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ASO ROCK WATCH: Plotting freedom for Kagara schoolboys. Two other talking points



The President Muhammadu Buhari administration was, last week, hit with another pitiable tale of students’ abduction.

This time around, it was in a secondary school in Kagara, Niger State, where bandits, in the dead of the night, whisked away 27 pupils, 3 staff, and 12 members of their family.

Sadly, this comes at a time Nigerians are yet to fully recover from the bad effects of the Chibok, Dapchi and Kankara students’ abductions in Borno, Yobe and Katsina States respectively.

This, and other engaging stories dotted Aso Rock in the past week.

The Kagara schoolboys

On February 17, President Buhari directed the Armed Forces and Police to ensure immediate and safe return of all those abducted from Government Science College, Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President said: “President Buhari has assured all the support of his administration to the Armed Forces in their brave struggles against terrorism and banditry and urged them to do all that can be done to bring an end to this saga, and avoid such cowardly attacks in the future.”

The Kagara abduction, as embarrassing as it is, shows that the Nigerian government had learnt no lessons from its previous experiences. The incident lends support to arguments that Nigerian students, especially those in the North, are now an endangered specie.

The President’s directive, while being viewed as mere formality, is an indicator that the challenge of insecurity is not only getting worse but points to the continuous failure of intelligence by the country’s security agencies.

And, given what is now common knowledge, that the military has always known the location of the terrorists and bandits, the recent abduction hints on the need to query the political will to engage these criminals and end the carnage.

This poser, therefore, is one the Buhari administration must provide answers to or live with public insinuations that his government knows what to do but has refused to act.

Most importantly, and while he ponders over that, the immediate need is for him to strengthen security in Nigerian schools and reverse the slide in terms of the growing number of out-of-school children.

Two other talking points

Containing violence

On February 14, President Buhari vowed to protect all religious and ethnic groups in line with the provisions of the Constitution.

“In a reaction to reports of breakout of violence in some parts of the country by some ethnic and sectional groups, President Buhari warned that the government will not allow any ethnic or religious group to stoke up hatred and violence against other groups,” a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, read.

In calling for calm in troubled territories, Buhari is simply discharging a basic function expected of the President.

While this move is deemed commendable, it is also expected that he would let his actions speak.

Buhari’s vow, however, raises a few posers:

1. Will the President go beyond the terrain of talks to initiate actions to salvage the nation from the brink of sectional clashes?

2. Is he going to be swift in swinging to action, or, will his alleged laidback style in tackling national challenges play up again?

3. Will the attention of relevant stakeholders be sought in the course of calming frayed nerves across the ethnic and religious divide?

Only time will tell.

Enemies of state

On February 16, President Buhari attributed the upheavals in some parts of the country to a few people with resources and influence, and assured that in due course, they will be identified and dealt with.

“I am confident that we will eventually convince the small number of people with resource and influence that are a nuisance to this great country. God willing, we will identify them and deal with them,” he said in Aso Rock Villa while receiving a delegation of Borno/Yobe Elders on a courtesy call.

Buhari’s submission bears the markings of authoritativeness, and perhaps so, because he sits at a pole position. It, indeed, suggests that he must be privy to certain intelligence unavailable to commoners.

However, claims that some unnamed persons of means and influence are determined to make the country ungovernable should set the tone for a proper probe.

Unless that is done, and within the ambits of the law, the presidency would be seen as crying wolf where there are no dangers.

It would be interesting to see how he will fish out perceived enemies, and possibly deal with them without painting the picture of a witch-hunt.

By John Chukwu…

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