Where are the Armed Forces?

Tuesday this week greeted Nigeria with horror when sixty harmless and hapless boy-students of the Federal Government College, Bunu Yadi, in Yobe State were sent to early graves in the most heinous of circumstances – a sad and even more dreadful reminder to the same barbarity that took place last September at a College of Agriculture in the same State.

Their slaughterers reportedly set their dormitory alight and then went ahead to either hack down, with machetes, or slit the throats of all those tried to escape being roasted to death in the fire. As for the female students, they were said to have been set free with a clear instruction to go back home and get married. Without any confirmation of responsibility for the attack, it bears every hallmark of the Boko Haram insurgents. Yet this remains only speculatory until there is such confirmation, either from the Nigerian security system of from the perpetrators themselves.

But to begin to worry about who the real perpetrators are and what their reasons are for attacking and killing these unarmed lads, and indeed their motives, is not what I seek here. For if indeed it is the insurgents, as suspected and is most likely, then their motives are probably pretty well known. Moreover, whoever would commit these acts is a renegade and the Nigerian state does not pay anyone to be a renegade and to put the lives of citizens in danger. On the contrary, people are paid and structures are set up to deter renegades; because there will always be renegades and criminals. It is a matter of expediency, therefore, to pose the question: where are the structures put in place with all the people so “well armed, paid and motivated” to protect Nigerians from the onslaught of renegades?

It was reported that shortly before the attack, the soldiers at a check point close to the school were withdrawn, or is it nowhere to be seen? The Yobe State Governor, Alh Geidam, while commenting to newsmen, when he visited the scene, lamented the fact that for the about five hours that the killers operated, they had a field day, with no security intervention whatsoever. The import of this is clearer when one considers the fact that Yobe, along with Borno and Adamawa States, has been under emergency rule since May last year.

About ten days earlier, it had been a killing spree in Borno State, from Konduga to Bama and other towns, leaving hundreds dead. Probably out of frustration and despair or just stating mere facts, Gov Shettima decried that the insurgents were far better armed and motivated than the Nigerian military. The response from the presidency was rather shocking: the poor governor was excoriated and called names.

By the last Sunday, we saw screaming headlines that he might be replaced with a military administrator. Despite denials from the presidency, the President, Dr Jonathan, would make comments on Monday in response to Shettima’s claim that one finds rather ghastly. He said if Shettima thought that the military was not doing enough in his state then they will be withdrawn for a month, and it will be left to be seen if the he will remain in the Government House. Jonathan went ahead to add that if the governor is not there after the one month, then the military would summarily take over the state. That statement is also quite a give-away!

The truth is that the president is not the one on ground in those states even if he commands the security structure ultimately. If therefore the governors on ground make such statements as those by Gov Shettima, they must not be trivialized on the platter of politics. What it implies is either that the security budget is insufficient or is not properly deployed to execute this war on terror. However, Nigerians believe that the vote is more than enough, which leaves the second scenario. The expectation is that if Jonathan believes that he is doing more than enough and, yet, is hearing something else from the field, then he should look inward and ask more questions of the campaign rather than the kind of responses we saw.

If, for example, you employ a guard to watch over your property and yet thieves break in and rob, the first person to answer to any query is the security guard. You would not worry much about the robbers for they will always be there, which is why in the first place you pay the guard to keep watch.
If the above analogy is anything to go by, then we, Nigerians, must ask the President and the armed forces, of which he is commander-in-chief: why are defenseless Nigerians being continually slaughtered without any resistance from the military in states that have been under a state of emergency for almost a year?

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