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The Mubi massacre and the change of military guards

By Rotimi Fasan
THE casualty figures continue to hover between 40 and 50 (possibly more), but there is no doubt that last week’s killings in Mubi, the second largest town in Adamawa State, was by any standard a massacre.

The killings which cut across tertiary institutions in the state have led to the exodus of students out of the State and the general public from parts of the State that has for long been under the torment of the renegade Islamic group that claims to be against Western values, particularly, so-called Western education.

The security agencies, apparently to mitigate the enormity of the incident, initially tried to put blame for the gory crime elsewhere, far from the renegade group we have all known to perpetrate this kind of mindless murders, but it didn’t take long for the bottom to come off that lame and incompetent attempt.

There is no reason to suspect that the security agencies won’t yet try to put a gap between the massacre and the Islamic group but such attempt would only strengthen the impression that the authorities are not to be believed in matters such as this.

The style of the massacre bears all the imprint of the cowardly group that has for long operated in this part of the North. In the unlikely event that it is proven that the ugly night operation was carried out by some other group, such group must have direct links with the terrorists that claim a religious cover for their activities.

But whatever spin the authorities may want to put on it, there can be no denying the link of the terrorist group in the killings at a time the curfew imposed on the state was supposedly still in effect.

Worst affected are the Federal Polytechnic Mubi and the two other tertiary institutions in the State- the Adamawa State University and the College of Health Technology. Certainly, all three institutions couldn’t have been holding student elections at the same time, for the police tried to link the killings to internal bickering among student politicians?

As might be expected, students of these institutions didn’t need to be told to leave the unsafe environment of their campuses even when the killings took place well away from the campuses.

The point is that the terrorists in question have succeeded in using violence to propagate their campaign against non-Islamic education. In a part of the country where literacy level is generally very low, this is indeed double jeopardy for the entire future of the North.

And if Nigeria remains a single entity, the backward state of education in the North will continue to be a major point of tension for we might need to know for how long other parts of the country would need to be held back by one part that is determined not to move forward despite all attempts to make it move.

The point I’m driving at is that Nigerians, especially community leaders, in parts of the North that have been affected by the terrorist onslaught of the last three to four years must recognise they have a common agenda to come together, irrespective of their religious leanings, to take the fight to the terrorists who live in their midst.

The so-called majority that have been silent become complicit in the criminal destruction of their region to the extent they are prepared to remain silent and continue to accommodate the terrorists in their midst. This task does not absolve Abuja from its obvious failure to arrest the situation in the North. The point being made here is that political and religious leaders in the affected parts of the North have a major task of ensuring the safety of their people.

This observation has been made now and again by many Nigerians but many Northern leaders seem content to remain silent in the face of the tyranny of a murderous few, only coming out to shout themselves hoarse at those who call on them to speak out. At other times they turn to attack others they perceive as critical of their religion.

But to go back to my earlier point, whatever political/religious leaders do or fail to do in the North does not absolve Abuja from its responsibility of protecting Nigerians from all parts of the country residing in the region. The ritual of presidential promises/orders to bring perpetrators of these acts of mass murders to justice rings hollow. We have heard enough of this and what Nigerians would like to see is action. Until the latest incident, the authorities appear to be making some progress with the arrest and smoking out of some leaders/members of the terrorist group but such progress as might have been made has once more been reversed by the killing of so many students whose only crime was being what they were- students.

For how long would this continue; for how long must Nigerians continue to live under the fear that they are not protected even when a president sits in Abuja? It is ironical that only days after these killings the President appointed two new service chiefs.

Of course the change of guards had been in the works before the Mubi massacre. But what one would like to know is the connection between the change of military chiefs and the general insecurity in the country, especially in the North. Is there really any link between the two? I very much doubt it! And this is where the problem lies with President Jonathan’s appointments.

He makes appointments that do not seem to have been influenced by the performance or otherwise of his appointees. It is by no means clear by what parameters the President appoints those who work with him. Which leaves one to wonder if these appointments are not just mere sharing of pork.

In decent places appointments are based on performance but with President Jonathan this does not appear to be the case.

There does not appear to be any logic to the kinds of appointments the President makes and this is evident in his latest effort of signing performance contract with ministers that have been in office for many months. He found it difficult to effect changes in the police hierarchy at a time the police appeared to have reached a brick wall in its fight against criminal elements who laid siege on its headquarters.

Now he has appointed new service chiefs, can Nigerians expect to see improved changes in the affairs of the military or in the general state of security in the country? What do the latest appointments portend and what does the President expect of his new service chiefs? Or does he want to wait until another breach in security before handing out performance contract to his men?



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