Members of the Chibok community, home of the missing girls, faulted Obasanjo’s declaration at the weekend that it was impossible for the Nigerian government to rescue the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped almost two years by Boko Haram insurgents.
The former president had argued that it was practically impossible for the military operatives, who failed to rescue the girls within 72 hours when there was a window of opportunity to do so, to now perform magic after the girls had spent nearly two years in captivity.
In a reaction to the former president’s statement, however, some leaders of Chibok community have said that while Obasanjo was entitled to his opinion on the matter they have a different view.
One the Chibok leaders, who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity, said their belief in the possibility of rescuing the girls lives on in spite of the lack of information about the girls since their abduction on April 14, 2014.
The source argued that though they were troubled by the continued absence of the girls, they remain highly hopeful owing to the fact that not a single girl from the missing 219 had been identified or found dead in all the raids of camps and rescue operations so far carried out by the military.
The community leader said: “Obasanjo is a respected former president and retired military officer who may have his reasons for making such statement but, to us, he is entitled to his opinion, because we still believe the girls are alive and can be rescued.
“Our hope lies on the fact that since their abduction, none of them has been found dead or alive; and that, to us, it is a good sign that they are alive. We would have been worried had there been any form of report that some of the girls were found dead, or some have been rescued during the rescue operations that were carried out recently.”
The source opined that, perhaps, Boko Haram is keeping the girls as a last bargaining chip.
“Going by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in the last four years, one would be deceiving himself to say that they are not an intelligent lot. They know the high premium the world has placed on the need to rescue the girls; so the schoolgirls may be their priced asset for bargain when push comes to shove. We don’t know where they are, but we believe our girls are kept somewhere, either within or outside the country. And our prayer is that, one day, we may see them, even though we are not ruling out the fact that it is a difficult task and all of them may not be rescued at the end of the day.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had declared that his government was still very much ready to get the girls rescued no matter what it took, and that negotiation for their release could only be initiated if a credible leader of the Boko Haram is identified and clear evidence is presented to prove that the girls are alive.
This position by the Chibok leaders came after Obasanjo had said, during an Annual Roundtable Discussion programme organized in his honour at the Obafemi Awololwo University of Ife, that “if any leader is promising to bring back Chibok girls now, he is lying.”
He had contended that if security operatives could not rescue the abducted schoolgirls 72 hours after they were abducted, it was less likely they would do some now, almost two year later.
The girls were snatched from their hostels on April 14, 2014.