Chibok: Borno Governor meets with 21 freed schoolgirls

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State has spent a whole day in Chibok town, where over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by boko haram insurgents at a Government Secondary School on April 14, 2014. 

He met 21 of the freed schoolgirls freed by the boko haram in October, following a negotiation with the insurgents that was brokered by international mediators.

Although the 21 girls have been in custody of the Federal Government in Abuja, they were brought back to Chibok to mark their first Christmas since their abduction over two years ago.

‎Armed soldiers and officials of the Department of State Security escorted the 21 girls to Chibok and maintained strict guard throughout the Christmas. 

After taking off by road from Maiduguri early in the morning on Boxing day, Governor Shettima, accompanied by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, the Senate Majority Leader who represents Borno South where Chibok is located, hosted the girls to a celebration at a Government building in Chibok.

 The girls presented a gift to the governor, which was a medium size photo frame with a bold ‘THANK YOU’ printed on it. ‎

The frame also has pictures the Governor took with them when he visited them in Abuja months ago, as well as pictures of each of the 21 girls.

Glory Dama, one of the 21 girls, presented the photo frame on behalf of her colleagues.

She said they deeply appreciated the show of love by Governor Shettima and his wife, Nana Shettima, who had visited them countless times in Abuja.

“Governor Shettima is a dear father”, the girls screamed as they all wore faces of happiness. 

Governor Shettima told the girls that with their cheerful mood, the next concern would be their future. 

“As you know, 56 of your colleagues who escaped abduction are currently in two international schools where they have been since 2014. We are taking care of all their educational needs from school fees to other basics. Left to me, I would want the 21 of you to join them in those two schools so that you can all feel at home and move on.

 However, the Federal Government has a plan which we will jointly discuss and come up with a decision that is acceptable to you our daughters. President Muhammadu Buhari loves you so much and he is deeply concerned about our daughters that are yet to be freed. He is working on that and we are all working,” Shettima said.

Appointment

The Borno State Governor also announced the appointment of the Chairman of an association of the Chibok schoolgirls’ Parents, Mr ‎Yakubu Nkeki, as councillor of Mbalala Ward, in Chibok local government area.

‎”We appointed Yakubu Nkeki as councillor for him to have a formal platform to continue his advocacy for the welfare of families of missing Chibok girls, for him to ensure that they are given special consideration at all times by the local government area on all issues, particularly on welfare, on issues of their health, empowerment etc.

Keke will also serve as a constant reminder to the council that there are parents like him who live in pains. He is simply there to advocate for the welfare of the parents and also as someone who has been a victim, he will stand by efforts of Government to protect schools through Community surveillance in addition to formal security establishments” Shettima said.

 The Governor also consoled parents whose daughters are yet to be recovered, promising that all hands are on deck to ensure the return of all the girls. “I will be meeting the parents tomorrow (Tuesday)” he said.

Governor Shettima ‎also ordered the presentation of assorted clothing to the girls and their parents.

“Nothing is too much for these girls and their parents. They have suffered too much and deserve our support,” the Governor said.

 Askira Town, where Governor Shettima slept, was attacked by insurgents in 2014, forcing residents, including the Emir to flee to Maiduguri.

He, however, returned some months ago with hundreds of residents, after his palace was rebuilt by Governor Shettima.