Nigeria: Chibok, Dapchi, Others and Psychosis of Boko Haram Terrorism

(file photo).
2 March 2018

I have lived with the trauma of threat to my life for nearly three years. Every day I see my body lower into the grave. It's hard to deal with psychosis of fear. I know firsthand after I was declared a "walking dead" by Boko Haram militants in 2015. My wife can tell of how many times I jumped out of bed, running through the door, but to go nowhere. Living in Nigeria is like living in a haunted house.

The Boko Haram militants have turned our lives into horrific hell, yet the only thing the government knows how to do is to recycle their words.

In Dapchi, no mother wants to hear sorry. In Dapchi, no father is waiting for government delegation. No! They are waiting for their children.

So when President Muhammadu Buhari says, "we are sorry," following the abduction of more than 100 schoolgirls in Dapchi last Monday, it is important to let him know that "sorry" will not take away the worry.

Nigerians home and abroad are tired of recycle words of comfort. Buhari has let our children down and he should take the "sorry" home as he nears the end of his tenure.

Nigeria is now a country, where psychosis of terror war, herdsmen hysteria and fear of all kinds continue to limit the lifecycle of citizens, because the government is not honest enough about its incapability.

To cover-up, Nigerians are regaled daily by the military with tales of how it has defeated Boko Haram. The government spokesmen will then go out there to make a spin of false victory.

And when Boko Haram struck in Dapchi, they lied. They first told citizens that "no schoolgirl was kidnapped". The manipulation didn't work. Then, they echoed something else, telling Nigerians that "the schoolgirls have been rescued." As lies beget lies, they began to tell journalists what to write. They dictated "missing" schoolgirls--something to cover the other lies, one way of saying it was not Boko Haram attack.

In the end, the house of cards tumbles and the security agencies began to blame one another for their lapses.

Though, Nigerians cry daily over the perpetual state of fear, the governors and government ministers are crying for Buhari's re-election. They are less concerned about the cry of grave national emergency.

On the eight day, since 110 schoolgirls have been abducted, the president's party, the All Progressives Congress, held conclave in Abuja, not for the sake of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls, but to prepare the party for 2019 elections. It is a shame that strategies on how to win next elections will occupy the minds of political leaders, when parents are in pain in Dapchi.

Naturally, you expect APC to respond differently to the way the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) responded to the 2014 abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok community by the Boko Haram terrorist group, but there was no difference in how APC responded to Dapchi abduction.

The party leadership is simply insensitive. The party chiefs gathered for two days to lavish praise on themselves for massive victory during 2015 elections. The grief in the country makes no sense to them, clearly.

And this, Buhari who is desperate to contest election again in the face of overwhelming criticism of his administration found his voice amidst the veteran of lies who gathered around him.

"We must remember that this resounding success would not have been achieved without the unity of purpose we exhibited in challenging and defeating an incumbent government. I wish to individually and collectively thank you all sincerely for believing in me and remaining steadfast party members despite the distractions and antics of the opposition," he said.

Yes, in a robotic statement the president's Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, issued last Friday, the man who wants to continue to govern beyond 2019, didn't admit failure over the abduction of the schoolgirls in Dapchi. He simply put a patch on a torn jacket, using the same words we are used to. "The entire country stands as one with the girls' families, the government and the people of Yobe State," he said. "We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members."

Enough is enough. Here is the truth that Mr. President should know. Nigerians are tired of your prayers and standing with victims. A government that does not care beyond promise shouldn't be looked upon for leadership.

It's so heartbreaking to hear Buhari repeat "the entire country stands as one with the girls' families," once again, when dozens of schoolgirls abducted in April 2014 in the town of Chibok in Borno State, are yet to come home to their families.

With a promise to end Boko Haram terrorism, Buhari was elected, but now with another set of schoolgirls abducted under his own watch in the town of Dapchi in Yobe State, he didn't care to take responsibility for not protecting the schoolchildren from attacks.

The words contained in his press statement shows we have a president, who perpetually runs from taking responsibility. For instance, he said "This is a national disaster." He didn't see it as a disgrace to his leadership. And for him to own up to the truth by acknowledging that his government failed, he expressed pity for the victims with half-hearted words of "we are sorry... and share your pain."

But Buhari will want praise for telling Nigerians that he "immediately dispatched a high-level delegation on a fact-finding visit to the town."

He will want adoration for asking "the security agencies to deploy in full and not spare any effort to ensure that all the girls are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice."

What will he say he's doing in government, if he cannot deploy security agencies?

Sadly, despite the grief of the Dapchi community and Nigerians, police and military are doing what they know how to do best: blame game. They are passing the buck like the president.

