By Anote Ajeluorou
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, has called to question the usefulness of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s State of Emergency in three states of the North East and declared that it only served to hurt innocent population who could not reach out for help while the Boko Haram sect rampaged in the region killing and maiming civilians and destroying property.
She made this declaration at an interactive session with The Lagos Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Family, an arm of Women for Peace and Justice in Nigeria, which paid her a courtesy call in her Senatorial office in Yaba, Lagos. The group was led by Yemisi Ransom-Kuti, Niyi Onabanjo, Olalekan Babasola and Yemi Adamulekun among others, including Alhaji Mohammed Zana of Mairamri town, just a few kilometres from Chibok, who lent his voice to the plight of the embattled region. Zana now lives in Takwa Bay Island, Lagos.
According to Tinubu, “The State of Emergency only helped to expose innocent civilians who couldn’t ask for help. Telephone in the areas was shut down and those being attacked could not reach out for help. It was so bad. I can tell you that nothing happened all through the State of Emergency period to alleviate the plight of the people”.
She stressed that as a mother, who had lost a child, she knew what the families were going through and regretted that the set was bent on denying girls education. As she put it, “As a mother, I can tell you it’s a hard place for a mother. The problems plaguing Nigeria are numerous. I lost a child once. It’s a hard and difficult place to be. But as a Christian we believe all is well. As diverse people, this issue will keep us close. It will bring Nigerians close the way we have not known before.
“I always say that let our girls be educated otherwise our nation is doomed. Women have stamina and education only makes them stronger. We pray that in three months promised the girls will be brought back. In a situation where you are helpless, you keep praying”.
She also said as lawmakers, they were constrained how much they could do to help, and placed the responsibility squarely at the doorsteps of the executive arm of government, saying, “As lawmakers we are a bit restricted”.
She however, said President Mohammadu Buhari would do what was necessary to bring the insurgency to an end.
“Nigeria voted for change with All Progressives party leading the way; it came together from various parties, the shortfall is what we have seen. At the inauguration of the Senate, some of us were not there and some very shady characters hijacked the process. We pray that Buhari’s efforts yield results. It’s the executive that you have to hold accountable for the enforcement of programmes and policies”.
Tunubu also stated that she was doing all she could to help alleviate the plights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Lagos, but that she was also limited to Lagos Central Senatorial District, as she was no longer the First Lady of Lagos State.
Earlier, Adamulekun had outlined some of their demands from the Senator Tinubu just as they had done to Mr. Buhari a month ago. Women for Peace and Justice in Nigeria demanded that the National Assembly should convene a public hearing on the state of insecurity in the country, convene a public hearing on the security budget and spending and provide monthly reports on the National Assembly website on efforts to by the frontline agencies – National Security Adviser, National Emergency Management Agency, Safe School Initiatives among others.
The body further charged Tinubu to use her good offices to speed up action in these directions, saying, “As concerned citizens of this country, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy group has highlighted the plight of these innocent girls even at a global level and engaged the government and other agencies in a constructive manner to secure the rescue of the girls. Recently, we made our case to Mr. President”.
Zana, who fled his Mairamri town in Konduga Local Government Area and now lives in Takwa Bay, was also on hand to lend impetus to the campaign. He relived some of his experiences in a tear-laden voice, saying, “It’s our hope that the girls will be brought back safe. Our prayer is that one day all our people who have been running helter-skelter will return home to rebuild their homes. We want to hear results that the girls are brought home. Tinubu is our hope through her work”.
Zana also recounted the losses that has befallen his family and said his uncle lost 16 members of his family, with four girls and three boys being kidnapped when Bama fell and that they were still not back. Also, his sister’s husband, an Islamic cleric, was murdered because he refused to join the dreaded sect. His sister, he said, is one of the IDP camps in Maidugiri and lamented the horrendous suffering of his people under the insurgency.