150,000 police men are guarding 'big men' instead of performing core police duties.
"President Buhari's son, Yusuf, alone had more guards guarding him than the guards attached to Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, at the time of the kidnapping, yet the President said he handled Dapchi better than Jonathan handled Chibok.
"A serious President, knowing how vulnerable the Northeast is would have sent these 150,000 policemen to guard schools in the Northeast rather than send them out to guard APC big shots all over the country.
"Finally, can President Buhari, who claims to have defeated Boko Haram, tell the world how many people are killed daily by Boko Haram under his regime as compared to the previous regime?
"In the first 10 weeks of 2018, Boko Haram killed 519 people in the Northeast.