The release of the abducted schoolboys from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State is a huge relief to most Nigerians, especially the parents of the abducted boys. In the same vein, we commend the security agencies for rescuing about another 80 students abducted some days ago from an Islamic school in Katsina State. These abductions show that the security situation is really getting worse. The time has come when the government will take decisive action against rising banditry and terrorism in Nigeria.
In a move reminiscent of the kidnap of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State in 2014, some daredevil terrorists recently invaded Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, and kidnapped over 300 students. A few of the students escaped, but the majority of them were reportedly taken hostage in Zamfara State before being rescued by security agents.
In 2018, the Boko Haram insurgents invaded a school in Dapchi, Yobe State and kidnapped 110 schoolgirls who they kept in captivity for some months before releasing them. Up till date, one of the schoolgirls, Leah Sharibu, is still in captivity because she refused to denounce Christianity.
In a video it released shortly before the Kankara schoolboys were freed last week, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnap of the schoolboys. The group reiterated its strange ideology that Western education is a sin. But it is obvious that they have over the years engaged in pure criminality and terrorism.
Just a few days before the kidnap of the Katsina schoolboys, the insurgents had slaughtered scores of farm workers at Zabarmari, in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. In February this year, they burnt over 30 innocent travellers to death at Auno in Borno State. Last year, they also killed about 70 people at a funeral in Badu, Nganzai in Borno State. In their campaign of terror, Boko Haram members have killed over 40,000 people and rendered over two million others refugees since they started their insurgency war in 2009.
No doubt, there will always be criminals in any given society. But what makes the difference between a sane society and a failed state is the ability of the people in authority to secure life and property and put criminals in check. Despite claims by the government that the insurgents had been technically defeated, they continue to wreak havoc in the country.
On account of the activities of the insurgents, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) recently adjudged Nigeria the third most terrorised country in the world for the sixth consecutive year. Afghanistan is number one while Iraq occupies the second position. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 per cent. From the way things are going, Nigeria may overtake the two most terrorised countries in no distant time.
The unconscionable attacks on schools will definitely affect education in the North. Soon after the kidnap incident, the Katsina State Government shut down schools. Coming after the long closure of schools occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, it is apparent that these schools have a lot of catch-up to do.
Besides, many parents will likely be wary of sending their children to boarding school in the North. There is fear and anxiety everywhere because no one knows which school is likely to be the next target. And this is happening in a region that is already backward in education.
Ironically, the North, nay Nigeria, needs heavy investment in education if it were to tackle some of the developmental problems besetting it. But this investment may never come if there is no guarantee of security.
The fact that the kidnap of the schoolboys happened when President Muhammadu Buhari was on a visit to his home state should rouse him to action. He should listen to many prominent Nigerians who had lamented the spate of insecurity in Nigeria, especially in the North, and called for the rejigging of the country’s security architecture. The other day, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, said over 76 people were recently killed in a day in a community in Sokoto. Many people, including lawmakers, had also called for the sacking of the Service Chiefs. The President has not heeded to these calls despite the urgency of the moment.
We reiterate that the President should take a second look at the performance of his security chiefs. Every indication points to the fact that they have not done so well. The problem appears to have overwhelmed them. They have been there since 2015 and they appear to have lost ideas on how to tackle the insurgency. Changing them will bring fresh ideas and new strategies in the fight against insurgency. Also, government may consider recruiting locals and adequately equipping them to join in the fight against insurgency. Everything needed to defeat the war against terrorism must be done to rescue Nigeria from the terrorists.