"The statement by the Military of formal handing over of Dapchi town to the Nigeria Police Division in Dapchi is not correct and untrue, as there was no time that the military informed the police of their withdrawal, consult or handed over their locations in Dapchi town to the police," Sumonu Abdulmaliki, the Yobe State Commissioner of Police said as a rebuttal to the claim by Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman of Operation Lafiya Dole theatre command, who said troops handed over the town to the police before withdrawing.

Abdulmaliki and Onyema care less about the grief of families whose children have been abducted. They are concerned about the image of the organisations they represent.

"Members of the public in Yobe State are implored to disregard and discountenance this claim that the military formally handed the security of Dapchi town to the Nigeria Police as untrue, unfounded and misleading,' Abdulmaliki added.

Perhaps, the sickening side of event in the wake of the latest abduction of the schoolgirls is President Buhari's struggle with his own identity. It is depressing to see the president's mind preoccupied with his own image in a narcissistic way. At a time the whole world is concerned about the terrible happenings in Nigeria, the government released a new directive on how Buhari should be addressed at formal functions. I don't know the intention behind it, but it is ill timed.

In suppressing the truth, this week Buhari amused the world when he said, "a number of security challenges still exist, but they exist in even the most well-policed and well-secured countries."

But the world knows the truth. According to New York Times, "the troubling details of a kidnapping that unfolded last week in the rural community of Dapchi in northern Nigeria after Boko Haram attacked a school and apparently made off with teenage hostages horrified the nation... Many Nigerians were all the more outraged that the attack and the events that followed mirrored a similar kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014 in the community of Chibok. That episode grabbed the world's attention and elicited promises from officials that it will never happen again. Nearly four years later, an estimated 112 of those students are still held hostage."

In an interview published by Germany's public international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, Tsambido Hosea-Abana, chairman of the Chibok Association in Abuja said, "The government is trying to conceal the fact that Boko Haram is still causing havoc. The government spoke just three or four days ago that they have completely degraded Boko Haram and there is no longer any Boko Haram. Immediately after their declaration, Boko Haram did such a thing. So they want to conceal it and state that their version is the truth."

This is the way AFP sees it. "Boko Haram's abduction of more than 100 schoolgirls in Dapchi, northeastern Nigeria, shows the Islamist group still has the ability and means to stage major attacks.

Since the raid last Monday, questions have been asked about how heavily armed fighters were able to storm the town in Yobe State without encountering any resistance, then disappear," reports AFP.

One expert who spoke with the AFP, Yan St-Pierre, a counter-terrorism specialist with the Modern Security Consulting group, said: "If they kidnapped more than 100 girls, that shows they have sizeable means at their disposal and a secure place to take them."

Reuters wrote that "the attack was one of the largest abductions since the Chibok kidnappings of 2014 in which more than 250 girls were taken by the Islamist militant group. It has prompted questions about the ability of security forces to fight insurgents which the government has repeatedly said have been defeated."

All in all, just like Goodluck Jonathan, another clueless president has set up a 12-member committee to find out how 110 students of the Government Girls' Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State, were kidnapped.

It is clear that this government is bereft of ideas and the president is just moping around for his failures. May God protect the Dapchi 110 and not let them become part of the statistics. Amen.

Side Effects...

Death and Destructions

Grim statistics of death from Lassa fever this week breaks the heart. Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control said 90 people are suspected to have died from the virus in the last eight weeks alone. There's a forecast of 1,081 suspected cases. It is sad that preventable death such as Lassa fever continues to kill Nigerians helplessly. Imagine, rats spread Lassa fever and we have no solution to contain it. How can a 50-year-old country not able to address Lassa fever disease for decades. It is a shame to learn that experts from the United Kingdom's Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are being sent to rescue us. We get foreign experts on every small and big problem. When will Nigeria be able to solve its own problems?

Up Kwara!

I took the heading above from the late former governor of Kwara State, Mohammed Alabi Lawal. When he was governor Kwara State from 1999 to 2003, Lawal's name was bigger than the name of the state. Everywhere you turned; it was Lawal's signature on everything. That signature, Up Lawal was like leviathan. Now that Kwara has enacted a law prohibiting pension to ex-governors, it is Up Kwara. It means the state is bigger than any name or political dynasty. It is highly recommended. The other states should emulate Kwara.

Terror of a Night

The abduction of a journalist wife, her son and the killing of an FRSC officer who responded to the woman's SOS message in Kaduna is barbaric. It is another sign of the bad times in Nigeria. So the residence of Nasir Birnin-Yero, Voice of America reporter was attacked overnight on Wednesday by about 30 abductors according to News Agency of Nigeria, and there was no security operative anywhere to stop them. Sad!

Buhari's Buzz Words

"It's a big disgrace for Nigeria. It is now Cameroon and Chad fighting the insurgency more than Nigeria. We will build the capacity and Nigeria should be able to secure its territorial integrity."--Muhammadu Buhari, in an interview with Reuters, February 6, 2015

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