…Says Abduction of Schoolboys Targeted to Embarrass His Government …Reassures Any Future Kidnap of School Children Will be Nipped …No Govt Is Immuned to Terrorist Attacks…Lai Mohammed …We Need to Overhaul Nation’s Structural Existence…Soyinka In spite of the growing attacks by insurgents which have thrown most parts of the north in disarray, President Muhammadu Buhari
…Says Abduction of Schoolboys Targeted to Embarrass His Government
…Reassures Any Future Kidnap of School Children Will be Nipped
…No Govt Is Immuned to Terrorist Attacks…Lai Mohammed
…We Need to Overhaul Nation’s Structural Existence…Soyinka
In spite of the growing attacks by insurgents which have thrown most parts of the north in disarray, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to leave behind a stable and prosperous nation by the end of his administration. He also said that the abduction of 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State, was targeted at embarrassing his administration.
Buhari made the statement on Friday when he met with the rescued Kankara students and representatives of their parents at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Katsina.
The President, who spoke in Hausa, said it was not a coincidence that the bandits struck on the very day he visited his home town, Daura after about 18 months.
He explained that his trip to Daura had become necessary in view of the fact he last visited home 18 months ago, disclosing that he planned to retire to the town after completing his second term in May, 2023.
“I normally visit my home town because I swore by the holy Quran that I will safeguard the nation’s Constitution, hence I must hand over power on May 29, 2023 to the next government.
“So, if God spares my life, I’ll definitely come home. This informed my visits home.’’
Buhari who vowed to leave behind a stable and prosperous nation by the end of his administration, thanked God for sparing the lives of all the 344 rescued students, urging them to put behind them their ordeals in the hands of the bandits.
He called on the students to take their studies seriously to enable them accomplish their missions in life.
Buhari said that he was at the Katsina Government House to rejoice with the students on their release from captivity, saying that government would do all it could to prevent future occurrence of the incident.
The President lauded Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State for his untiring efforts in ensuring the release of the abducted students.
He also commended security officials involved in the rescue operation.
The President reminded those saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding lives and property of citizens to bear in mind that they would also be judged by God after their earthly sojourn.
Buhari, however, said the military and other security agencies still had a lot to do to secure the country and its citizens.
“This is their job. They signed for it. Whether they like it or not, they will have to provide security for the country,’’ the President stated.
In his remarks, Masari suggested that the security architecture in the country should be upgraded to ensure safety of citizens, assuring that the “kidnap of school children will never happen again’’.
The Governor said the release of the children was through collaborations, negotiations and discussions, thanking the President for consistently supporting the process, creating time for regular updates and taking actions when needed.
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters says troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI were responsible for the rescue of 344 abducted students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
The army’s statement contradicts Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle’s claim that Miyetti Allah helped negotiate with the abductors to secure the release of the students.
In a statement on Friday, Coordinator, Defence Media Operation, Major General John Enenche, said credible intelligence by the troops made the rescue possible.
The Military also thanked members of the public who volunteered vital information to troops.
“Keeping to its promise to ensure the safe return of all abducted students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara, Katsina State, troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI rescued all 344 abducted students on Thursday 17 December 2020,” the statement said.
“The students were rescued on the heels of credible intelligence by our gallant troops, with high degree of professionalism to ensure they were all rescued alive.
“The Military High Command commends troops of Operation Hadarin Daji including all security agencies for their dexterity. The general public who volunteered information are also hereby appreciated.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, disclosed on Friday that Nigeria got foreign support for the release of the 344 abducted schoolboys.
The Minister, when asked at a press conference in Abuja whether there was any foreign collaboration that led to the release of the students, said: “As to whether there was foreign collaboration, don’t forget I said that we thank all patriotic Nigerians and all friends of Nigeria.”
The Minister, however, declined giving details of those foreign individuals or countries who supported Nigeria during the process of rescuing the schoolboys and the type of help given.
Mohammad also insisted that no ransom was paid for the release of the students, saying: “Our security and intelligence agencies were completely on top of the situation.”
According to him, “there is nowhere in the world that they don’t negotiate with terrorists”, especially when there is a need to save lives.
Boko Haram Connection
Mohammed insisted that the boys were kidnapped by bandits, dismissing the videos of the abducted schoolboys reportedly released by Boko Haram.
“They were kidnapped by bandits, not by Boko Haram.
“The attempt by Boko Haram to claim responsibility shows how decimated and irrelevant they have become.
“There is no doubt as to who kidnapped the schoolboys.
