In Nigeria, history does not only occur, it keeps repeating itself even in quick succession. We have plenty of such repeated incidents. They include ethnic clashes, religious violence, herdsmen menace, electoral malpractices and violence, armed robbery, assassination, militancy, kidnapping, child trafficking, corruption, and others.
And the downside of the entire saga is that we hardly learn or profit from previous experience. We didn’t know that after the horrendous abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok on April 14, 2014 in Borno State that a similar incident will be reenacted in Dapchi area located in Busari Local Government of Yobe State on February 19, 2018. The area now known as Yobe State was before part of Borno State.
Since that deadly and movie-like attack on Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, the whereabouts of about 110 schoolgirls are yet unknown. There are obvious similarities in the two different but related incidents. Both occurred a year preceding our general election. The two secondary schools were for girls only. The security agencies did not arrest the situation or were probably not aware of it until much later.
The abductors believed to be members of the dreaded, sorry ‘technically defeated’ or ‘degraded’ Boko Haram sect, came in long trucks and military fatigues and rifles. Their victims in hundreds were carried to unknown destinations, probably in Sambisa Forest, Chad or Niger or all of the above. Both occurred almost in the dark hours of the day.
In both incidents, some of the victims cleverly escaped and came back to narrate the mafia film experience. Our Nollywood film industry is yet to have such horrendous films. Pardon me if they have hurriedly done one with Part 1, 2 and even Part 3 that are evenly and so much pirated and sold in Alaba International Market and hawked on the major streets and highways of Lagos.
Both were trailed by confusion, denials, blame game and utter helplessness. The tales narrated by escaped victims of the abduction were similar to those that escaped from Chibok incident. Both were terrifying and horrible experience that one does not wish his enemy. They were traumatizing experience for young teenage girls that went to school to learn and improve their lot in the society.
These are would-be mothers of tomorrow. The attacks represent an affront on womanhood and girl-child education. It is a vicious attack on modernity and civilization. Both were monumental shame to the country, sorry national disaster. In both cases, there was failure of security and intelligence that is why some of the security agencies are shifting blames left, right and even centre in the Dapchi episode.
Some people have added sabotage by certain insiders to the national calamity. People fighting a war must expect sabotage. It is part of warfare. We saw it on a high scale during the Nigerian Civil War, especially on the Biafran side. Propaganda is also part of any warfare. Biafra deployed it to a great advantage.
Are the similarities coincidental or otherwise? These are matters for thorough investigations and unraveling by concerned authorities. Instead of trading blames among the security agencies engaged in the war against terrorism over the Dapchi case, the emphasis now should be how to avoid a repeat of such incident.
Efforts should be geared towards rescuing the abducted schoolgirls if such is still possible. We have already lost some hours, days and very soon, weeks will be added while arguing on who did what and who didn’t do something. In the heat of blame game, we have lost useful hours that ought to have ben used to delay the movement of the abduction trucks and possibly rescue some of the girls.
The official reaction to the Dapchi saga is not quite different from the one of Chibok girls. Therefore, there is urgent need for a paradigm shift in the way and manner the war against terror is conceptualized and executed. The current conceptual and methodological frameworks appear not to be giving us the desired results.
A new strategy should be evolved for the prosecution of the terror war especially in team spirit and intelligence sharing among the fighting agencies. We saw that lacking in the Chibok and Dapchi episodes. The government has said times without number that it has technically defeated and degraded the Boko Haram sect. That should be good news to all Nigerians that want the insurgency to end so that peace can return to the troubled North-East region.
But the reality on ground is that rather than being defeated, no matter how, the sect is still baring its fangs and telling us with their deadly attacks that they are not yet defeated. The war is not yet over. It is not yet uhuru. This is one fact that the government must come to terms with.
The earlier the government come to the conclusion that the war is still on, the better for it in terms of preparation, and execution of the war on terror. Living in denial will be too dangerous. The earlier the government confronts the reality of the situation, the better.
Since the government’s number one function is to protect the citizens and their property, this government must just do that. A situation where government is severally failing in its primary duty is sad and unacceptable. We have had enough excuses on this vexed issue before. We don’t want more excuses again. There is no debating the fact that the current policing system in Nigeria is problematic.
Besides low numerical strength of our policemen per our teeming population, most of them are not properly trained and equipped for police duties. They are also not well motivated and remunerated to perform their police tasks optimally. For our security situation to change fundamentally for the better, this ugly narrative must change.
Our policing must be for the protection of all in the society. The present method where political office holders and privileged and wealthy citizens are given high premium on security and the masses seemingly neglected is not the best practice. The ‘BringBackOurGirls’ campaigners have enough jobs on their hands now with the Dapchi incident. I strongly believe that they will not allow the government to rest until some of the schoolgirls are released.
Government must assure the parents of the abducted girls that it is seriously working hard to quickly effect their release from captivity. That is the minimum this government is expected to do. And it should do it fast. Efforts must be put in place to prevent history repeating itself in Nigeria, especially sad incidents.