The Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido, has asked the BringBackOurGirls campaigners to expand the scope of their campaign to include others boys and girls who were also abducted by Boko Haram insurgents.
He stated this on Friday in Abuja while delivering the maiden lecture organised by the group to mark the third anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok school girls.
About 270 Chibok girls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from their school, Chibok Secondary School in Borno State, on April 14, 2014.
About 57 of the girls managed to escape at different times while on transit with their abductors.
In October 2016, 21 of them were released following a successful negotiation between the Nigeria government and the terrorist group.
Mr. Sanusi, whose lecture was delivered on his behalf by his daughter, Shahida, congratulated the BBOG led by a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, for keeping alive the struggle to free the girls but noted that they were just a fraction of the victims of the insurgency.
“As we remember the girls captured in Chibok three years ago, we must remember that they constitute only a fraction of the victims of this insurgency,” he said.
“I would urge BBOG, while you keep this issue of Chibok on the table, to broaden your message to cover all girls and boys abducted by BH, and also draw attention to the condition of girls and women in our society in general.”
Mr. Sanusi said in Dalori 2 IDP camp near Maiduguri alone, there were over 1,500 BH-abducted girls who are either pregnant or carrying babies, who have been freed by the military.
“Hundreds of orphaned children are being carried away to unknown destinations and they are all gone into oblivion due to society’s neglect.
“It is therefore critical, for the BBOG to gain much broader support in the populace and be more effective, to use the dramatic case of the Chibok girls as a referent and a plank, but not the exclusive focus of its struggle. Our interest should be in bringing back all our girls,” he said.
Mr. Sanusi said the elite consensus was about a culture of silence and complicity, where everyone remained in their comfort zone, and where the voiceless majority were allowed to remain where they were.
He said, “The argument, it seems, is why should you care about poor rural women when you are able to educate your own daughters in the best schools in the world?
“Why should you hold up a mirror to our faces, expose our unclean underbelly and remind us of the brutish life to which, over many decades, we have subjected a large mass of our population?
“Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing.
“I recently gave a speech in which I said the North-East and North-West of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat the noise is yet to die down. But what really are the facts?”
Mr. Sanusi said he recalled that the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the UNDP in 2015 published data on the incidence of poverty in Nigeria showing that, on average, 46% of Nigerians were living in poverty.
He explained that the information was based on the UN’s Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index which focuses on Education, Health and Living Standards.
“Although this average is in itself bad, it masks even more serious internal inequalities and incidences of extreme poverty by region and gender,” he said.
“So for example the South-West of Nigeria has less than 20% of its population living in poverty while the North-West has more than 80% of its population living in poverty.
“In the North-East the figure is 76.8%. Over 90% of the people in Yobe and Zamfara States are living in poverty compared to 8.5% in Lagos and around 11% in Osun and Anambra states.”
At the event, Rebecca Samuel, mother of one of the missing girls, said their parents had thought that they would be set free by their abductors within three days.
She commended Mrs. Ezekwesili for ensuring that the girls were not forgotten.
“We have been hoping that our missing girls will return, we are also calling on every Nigerian and government to help us because we don’t have the strength,” she said amid tears.
A former Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Grace Alele-Williams, who chaired the event urged the military, the police and other relevant agencies to intensify efforts to rescue the remaining 195 missing girls.
“What stops the Nigerian Army, Police and other relevant security agencies to rescue our missing girls? Mrs. Alele-Williams, a professor, asked.
“I was told that, our army troops’ arms were less powerful than the terrorist.