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Father to one of the Chibok girls and Chairman of the Chibok Girls’ Parents’ Association, Mr. Yakubu Nkeki, tells LEKE BAIYEWU about the experiences of the parents since the schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram two years ago
It’s been two years since your daughter was abducted by Boko Haram along with other Chibok girls, how have you parents been coping with the situation?
It is exactly two years now and we did a commemoration of the incident on Thursday on the premises of the school (Government Secondary School, Chibok) from where they were abducted. At a time, we felt so bitter in our hearts. Some of the parents even developed traumatic conditions; some were about to run mad. Due to the traumatic conditions, we have buried 18 parents of these missing girls. It is something we cannot forget in our lives. What has made us feel some relief is that we recently watched the video of about 17 or 18 of the missing girls. Some of my colleagues went to Maiduguri (Borno State capital) in order to watch it themselves and to prove it. Some of them were able to identify their daughters in the shown video. That made us feel a bit bitter in our hearts and with a full confidence that these missing girls are still being kept alive somewhere. We thank God that we are seeing that these girls are still alive.
What do you want the government to do at this point?
We are appealing to the Federal Government of Nigeria to find a solution both from within and from outsiders (other countries); those who have ‘strong’ cameras (aerial surveillance camera) and devices to capture where they (Boko Haram) are keeping these girls so that they (the girls) can be rescued and given back to us.
Has the new government led by President Muhammadu Buhari ever briefed you (Chibok parents) on its efforts to retrieve your children?
They mentioned it; they said the past administration was different from their own; that it was Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and now that Buhari has come into power, he was worried and that these girls would be brought back to us. They said they were trying their best.
Have you noticed any major efforts by the new administration?
Yes, we believe efforts are going on. The insurgency is now going down. We now walk freely towards the directions that we left (escaped from). We are able to sleep in our houses and they have reopened the schools in about three local government areas captured by Boko Haram. Movement is a bit better than before. The attacks have also gone down; there are no much attacks, although they have not been totally eradicated. These are what we understand and believe. As for the present government, we really appreciate its efforts by cooling down the tension of this insurgency in the area of attacks. But concerning our daughters, many people have been rescued from Sambisa Forest – from the hands of their captors – but not a single one of those rescued is a Chibok girl. We are asking for a proof; to see that one of the Chibok girls has been rescued. It is then we can agree that the government will definitely bring the girls back. Right now, nothing has been done. There was a video and we watched it but how can we believe that these girls will come back safely? It is until we see one or two of them.
How do you feel when some Nigerians still express doubts over the abduction of your girls in Chibok?
Some Nigerians move like chameleon: any moment they step on something, their colour will change; a chameleon moves from place to place and at the same time changes its appearance. Some Nigerians cannot be trusted fully; that is the kind of attitude and character of some of those we are with in Nigeria. However, what pleases me is that the insurgency is now going down. And for those who are saying, ‘it is a lie; the Chibok girls are not missing,’ definitely, God will intervene. What is not possible with man will be possible with God. One day, we will show them a million of proofs when they return. How can we come out and be crying to the whole world for nothing?
How do you also feel when you hear some Nigerians, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, expressing their pessimism over the likelihood of the girls’ return?
I visited former President Obasanjo personally at his residence in company with a woman leader of the parents of the missing girls. We sat with him, we discussed with him and I gave him the true picture of everything that was going on in Chibok. I even gave him the copies of the pictures of the mothers of the missing girls and the names of the 219 missing girls; I gave them to him a blow-by-blow account of the happenings. But to my surprise, such words came out of his mouth. He is an elderly man. If he knows something better, let him express it in a certain way that we can understand. But the other time he said ‘if anybody says the Chibok girls will return home safely or he knows their whereabouts, the person is a liar,’ we don’t understand what he meant by that.
Can you rule out the possibility that some leaders like him may know more about the Chibok girls than other Nigerians?
It may be like that. It is best known to him, we don’t know. We are laymen; we are villagers. There are no video shows or television broadcasts in our area, it’s even a problem to run a generator. There was a time that by 7pm everybody had to switch off their generators and other appliances. Also, electricity is no more available in our area because the insurgents had destroyed everything. Our only available medium of communication now is the radio. We don’t have access to news; we depend on rumours that we hear from people or what we hear on radio. We are in an area where there are no social amenities.
As you have waited for two years for the return of your girl, what are the memories you still have of her?
As a parent, even if it is your domestic animal that got lost for two years, it is something painful. Anytime you see the specie of the animal moving, you will watch it closely; maybe you will come across your domestic animal among those who are moving around. Now, we are talking of human beings – 219 of them! Can you imagine, as a parent, as a mother, the kind of sorrow it is for everybody who lost their daughters to abductors? It is two years now without a concrete location of the missing girls. God will intervene, I believe. As we believe in God, God will one day, definitely, make a way and find a means where there was no means to make their rescue possible. It is our faith that these girls are still alive somewhere and we know that God will make an intervention and we will welcome the girls with hugs. We cannot make a way but if it is the will of God, He will intervene in this horrible condition and it will be over. We know that God will safely, sometime, someday, bring them back to us in a way that will be best known to Him.
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Source: Punch News