Certainly, the nights of the long knives are far from being over in many parts of Nigeria, especially in the terrorists’ ravaged North-West and North-Central geo-political zones.
In fact, the situation in these areas get scarier by the day, what with the unending news of attacks, particularly on schools by the so-called bandits, who often end up kidnapping hundreds of school children in one fell swoop. These ogres called bandits prey on innocent and defenceless school children at will. Our school children have become game for them to hunt down for ransom. This is absolute cruelty toward the defenceless and powerless.
Last Wednesday’s kidnap of 73 teenage students by gunmen from a government secondary school in the remote village of Kaya readily comes to mind. The terrorists had in their large numbers invaded the school and seized the students. Of course, since last December, no fewer than 1100 students from schools in the Northern states have been abducted by armed gangs. Also, no fewer than 821 students have been abducted by gunmen in the first nine months of 2021 alone, a figure reported to be higher than two-thirds of the overall tally of kidnap victims since 2014.
Only within the same last week, gunmen had set free 90 pupils abducted from an Islamic school in Niger State, including children as young as four years, almost three months after kidnapping them.
According to a report by SBM Intelligence, Nigeria’s geo-political intelligence platform, about 1,409 students have been abducted since “the latest school abduction epidemic which started in March 2020.” But sadly, 16 of the kidnapped students were killed by the kidnappers, the report, which also rated Katsina as the most affected state with 440 victims trailed by Zamfara with 419 abductees, further stated. Niger, Kaduna and Kebbi states also feature prominently on the list.
The teachers in schools in Zamfara have also not been spared by the terrorists, as no fewer than 17 of them have been kidnapped alongside their students.
About N220million ransom has also been paid out to the terrorists, the report stated.
So far, our government’s response to the worsening insecurity in the country has more or less been such that it’s merely crossing its fingers, closing its eyes and hoping for the best in the face of the stark realities of these dark times
Of course, these are indeed the toughest and roughest of times for parents and children of school age in the Northern states. For them, learning is no longer fun; it is now done with tears under an atmosphere tinged with fears of the unknown. Their problem is even compounded by the helplessness displayed by government at both the state and Federal levels, due to our rudderless and spineless security architecture.
It is unlikely that the lame duck refrain from those in authority at both the state and Federal levels that citizens should defend themselves against the terrorists ravaging our communities would make any difference until government lives up to its responsibility of protecting all Nigerian citizens, whenever they live in any part of the country. So far, our government’s response to the worsening insecurity in the country has more or less been such that it’s merely crossing its fingers, closing its eyes and hoping for the best in the face of the stark realities of these dark times.
One cannot but, therefore, agree with security expert, Kabir Adamu, that lack of accountability on the part of the security agencies is the reason attacks on schools and abduction of students by the terrorists have continued unabated.
It is true that lack of monitoring and evaluation systems of our security agencies have made impossible any form of oversight or pressure on them to meet set targets.
Just as Adamu also said, even where there is manifest failure on the part of our security agencies, nobody is held accountable for the various lapses. This is appallingly sad!
One keeps wondering how much relief or succour the shutting down of 250 GSM base stations and the resultant communication blackout in Zamfara State will bring to the distraught parents of the abducted school children. Of course, parents are now left in the dark about the measures being taken by government to rescue the abducted students. The saddest thing is, in our attempt to solve one problem we often end up creating another with more serious implications. Maybe the authorities do not know the shutting down of such a large number of base stations in Zamfara will result in loss of jobs, businesses and revenues in the state. And ultimately further aggravate the worsening insecurity in the state.
More so, has such an action by the Federal Government in Zamfara not foreclosed the chances of the terrorists getting in contact with the state authorities and the parents to make their usual demand for ransom? Questions and more unanswered questions keep agitating our minds.
Government should have adopted more proactive measures in dealing with the matter, particularly to retrieve the abducted school children, rather than adding to the problem on ground by its decision to shut down such a high number of GSM base stations.
One shares the fears expressed by the Northern Elders Forum that the decision by the Zamfara State Government to suspend weekly markets, restrict sale of petrol, shut down schools, declare curfew, ban movement of cattle and shut down communications networks may end up emboldening the terrorists to wreak more havocs in the state.
Yes, such measures are nothing more than “virtual economic and social lockdowns” on the hapless and defenceless people who have been under the oppression of these terrorists for so many years now.
But in order not to add to the Zamfara people’s problems and hopelessness, as the Northern Elders have suggested, the measures already put in place by the state government to check the growing insecurity in the state should be complemented with a sustained aggressive and effective assault on the unrepentant terrorists and kidnappers. One hopes that the ongoing military offensive against the terrorists in Zamfara forests will effectively address the perennial security problem, rather than worsen the situation as being argued by controversial Islamic preacher, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi.
One thing is, however, clear: the perennial insecurity in the country, especially in the North, has been so long in the brewing that it may not blow over any time soon. Analysts now talk of a security crisis that may last for so many years. Methinks one way to fix it is not to see it as a problem of the ordinary people alone, but of the bandits who have for long been treated with kid gloves by those in authority. So, combating them effectively and exterminating them is what should be the objective of the government, rather than telling the rest of us to go face the heavily armed terrorists with our bare hands. The existential threat these terrorists constitute to the populace and the entire country is real; this our government no doubt knows.
It’s time our government braced itself for a country without these heartless terrorists and stop hoping falsely that granting them amnesty will make them to have a change of heart. The Federal Government must urgently prepare a worst-case-scenario battle plan for annihilating these criminals now.
The government must fast track the end of all terrorists, insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements wherever they are in any part of Nigeria.
We must all understand that half measures against these terrorists, as our government is wont to take, would only drive them underground where they’ll lie in wait for a more auspicious time to re-launch their criminal activities.
That our government and security agencies, after so much promises and claims of having “technically defeated” these terrorists, are not making much headway in reining in these criminals is enough clear signal of dysfunction in the current administration. This is responsible for the stench of failure oozing from its inability to effectively truly defeat terrorism.
The persistent perennial insecurity across the country has become a metaphor for a government that has lost its focus. Many Nigerians are of the view that government does not appear sufficiently serious to make the country secure for all citizens.
One then wonders for how long those in authority would keep amassing tons of unanswered questions about the insecurity that has engulfed almost the whole of the country.