THE General Overseer, Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has lampooned politicians and political parties for using the abduction of 219 Chibok schoolgirls to score cheap political points.
He noted that the nation had not given the issue the necessary thoughtfulness and seriousness it deserved, stressing that those who are in a position to act have not taken sufficient action towards addressing it or even towards calming the anxiety of the waiting Chibok parents.
The cleric said this in a sermon on Sunday during the thanksgiving service to mark the global action week in commemoration of the second anniversary of the abduction of the schoolgirls organised by the BringBackOurGirls coalition at the Unity Fountain, Abuja.
Bakare stated that the girls would have been rescued if they were children of the political and religious elite and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise their rescue in the midst of the numerous challenges before him. He stressed that the girls had become the symbols of the soul of the nation.
He said, “What do you think I would have done extra if my girl was involved? Have I done those things? What could have happened, if these were daughters of Emirs or the Prelate or Primate of the Anglican Church or Methodist Church? If any of them happen to be son of Pastor Adeboye not to mention sons or daughters of governors or president, what do you think would have happened on that issue?
“Am just asking a question, what do you think would have happened? We would have done more than we have done, the whole nation has failed these children and we must repent and that is why we must honour those of you (BBOG) who have made it to be on the front burner.”
Reading Isaiah 49:24-26, Bakare urged the BBOG and the Chibok parents not to give up, saying the girls would be rescued alive from Boko Haram captivity.
He recalled that the past administration failed to act on ‘actionable intelligence’ that could have led to the rescue of the girls, noting that the government did not take the necessary steps to rescue them until there was a global outcry.
Bakare said, “It is most severely injurious to see that the fate of our daughters has been frequently politicised. Rather than rise to the occasion as stakeholders and custodians of the security and welfare of the citizens of this nation, political parties and politicians have paid lip service, using our pain and the plight of our daughters to score cheap political points.
“We are not convinced that the matter of our daughters has been given the needed thoughtfulness. We do not believe that those who are in a position to act have taken sufficient action towards addressing this issue or even towards calming our anxiety as waiting parents.”
The fiery cleric who spoke in an emotion-laden voice for about 35 minutes, expressed the conviction that the abducted girls were alive and could still be rescued, noting that there was no evidence, not even satellite photography, suggesting that they were in a mass grave.
“We have heard varied suggestions as to the fate of our girls. We have heard that some have been married off, that some have been sold as slaves, and that some are being held captive as human shields. We have heard that some have been radicalised, and there have been suggestions that they are now being groomed and deployed as suicide bombers. What we expect the government to do is to systematically analyse the possibilities with a view to eliminating impossibilities,” Bakare suggested.
The Convener, Save Nigeria Group, appreciated the government for the renewed military offensive and the gains recorded in the fight against Boko Haram, but added that the nation expected that the success would be translated into tracing the whereabouts of the girls or even finding some measure of closure for their parents.
“If they have been sold as slaves, to whom have they been sold? What are the locations of these slave buyers or dealers? Are they in the territories in which our girls had been held captive in the past? What attempts have been made to investigate or eliminate this possibility? Have they been sold beyond the Nigerian borders? What routes are there through which they could possibly have been taken?,” he asked.
Given the complex security nature of the abduction, Bakare noted that rescuing the girls might require special tactical military operations, details of which could not be publicly discussed.
This, he added, should not stop the government from creating a confidential information channel that would keep anxious parents abreast of the basic facts and show that, at least, the country cared for their daughters.