“Boko Haram was seeking relevance by trying to appropriate to themselves the work of bandits.
“A lot of fake videos were being sent out by Boko Haram to create the impression that they did it.
“Boko Haram is weakened and seeking relevance and trying to give the impression that they are still a potential force.”
Miffed by Western Education
Like the case of the abduction of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in his latest video, said the abduction of the schoolboys was done in order to discourage people from obtaining western education.
“What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his Holy Prophet.
“They are also not teaching what Allah and his Holy Prophet commanded. They are rather destroying Islam. It may be subtle, but Allah the Lord of the skies and earths knows whatever is hidden. May Allah promote Islam. May we die as Muslims. In a nutshell, we are behind what happened in Katsina.”
Mohammed dismissed the claims that President Mohammadu Buhari did not showing empathy over the abduction of the schoolboys.
Some Nigerians were not happy that the President did not visit the school despite being in Katsina on a one-week vacation.
But the Minister said Buhari coordinated the rescue efforts by doing the most important thing of “ensuring the safe release of the boys within the fastest period.”
The Minister also said the circumstances of the abduction of the schoolboys and Chibok schoolgirls were different.
Securing All Schools
He described the abduction of Kankara students as well as those of Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls as totally unacceptable, saying: “Our children should not have to go to school in trepidation.
“The Federal Government is doing everything possible to secure all our schools, and indeed all Nigerians.
“And we will not relent until all Nigerians can go to bed at night with their two eyes closed.
“The release of these school boys is a testament to the importance that this Administration attaches to the security and safety of all Nigerians.
“There is no government in the world that will not face the challenges of security at one time or another.
“No government in the world is immune to terrorist attacks.
“What stands any government out is the way and manner it responds to such challenges.
“For example, school shooting has been a recurring challenge in the United States. Between 2010 and 2020, almost 200 school children were killed and many more injured in various school shooting incidents.
“Needless to say that the world’s most powerful country suffered a tragic terrorist attack in September 2001 that claimed almost 3,000 lives.”
“Back here in Nigeria, the abduction of the Kankara school boys marked the second of its kind under this administration, coming after the unfortunate abduction of 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, in February 2018.
“Just like the good news from Kankara, all but one of the kidnapped school girls in Dapchi were rescued unharmed.
“And in 2014, 276 school girls were abducted by terrorists in Chibok, Borno State, out of which 112 remain in captivity after this administration rescued over 100 of the school girls.”
The Minister said the freed Katsina students would undergo necessary medical tests before they would be released to their families.
Even as the country was in a quandary over the abduction of the schoolboys, he Islamic State West Africa Province’s (ISWAP) Amaq news outlet, on Tuesday, shared pictures of vehicles captured and destroyed in an ambush of Nigerian troops advancing in the dreaded Alagarno forest – Timbuktu triangle area.
One of the vehicles in Nigerian Army camouflage pattern was a new Toyota Land Cruiser (Buffalo) Guntruck and the other the newly inducted Kia KIA KLTV-181 military tactical-utility vehicle designed and manufactured by Kia Motors Corporation.
Calibre Obscura, an arms researcher, in a tweet on the incident said, “ISWA ambushed/repelled the NA in #Alagarno leading to multiple (7 claimed) killed and vehicles captured, including an up-gunned Kia KIA KLTV181 APC delivered only this year, and technical[ly] so new it has the emissions still on the window. HMGs/small arms likely captured too.”
The KIA KLTV-181 in the picture appears to have been upgraded by the Nigerian Army with a local armoured turret for the gunner, unlike previous pictures of the KIA KLTV-181 in use without a turret.
The first official confirmation of the vehicles’ induction into the Nigerian Army was by Chief of Army Staff Tukur Baratai during the opening of his combined first, second and third quarters conference in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
Buratai, a lieutenant-general, said the Nigerian army recently took delivery of key platforms to reinvigorate its operations.
“These include the VT4 and FT1 tanks, the KIA light tactical vehicles as well as the SH2 and SH5 self,” he said.
In January 2019, the Army chief visited KIA Motors Corporation, where they were received and was briefed by Director Special Vehicle Global Sales Group, Il-Tae Kim.
The delegation was also conducted round the company’s manufacturing plants, particularly the KIA Light Tactical Vehicles manufacturing plants.
The loss of equipment through capture and destruction by insurgents is widely believed to be a major contributor to the prolonged war in the Northeast. Similarly, the use of insufficient or inefficient protected mobility exposures troops to ambush, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and leads to loss of equipment.
