Tuesday, September 29, 2015 9:52 am
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised at the United Nations on Monday to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters in 2014 and to defeat the Islamist militia.
“One of our major aims is to rescue the Chibok girls alive and unharmed,” he said to applause during his first address to the General Assembly since taking office at the end of May this year.
Boko Haram fighters stormed a school in the remote northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok on April 14, 2014, seizing 276 girls who were preparing for end-of-year exams in an abduction that shocked the world.
Fifty-seven escaped, but nothing has been heard of the 219 others since May last year, when about 100 of them appeared in a Boko Haram video, dressed in Muslim attire and reciting the Koran.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has since said they all converted to Islam and been “married off.”
Buhari, who has promised to stamp out the group’s bloody six-year insurgency, told the General Assembly that his government had put in place “a bold and robust strategy to defeat Boko Haram.”
Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin had established a “joint task force to confront, degrade and defeat” the militia, Buhari said.
“We have driven them away from many of their strongholds, killed or captured many of their operatives or commanders and freed several hundreds of hostages,” he said.
President Buhari also proposed the adoption of peace as a seventh essential element of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted last Friday by world leaders in New York.
“The Secretary General has grouped the SDGs into what he calls six “essential elements” namely: Dignity, Prosperity, Justice, Partnership, Planet and People.
“As a prerequisite to these and as we look at history and remember the terrible events that gave rise to the birth of the United Nations in 1945, I would like to propose a seventh: PEACE.
“Peace is close to the hearts of Nigerians, as we are in the front line in the war on terror. Boko Haram’s war against the people of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon may not attract as much worldwide attention as the wars in the Middle East but the suffering is just as great and the human cost is equally high.
“This is a war between progress and chaos; between democracy and the rule of law. Boko Haram celebrates violence against the weak and the innocent and deplorably, they hide behind their perverted interpretation of Islam. Boko Haram is as far away from Islam as anyone can think of,” President Buhari declared.
The President assured the global community that his administration was doing all within its powers to quickly overcome the challenge of terrorism and insecurity.
“The new Nigerian Government which I have the honour to head, moved with dispatch to put in a bold and robust strategy to defeat Boko Haram. Nigeria and her neighbours Cameroon, Chad and Niger plus Benin are working together to face this common threat within the regional framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
“We have established a multinational joint task force to confront, degrade and defeat Boko Haram. We have driven them away from many of their strongholds, killed or captured many of their operatives or commanders and freed several hundreds of hostages,” P