Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Doyin Okupe’s CNN Interview Yesterday:"Our President is Not a Showman"

Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to Pres. Jonathan on Public Affairs was on air yesterday with CNN Aisha Sesay to defend the federal government's efforts so far on rescuing the missing schoolgirls.
Watch the video after the cut, but meanwhile here are excerpts from the interview:
  • Sesay: The government has said it is on top of the situation but it is three weeks since over 200 girls went missing. You have provided little information to support your statement that you are doing everything you can.... (cuts in)

Okupe: No Aisha, that is not correct. Our president is not a showman. The fact that the president did not say anything does not in any way mean that a lot are not being done. There have been a lot of meetings; a lot of directives and I am aware that two special battalion were devoted to searching for these girls. There have been over 250 areas we are checking with helicopters, aeroplanes and fighter jets that can actually scan the forest. 
  • Sesay: Did you go into the forest?
Okupe: I'm talking about the forest. These tapes were shown on the national television NTA two days
ago. On the ground.. yes. Beyond that, virtually the entire communication machinery of the Ministry of Defence has been deployed to Borno State. More troops are on their way to Maiduguri right now. The president and government are not taking this easy as people all over the world say. We are not making any noise.. you know this is not a football match where you have commentaries on a daily basis, and it is not a plane crash. Do you understand?
  • Sesay: Would you accept the fact that people of Nigeria, people of the world and the parents of the missing girls demand to know, are owed more information about the search?
Okupe: There is no doubt that every effort that has been made so far are quite worthy of what they are. The government is in support of this demonstration of anger, demonstration of frustration. We are in support. If I had known about this interview earlier on, I would have come with a red cover to show solidarity with the mothers that are in pain. I have children of my own and I love them. I can’t imagine how people think that the president, who loves the people, who works for the country, would sit back and just allow children to be abducted for three weeks. We have done a lot. The fact that we are not showing people does not mean that we are not doing our best. Work is going on.
  • Sesay: I think the people need information and (cuts in)
Okupe: Let me tell you something. As of today, the Federal Government has set up an information centre, which will be open 24 hours, taking questions and not just questions alone. It will give information on a daily basis about what is going on.
  • Sesay: This is the first time we are hearing this…
Okupe: Yes. This is real. I am just leaving an emergency national Security Council meeting. It lasted for 3 hours. As at 3:15pm, I didn’t know I was going to be called to a meeting. But by 4o'clock, we were all seated. Everybody that is anybody in the security of this country was seated; Vice President…everybody.
  • Sesay: I want to ask you about the offer of help by the US government. Has that offer been formally accepted by the Nigerian government?
Okupe: I can confirm to you that President Goodluck Jonathan spoke to the US Secretary of State John Kerry today (yesterday). And between them, they have agreed; America has offered assistance in the area of high technology, including satellite imagery…and all sorts of things. And the president has accepted the request and the team is coming in very soon…maybe next week or so. We've said it before - we will accept help from anywhere. Terrorism is strange to us. We were not prepared for it. Our military was not trained for it..
  • Sesay: You have been dealing with Boko Haram for many years…(cuts in)
Okupe: Not for many years. It started from 2009. Not 2002… Although, they had a local issues in Borno State. They were not kidnapping people; they were not doing all those things. But from 2009, this new crisis started. And it involves presently…there is criminality, there is religious bigotry and there are all sorts of things in it. It's a different ball game now.
  • Sesay: How is it possible that under a emergency rule, 200 girls were taken from their beds in the dead of the night in a place where the military are stationed?
Okupe: Borno State covers an area of over 150,000 kilometres. That is, the landscape is wide. How many soldiers do we have? You know, we cannot man it kilometre by kilometre. There were people on ground, maybe 15 or 20 in an area; that was not enough. But you know, a lot has been done to revamp the security system in these places by now.

I want to say it again, we will get those girls back. We will. We have the capacity, we have the resources. We have the manpower, our military and security services have the expertise. When I say this, I say with a whole lot of sense of responsibility.

And I want to appeal to people in the world - you know, just calm down. Give us time. WE WILL BRING THOSE GIRLS BACK!

Click here to watch the video.

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