“If civil crisis lasts more than twenty-four hours, the government of the day has a hand in it,” Gen. Sani Abacha, Nigerian Head of State, 1994 – 1998.
Late on Thursday night, March 12, the dreaded group of the Nigerian terrorists known as the Bandits stormed Federal College for Forestry Mechanization, Kaduna, North West of the country, and abducted 39 students.
The attack which lasted for some hours was not hindered by any external forces in spite of the presence of a military base in the neighborhood. According to the students and staff of this tertiary institution, security forces came after the terrorists had concluded their heinous operation.
The insider sources said those the government claimed to have been rescued were the students and staff who went into hiding at the onset of the attack. They only came out when the security forces came to the campus and moved them to the military base situated in the neighborhood.
In the morning, the security personnel picked empty shells of bullets used by the terrorists. At this time, nobody was allowed into the campus not even journalists except top government officials. A recount of the survivors was done and false number of 180 was released to the public by the state government of Gov. Nasir El-Rufai as the accurate number of students and staff rescued by the security forces. Governor El-Rufai had been implicated by the terrorists leaders in the region as a grand commander and sponsor of terrorism in the north of the country. He was among the first to call for negotiation with the terrorists.
Kaduna State now has Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs. Does this government ministry deter the terrorists from hitting their targets? Not really. Reality is different. And it shows the deep-seated hypocrisy in the fight against terrorism in the country.
In the meantime, this group of terrorists is becoming more audacious and organized. They hit their targets in their large numbers, everybody on a motorbike, and with an automatic rifle. In a competent leadership, the use of motorbikes for this type of operation would be an impediment. The noise of a huge number of motorcycles moving together at the same time will attract the attention of the security forces. But the current leadership in Nigeria is indifferent to a serious national issue.
In spite of the military base in the vicinity, the Bandits were not afraid. They were able to carry out a successful terrorist attack. It was the second time they launched attack in the neighborhood. In less than a week ago, they attacked the staff quarters of the Federal Airports Authority just some yards away from the college of forestry.
Their focus before now was secondary schools. But because of the government’s lack of political will to stop them, they are now graduating to tertiary institutions. This will be a total eclipse for education in this part of the country that is regarded as educationally disadvantaged region. Most of the students still missing are women. It shows that this group is becoming ideological like Boko Haram by opposing Western education, especially for women.
The indigenous press right now has limited coverage of terrorist attacks in the country in order not to offend the government. The international media use the news as fillers. They are no longer headline news as was done in the past. The world is becoming tired of terrorists attacks in Nigeria.
The same day that college of forestry incident happened in Kaduna, another group of Bandits abducted more than 50 passengers in three buses in the neighboring Zamfara State. The passengers were traveling to Sokoto for a religious pilgrimage. The incident was hardly in the news because police denied it, saying the travelers escaped from the Bandits.
Again, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated his decision to fight and defeat the terrorists, thanking the state governor for the good job done in rescuing the students and staff of the college.
It will difficult to fight and win the war against terrorism without sincere government intervention no matter the size of the country. We had said it before that if the influence of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was reduced or even defeated in their original place, the world should not celebrate because they could relocate to more congenial places. That hypothesis has come true. The group has joined their counterparts in Northern Nigeria.
Unlike in the Middle East where the world came together and fought them sincerely and vigorously, it’s a different scenario in Nigeria. Perhaps the global leaders presume that Nigeria can handle the issue. Yes, Nigeria can handle the issue if the government is sincere in fighting terrorism.
Some leaders in the region described any attack against the terrorists as attack against the region and Islam. Most of them are still in government houses. They advocated for negotiation with terrorists. Although they would come out in the open and deny it. With increase in terrorists attacks, they are now increasing their demand for negotiation with the terrorists as the only solution to end terrorism in Nigeria.
If the world allows Nigeria to fight terrorism in its territory with assumption that the country is big and independent, the problem will get out of hand. The problem continues to deteriorate and the indigenous leadership has demonstrated enough incompetence for the world to do a critical study of the situation, and then take decision that will offer a lasting solution. The problem has religious and tribal connections and is not likely to vanish easily without serious international intervention. This explains what Gen. Abacha said almost thirty years ago. He was vilified but now a hero.