On Wednesday, Nigeria marked 54 years of independence, and while President Goodluck Jonathan took the opportunity to give his annual speech, some concerned citizens, making up Citizens Arise Movement of Nigeria (CAMON) took to the streets of Abuja to protest the President’s glaring omission of the missing Chibok girls, according to Sahara Reporters.
During President Jonathan’s speech, he focused largely on home-grown terrorism and the need for citizens to support both the government and military in their fight against Boko Haram:
“It should now be clear to anyone who was ever in doubt that these terrorists do not mean well for anyone, of whatever religion or dispensation. Their persistent choice of the weakest and most vulnerable in society, for gruesome attack, provides an insight into their abnormal mind-set.
“I urge every Nigerian to put aside political, sectional or other parochial considerations, and support whole-heartedly the efforts of the government and the military, in checking this evil.”
The President also spoke about the new education Safe School Initiative, for example, that has been put in place to ensure that children in the northeast receive education in a safe environment.
He even discussed his efforts to improve the infamous electricity blackouts with upgraded infrastructure and some of the so-called milestones of his presidency.
But he ultimately failed to address the proverbial largest elephant in the room: the nearly 300 girls missing since April from Chibok’s Girls Government School as well as what he and his administration is going to do about it.
Watch President Jonathan’s controversial Independence speech here:
This ongoing ethical and political lapse prompted CAMON to spend independence day protesting.
Led by CAMON Coordinator Dino Melaye, the group reportedly sang anti-government songs around the federal secretariat and displayed a number of placards that read:
“We Demand an End to Insurgency Now! An End to Impunity & That Govt. Must Be Held Accountable to the People. In an Unjust Society, It Is a Crime To Keep Quiet!!!”
Speaking on President Jonathan’s speech, Melaye said, “I want to say that the President’s speech this morning is not different from the one he had been giving before. It has become a normal tradition. Unfortunately, the President addressed the nation this morning, the 54th birthday of Nigeria and he did not say anything about the missing Chibok girls. This is calamitous and painful.”
Citing Nigeria’s Constitution, Melaye went on to explain how President Jonathan’s disregard for the girls is actually a failure on his part to uphold the vows he took as president.
“[The President] swore to protect the lives and security of Nigerians on the 29th of May, 2011. He held the Bible and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 14 of that constitution is very clear, that the security and welfare of the people will be the primary objective of government.
“But the president has forgotten the welfare of the Chibok girls. He has forgotten the welfare of missing Nigerians. We are not happy. We are calling on the president to demonstrate capacity.”
Melaye also questioned how President Jonathan could be the Father of their nation when he cares nothing for the country’s children.
“[President Jonathan] is not the Father of the nation because no Father will have missing children, 219 of them, and would carry on as if nothing is amiss. We are here to tell the President he needs to be born again. He needs to respect his oath of office.”
As evidenced by their placards, CAMON also protested Boko Haram, with Melaye adding, “Insurgency must stop now, killings must stop now, unemployment must stop now, insecurity must stop now, corruption must stop now.”
About two weeks ago, President Jonathan was widely criticized for allowing the hashtag #BringBackGoodluck to be used for his 2015 re-election campaign. Unfortunately, the hashtag played off of the internationally used hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
While the President eventually released a statement criticizing the hashtag and demanding it be taken down on site, for many, the incident underscored Jonathan’s ongoing detachment and misunderstanding of both the priorities and needs of the people.
Melaye echoed this sentiment when he said, “We are here to say that Nigerians are disenchanted and disillusioned about the state of affairs in the country. Nigerians are yearning for good governance. Nigerians are demanding government with capacity. Nigerians are for a president [who] will behave like a true commander of the Armed Forces.”
Five months later, the missing girls of Chibok are yet to be found and returned to their respective families.