The Federal Government has said it has the same goal as the Bring Back
Our Girls (BBOG) group, which is to secure the safe return of the
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made
the assertion on a special programme to mark Nigeria’s 56th
independence anniversary on Channels Television on Saturday night,
noted, said the federal government’s commitment to bringing back the
girls is not in doubt.
”I want the Bring Back Our Girls to understand that this government
appreciates what they are doing. We are all batting on the same side
and we are as concerned as they are and we are well ready to work with
you. Clearly we need a closer working relationship so that there will
be no communication gap. Clearly, I do not see the objective of the
BBOG group as different from ours,” said the Minister, who appeared
side by side with the BBOG Co-Convener, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili.
While reiterating the President’s statement that there will be no
closure to the Boko Haram issue until the Chibok girls are released
and returned safely to their families, he noted that apart from the
parents of the girls, no other individual or group has a higher stake
in the release of the girls than the Federal Government.
Alhaji Mohammed said there is no contradiction between the fact that
Boko Haram has been defeated and the fact that the girls remain in
“There shall be no closure on the Boko Haram issue until and when the
Chibok girls are released and returned to the safety of their
families. I think that does not contradict what Mr President has said
that we have defeated Boko. Of course anybody who is familiar with the
philosophy of insurgency will understand that it is not the regular
kind of war where you sign an armistice and the guns become silent
forever, but rather it is a kind of guerrilla war.
”But what Mr President said, which cannot be contradicted, is that as
of May 29, 2015, when he took over, we had a chunk of our territory in
the hands of Boko Haram. As at 2015, a part of the Northeast could not
be accessed because of the activities of the terrorists, but the same
cannot be said about the area today,” he said.
The Minister said it is necessary to situate the Chibok saga within
the proper context, noting that the girls have been in captivity for
over 400 days before the Buhari Administration came into power, yet
there have been attempts by the government to establish contact with
Boko Haram to secure their release (but) the factionalization within
the terror group made it difficult for the deal to go through.
“I want us to put things in correct perspective. Yes, the issue of the
kidnap or abduction of the Chibok girls is one that should affect
everybody, it is not out of place for anyone to be emotional about it
but at the same time we must be rational in our approach to the issue.
Yes, today might be 901 days since the girls were abducted but it must
also be understood that these girls were abducted 400 days before this
government came to power, this must not be forgotten and by the time
we came in, the trails had gone cold. The first 48 hours after any kidnapping
constitute the most critical period.
“If you listen to my press conference some weeks ago with respect to
the failed negotiations, it is clear that every occasion starting from
the one in August 2015 where for 10 days we were at the appointed
point where Boko Haram fighters were supposed to be exchanged with the
Chibok girls, the factionalisation of Boko Haram played a key role in
our inability to secure the release of the girls,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the fact that the President approved the deal to
exchange even some Boko Haram armourers for the girls is the clearest
indication yet of his unflinching commitment to securing their
He also said there is no contradiction between the President’s
statement that there is so far no credible leadership of the Boko
Haram to engage with and the fact that the government has tried three
times to strike a deal for the release of their girls.
”Like I explained at that press conference, right from the time when
we were approached that Boko Haram leadership wanted to exchange the
girls for their people, Mr President was quite worried because they
(Boko Haram) insisted that some of the terrorists who were actually
the masterminds behind the bombings should be included on the list of
those to be released. Despite that, the president accepted and the
entire process was activated but for 10 days we were there and there
was breakdown of communication and nothing was achieved. So that was
what Mr President meant when he said ‘yes we are ready to negotiate
but that we need a credible leadership to engage with’,” the Minister
SA to Hon Minister of Information and Culture