More than 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls remain in captivity, nearly five years after Boko Haram militants in Nigeria abducted them from their school.
President Muhammadu Buhari promised to make the rescue of the girls, and other abductees a top priority. Some have been released.
But advocacy groups say Buhari’s government, in its focus on the economy, has largely forgotten the girls who are still being held.
The last time Charity Job saw her daughter, Awa, was on the morning of April 14, 2014, when the girl left for school in Chibok.
Awa was among the 276 girls who were abducted later that day by Boko Haram, and one of the 112 still in captivity.
“The insurgents came and took our children, including mine and those of my relatives from their school. Some of us developed high blood pressure and died as a result of the incident. We that survived, we have children. If I die, who will take care of them?” Job explained.
The Chibok mass abduction in 2014 triggered a global outcry and sparked the creation of the “Bring Back Our Girls Movement” (BBOG) in Nigeria.
Today, parents of the girls, like Sule Kwari, still hope their children will return home one day.
“We’ve been coming from time to time to search for our girls. Sometimes when we come, we have to wait for the sun to go down, some people faint from the heat and sometimes we go back very starved,” Kwari said.
Advocacy group BBOG says the government is not doing enough to ensure the release of the remaining girls.
Although the group has been seeing fewer people at its rallies, coordinator Gapani Yanga says they will not relent until the government takes action.
“Since the 106 girls were released, we have not heard anything from the federal government. Federal government has to stand up to their responsibility,” Yanga said.
In October 2016, Nigeria’s government secured the safe release of some 21 girls. Another 82 were released in May 2017.
Alkasim Abdulkadir, spokesperson for the Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative, says the committee is negotiating the release of more girls.
“I’m sure very soon we’ll reach a middle ground where some of the abductees will be released to their families and society at large,” Abdulkadir said.
In 2015, then-candidate Buhari promised the release of the abducted Chibok girls and others taken by Boko Haram would be his top priority.
As the girls’ abduction nears its fifth anniversary, advocates say it is time Buhari puts their rescue at the top of his agenda again. (VOA)