By Stephen Ubanna
In spite of the tight security mounted around President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, who is in Katsina, his home state, on a one week Private visit to Daura, his home town, he was said to have failed to use the opportunity to visit the government science secondary school, Kankara, in the north west state, the scene of the Bandits attack on Friday, December 11, 2020 .The bandits attack had resulted in the kidnap of scores of students.
Bashir Magaji. a retired Major General and minister of Defence, had confirmed, based on the report of Masari, a former Speaker of House of Representtives and now governor of Katsina state that was presented to a delegation of the Federal government led by him and which also include the service Chiefs to Katsina to symphatise with the parents and teachers of the victims as well as the state government over the abduction, stating that 333 students were still unaccounted for as the school attacked by the bandits had a population of 839 students. The minister had said that the the government has yet to get an accurate figure as some of the missing student were still coming out from the forest.
The Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, under the close watch of Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, who is not happy that Buhari could be in Daura, his home town without visiting Kankara, the scene of the Bandits attack had said that it clearly shows that he has ‘’failed in discharging his primary responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the people’’.
Indeed, this was the same mistake that was made by former President Goodluck Jonathan when some 276 secondary school girls in the town of Chibok in Borno state, north east Nigeria, were kidnapped by the Islamic extremist, BokoHaram, on the nights of April 14 and 15, 2014. The erstwhile president had failed to visit Chibok, the scene of the kidnap attack despite pressures on him from different quarters to do so.
Charanchi, the Coordinator of the CNG, who is not taking chances, according to close sources, has sent a message to Masari, the state governor, that ‘’if the government fail to rescue the missing students within the shortest period possible, the group would be forced to mobilise hundreds of thousands of the youths and get them on the streets of Katsina, for a continuous protest until the students are fully rescued’’. The minister had said that the abducted students would be released in a few hours but it has entered its fourth day.
The women may have beaten the CNG to it as they were said to have filed out to the streets on Sunday, December 13, 2020, carrying placards with different inscriptions: government must speak out, we want our children back, we want security in Kankara. They were said to have demanded prompt rescue of the abducted students by the bandits.
Magaji’s claims that the missing students would be released within a few hours may be hard to believe. The governor had said that”no group or person esponsible for the kidnap of the students had contacted the government for negotiation, fueling speculations that this may be another Chibok girls experience in the making.
Sadeeq Shehu, a retired ,Air Force Goup Captain and now a Professor at George Marshall European Centr for Security Studies, Germany, is opposed to use of Force by the government and the Authorities in Katsina to rescue the Kankara schoolboys from the hands f the bandits has recommended negotiation with them as the first step to take. Appearing on Channels Television recently, he said, ”when you have hostages with any criminal or any abductor, I think the first issue to think about will be a negotiation”. He noted that attacks on schools have become a function of terrorists and bandits not only in Nigeria but in many other countries around the world and we have to accept it instead of throwing blames.
Adejoro Adeoun, Chairman, House Committee on National Security and Intelligence, would nt agree with Shehu, the retired Group Captain suggestions that the government and the Authorities at Katsina should negotiate with the bandits to facilitate the release of the Kankara students in their custody. Adeogun, who could not hide his feelings had said that negotiating with the bandits or thinking of amnesty for them is usually an acceptance of failure on the part of the government. He recalled that in 2019, Massari, granted amnesty to cattle rustlers and armed bandits in the state as part of measures to restore peace in the state but the situation became worse. He has told those that cares to listen that negotiation with terrorists or bandits have failed in the north east state of Borno and may not work in Katsina state .
An aggrieved Charanchi had said that the group would do it ‘’even if it’s going to cost them their lives’’. The group may have learnt from the Chibok girl, experience, where the then Jonathan government could not rescue the girls until he was swept out of office in 2015, leaving the coast clear for Buhari , his successor to use it and shine in his first term in office.
The CNG Coordinator has warned that if the’’ security situation in the state do not change, it would be plunged into anarchy’’. This may have informed why he has urged the Authorities to deploy ’’well-equipped security operatives to all the day secondary schools within the state. He was said to have also demanded from the Nigerian President to do everything within his capacity to support, Marsari, the Katsina state governor’s efforts by deploying more armouured personnel carriers and fighter jets to the state so as to defeat the bandits.
Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, may have known that the Force has much work to do in the search and rescue operation of the kidnapped Government science secondary school , Kankara, students, that he has risen up to the challenge by deploying more police personnel to Katsina state in support of the ongoing search and rescue operations for the kidnapped students, who a source told The Value News were mostly boys.The police officials deployed to the President home state to contain the activities of the bandits were said to have been drawn from the Police Tactical Squads,PTS, and Crack detectives from the Force Intelligence Bureau, FIB.
But Atiku Abubakar, a one-time Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019, Presidential elections had said the country security crisis has gone beyond using old strategies to address it, urging the Buhari government ‘’to abandon the old strategies of tackling the Bandits and embrace better ones’’.
Atiku, who may have given an insight of what he could have done if he is still in government had asked Buhari ‘’to declare a state of emergency over the state of insecurity in the country’’, noting that ‘’the abduction of a large number of students at the Government Science secondary school, Kankara’’, which is in his own state ‘’ is a very unwelcome escalation of the spate of insecurity in the country’’.
An aggrieved Atiku, asserted that the country cannot continue to play a reactionary role in its response to the growing insecurity , insisting that the government has ’’to be on the offensive and decisive in the war against terror and insecurity in the states bedeviled by banditry and terrorism’’. He had alluded to the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, where t Boko Haram and the Islamic State of the West African Province, ISWAP, have held the region hostage for almost a decade and the north west states of Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna, where the Bandits are making live uncomfortable for the people.
The Opposition PDP, may have introduced a political dimension to the kidnap of the Government science secondary school, students in Kakara, as it has urged the people of Katsina ‘’to charge Buhari, as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, who had promised to lead the country by the front, ’’to account for the abducted Kankara science students’’.
The party had said that the large –scale abduction of the Kankara students had happened a few hours after the Nigerian President and his security machinery took over the state last Thursday’’. The party lamented that at a time the people of Katsina state should be happy that their own son who is the President of Nigeria is in the state to spend some days with them,’’the abduction of the Kankara secondary science students had happened right under his nose, in his home state, where he had gone holidaying’’.
The Opposition party may have taken the Bandits abduction of the Kankara science students to shine had said that ‘’it has exposed the failure of the Nigerian President ‘’ to manage the high-level security intelligence that ought to accompany a Presidential visit’’. Worried that the Katsina state born Nigerian President had cancelled his earlier agreed appearance before the Femi Gbajabiamila led House of Representatives to address the security situation of the country to holidaying in Daura, his home town, the party said he ‘’ left the national flanks open for terrorists, bandits, vandals and kidnappers to operate’’.
The party stopped short at saying that Buhari ‘’is totally incapable of securing the nation’’, This may have informed why Kola Ologbondiyan, the spokesperson of the party had alluded to the fact that ‘’there have been widespread calls by patriotic Nigerians that he should resign’’ . Even the party Caucus in the House may have taken advantage of the cancellation of his appearance in the House to lobby other members from across the other parties including the ruling APC, to push for his impeachment on issues of failed national security. The PDP Caucus in the House may not succeed as the APC is in the majority and the House Leader are loyal to the President and the Party National Executive Council. They would do everything within their power to frustrate the Opposition PDP Caucus in the House plan. It is not surprising why Buhari loyalists in the House had described the PDP Caucus plan as a failed plot.