First Lady weeps as stakeholders shun meeting

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
May 5th, 2014
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First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan was all tears yesterday at a meeting she convened in Abuja over the abduction of school girls in Chibok, Borno State.

Her first meeting on Friday set up a committee headed by the Borno State governor’s wife to ensure attendance at yesterday’s meeting. But the governor’s wife did not attend.

Mrs Jonathan was said to have wept when she learnt that the school had no stand-by power generator.

Besides, no extra security was provided at the school, she was told.

She was devastated that the governor’s wife did not show up for the meeting on Friday and yesterday .

The First Lady  insisted that the state government and the Commissioner for Education should be blamed for the abduction of the girls as they allegedly failed to act on the letter from the Minister of Education for relocation of West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) candidates to Maiduguri or safer places.

The West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the school’s principal disagreed at the meeting over the number of candidates for English and Maths in the school.

Among those that did not show up for the meeting were parents of the girls who escaped from the insurgents and teachers from the school.

Also, no student who escaped from the terrorists came for the meeting.

The vigilante group, wife of the Chibok village head, the gateman of the school, chairman and secretary of the Parent Teachers Association and the school matron were also absent.

Mrs Jonathan said: “I told the governor’s wife to call the parents of the abducted children; she did not honour it till today. The next thing I saw was women demonstrating on the streets. Now again, before Friday, my protocol (officer) called her and she gave 100 per cent assurance that she will be here on Friday. But she did not.”

“Now again, she is not here. Because she is the mother of Borno, she is the mother of those children and I am the grandmother. She should feel more concerned. But she is not. I and the Nigerian women are calling her, but she is not here.

“It is left for you. If you tell me you are not pained, why should I cry more than the bereaved? If I do so, the world will ask me questions.

“You people are playing games. This thing will not help us. After today, if these Borno people say we should not help them, you Nigerian women should not go out to demonstrate because they are playing games. You can keep it in Borno and let it end there.

“The Police came with their own; the Army came with all their own, WAEC came with all their own, but the Borno government came with a few. No parent is here to tell us that a child is missing. They cannot produce a parent whose child is missing.”

The First Lady wondered why some people were dying and others playing politics.

She noted that the next kidnap victim could be anybody, including her.

The First Lady added: “As a person, I really want these killings to stop. We may be the next people to be kidnapped if we let things pass by like this. We should not fold our hands and let things happen like this.

“Our sisters in the North, we are one country and we are sisters. We are not accusing you; we do not mean any harm and we are not quarrelling with anybody; we just want to stop all these killings.”

“We don’t wear bullet proof, we don’t know who they have already targeted. I’m not exempting myself or my husband. If I’m found guilty, let me go. Whoever is behind this, let us go politely to him and ask him to let all these stop.

“If it is the Constitution that is causing this, let us go to the National Assembly and beg them to amend whatever it is.”

“When something happened, let us all find solution. Look at the way the matter was brought up. The country would have gone on fire. You are making it look as if the President abducted the children,” she said.

During the responses from the school principal, Asabe Kwaburah, the Commissioner for Education, Musa Kubo and the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Chibok and some army officers at the meeting, the First Lady said the Police and Army cannot be blamed as they were not informed that the students sitting for the exams sleep in the school.

“The lapses here are on you the Commissioner of Education and the state government.”

While the school principal, who claimed that her grand-daughter is among the missing girls, said 395 students sat for English subject, the WAEC official, Charles Eguridu told the meeting that 387 girls sat for English subject before the abduction and 80 girls sat for Maths after the attack.

The principal said she was not around during the abduction as she was in Maiduguri for diabetic treatment. Acoording to her, she goes to Maiduguri every two weeks for the treatment.

The Commissioner for Health told the gathering that she had not seen any of the abducted girls that escaped from the terrorists.

The First Lady broke down and wept the second time towards the end of the meeting saying: “You want to kill my husband; you want to make me a widow before you go and rest. My God will never make me a widow.”

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