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Just In: Leaders of #BringBackOurGirls movement step down – why it matters


Just In: Leaders of #BringBackOurGirls movement step down – why it matters

It’s official. Obiageli Ezekwesili has announced that she will be running for president. She has even picked a party ticket – with the chosen party expected to be announced on Sunday.

“I want to run for, and win, the 2019 presidential election to serve and put the citizens first by mobilizing and taking decisive actions on a number of big ideas that will help all of us build an exceptional nation,” Ezekwesili said in a statement, according to a report by Reuters.

On Sunday, four members of the #BringBackOurGirls movement leadership announced that they have taken a leave of leading the pressure group after more than four years of relentless activism. They would be supporting the Oby Ezekwesili presidential campaign.

The four leaders – Aisha Yesufu, Florence Ozor, Maureen Kabrik and Dudu Bakam – have been at the forefront of the movement since the beginning of the campaign, holding both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government of Goodluck Jonathan and All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Muhammadu Buhari to account for rescuing and returning the 276 girls who were kidnapped in 2014 from Chibok, Borno State.

What they said:

Florence Ozor: “We have spent the past four years on this journey. And we continue to be fired up in ensuring that #NigerianLivesMatter like any across the world. We have confronted #APCPDP governments who have failed in their responsibility to effectively protect lives and property. Those who thought this was an agenda against the PDP saw clearly that human life knows no party as we continued our advocacy with even more determination after the change of government to the APC in 2015.”

Maureen Kabrik: “This is a deeply emotional decision for us. When we realised this was a move we had to take, we were saddened for an extended period. We have given our hearts and our souls to ensure that human lives have meaning, and we have formed a family especially with our very protesters, including at our daily sit outs over the past 1000+ days.”

Dudu Bakam: “We know how dirty old order politicians play. We are taking this step for the first time in our lives of working actively for a candidate because we think this is the only option we have for our goals of securing lives and property to be achieved. These politicians have shown they will not listen until their positions are at risk, and this is what we are going to do now. This cause is dear to our hearts so we will continue to clamour for the calls and continue to join the activities when we can until after the elections. But we will not be leading it so its crucial work can continue unhindered.”

Aisha Yesufu did not add a comment to those made by the others.

What next:

The group announced the new leaders of the movement as Yassin (Coordinator), Nifemi Onifade (Spokesperson) and Gapani Yanga (Sit-out Coordinator). The four former leaders of the group are expected to take active roles in the Ezekwesili campaign organization.

Why it matters:

The leaders of the movement had no choice. Remaining in the group as leaders while also actively campaigning for their Ezekwesili, their comrade in the movement would have been untenable for a group that consistently prides itself as being non-partisan.

On the chances of an Ezekwesili win in 2019, it is too early to access her chances but she starts with a disadvantage having joined the race quite late and lacking the kinds of resources available to the ruling parties. We would have more analysis on her candidacy when we receive more details of her announcement on Sunday.

READ: Oby Ezekwesili is going to run for president – here’s what we know

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