Between BBOG and Aisha Alhassan – When Two Rights Make A Wrong By Ahmed Bukari
The 5 Goodluck Jonathan years will go down in Nigeria’s history as the dark ages due to the wanton corruption and devastating insecurity heralded by his government. And while the Buhari administration has set about cleaning up the mess left behind, the effects still linger and this is likely to continue for a while. One of the markers that continue to remind Nigerians of the ineptitude of the GEJ government is the abduction of over 200 girls from Chibok community, a case that has attracted a lot of international attention and birthed one of the most prominent and consistent human rights movement, the Bring Back Our Girls group.
This group has been at the forefront of advocacy for intensified efforts by the Nigerian government and all other stakeholders to ensure the girls, who have now spent over 600 days in captivity, are brought back alive, reconciled with their parents and reintegrated back into the society. As part of the group’s unflinching commitment to the cause of the Chibok girls, they sought audience with President Buhari this past week after a previous meeting in June 2015.
However, it appeared a few members of the group in reporting the events of that particular day misquoted a number of public officials who were delegated by the President to attend to the situation and misrepresented the facts in a way that has potentials to hurt the group’s credibility and public support.
In particular, it was falsely reported that the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, spoke harshly to the Chibok parents and members of BBOG, and even went as far as claiming the Buhari government shouldn’t be held responsible for failures of his predecessor. Expectedly this didn’t sit well with majority of Nigerians and they bared their displeasure at the insensitivity of a woman who should know better.
Since then, a video has surfaced that captured the period of Mama Taraba’s speech at the meeting and it became obvious she was deliberately misquoted by a few, and her demeanour unwittingly misread and misrepresented by a few others.
In contrast to what was reported, we saw a calm and concerned Aisha Alhassan going to great lengths to explain the efforts being made by President Buhari and the security agencies to not only bring the Chibok girls back, but also ensure their parents are well taken care of during this moment of grief and apprehension.
The security people who are making effort to make sure we bring back our girls alive are all here with us. and everything Mr. President is doing is to give them directives to work towards bringing back our girls alive. And that he has done, he has given then instruction, the mandate to bring back our girls alive.
I have been instructed to open a Chibok Girls’ office which will serve as a liaison office between you and the government. Mrs Bulus is the Deputy Director and in the letter we write to you, we gave her number, my number, you have our numbers and we say you can reach us 24/7 on whatever you want to find out. we are the liaison, that office in the Ministry of Women Affairs is the liaison between the government, you the group, and the parents. And we said 24 hours you can call us, 7 days a week. You can call us at any time and ask your questions or tell your grievances to us and we will forward it to the government.
Human rights advocacy demands a great deal of passion, and where the health and safety of young innocent girls are involved as is the case of the Chibok girls, its understandable that emotions sometime get the better of activists concerned. But it becomes even most imperative at such moments to remember the cause is greater than all and refocus.
BBOG remains the cornerstone of our collective conscience as a people and the demand for the safe return of the girls abducted from Chibok and everywhere else must not only continue, but be intensified by all and sundry. It is for this reason that we cannot afford to incur any deficit of credibility capable of undoing the great work done so far by BBOG. The path taken by some to misrepresent the facts from the meeting of President Buhari with the Chibok parents only breeds mistrust that leads to lack of cooperation and synergy by parties who cannot but work together to achieve a common purpose.