Parents of kidnapped Nigerian girls refuse to meet President Jonathan

Some parents of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok, Borno State over two months ago on Tuesday shunned President Goodluck Jonathan’s invitation.

Jonathan had on Monday told a girl-child education campaigner, Malala Yousafzai, that he was ready to meet the parents.

Yousafzai, who had earlier met with some parents and some girls who escaped from their abductors , said she told Jonathan of the distraught parents’ desire to meet with the President in order to share their stories with him.
A meeting of the President with the abducted girls’ parents was therefore fixed for Tuesday by 4pm at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

But none of the parents showed up for the meeting despite the fact that the President was waiting to receive them.

Some government officials including the Minister of State, Education, Nyesom Wike; and the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who were billed to join the President to receive the parents later left when it became clear that they would not honour the invitation.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, later told State House correspondents that he received a telephone call indicating that the parents would not honour the invitation.
Okupe said to show the President’s readiness to receive them, some Coaster buses were sent to go and convey them to the Presidential Villa.

He said investigation revealed that the escaped girls and the parents of the abducted girls were whisked away back to Borno State from Abuja early Tuesday morning by the BringBackOurGirls campaigners.
Okupe said it had become obvious that the campaigners were being driven by politics.

He claimed that the motive behind their action was to ensure that Jonathan was discredited so that he would not be able to present himself for re-election in 2015.

Okupe, however, said that the President had directed that letters be sent to the parents, inviting them for a rescheduled meeting which may hold next week.

He said, “The meeting was scheduled for 4pm today (on Tuesday) at the instance of the request that was made by Malala and the President graciously agreed within 24 hours to meet with them (then parents.)
“But unfortunately the BringBackOurGirls leadership prevailed on the parents of the girls and stopped them from coming.

“Therefore, what happened was that they actually shunned the meeting with Mr. President because the foreign media and everybody were waiting for this meeting and since they were no longer coming and they made it expressly clear that they were no longer coming.

“It was aborted by the failure of the girls and the parents to show up, they actually shunned the meeting. The President was waiting, the NSA was waiting, top government officials were waiting to receive them for private consultation with the President as promised.”

In a statement he earlier issued in the name of the President Jonathan, Okupe had said that it appeared that the fight to get the girls back was not only a fight against insurgency, but also against a political opposition.
The statement partly read, “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 organisation 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 BringBackOurGirls 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.”
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