Caption: A delegation sent by President Goodluck Jonathan to address the protesters
President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday admonished those protesting against the activities terrorists not to politicise their agitation.
Jonathan gave the admonition when he received the “Bring Back our Girls” protesters at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
The protesters, numbering about 150 and led by a former minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesiele, were demanding the release of the abducted school girls in Chibok, Borno.
President Jonathan who was represented by a delegation of ministers and advisers led by the secretary to the government of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, said he is not slow as some Nigerians think and that his government has been working right from the first day the school girls were abducted to ensure their release.
In the address read by the minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory, Olajumoke Akinjide, Jonathan said the campaign was just and that government identified with it.
Jonathan said that because he identified with the protest, he had sent such a delegation of more than 10 ministers and many presidential advisers to receive the protesters.
He, however, cautioned against the possibility of hijacking such protests for political and selfish motives.
The president added that protests against terrorism should be directed against the terrorists and should not be used as a blame game, emphasising that there must be a movement for the release of the girls which should be turned to a united action against terrorism.
“We appeal to your group and others that your genuine patriotic zeal is matched with the realistic understanding of the situation in expressing concerns and sentiments on this matter and other matters of terrorism,” Jonathan said.
“We must not politicise the protests. When a bomb detonates in Baghdad, Kabul, Afghanistan, the people there do not blame the government, they blame the terrorists. When a bomb blows up in Nigeria, we must all unite to fight the terrorists. This is the task of this generation,” he stressed.
Contrary to perception in certain quarters, the President said that his administration responded swiftly to the kidnap of the girls by immediate deployment of security after the abductors.
“Government has mobilised resources, military and diplomatic, in the search for the girls who had suffered so much trauma in captivity. Government took action the very day the kidnapping occurred by deploying security services to go after the abductors,” the President said.
He stated further he also meets with the security chiefs almost on a daily basis and is in constant consultation with regional and global partners on the kidnap.
Jonathan encouraged civil society groups to use their influence to encourage Nigerians to supply useful information to security services using the emergency number 112.
Earlier, one of the leaders of the protest and wife of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Maryam Uwais, read a letter dated May 11 and directed to the president.
In the letter, the protesters underscored the need for government to double its efforts at rescuing the girls.