It was a great moment of relief for the 344 abducted students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, their parents and indeed all well meaning Nigerians when they secured their freedom last Thursday. They breathed fresh air again after 6 traumatic days in the den of their abductors.
However, the release rather than attract commendation and accolades on the part of Nigerians have instead elicited condemnation, mockery and thumbs down for the Nigerian authorities. Many Nigerians are not satisfied in what some have dubbed a game of deceit designed to patronize the so called ‘Crimepreneurs’ who are now feeding fat on the resources of Nigeria
The manner the abduction was carried, the circumstances woven around it including the actors in the game has left many asking more questions than they could get answers. First is President Muhammadu Buhari’s body language which gave him out as unconcerned with the plight of the students.
He was reported to have expressed more interest in visiting his cattle ranch than reacting on the incident. The response of the Information Minister that he coordinated the rescue operation from his home did not seem to satisfy Nigerians who knows that this is typical of the president.
The president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu in charge of Media and Publicity, did not help matters with his attempt to play down the incident by the figure of 10 he dished out as abductees as against the 344 students kidnapped. He has recanted with apology but it seems he is not spared the bashing yet.
There are contradictory reports on the efforts of the various actors on the rescue operation. First Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the abduction but certain government officials denied it crediting the crime to bandits. Who are these bandits? Nigerians suspect bandits are Boko Haram in disguise judging by their manner of operations which are not different.
While Masari, the governor of Katsina claimed in a report that he called the leaders of the abductors before their release and that there was no ransom paid, Lai Mohammed claimed that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACABAN) facilitated the release through negotiation. The military also claimed to have carried out the rescue operation by using their air presence to unsettle the abductors who had no choice than to yield.
Questions arise at this point. If there was no ransom paid what was the negotiation all about? If money did not exchange hands why did the abductors indulge in such high level crime? Were they rehearsing on the strategy of how to kidnap and decided to do so using hundreds of students near the president’s home daring the president at a time he came home to rest.
It was not surprising that the former Minister of Education of Education, Oby Ezekwesili aka Madam Due Process had charged that there was nothing to congratulate the Buhari about because according to her he created the situation. In her comment she had this to say:
“He needs to tell us exactly what happened with the Kankara kids. There is a problem. This country should not be taken for a ride by President Buhari and his government. This is very unbecoming and the whole world is laughing at us. They think we are jokers. Many countries didn’t even bother to show that anything had happened in our country because they felt who are these people and what are they doing to themselves?”
There are very strong fears that the negotiation and the suspected payment of ransom will worsen the situation as more incidents of this nature are bound to be occurring. It only provides a conduit for spending of scarce resources to line the pockets of the actors, negotiators in the process of rescue. It is quite sad some people are thriving on misfortune. Little wonder crime has become a big business in the north.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his reaction after the release had admitted that the security chiefs are not doing enough. Hear him: “It is our responsibility to secure this country for all the citizens to do their businesses without any problem. We haven’t achieved that yet, but we will keep on trying”
Even in spite of this acknowledgement the President is not seen to have done or intends to do anything about firing of service chiefs which is the cry of Nigerians. The service chiefs some of who ought to have quit the scene on account of official retirement stays put while crimes run rings around them.
In another reaction the Yoruba socio-cultural group, the Afenifere, mocked the government over the incident and the general state of insecurity in the country. In a release by the group it had this to say:
“This time round, those who celebrated Chibok to the hilt in 2014 are now in power and fumbled like amateur comedians in a big revelation that what is called terror in Nigeria is most likely a big scam being played at our expense.”
The increasing crime level in the north, the handling of the Katsina incident and the near incompetence of the security operatives in spite of the huge security budget leaves the mind guessing. News Echo is calling on the president to walk his promise and save Nigeria further spill of blood. It has never been this bad. We deserve something better.