The senior special assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on public affairs Doyin Okupe’s was interviewed on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, by CNN correspondent Aisha Sesay to enlighten members of the public about the efforts done by the Federal Government for the release of the female students who were abducted on April14, 2014 from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
Following a video released by the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau on Monday, May 5, 2014 in which he openly confirmed that he is responsible for the abduction of about 300 girls from a secondary school in Borno state on April 14 and also threatened to sell the girls at a human sell market in Cameron, Governments have doubled their efforts to make sure the girls are rescued and returned to their parents safely.
According to Sesay “Security agents are working very hard to rescue the girls.The Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Army, the police, vigilante groups and volunteers are all involved in the search for the schoolgirls, hopefully the girls will be rescued in a very short while.
Read excerpts from the interview below…
Sesay: The government has said it is on top of the situation but it is three weeks since over 200 girls went missing. You have provided little or information to support your statement…(cuts in)
Okupe: No Aisha, that is not correct. Our president is not a showman. The fact that the president did not say a word is not in any way mean that a lot are not being done. There have been a lot of meetings; a lot of directives and I am aware that two special battalion were devoted to search for these girls. There have been over 250 areas we are checking with helicopters, aeroplane and fighter jets that can actually scan the forest. The truth is,this was shown on the national television NTA two days ago. Beyond that, virtually the entire communication machinery of the Ministry of Defence has been deployed to Borno State.
Sesay: Would you respect the people of the world and the parents of the missing girls demand to know
Okupe: There is no doubt that every effort that has been made so far are quite worthy of what they are. The government is in support of this demonstration and anger. We are in support. If I had known about this protest earlier on, I would have come with a red cover to show solidarity with the mothers that are in pain. I have children of my own and I love them. I can’t imagine how people think that the president, who love the people, who works for the country, would sit back and just allow children to be abducted for three weeks. The fact that we are not showing people does not mean that we are not doing our best.
Sesay: I think the people need information and (cuts in)
Okupe: Let me tell you something. As of today, the Federal Government has set up an information centre, which will be opened 24 hours, taking questions and not just questions alone. It will give information on a daily basis about what is going on.
Sesay: This is the first time we are hearing this…
Okupe: Yes. I am just leaving an emergency national Security Council meeting. It lasted for 3 hours. As at 3:15pm, I didn’t know I was going to be called to a meeting. But by 4pm, we were all seated. Everybody and anybody in the security of this country was seated; Vice President…everybody.
Sesay: I want to ask you about offer of help by the US government. Has that offer been accepted by the Nigerian government?
Okupe: I can confirm to you that President Goodluck Jonathan spoke to the US Secretary of State John Kerry today. And between them, they have agreed; America has offered assistance in the area of high technology…and all sorts of things. And the president has accepted the request and the thing will come very soon…maybe next week.
Sesay: You have been dealing with Boko Haram for many years…(cuts in)
Okupe: Not for many years. It started from 2009. Not 2002… Although, they had a local issues in Borno State. They were not kidnapping people; they were not doing all those things. But from 2009, this new crisis started. And it involves presently…there is criminality, there is religious bigotry and there are all sorts of things in it.
Sesay: How is it possible despite emergency rule for 200 girls were taken from their beds in the dead of the night in a place where the military are stationed?
Okupe: Borno State covers an area of over 150,000 kilometre. That is, the landscape is wide. How many soldiers do we have? You know, we cannot run kilometre by kilometre. There were people on ground, maybe 15 or 20 in an area; that was not enough. But you know, a lot has been done to revamp the security system in these places by now. I want to say it again, we will get those girls back. We will. We have the capacity, we have enough power and the expertise.