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One Massacre Too Many :

Source: pointblanknews.com
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BEING TEXT OF AN ADDRESS BY THE SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RT.

HON. AMINU WAZIRI TAMBUWAL, CFR, ON TUESDAY, 11TH MARCH, 2014, ON THE “DAY

OF MOURNING” SPECIAL SESSION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO REMEMBER

STUDENTS AND OTHER NIGERIANS KILLED THROUGH TERRORISM

My dear Honourable colleagues,
1. I welcome you back to the Plenary Session of the House of

Representatives. In the last two weeks, various Committees of the House

had been working assiduously on the 2014 Appropriation Bill. The House is

grateful to the Committees for their hard work and dedication.

2. Our reunion at times like this has always been one of joy for

accomplishment of a civic responsibility. However on this day it is with

the greatest sense of anguish that I welcome you back.

3. On February 25, 2014, the very day the House adjourned Plenary, Nigeria

suffered a horrendous terrorist attack that struck a fatal blow at the

heart and soul of the Nigerian nation and desecrated values that decent

peoples of all nations hold dear. On that night, about 59 students of

Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State were killed in the most

heinous manner. Some of our future national leaders were mowed down in

gruesome circumstances in their sleep. Some were shot dead while many were

burnt beyond recognition. That day was a day that will live in infamy in

the history of this nation.
4. When innocent, harmless and defenseless women and children become the

targets of these heartless murderous bandits; when the lives of sleeping

children are so callously snuffed out, it becomes clear that these agents

of terror have murdered sleep and they henceforth deserve none.

5. Whatever grievances the terrorists harbor against the government of

Nigeria, Nigeria's innocent children have nothing to do with it. Nigeria's

children bear no responsibility for either policy making or policy

implementation in Nigeria. It is therefore an act of cowardice worthy of

ringing condemnation to target the children, to strike at those who are

not only innocent but are also unable to strike back or defend themselves.

There can be no reason, no justification and no acceptable excuse for this

act of mindless brutality. Whatever message the terrorists set out to send

to the Nigerian government has been drowned out by the cries for justice

by the blood of these innocent martyrs.
6. It is to remember these innocent children and other victims of violence

in this country, that the House has declared today “A day of mourning” to

express our collective outrage on these killings that have gone on for far

too long.
7. My dear Colleagues, please travel with me on an imaginary journey to

Federal Government College, Buni Yadi.
8. Picture the scene as the terrorists creep into the hostels and the

children begin to wake up one after the other, with their eyes heavy with

sleep, each of them convinced that this is some nightmare.

9. Picture the chaos in the rooms and the terror on the faces of the

children as they watch the murderers attack the first set of students, the

ones nearest to the entrance, and the students begin to realize that what

is happening is not a nightmare but a reality far harsher that any

nightmare the mind of a child can construct.
10. Hear the panic in the voices of the children as they begin to scream

for help, from God, their parents or security. But no help will come

tonight.
11. Feel the unbearable horror of this night, and hear the fading cries of

these children as they finally succumb to the murderous onslaught.

12. Finally, my dear colleagues imagine that it is your own child in the

hostels at Buni Yadi on this hellish night.
13. I can still hear the voice of the father of Aliyu Yola, one of the

victims of the school massacre crying, “Aliyu was scared to go back to

school after the last holiday. I forced him to resume not knowing he will

never come back to me again”.
14. As Jodi Picoult writes in her book “My Sister's Keeper”, “In the

English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for

the parent who loses a child”.
15. Dear colleagues, please let us rise for a minute silence in honor of

the murdered children of Buni Yadi and of the many valuable Nigerians that

have been lost in this needless orgy of violence.
.MAY THEIR INNOCENT SOULS REST IN PERFECT PEACE
16. Today is not a day to apportion blames. It is a day for the expression

of our sense of personal and national loss. But it is also a day for us to

look for concrete solutions.
17. In my brief statement immediately after that attack, I warned that

Nigeria is running out of excuses for our failure to live up to our

responsibility to protect our citizens. Today I wish to amend that comment

and declare that we HAVE run out of excuses. We no longer have any excuse

for our inability to protect our innocent defenseless children from

gratuitous violence.
18. In recent times, it seems the nation wakes up every morning to the sad

news of one gory tale of bloodletting and killing of innocent Nigerians or

another: in the North East States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe; in the North

Central States of Benue and Plateau; and in other parts of Nigeria.

19. We wake up to the disturbing news of daring and dastardly attacks on

our military establishments resulting in the dissipation of our military

infrastructure and the destruction of the lives of the heroic Nigerians

who have committed their lives to the defense of our territorial

integrity.
20. In Maiduguri for instance, expensive military aircraft and equipment

and whole military barracks have been lost in addition to the loss of men

and women of our Military and other law enforcement agencies.

21. We wake up to the chilling news of the total annihilation of innocent,

law abiding families and entire communities in the most callous,

reprehensible and bizarre fashion. This cannot continue. We must rise up

collectively and decisively to stop these orgy of deaths, destruction and

waste.
22. Section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

provides that the security and welfare of our people is the primary

purpose of government. In making this provision, the Constitution places a

duty on all of us here and everyone else entrusted with the mandate of

governance and representation to place a high premium on the security of

lives and property of Nigerians.
23. By this parameter, the Nigerian government must rise to the occasion.

