President Goodluck Jonathan has reassured the Chibok community that the over 200 girls abducted in April by the Boko Haram Insurgents will be rescued and safely returned to their parents.
Even as reports said no fewer than 11 parents of the abducted schoolgirls have died since Islamist extremists, Boko Haram, since the mass abduction of the schoolgirls on 14 April, 2014.
Chibok and its surrounding villages are still under siege from Boko Haram insurgents despite the emergency rule in Borno state.
A health worker, who pleaded on anonymity, informed that seven of the kidnapped girls’ father were among 51 bodies brought to Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month.
A community leader, Pogu Bitrus, who spoke on behalf of the Chibok Community at the meeting with the President told journalists that at least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago.
But Jonathan on Tuesday reassured the Chibok community of his administration’s resolve to rescue the girls from the den of the insurgents and return them safely to their parents.
Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, quoted Jonathan as saying, “We are doing everything humanly possible to rescue your daughters” at the meeting with parents of the abducted girls in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Abati said some of the escaped Chibok girls were in attendance at the meeting with President Jonathan at State House today.
Abati said the President had interaction with the Chibok girls, adding that the President appealed for patience, understanding and cooperation from his guests.
“Anyone who gives you the impression that we are aloof and that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to get the girls out, is not being truthful.
“Our commitment is not just to get the girls out but also to rout Boko Haram completely from Nigeria. But we are very, very mindful of the safety of the girls.
“We want to return them all alive to their parents. If they are killed in any rescue effort, then we have achieved nothing,” Jonathan said at the meeting.
President Jonathan was also quoted as saying that although he was yet to visit Chibok in the aftermath of the abductions, his heart was constantly with the traumatised parents and people.
He told them that his desire was to visit Chibok when their daughters had been freed and they could receive him with smiling faces of joy rather than with tears of anguish.
“Our duty now is to take all relevant steps to recover our girls alive and our primary interest is getting them out as safely as possible.
“I will not want to say much but we are doing everything humanly possible to get the girls out.
“This not the time for talking much, this is the time for action. We will get to the time that we will tell stories.
“We will get to the time that we will celebrate and I assure you that by God’s grace that time will come soon,” he told them.
News Agency reports said that some of the community leaders appealed for more help in overcoming some of the challenges imposed on Chibok and neighbouring communities by the Boko Haram insurgency.
In response, Jonathan said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and federal medical agencies would intensify their efforts to provide them with additional relief, aid and assistance.
He also assured them that Chibok and other communities in the three North-Eastern states most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency would be the first beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s special development programmes.
The president listed them as the Victims’ Support Fund, the Presidential Initiative for the North-East, the Safe Schools Initiative among other relief measures packaged for the community.
“We solicit your maximum cooperation. Let us work together. Evil can never overcome good. We will surely overcome Boko Haram,” he told them.
In his remarks at the meeting, Gov. Ibrahim Shettima of Borno, called for more sobriety, reflection and unity of purpose in the fight against terrorism in the country.
He pledged the support of his state to Jonathan in his efforts to address the challenges of terrorism in Nigeria.
Dr Pogu Bitrus, presented the Chibok community’s address to the president.
It identified other speakers at the meeting as a district head, Mr Zannamadu Usman, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, Mr Aminu Chibok, among others.
The meeting was also attended by Gov. Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, Senate President David Mark, security chiefs, Ministers and other senior government officials. (NAN)