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The presidency has dismissed claims by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that he was awaiting the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan to negotiate with Boko Haram for the possible release of over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State over two months ago.
A senior government official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told New Telegraph yesterday in Abuja that the former president was not sincere with his comments.
According to him, if Obasanjo was serious, he would have formally informed the Federal Government of his efforts. He spoke on a day for-mer Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Gordon Brown, launched the Safe School Initiative, in which Nigeria has contributed $10 million to guarantee safety of pupils, especially in the wake of the insurgency launched by Boko Haram that has scared many away from school.
Brown launched the programme in Abuja in company of Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima and his Yobe State counterpart, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam as well as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. On Obasanjo’s claim that he was in touch with the abductors of the Chibok girls and could negotiate their release if he got the go-ahead of the president, the official said the former president was trying to play a game that “amounts to grandstanding” in order to portray a “messianic image among Nigerians”.
He added: “It is obvious that what the former president is doing is just for media attention and there is no sincerity in it. The former president has unfettered access to the president. Why has he not sought an appointment with him (Jonathan) to discuss the issue? Why should the former president resort to the media on such a weighty issue? This is mere grandstanding.
“If the Federal Government has accepted the offer of assistance from other world leaders to rescue the Chibok girls, will it turn down an offer of assistance from a former president of this country? The president is committed to getting the girls back and anybody that can assist in achieving that will be welcome.
“To show you that former President Obasanjo is not sincere, President Jonathan recently summoned a meeting of former heads of state to discuss the Chibok girls’ abduction, all of them except Obasanjo attended. Even General Ibrahim Babangida who did not attend because he was bereaved sent in his input. Why did he (Obasanjo) not attend the meeting of the former heads of state with the president and the governor of Borno State? Is that a hallmark of somebody who is sincere?”