A former Minister of Education and one of the Co-conveners of the BringBackOurGirls, BBOG, campaign group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, weekend challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to take the initiative in mobilising Nigerian citizens against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Dr. Ezekwesili, who wept while addressing members of the group at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, at the special sit-out to mark 180 days since the 219 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State by insurgents, said the power to mobilise Nigerians against their common enemy lies with the President.
She noted that it was time for President Jonathan to convey the message of a strong nation, against the current global perception of the country as a weak nation, particularly in its war against terrorism and rescue activities to bring home the abducted Chibok girls.
The former minister lamented that Jonathan had not displayed the strong character expected of him by Nigerians and the international community in the effort to rescue the girls from Boko Haram captivity.
Ezekwesili said: “First, I would expect our President to convey a message of a strong nation. Nigeria is not a weak country by every standard.
“There’s a way to convey the message that does not seem to imply that when citizens like those that have been advocating for the rescue of the girls call for rescue, they are told to go and talk to the terrorists.
“To me, that’s not what a nation tells the citizens. A nation state is strong by virtue of the fact that it is the entity that has the monopoly of the coercive apparatus, that is, the security instrumentation. And for me I believe that there’s that strength of character that is necessary for us to be able to win this war.
“I think mobilising the citizens unfortunately has been the most divisive thing of our modern day Nigeria.
“How can we be divided in a time of such like terrorism and the capacity to mobilise Nigerians lies in the President. It is the President that must mobilise the entire citizenry to face the common enemy. That’s what the kind of expectation that will make a difference. But now so far there’s been no such from the President”.
She also decried the fact that the federal government’s approach to the rescue of the schoolgirls had not been persuasive since April 14 when they were abducted by insurgents.
“I don’t think government has done enough. You know there’s a way something is done and it persuades you that there’s a certain level of credibility, diligence in the pursuit of an objective to come to true. Unfortunately it has not been so in this particular case. It has not been persuasive at all”, she said.
Commenting on the military actions so far taken to rescue the girls, Ezekwesili said a lot still needed to be done. “I don’t think that anyone of us as Nigerians will say we are comfortable with the result so far. There’s a lot that needs to be done.
“We have had our own citizens who are also military and security personnel who also fall victims of this insurgency. So in every sense of the war, we are affected as a people. We don’t want our military to die”, she added.
The former education minister noted that the Safe School Initiative being implemented by the federal government would not instil confidence in the Nigerian child in school until the abducted girls were brought back.