West & Central Africa

Anxious parents of Chibok girls wait to see their daughters

 

The anxiety and frustration of the parents of the 82 Chibok School girls released by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists lingers on because critics claim that the Nigerian government is yet to put any machinery in place to keep paretns informed.

A public affairs commentator close to the federal government, who asked not to be named, said: “It seems the government is excited, like little baby with a toy, to announce its achievement and score desperately needed political achievements than concerning itself with the emotions and trauma of the parents.”

Minister of information and culture, Lai Moham­med, said the government would rather send pic­tures of the 82 girls through the representatives of the Chibok community who have been resident in Abuja to the parents in Chibok. Only when the parents identify their daughters will they be brought to Abuja to see their daughters after three horrific years of waiting.

The Information Minister said the gov­ernment needs time to con­tact the parents of the girls. “Chibok is not one village; the girls are from several communities. You need time to contact the parents. The Minis­ter of Women Affairs has met with members of the Chibok association and they have been given pic­tures and names of the girls and in the next few days, we will get feedback,” he added.

“We don’t want a situation where somebody’s daugh­ter, who is not there, will come all the way to Abuja only to be disappointed while the parents whose daughters were actually rescued would be left be­hind. It will take a few days to coordinate these things,” said the Minister to a news conference alongside the Minis­ter for Womens Affairs, Aisha Alhassan.

“Any parents who identified their children would be brought next week to see them,” said Aisha Alhassan.

An official responsible for the welfare of the girls also added that, “The girls have been in captivity with terrorists for over three years… the standard tests they are be­ing given are HIV and oth­er related STDs, hepatitis, malaria and others. They are the same tests that the previously rescued girls had all taken.”

Meanwhile the 21 Chibok School girls released by the Boko Haram Islamic Jihadists in October last year are only going back to school in September this year. “The government is preparing the girls to go back to school in September this year because they have lost so much academically,” saidGarba Shehu, President Buhari’s spokeman. “It is not all the 113 so far released, but 24 of them,” he added.

The fate of those released last Saturday is yet to be determined by the government because they will be undergoing medical and psychological treatment in the capital, Abuja, that  should last two to three weeks according to the government’s Twitter feed.

The released girls are kept incommunicado by the government. The Minister for Women affairs said the government was careful about who could have access to the 21 girls released since last year. A government tweet said, “The parents of the #Chibokgirls are free to visit them at any time. We will never prevent them from seeing their daughters.”

The women affairs minister said the parents will be brought to Abuja, from Chibok, to meet with their daughters next week but failed to mention a specific date. She added that the 82 girls released last Saturday, would be taken to meet with the 21 classmates released last year As well as the three found last by the army.

They will receive “psycho-social therapy” and “vocational training” to help them reintegrate into society.

Many Campaign groups have challenged the government’s decision to keep the girls in Abuja

but government claims they were free to come and go from the centre even though that has not happened. “I believe from now to September, these other ones (the 82 girls) would have stabilised and we will be able to take all of them back to school,” she said.