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Visit abducted Chibok girls' families, Malala tells Jonathan •Raises $200,000 for abducted girls' education
14.Jul.2014 DISQUS_COMMENTS Leon Usigbe - Abuja
MALALA Yousafzai, the Pakistani Girl-Child Education Campaigner and survivor of Talaban assassination attempt, has heightened the pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to visit the families of school girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents April 14.
 
Since their kidnap from their dormitories in Government Secondary School,Chibok, Borno State, the President has neither visited the community nor met with the families  even though he was speculated to have made plan to visit Chibok but cancelled it just before the recent Summit with President Francois Hollande of France in Paris. 
 
But while on a visit to Jonathan on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Malala, who was accompanied by her father and other members of her Foundation, stressed the need for the president to meet with the families of both the girls that have escaped and those still in Boko Haram captivity.
 
Malala survived Taliban gun attack in October 2012 while carrying on with  her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. 
 
The child campaigner who used the opportunity of her 17 birthday celebration to come to Nigeria to press for action to release the girls, had earlier met with parents of some of the girls and conveyed their concerns to the President. 
 
Malala gave an insight into the meeting with the President in a chat with State House correspondents.  
 
She said: "I convey the voice of my sisters who are out of school or who are still under the abduction of Boko Haram and for those girls who escaped from the abduction but still do not have education. 
 
"And in the meeting, I highlighted the same issues which the girls and their parents told me in the past two days. 
 
"The parents said they really want to meet with the president to share their stories with him and I asked the president that if he wants to meet with the parents of the girls. The president assured me that he would meet with them. 
 
"I spoke to the president about the girls who complain that they cannot go to school despite the fact that they want to become doctors, engineers and teachers. But the government is not providing them any facility. 
 
"They also need health facility, security, and the government is not doing anything. These are the issues I presented to the president today. 
 
"And the president fortunately promised me that he will do something for these girls and he promised me that the girls under the abduction of Boko haram will be released as soon as possible. 
 
"This is the promise the president made and I am hopeful that his promise will come through and we will soon see those girls return soon."
 
Malala revealed that the parents had craved for an opportunity to meet the president and were in desperate need for help. 
 
She added: "Yesterday I also met with the parents of these girls who are still under the abduction of Boko Haram and they were crying and hopeless.  But still, they have this hope that there are still someone who can help them. 
 
"They asked me if there is any chance for them to meet the president because at this time, they need the presidents support.
 
"So, I ask the president if it is possible for him to go and see them to encourage them and the president did promise me that he will meet the parents of these girls.  
 
"I am hopeful that these two promises, the return of the girls from Boko Haram and meeting with their parents will be fulfilled and we will see it soon."
 
Malala promised that she would sustain the campaign for the rescue and education of the abducted girls. 
 
"Even though the promises have been made, it does not mean I am going to stop talking. I will be counting days and I will be looking when those girls are going to be returning home. 
 
"I can't stop this campaign until I see those girls return back to their families and continue the agitation," she added. 
 
Malala noted the difficulty faced by government in the rescue effort but added that the responsibility ultimately rested with President Jonathan. 
 
According to her, "There are difficulties which he mentioned. One of which is that it is quite difficult to do a military operation and that these girls could be targeted. It is quite a complicated situation. 
 
"But as far as I know, I think the president will be able to do it as soon as possible. But that depends on the government because they are responsible to the people who elected them. People believe that president Jonathan is the father of the nation. 
 
"So, he should be responsible for the duties that have been given to him on the seat which he is seating and I am hopeful that he will do it but we will continue our campaign, we will not stop and this should be kept in mind."
 
A statement after the meeting dispelled the notion that the Federal Government has not been doing enough to find and rescue the abducted Chibok girls, saying that "it is very wrong and misplaced."
 
Signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, it said the president told Malala that the Federal Government was definitely doing everything possible to ensure that the girls were rescued alive and safely returned to their parents.
 
The statement said Jonathan explained to her that government’s efforts were constrained by the overriding imperative of ensuring that the girls’ lives are not endangered in any rescue attempt.
 
“Terror is relatively new here and dealing with it has its challenges. The great challenge in rescuing the Chibok girls is the need to ensure that they are rescued alive,” it quoted Jonathan as saying, stressing that the Federal Government and its security agencies were very mindful of the need to avoid the scenario in rescue attempts in other parts of the world where  lives of abductees were lost in the effort to rescue them.
 
The President said that this challenge notwithstanding, government was very actively pursuing all feasible options to achieve the safe return of the abducted girls.
 
“The time it is taking to achieve that objective is not a question of the competence of the Nigerian Government. We have had teams from the United States, Britain, France, Israel and other friendly nations working with us here on the rescue effort and they all appreciate the challenges and the need to thread carefully to achieve our purpose," he said.
 
Jonathan said that he would meet with the parents himself before they left Abuja to personally comfort them and reassure them that the Federal Government was doing all within its powers to rescue their daughters.
 
The President reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring the safe and proper education of all Nigerian children, adding that government was also proactively evolving and implementing policies and measures that will benefit the abducted Chibok girls when they are safely rescued, as well as others that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
 
He thanked Malala for coming to Nigeria to support ongoing efforts to rescue the abducted Chibok girls and promote girl-child education.
 
“We appreciate your efforts to change the world positively through your powerful advocacy for girl-child education,” he added.
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