One Massacre Too Many :
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.