yle=”text-align: justify;” class=”amp-wp-7d27179″>Nearly five years after Leah Sharibu’s kidnapping, she has yet to regain her freedom from captivity. OLOKOR FRIDAY talks to Dr. Gloria Puldu, founder of the Leah Foundation
What’s the real update on Leah Sharibu after all these years?
It is very sad that for four years, almost 5 years, if Leah is not released by February 2023, she will have been in captivity for 5 years, and the last update we have is from a young woman who escaped from captivity. About a month ago. She gave us all the details of where she is and said that she is alive. She was there when Leah gave birth to her second baby, so she confirms that she has two children.
So, Leah is still alive; she is still there with so many girls. We are asking the government: “Will Buhari leave the government without fulfilling this promise that he made to the mother and father?” Her younger brother is now in college, so Leah should have been in college or nearly graduated, yet this little boy is still there, and many of them are still being kidnapped on a daily basis. So it is very sad that President Buhari has not yet fulfilled his promise.
And the sad thing is, with all these presidential candidates, we’re wondering what they have in store for us; in case Buhari failed to rescue these girls, what are they going to do? None of them tell us.
So one question we’re asking them is, “What are you going to do to rescue these young women who are there?”
When was your last conversation with the government, either Buhari or any of the government officials, like Leah’s parents?
Our last conversation was last month, on the International Day of the Girl Child, and as you know, they don’t give us access to see them face to face; you are the ones who are helping us convey the messages we have through the media. Every time we keep talking, even during these 16 days of activism, we know that some women have come out and talked about what’s going on.
So for us, the last girl was when we came in and we said, “What are we still doing? Our daughter is still there, and during these 16 days of activism, we are also asking them: “So every day, wherever we see, wherever we go, we will never forget our son, our daughters; They are our Nigerian children and we cannot forget them.”
So if they have forgotten their responsibilities and abandoned our daughters, we will not forget them; we will keep asking them, we will keep pressing them and we will keep telling them to release our daughters, and history will hold them accountable.
When was the last time Buhari spoke to Leah’s parents?
In the past four years, he has only spoken to Leah’s parents once.
When was that?
That was after seven months of Leah’s captivity, when her video was released, at our first international conference, when we saw the video and said: “Boko Haram is threatening to kill Leah, and they have released that video, and you know that that night was the day he called Leah’s mom because the Governor of Plateau State helped us connect that day because we had that interview in Plateau.
So, that night was the only day, and since then, neither the first lady, nor Buhari, nor any government official, except Pauline Tallen, who came after two years when she took over as minister, but since then, we haven’t seen no one again.
The Minister for Women’s Affairs has visited Chibok and talked to them, and that’s all since then.
At one time, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information, made a statement.
That was two weeks after Buhari had spoken to Leah’s mother; that’s when he went to Dapchi, and there we were together to receive them, thinking that they had brought our daughter because Buhari spoke to him and assured him that they were going to bring her from her.
And so, that day, Lai Mohammed was there with two other ministers; that was two weeks after Buhari spoke, and to this day, not even a mention, nothing, not even a call to the parents, nothing; they just made our noise and cried, that’s all.
Now that insecurity is worsening in the country, do you think the next government will be able to address these issues?
If Nigerians stand up and do the right thing by voting for the right party and the right people in leadership positions, then these people, I think because they’re right, they’ll have the political will to fight insecurity because, you know, any government will give you He says that he cannot stop insecurity, it is because he does not have the political will; They’re just playing politics with our lives, and that’s all I can say.
If Buhari wants to stop the insecurity in this country today, he will stop it. Abacha famously said: “If the insecurity lasts more than how many hours, you hold the government responsible.”
So as far as we are concerned, they lack the political will to stop what is happening. We pray that Nigerians wake up and vote for the right leaders, and to ensure that we protect our votes and that these right people represent us so that we can have good government. With this, insecurity will be a thing of the past and all the social comforts we require will be developed.
Does it bother you that none of the presidential candidates in the course of their campaigns have made any promises to rescue Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi or the Chibok girls if they are elected?
That was the question we asked them on the International Day of the Girl. We ask: “What are you saying about our girls?” You are worried? If you are concerned, then tell us what you are going to do, because we have completely lost hope in this government.
It’s less than 80 days until the election, so after the election, you know, it’s like they’re pretty much all gone, so we’ve lost hope.
But those of you who are campaigning, especially the major political parties, we ask you; What is your plan regarding our women and girls who are in the forest and who are in captivity? We look for a way to meet with them but they don’t give us the opportunity, so we have the media to help us; So we asked them: “What are your plans for the rescue of our girls, the Dapchi girls, Leah Sharibu, the Chibok girls and all the other girls who are in captivity? What is your plan for his release, for his rescue?
We have constantly spoken to the international community; They give us the opportunity to talk about the persecution of Christians and what is happening with Boko Haram, but one thing that we continue to demand is that we not only express our opinions; we want to see action and we want to see the American government act.
The only thing we got from the US government in the last few months was the removal of Nigeria from even countries of special concern. That was a big move against what we’re doing, and it’s terrible.
And so, we continue to ask them to put pressure on the Nigerian government, tell them to do what is necessary and to hold them accountable.
Is the insecurity directed in particular at Christians?
As far as we are concerned, if you look at the population of what is happening and the communities that have been attacked, you will notice that it is always the Christian communities that are attacked, especially in the north-central and north-eastern parts of the country, and that it is the Christian women who remain in captivity when they are kidnapped.
Most of those who are not released are Christian women because we have had experiences where people have been kidnapped and then found to be non-Christians, and then released, while Christians are made slaves in captivity.
So as far as we’re concerned, it’s a big, big attack on Christian communities in the north. Go and find out what is happening in Benue, what is happening on the plateau, what is happening in the south of Kaduna and what is happening in the northeast.
Look what happened in Sokoto with the Deborah case; look at what’s going on with all the other people, so you can.
Speaking of Deborah’s case, people say that it is a case of persecution, and we have young women forced into marriage. Do you think there are adequate laws in place to ensure that perpetrators do not go unpunished?
These are some of the issues we are asking the government to address: blasphemy, persecution of the people, various forms of violence against women and girls, and religious freedom for everyone, whether Christian, Muslim or whatever. ; your right must be free; must not be violated. The government should be able to take perpetrators to court whenever they want.