Parents of abducted Dapchi school girls in Yobe State, yesterday lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for considering the option of negotiation against use of military force to rescue the girls.
The parents, who spoke with newsmen in Damaturu said the option gave them hope for safe return of the girls.
Chairman, Parents Association of the Abducted Schoolgirls, Alhaji Bashir Manzo said “this is a welcome development and we are happy about it.
“Use of force, as the only option, will result in death of many of the girls while negotiation provides for their safe return.”
The chairman, who encouraged government to go for dialogue to hasten return of the girls, said “the fact that the insurgents provide room for negotiation gives us hope for safe return of our daughters.”
Secretary Dapchi Youth Development Association, Alhaji Baba Shehu, also described the negotiation option as a healthy development.
“Government should deploy resources at its disposal to take this advantage and ensure safe return of the girls” he said.
A father of eight of the students, Alhaji Ali Mohammed, described negotiation as the only safe option for the insurgents to release the girls, saying he was happy “government has considered this option of negotiation”.
A mother, Maryam Alkali, said every mother would appreciate the option that will bring the girls back home safely.
“Let me state without fear of contradiction that every mother of the abducted girls will now have a strong hope for reunion with these girls” she said.
Another parent, Malam Mustapha Imam, said “If government had resorted to military option alone, it may jeopardize the safety of the girls, so the option of negotiation is a welcome development.”
He, however, called on government to take strong precautionary measures in safeguarding every school in the country, especially those in the Northeast.
“Government has to invest heavily on security, especially in equipment, manpower and intelligence gathering for improved security,” Imam said.
The President, had last Monday, while receiving then US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said the Federal Government had considered the option of negotiation to rescue the abducted students.
Buhari told Tillerson that negotiations were underway, in concert with international organisations to secure the release of hundreds of school girls captured by Boko Haram terrorists.
On 19 February, 110 school girls were captured by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State. In April 2014, more than 200 girls were stolen from a school in Chibok, Borno State.
Buhari said Nigeria preferred to have the school girls back alive, and that is why it had chosen negotiation, rather than military option.
“We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive,” the President said.
He thanked America for assistance rendered in the fight against insurgency, noting that Nigerian forces are good, “but need assistance in the areas of training and equipment.”
Buhari promised that his administration would continue to do its best to secure the country, adding that he would be in Yobe State, from where Dapchi school girls were abducted, later this week “as part of my condolence and sympathy visits to areas where we have had unfortunate events.”
Fashola Faults ‘Coat Of Arms’ Display On National Flag
Former Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has cautioned Nigerians from inscribing the coat of arms on the national flag, saying doing so is a misuse of the national colours.
Fashola said this on Monday, during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Empowering Tomorrow: A New Vision for Nigeria, a special programme on the 63rd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence celebrated annually on October 1.
“Just this afternoon, I was asked to hoist a flag of Nigeria. By the time the flag unfurled, I saw that there was a coat of arms in the middle and I whispered to my host that ‘this is not the flag of Nigeria’. Nigeria’s flag does not have a coat of arms in the middle. It is green, white, and green”, Fashola said.
The former minister also said that Nigerians should pay attention to “some of the small things that matter”, adding that national symbols are to be rendered during recognised events for the country at large.
“When I was in primary school, these were the symbolisms of those Independence Day parades, Children’s Day parades, and this was how we were taught to stand up or maintain our position whenever we heard Nigeria’s national anthem being rendered,” Fashola said.
“You sit today and you shudder in your skin what happens today, what people have been taught when the national anthem is rendered”, he added.
The former governor of Lagos also spoke out against the rendition of the national anthem “at every little event”, including when the president appears at a social event, saying it is to be sung as the symbol of the country’s sovereignty.
“I have had cause to ask people not to sing the anthem for me, either as governor or minister, because I’m not a sovereign. It’s a projection of our minds,” he said.
“These are, for me, the important things to talk about and that’s why I say this anniversary provides an opportunity for reflection and, indeed, inflection”, Fashola added.
NCDC Records 1,968 Lassa Fever Cases In 28 States
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has registered 1,068 Lassa fever infections across 112 local government areas in 28 states of the federation.
The NCDC said this yesterday, via its official website in its Lassa Fever Situation Report for Week 37 (September 11 -17, 2023).
The centre indicated that 75 percent of the cases were detected in Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi states.
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. It is primarily found in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with the urine or feces of infected rodents, specifically the multimammate rat.
According to the NCDC, there are currently 7,352 individuals with suspected cases and the infection has resulted in the unfortunate loss of at least 181 lives in the country.
The centre said that the case-fatality ratio of the infection stood at 16.9 percent.
“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 37, 2023, 181 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 16.9 percent which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2022 (19.1 percent).
“In total for 2023, 28 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 112 local government areas.
“Seventy-five percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from these three states (Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi) while 25 percent were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.
“Of the 75 percent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 35 percent, Edo 29 percent, and Bauchi 11 percent.
“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years (Range: 1 to 93 years, Median Age: 32 years).
“The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.9. The number of suspected cases increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2022,” it said.
It said that in 2023, Lassa fever infected 49 healthcare workers across the country.
The agency said that the National Lassa Fever Multi-partner, Multi-sectoral Emergency Operations Centre had been activated to coordinate the response activities at all levels.
It added that prevention of Lassa fever involves avoiding contact with rodents and their droppings, practising good personal hygiene and taking precautions when caring for infected individuals.
The NCDC said that early diagnosis and prompt medical care are crucial in managing the disease and preventing complications.
Army Orders Investigation Into Allegation Of Troops’ Poor Feeding
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, has ordered an investigation into an allegation of poor feeding of frontline troops in the North East Theatre of Operations.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, made this known in a statement in Abuja, yesterday.
Nwachukwu said that the welfare of troops had been given premium by the present leadership of the Nigerian Army and was one of the vital pillars of the COAS Command Philosophy targeted at motivating the Force.
“The Nigerian army therefore takes these allegations very seriously and COAS has directed immediate investigation into the complaints to ascertain its veracity and unravel the circumstances,” the army spokesman said.
Nwachukwu assured the public and all army personnel that a thorough investigation would be conducted to get to the bottom of the claims.
He said the Nigerian army had always prioritised the welfare of troops, including their nutrition, adding that it has a comprehensive feeding system for troops, especially those serving at the frontline.
“We, however, acknowledge that there may be isolated incidents where lapses occur, and we are determined to squarely address them.
“An internal investigation has already been initiated to ascertain the truth behind these allegations.
“We will thoroughly examine the supply chain, the quality of food provided, and any other factors that may have contributed to this situation,” he said.
Nwachukwu stressed that the Nigerian army remained committed to transparency and accountability, and would not condone any form of negligence or misconduct.
“If any culpability is detected, it will attract appropriate disciplinary action and immediate corrective measures to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future,” he assured.
Nwachukwu called on Army personnel to report any grievances or concerns they might have regarding their feeding arrangements through the established channels for feedback, assuring that prompt action would be taken to address any legitimate complaints.
He said that the Army would continue to be resolute in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges, and would ensure that its soldiers were provided with the necessary support and care to carry out their duties effectively.
“We are committed to ensuring that our troops are well-fed, motivated, and equipped to defend our nation,” he added.
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