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African press review 14 April 2015

Text by: William Niba
5 min

The Nigerian press marks a day of remembrance for the missing Chibok girls, one year after their abduction from their boarding school by Boko Haram. The media is also charmed by Nigeria's new first lady even before her husband takes office.

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Several papers are barely holding back their excitement at news from the BBC that the girls may still be alive. Punch publishes eyewitness accounts made to the British broadcaster by survivors fleeing Boko Haram’s stronghold of Gwoza that they saw the girls in the town before the insurgents fled advancing foreign-backed Nigerian forces.

According to the paper, one woman explained to the BBC that the girls were kept in a big house off the road in front of her own home. Another said that “about a week after they were brought to the camp, one of them peeked through a window and asked: ‘Are you really the Chibok girls?’ and they said: ‘Yes’."

She went on to explain that the girls spent their time taking Koran lessons, cleaning their compound, cooking for themselves and braiding each other's hair. They were treated differently, the woman is quoted as telling the BBC.

Punch also focuses its thrust on cross checking the credibility of the woman's testimony to the British public broadcaster. According to the paper, the woman had asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals and escaped from the Boko Haram headquarters shortly before it was recaptured by a Chadian-led international force last month. Punch says the militants were suspected to have taken the girls as human shields and they fled to a new location believed to be the nearby Mandara Mountains, near the border with Cameroon.

Premium Times highlights the honest approach the president-elect is bringing to the Chibok girls crisis. Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement to mark the girls's one year in captivity that there is no guarantee he can rescue them but he vowed to do everything possible to secure their release.

He laid out his intention to confront the crisis from a new approach. “What I can pledge, with absolute certainty," he wrote, "is that starting on the first day of my administration, Boko Haram will know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas."

The Nation kept its eyes on the final results of the gubernatorial elections. According to the paper, Buhari's All Progressives Congress yesterday consolidated its hold on the political landscape, winning some Peoples Democratic Party strongholds as more governorship election results were announced.

The party won in Plateau, Benue, Niger, Adamawa and Kebbi states that were held by the PDP, and also retained Nasarawa and Borno states. The PDP won in Delta and Cross River states. Its ‘victory’ in Rivers, announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday – like the one in Akwa Ibom on Sunday – is in dispute. Results from Taraba, Abia and Imo states were declared inconclusive by the electoral agency, according to The Nation.

TheNigerian Tribune is monitoring efforts in Abuja to secure a smooth transition of power between Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan on 29 May. The paper says the Presidential Transition Committee held its inaugural meeting on Monday, presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo and attended by top government officials. Their business is to compile handover briefs from the ministries, departments and agencies prior to their planned interface with the president-elect’s transition committee.

The Guardian is charmed by the personality of Nigeria's new first lady, Aisha Buhari. She is 44 and the mother of five of Buhari's children. She married her 72-year-old husband in 1989 after he divorced his first wife.

According to the paper, while Aisha Buhari remained in the shadows for most of the election campaign, she stands ready to impose a very different style at the presidential villa Aso Rock in Abuja, in contrast to the so-called boisterous ways of the current first lady.

Don’t be surprised if Aisha Buhari is elected pinup lady of the year by Vanguard. “Few would have believed that the taciturn, austere General Buhari had a soft, smiling and sweet woman at home,” writes the newspaper.

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