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President Goodluck Jonathan has cancelled his proposed meeting with the parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls and five of the escapees, blaming his action on the “politicisation” of the planned parley by the #BringBackOurGirls movement.
Five escapee girls and 12 parents of abducted girls, scheduled to meet the president at 4pm on Tuesday, did not turn up, forcing a cancellation of the meeting. “Technically, you can’t say the meeting was cancelled by the president. It is more like the girls and the parents boycotted the meeting, forcing the president to cancel it,” an Aso Rock insider told TheCable.
A member of the movement say that the Chibok community is already facing internal division over the planned visit. “One, they think five girls and 12 parents cannot represent the community properly when 219 girls are still with Boko Haram and hundreds of parents are still in shock. Two, they said they did not send them to Abuja to meet with the president.
They came for a different purpose. To now seize the opportunity to meet the president would be like playing a fast one on the community that sent them,” the source said.
Meanwhile, The president, in a statement issued by his senior special assistant on public affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, on Tuesday evening expressed his misgivings about the #BringBackOurGirls movement. He said: “It now appears that our fight to get the girls of Chibok back is not only a fight against a terrorist insurgency, but also against a political opposition. “It is with great regret that I announce the cancellation of the meeting with 12 parents of the abducted Chibock children, as well as five of the brave girls who escaped from the terrorist organization Boko Haram.
I scheduled this meeting, which was to be open to the media for coverage by Nigerian and international press, to listen to their stories and to privately brief the parents and the girls on our efforts to rescue the abducted girls. “My priority is not politics. My priority is the return of these girls.
“Unfortunately, political forces within the Nigerian chapter of Bring Back Our Girls have decided to take this opportunity to play politics with the situation and the grief of the parents and the girls. They should be ashamed of their actions. “Those who would manipulate the victims of terrorism for their own benefit, are engaging in a similar kind of evil: psychological terrorism. “I want to be clear, this government stands with complete solidarity with the girls and their parents.
We are doing everything in our power to bring back our girls. Despite the shameful and disgusting games being played by the Nigerian chapter of Bring Back Our Girls, as a father of girls, I stand ready to meet with the parents of our abducted children and the truly brave girls that have escaped this nightmare through the grace of God.”
Jonathan had been accused of slow response to the plight of the Chibok girls, especially as he is yet to meet with their parents or visit Chibok. But the president has consistently denied any wrongdoing, saying he was more interested in rescuing the girls from their Boko Haram captors than making public statements.