In 2019, Tomasz Rolbiecki, an independent open-source analyst, shared a picture released by ISWAP showing newly inducted Innoson gun trucks behind fighters.
The recent incident and drawback in Alagarno is part of a series of setbacks faced by the military in the area.
In March, dozens of Nigerian soldiers were killed and injured in an ambush in Timbuktu triangle-Alagarno forest. The incident led to a chain of events including the replacement of the then Theatre Commander, Gen Olusegun Adeniyi and his recent court marshall, following the leaking of a video where he highlighted the challenges faced by his troops.
Sustained Military Offensive
The area has remained under the control of the ISWAP fighters despite sustained military offensives to retake it, to clear suspected ISWAP positions.
Attempts by soldiers to advance met with stiff resistance and challenges from ambushes and IEDs.
In September, the commander of 25 Task Force Brigade based in the Army Super Camp 2 in Damboa was ambushed alongside his troops. He died after undergoing a medical procedure.
The 25 Task Force Brigade is part of Army Super Camp 2 in Damboa Local Government Area, Southwest of Maiduguri. Some of the command’s battle areas are the dreaded Alagarno and Sambisa forests.
In October, days after the launch of Operation Fireball, dozens of casualties were recorded and a Major was killed in Doksa, Damboa Local Government Area of Borno.
Several military pieces of equipment were lost to the insurgents.
Overhauling Structural Existence
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently to overhaul the nation’s structural existence over rising insecurity in the country.
Soyinka was reacting to rising insecurity in the country, especially gunmen’s abduction of students in Katsina State.
According to Soyinka, “What is tragically demonstrated daily in all departments of citizen survival is the need to overhaul the nation’s structural existence – beginning, obviously, with the imperative of guaranteeing that very existence.”
Soyinka, in a statement, titled: “INFRADIG – A Presidential Comeuppance,” lamented that the word, Infradig, has constituted Buhari’s response to the National Assembly’s invitation to drop in for a chat.
“He did not consider it infradig at the beginning. He responded to the polite invitation to rub minds urgently over a people’s security anxieties as one who still struggled to preserve the tattered remains of his ‘Born-Again’ democratic camouflage.
“However, his reversal of consent raised yet again the frightening situation report I have fervently posed: Buhari is not in charge. Whoever is, that segment of the cabalistic control obviously cornered him on the way to the lawmakers’ chambers and urged: Don’t! Their invitation is infradig! He succumbed,” he said.
According to Soyinka, “Beneath the dignity of a Commander-in-Chief! Well. The opportunistic homicidal respondents – Bandits/Boko Haram or whoever – thereupon picked up the gauntlet and provided a response in their own language: abduction once again of the nation’s children. They handed him a slap across the face, on his home terrain, taunting: See if that is more suited to your dignity.”
He said if only this latest outrage were a personal contest of slights between insurgency and power – alas, its resonance is felt far beyond!
“It is merely the latest in the serial stinging slaps across the face of the nation, and it draws blood from every sensing citizen. Over five years since Chibok, we have yet to anticipate, and to guard against a repeat. We continue to hand over innocent wards cheaply, en masse, to the agents of darkness and despair. A government refuses to accept that, as indicated several times over, the nation is at war. At war within itself, and that it requires drastic measures, away from spasmodic responses after the dread deed, if there is any will left over to salvage what is left of nationhood.
Thinking Outside the Bos
“The appropriate expression here is “thinking outside the box”. When others do, they deserve better than to be rewarded with banalities such as: The government will not be stampeded. The Presidency will not be blackmailed. Stop politicizing the issue. The President is committed to preserving the integrity of the nation. We will not be bullied into abandoning our commitment to national unity. The sovereignty of the nation is non-negotiable….and so on and on, ad nauseam.
“Has anyone been detected marching to a contrary tune? Sure, we are assailed with such minority rhetoric from time to time but, is “unity”what is profoundly at stake? Does such predictable rhetoric remotely touch upon the existential anxiety of millions of humanity? Or are we confronted, at its most primary level, with a growing question of the ability of the nation to even feed herself?
“When defenceless farmers are set upon – what does it matter if it is fifty or a hundred? – are butchered in one fell swoop, harvesting their crop, does the sheer suggestion that they met their deaths because they did not seek military cover not speak to the parlous state of a nation, and her need to urgently “think outside the box”?
“The rest is waffle. Vaseline massage on malignant tumour. National Infradig! Again, the Nation laments – and waits,” he added.