All Hope Is Not Lost, Chibok Girls Can Still Be Found - Presidency
The Senior Special Assistant to the President and Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, says President Muhammadu Buhari never promised to rescue the Chibok girls on the second day of his administration.
Shehu said this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.
He explained that while the anxiety among Nigerians was understandable, it was better to allow the President to do a thorough job even as he focuses on key areas to revive the nation.
The Presidential aide noted that Nigerians and indeed friends of Nigeria from across the world would bear witness to the fact that the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram had been on a steady decline.
He attributed this to the reinvigoration of the long lost military traditions where leaders lead the battle.
Shehu said, “To be fair to President Buhari, did he ever say he will bring back the girls on the second day of his administration? What he has always said is that we don’t even know where the girls are and that we need to go in there and get the intelligence and situation of things and then act.
“Without meaning to endanger what is left of those girls, you know that the Sambisa Forest is being degraded right now.
“In the last few days, you even saw the Chief of Army Staff leading the troops and I am aware that in the last few weeks, very interesting pictures have been shown to the President on the basis of which we will say to Nigerians, don’t lose hope on the Chibok girls.
“I am not saying they have been found or that they have been seen. But it is not yet time for Nigerians to say we have lost them.”
According to him, officers and men of the various armed services are now more confident to deal with Nigeria’s enemies because the presence of their service chiefs with them on the battleground has done a lot to boost their morale.
Commenting on the bombardment of Boko Haram’s strongholds in the operation areas, Shehu also explained that the troops were being careful so as to minimise avoidable collateral damage.
According to him, drones monitor the forest at night and a combination of manned and unmanned aircraft as well as troops take over in the day.
He added that the success being recorded by the troops had left the terrorists with no option but to resort to carrying out isolated attacks on soft targets such as churches, mosques and markets to give an impression that they were still active.
Shehu explained that the President, who is currently on a private visit to his countryhome in Daura, was not interested in marking his first 100 days in office just like he said during his address at Chatham House in London because he considered the exercise as somehow fraudulent.
In response to a question as to whether Nigerians should still expect the appointment of ministers this month since the National Assembly would still be on recess till the September 28, Shehu said, “Can the President be given the benefit of doubt till the 30th of September? Ministers will come; we should place our national interest above everything else.”
He explained that the President had since his assumption of office brought to bear the kind of focus Nigeria required to deal with the myriad of problems it had faced with on all fronts.
Shehu also said, “People are taking a cue from the fact that there is a new sheriff in town. People are taking a cue from the body language of the President who without saying a word, his body language sends a message.”