NIGERIA ABDUCTIONS: Playing Poisonous Politics with Pupils?
“A northwest governor is behind the heightened cases of banditry, abductions and other violent crimes in that zone”- APC acting Deputy National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena.
Since yesterday Thursday, 17th December 2020, when the All Progressives Congress (APC) made the above allegation, almost about the same time a video with Boko Haram’s logo was going viral, showing hundreds of boys sandwiched under a tree, most of them looking unkempt and exhausted, I have been as uncomfortable as a convict on death row.
In the video, one of the boys was speaking in English and Hausa, saying he was among the students taken by a gang belonging to the Abubakar Shekau faction of the Boko Haram. Few hours later, when all concerned were praying it’s not going to be another situation of the Chibok girls’ abduction, came the good news that these students have regained freedom.
Soothing as that news is, the allegation that politics has a hand in such abduction is not only tormenting, but terribly terrorizing. The ruling party, which made the allegation, was quick to call on the security agencies to launch investigation into an intelligence report, which according to it, indicted a governor in the region where the boys were discovered after the abduction. Good God! Are we playing poisonous politics with the lives of our pupils?
About a week ago, on a day coinciding with the private visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to his country home of Daura in Katsina state, more than 500 students of the Science Secondary School Kankara, in the same Katsina state, were abducted by the Boko Haram. The abduction brought back memories of similar Boko Haram’s kidnapping of more than 270 school girls in 2014, in the north-eastern town of Chibok, Borno state.
Almost six years on, only about half the girls have been found or freed. Others were married off to fighters, while some are presumed dead.
Although the APC did not name the suspected governor, looking through the breakdown of party control in the north west region, the picture is as follows: Kaduna (Nasir El-Rufai) APC; Kano (Abdullahi Ganduje) APC; Katsina (Aminu Masari) APC; Jigawa (Badaru Abubakar) APC and Kebbi (Atiku Bagudu) APC. Then, Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) PDP and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) PDP.
It means out of the seven states in the Northwest, five of them are under the APC control, while the remaining two are controlled by the opposition PDP. If the APC is alleging the hands of an opposition governor in the region, and only two of the governors are in the opposition, it simply means the accusing fingers are either pointed at the governor of Zamfara state, or that of Sokoto state.
Particularly puzzling, paralyzing and perplexing, is the coincidence between the allegation of the APC, wherein it warned the opposition PDP to desist from politicising the abduction of the schoolboys from GSSS Kankara, and the timing of the boys’ release, along with a statement from the governor of Zamfara state, from where the abducted boys were released.
It is curious to note that while Boko Haram is claiming responsibility for the attack, with the audacity of showing their pictures in captivity, the governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, in whose state the boys were found, is insisting that there is nothing like Boko Haram in the abduction. The bandits did it, he maintained.
He said the state government employed the help of repentant bandits and leadership of the Miyetti Allah to establish contact with the abductors of the students before pleading for their release. “When we established contact with them, I persuaded them to release them unharmed. And so they did tonight,”- governor matawalle of zamfara state.
While I am worried about the short-term effects of the crime of abduction, which can be very severe sometimes, particularly on school children, who may be compelled to live with the phobia of going back to boarding school, I am more traumatized by the long-term effect, if there is a political undertone to the crime.
Not only would the issue cast suspicion on the politics of the region, but continue to create rifts between neighbours that were hitherto living in peace and harmony. It is not unlikely, if problems such as depression or anxiety-related illnesses like PTDS, or post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome begin to manifest in parents and the public living in the region.
The government must act quick, to clear this accusation and bring to book whoever has a hand, if indeed there is truth in the allegation. On the contrary, if the APC is simply playing politics to smear the name of the opposition, those behind such reckless statements must also be brought to book.
There is an African proverb that says, If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents, because if you don’t listen, adversity would teach you.
Mr Ibrahim writes from Abuja.
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