The Federal Government on Monday, urged the Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG) to stop parading itself as an oppositio of government, but rather see itself as a partner in the attempt to secure the release of the Chibok school girls.
This was contained in statement by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja, said the group’s continued portrayal of the government as an enemy and its needless attack on the President, whom he pointed out was doing his best to bring the girls back home safely, were ultimately counter-productive.
He said the recent invitation extended to the group to witness, first-hand, the search for the girls by the Nigerian Air Force, was to show its transparency in the search process, but regretted that the group, after initial positive report on the tour, made a volte face and started dishing out negative reports from the trip.
“BBOG should stick to its role as an advocacy group, rather than pretending to be an opposition party. The synonyms of the word ‘advocacy’ do not include ‘antagonism, opposition or attack’.
“In fact, those words are the antonyms of advocacy,” Mohammed stated.
The minister described as unnecessary, grandstanding statement credited to the BBOG that it would no longer tolerate “delays” and “excuses” from the President on the release of the girls, noting that such rude language should have been reserved for the immediate past government that did nothing in the first 500 days of the girls’ abduction.
He urged that darts should not be thrown at a “President who has presided over the liberation of all captured territory, the opening of shut schools and roads, the safe release of some of the abducted girls and the decimation of Boko Haram.”
He assured Nigerians that the efforts to bring the girls back safely were on course, adding that everything possible must be done not to truncate the intricate process.
“Let me say, unequivocally, that the people involved in the negotiations are working 24/7. The negotiations are complicated, tortuous and delicate. Any wrong signal is capable of derailing things.
That’s why the less we say about the talks, the better it is for all.
“We need huge amount of confidence-building, the kind of which led to the release of the 21 of the girls. This has been lacking for years, but right now, we are confident that we are on the right track.
“We wont do anything to jeopardise these talks, irrespective of the pressure or provocation from any quarter,” the minister advised.
All efforts to get the reaction of the coordinator of BBOG group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, proved abortive. Calls to her phone were unanswered. Also, SMS sent to her to react to the Federal Government’s position received no response.
Meanwhile, the United States, yesterday, said it would support the Nigerian Armed Forces (NAF) in the area of security to curb the menace of terrorism in the country and deny the terrorists freedom to operate in the future.
This is even as the US commended the resilience of NAF in defeating Boko Haram and chasing them out of their stronghold at Sambisa forest.
The United State Director of Defence Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant-General Vincent Stewart, who made this known when he visited the Chief of Defence Staff(CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin at the Defence Headquarters, in Abuja, said he was at the DHQ to meet with the top echelon of the NAF with a view to collaborating with them, especially in the area of security.
He said his country was ready to render the needed support to the Nigerian military to bring the menace of terrorism to a complete stop.
Olonisakin, while thanking the US envoy for the visit, said the Nigerian military has benefitted immensely from the US towards the success recorded in the country’s war against insurgency.
He commended the cordial working relationship between the two countries, especially in military cooperation and said NAF has established Human Rights Desks in all its units and formations to safeguard rights of individuals, including the belligerents.