Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has cautioned against cynicism and hopelessness about the recovery of the 217 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram, stressing that their recovery is uppermost in the mind of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He explained that the recovery of the Chibok girls is of utmost importance to the extent that it dominates the security meetings and that President Buhari as a parent shares the trauma of Chibok parents.
“At any security council meeting that I have attended, the President in particular has always been concerned about the question of Chibok girls in particular. Of course it comes out of ensuring that apart from the international importance attached to it, he reflects on the abduction as if any of the girls is one of his own”, he disclosed.
Speaking on Wednesday in Abuja at a one-day Roundtable on Vulnerable People in Insurgency and other conflicts in Nigeria, a forum organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser, Prof. Osinbajo expressed government’s appreciation to local NGOs, CSOs and international partners sought their continued collaboration and assistance in further addressing issues around the wellbeing of victims and the task of rebuilding the North East areas affected by insurgency.
Describing as significant the day set aside to mark the anniversary of the kidnap of 217 Chibok girls in Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists, Vice President Osinbajo said, “it brings to fore some critical issues on the handling of the plight of vulnerable people notably the abduction of Chibok girls and the killings of Buni Yadi boys as well as the recent kidnap of three girls in Ikorodu, Lagos in a non-conflict area”.
Vice President Osinbajo averred that understanding that fundamental problems of poverty, corruption and lack of education are interconnected is critical to fashioning out long term solutions to the plight of vulnerable people in the country. He noted that vulnerable people are exposed to the harshest conditions not only in conflict areas but in everyday life.
According to him “interconnectivity of many issues like poverty, corruption and lack of education exposes the fact of vulnerability especially of women and girls in our society”, emphasizing that “the question of poverty and how poverty generally as an overarching issue exposes state system and institutions of state and make them impossible to solve most problems without addressing the fundamental questions first”.
Underlining the role that government can play in solving the problem of poverty, the Vice President observed that past budgets have largely ignored this need, stressing that budgets should be tailored to provide for the poor people.
“There is a sense in which we must pay attention to how we design government programmes, how we plan budgets, so that we take into account the great poverty of our people”, he submitted.
He then disclosed that this concern is the reason why the Federal Government had N500 billion voted in this year’s budget for five different social intervention programmes including conditional cash transfer to the very poorest.
On corruption, Prof. Osinbajo said the present level of systemic corruption in the country has made it difficult to deliver service to the people because funds meant for infrastructure and social upliftment of the people were diverted. He submitted that the society has to deal with the corruption saying “I believe we must deal with corruption, it is at the heart of what has gone wrong in this society. We must deal with not only individuals, but with corruption in a systemic fashion”, he canvassed.
Vice President Osinbajo, while emphasizing the importance of addressing vulnerability through quality education especially education for girls, assured of Federal Government’s continuing commitment in that sector. He however emphasized that States and Local Governments in the Federation must also ensure that quality education is given to their people.
He opined that “it is important in my view to have a lot more advocacy to reverse the situation where about 10.4 million children are out of schools.”
He used the occasion to urge stakeholders to endeavour to do more in line with the theme of the Roundtable “Together We Can Do More”, stressing that all issues thrown up at the roundtable are critical towards having a holistic approach to addressing the plight of the vulnerable people across the country.
At the Roundtable, one of the female survivors of the Buni Yadi attack in Yobe State, Fatima Alhjhassan, also spoke about what happened the day Boko Haram attacked the school. The Vice President at the end of the event spent time with the girl encouraging her that the Presidency will stay engaged on the issues and also in touch with her.
Present at the forum were Ministers of Interior and Environment, representatives of National Security Adviser and Service Chiefs, Ambassadors of US, France and the UK High Commissioners to Nigeria, representatives of European Commission, relevant government agencies as well as NGOs and CSOs including the Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG group.