And by government I do not mean only the Executive. We in the Legislature

are also part of government. And we cannot therefore merely join in the

chorus of lamentations. Our duty is to act swiftly and decisively in the

protection of the citizenry.
24. In the past, this House had initiated and supported all measures

needed to combat terrorism in the Country. Since active terrorism started

manifesting itself, the House has taken the following steps:

i. We have passed over twenty resolutions on the issue of national security

ii. We amended the Anti-terrorism Act, 2011 to strengthen the Security

Agencies
iii. We have appropriated huge sums of money for the Security Agencies

iv. Only recently, January 30, 2014 the House in making its

recommendations for Constitutional Amendment voted to include the National

Security Agencies and the Nigerian Police on the First Line charge for

purpose of ensuring their financial independence and timely release of

funds when appropriated.
25. While we await the completion of the Constitutional amendment process

in which we have thus sought to remove the funding bottleneck that impedes

the operational effectiveness of our security institutions, we must in the

interim adopt definite measures to ensure that the security agencies have

all the support they need to put an end to this long-running orgy of

bloodbath so that Nigerians can sleep with both eyes closed. That is the

most basic service citizens expect from their government.

26. My dear Colleagues, let us not forget that we have in place a State of

Emergency in the three affected North East states. Yet the killings have

continued unabated in spite of the gallant efforts of our security forces.

It is therefore clear that we need to come up with other ideas for a

solution. There are certain questions that this House must now ask.

27. How do we ensure that the welfare of our military is effectively

administered and that they have the appropriate equipment to execute their

hazardous assignment? The sad events of recent weeks have once again made

Nigerians ask whether moneys appropriated for the welfare of our security

forces are properly administered.
28. How do we strengthen the intelligence gathering capabilities of our

intelligence agencies?
29. How do we encourage the Nigerian Police Force to institutionalize

Community Policing as a framework for engaging local Communities in a

partnership for checking crime and terrorism?
30. What about integrating local security structures into the regular

security windows of the Nigerian Police Force with the Federal, State and

Local governments supporting them with necessary resources? Is it perhaps

time for us to revisit the idea of State Police?
31. How do we develop an institutional framework for securing the land

through a neighborhood audit where a tab is kept on every member and every

housing structure whether completed or uncompleted?

32. A fully engaged and strongly organized local population would not

allow terrorism in their community or across their territory. Nigerian

citizens must therefore be mobilized to take back their communities.

Intelligence gathering will improve tremendously if security structures at

the local levels are tapped effectively by the Police.

33. How do we institute a form of 'Marshall Plan' to effectively address

the economic circumstances of the affected regions? Such a measure will

serve to check youth restiveness, unemployment and mass poverty. The

private sector also has a huge role to play in this.

34. What about our traditional rulers, religious leaders and other

stakeholders? Does the government now need to intensify engagement with

these elders to take advantage of their unique position, wisdom and

influence?
35. These few suggestions are only intended to serve as stimuli for

further discourse. I challenge my colleagues and other Nigerians to come

forward with other ideas and solutions on how we can as a nation address

this situation.
36. The involvement of the citizenry in the fight against terrorism is a

vital issue. For the campaign against terrorism to succeed the people must

get involved. A crisis of this magnitude is beyond the capacity of any

government to resolve on its own without the support of the people.

Whenever the stability and survival of a nation is threatened, the most

potent weapon in repelling the threat is the active engagement of the

people of that nation.
37. I humbly appeal to the Nigerian people to join in this struggle for

the soul of our nation and embrace as a sacred duty the mission of

restoring peace and stability in Nigeria. We must draw from the heartbreak

of Buni Yadi, and other areas affected by mindless violence, an

inspiration to rededicate ourselves to the cause of nation building.

38. One hundred years after Nigeria was amalgamated into one country,

there are Nigerians who would still prefer to emphasize and celebrate our

differentness and blame the British for amalgamating us, rather than

embrace the reality of our oneness. At this stage of our journey of

nationhood, all Nigerians should be highlighting the ties that bind us. We

should be promoting the elements of our common heritage and emphasizing

the imperatives of our common destiny.
39. In the light of a heart-wrenching tragedy like this, our people must

now see that those political, sectional and sectarian differences that

have made it impossible for us to present a united front against our

challenges are petty and self-absorbed. If a tragedy of the Buni Yadi

magnitude does not bring us together as one nation, if the loss of our

innocent children whose only offence was that they went to school to gain

education and wisdom in preparation for a future of service to Nigeria and

humanity does not unite us in grief, then we need to ask ourselves if we

truly meet the basic spiritual requirements of nationhood.

40. We cannot claim to be one nation, if we cannot find unity in grief;

just as we cannot claim to be a great nation when we are incapable of

preventing horrendous attacks on our children peacefully asleep in their

beds.
41. As a people we are known to be our brothers' keeper. Terror has never

been in our character and with God on our side we shall surely defeat this

minority tribe of violence. Let us therefore arise with a single-minded

resolve that the Buni Yadi massacre is one massacre too many and we shall

tolerate no more.
42. My dear colleagues
- Our nation is in mourning, and it is in urgent need of consolation

- Our nation is in pain, and in urgent need of healing

- Our nation is puzzled, and in urgent need of answers

- Our nation is disillusioned, and in urgent need of reassurance.

43. As the elected representatives of the people, it is our duty to offer

that consolation, administer that healing, provide those answers and

furnish that reassurance that our people need to make them continue to

believe in the Nigerian nation.
44. Thank you and God bless Nigeria.