ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that his government is prepared to negotiate with Boko Haram leaders over the release of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
Since April 14th, 2014, when they were abducted, relatives of the missing Chibok schoolgirls continue to mount accusations of neglect of their children on the Nigerian government.
Series of protests have been organized in solidarity and advocacy to recover them; the spearheading of these rallies have often been called “anti-government” during then-president Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Its intensification under incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, however, clears away doubts about the campaigners’ level of seriousness.
The Bring Back Our Girls movement, a prominent group of activists clamoring for the release of the girls, staged another protest on Thursday, August 25 2016, making it the second in the same week. They were pushed-back by security operatives as they advanced toward Aso Villa, the President’s office.
Speaking with journalists at the ongoing sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development TICAD, that was held in Nairobi, Kenya between August 27 and 28, and organized by the Japanese government, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari declared that his government is prepared to talk to legitimate Boko Haram leaders, end the scourge, and secure the release of the girls.
The president stated, “If they do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognized Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), convince them that they are holding the girls, and that they want Nigeria to release a number of Boko Haram leaders in detention, which they are supposed to know.”
In a video released by Boko Haram on Sunday, August 14, 2016, they demanded, amongst other things, the release of their fighters currently in detention across different prisons in the Nigerian federation.
President Muhammadu Buhari further stressed that, “We want those girls out and safe. The faster we can recover them and hand them over to their parents, the better for us.”
Human Rights Watch estimates that Boko Haram, had killed 2,053 persons in 95 separate attacks within the first six months of 2014 alone.
Although the Nigerian government is currently winning the war against the deadly sect, an affirmation regarding lost territories that have now been recovered from the hands of the insurgents, and Internally Displaced Persons affected by terrorism protested on the streets of Maiduguri, Borno State during the week, complaining of starvation and malnutrition.
Adedayo Osho is a political scientist and freelance journalist. Twitter: @Jahpolitical