The Northern Governors’ Forum on Wednesday welcomed the U.S. government’s offer of military assistance to Nigeria to help locate and rescue the over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State.
The chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State Babangida Aliyu, expressed the forum’s position at a meeting on Wednesday night in Abuja between some select Northern governors and the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, administrator Rajah Shah.
The visiting top U.S. envoy hosted the governors at the residence of the mission director of USAID in Nigeria, Michael Harvey, in Maitama, Abuja.
Aliyu told the U.S. official that the April 14 abduction happened in a part of the country where parents are still begged to bring their children to school.
“For the abduction to happen in a school environment means that if we do not do anything, we will be taken fifty years back, because many parents would be discouraged to send their children to school. So we welcome the participation and assistance of the American government to ensure that we are able to get this children back alive and for us to have more secure environment,” he said.
The governor noted that the meeting was a follow-up to the meeting held in March in Washington D.C. between U.S. officials and the governors, which centered on security issues and development of the region.
“People should understand that when we talk about security, it is not normally about the bullet and the guns; security is about the welfare of people,” Aliyu stated.
Earlier, Shah expressed deep sympathy for the families of the kidnapped girls and reiterated President Barrack Obama’s commitment to help find the missing girls.
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, also told reporters that he held discussions earlier on Wednesday afternoon with some Nigeria security officials on what the “U.S. team might look like”.
“Obviously I cannot share out those details but we are in the process of putting together a team that we think will respond to what your security officials had told me you need,” he said.
The ambassador said the team would be in Nigeria shortly and did not provide further details on the composition of the inter-agency team offered by the U.S. government.
Those who attended the meeting include, governors Umaru Tanko Al-mukara. Nasarawa, Idris Wada, Kogi State, Mukhtar Yero, Kaduna State, Murtala Nyako, Adamawa State, and acting governor of Taraba State, Garba Umar.
Others are the deputy governors of Jigawa State, Ahmed Gumel; Kano State, Umar Ganduje; Benue state, Stephen Lawani, and the secretary to the Zamfara State vovernment, Tijani Kaura.
The Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Ade Adefuye, also attended the meeting.
Boko Haram, through its leader Abubakar Shekau, had claimed responsibility for taking the girls and threatened to sell or marry them off.
According to the Nigeria police, 53 of the girls have managed to escape from the captors while 223 of them are still missing.