Abducted girls and the recalcitrance of North-East governors

on   /   in Viewpoint 11:09 am   /   Comments

IN the last few weeks, the issue of the abduction of nearly 200 students of a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State has been largely politicised. Rarely are the real mothers of the girls seen these days on television as some really concerned women and opportunists have taken the centre stage and relishing the attendant publicity, while the parents have been pushed to the background.

But at least some measure of good is coming from the situation as a stakeholders’ meeting by First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has come up with a startling revelation that the recalcitrance of Governors Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Kashim Shettima of Borno State and Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State may have inadvertently left the nation with this nauseating situation.

Head of the Nigerian Office of the West African Examination Council, WAEC, Charles Eguridu, told the stakeholders gathered with Mrs Jonathan that the ground for the abduction of the girls was laid after its request to the state governments for the relocation of the examination centre was ignored. His story: “When we made that representation (letter) to the three affected states, none of them responded to the honourable minister’s request.

“We followed it up and I directed my zonal coordinator in Borno State in particular, to liaise with the Ministry of Education in Borno State, and the response we got was so disheartening. We were told that they had security in place for the candidates and that we should come and conduct the examination in the schools and that they were not ready to relocate their students from Chibok and other areas to Maiduguri or nearby locations where security agencies could provide security.

“They said if we failed to conduct the examinations, the world would blame us. And so at great risk, my officers went to Chibok and conducted the examinations. After the unfortunate incident in which the students were said to have been abducted, our staff now got a response from the state that they were then ready to relocate the remaining students to another place called Ubah. And, as I speak, 189 candidates are continuing with the examination in Ubah.”

While the most important move now is to get our daughters back home to us, away from the wicked and ravenous wolves that keep them, it is about time someone told the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors of these three states that while they may choose to play politics over other matters, they should not do it at the risk of the lives of our children. In addition, political gymnastics with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, controlled Federal Government may be acceptable in some circumstances, but playing politics with a sub-regional agency is the basest of political behaviour. See where it has led the state government. And who is to say the Borno State government is not to blame?

While this is not the best of times for blame-sharing, it has become increasingly clear that the Federal Government should cease wanting to do what is politically correct and impose full and comprehensive emergency rule in the three states of the North East, more so when the governors are intemperate.

Away from irresponsible leaders, the Federal Government should bring to bear its mighty weight upon the French-colonised countries of Niger, Cameroon and Chad. A few oil deals the way of France may work the wonders that is required to bend France over backwards, while a strong message is delivered to these countries like General Muhammadu Buhari did in the early 80s when a similar group toyed with our territorial integrity. That bloody nose still remains fresh in the mind of our neighbours and a reiteration of our capacity to do it on a larger scale is needed at this time so that enemies without and within will know better not to mess with the Federal Government.

Still on the matter of the kidnapped girls, it is a wonder that those who claim to be our international friends with all the technology in space were oblivious of the movement of the fanatics who moved around and captured 200 girls and redistributed them across countries as it has been claimed in some quarters. Friends, indeed! Also, while contributing to debates on the floor of the National Assembly, lawmakers regaled the nation with the activities of the so-called Boko Haram operatives, including how they were marrying the abducted girls. It makes you wonder how they know so much so soon.

Moreover, how come our daughters are escaping from the insurgents when it appears the army is helpless. So, what exactly is going on in Borno State?

By JOSEPHINE BABATUNDE,a public affairs commentator, wrote Lagos.

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