Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, says only God can say when abducted Dapchi girl, Leah Sharibu, will be released by Boko Haram.
Adesina said this on Tuesday during a live programme on Channels Television.
He said, “For how much longer? I think that question can only be answered by God but I believe God is interested in that young girl and will ensure that she is preserved and at least by the time that clip is verified, one will be sure that it is her actually and once that is determined, we should all be glad that she is alive. When will she return? By the grace of God, the government is working on it and we believe she will be back.”
The President’s spokesman said Buhari saw nothing wrong in paying terrorists ransom.
He said if need be, he would pay ransom to secure the release of persons in captivity.
Adesina, however, faulted a report by the United Nations that some money was paid for the release of some Dapchi girls, insisting that the organisation got its facts wrong.
He added, “One thing we should always remember as Nigerians is that early in the life of the administration, the President had said on the Chibok girls before the Dapchi incident happened that whatever it took to rescue them, he would do, including paying. He is on record to have said that.
“It baffles me each time that controversy comes up. I remember the President said in 2015 that we would get these girls back even if it meant paying. So, if a President of the country has made that declaration, what then is the fuss?
“Payments are made all over the world even though countries may never admit.”
When asked how long it would take for security agencies to verify the authenticity of the audio clip released on Monday in which Sharibu was heard pleading for her rescue, Adesina said he could not say but it should not take long.
“It is within the purview of the Department of State Services to do that but it should not take long Left to the President, he wants her back today,” he added.
On whether the Presidency was keeping in touch with the family of the abducted girl, Adesina argued that it was not the responsibility of the President.
He maintained that it ought to be the job of the local government chairman or the state government under whose jurisdiction the abduction took place.
The President’s spokesman also said it was the duty of Non-Governmental Organisations to provide succour to the families of abducted persons but sadly many of them preferred to politicise matters and engage in protests.
Adesina added, “I expect the Yobe State Government to be in touch with the family to grant her some succour. It is not purely a Presidency matter. In Nigeria, people expect the Presidency to do everything. The local government and state government should be in touch with the family.
“That is why you have NGOs. They should do this instead of engaging in agitations and politicising the matter. Those NGOs and agencies and organisations can also do something for the families.”
Asked to speak on the alleged forgery of a National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the President’s spokesman said the NYSC should be given ample time to conduct a proper investigation.
“It is not how long but how well,” he said when asked why the investigation was taking long.
Asked if the Presidency shared the view of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), that Adeosun could hold a government position without undergoing the mandatory NYSC exercise, Adesina responded in the negative.
He said Sagay expressed a personal opinion.
The President’s spokesman, however, said Sagay’s input was not needed in this case as the matter did not border on corruption.
Adesina added, “It is his personal opinion. It was a personal comment. It is not the position of the government and Prof. Sagay has a right to his opinion.
“It will not be Prof. Sagay’s position to advise on that matter because it is not a corruption matter so to speak.”
In her reaction, however, a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, berated Adesina for smiling while speaking on the abduction of Sharibu and for also failing to give precise answers.
Ezekwesili, who is the Co-Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls group, said this in a series of tweets on her official Twitter handle.
“Who else listened to the President’s media aide Femi Adesina, find anything worthy to laugh about while speaking about abducted children and their parents?
“A spokesperson that never has facts on hot-button issues — ‘I believe’, “I expect’, ‘some agency not presidency’. Na REAL wa (sic).” (Punch)