Kankara Kidnap: There Our Government Goes Again!
There is no denying the fact that ascertaining the number of students kidnapped by bandits each time they carry out their nefarious activities in targeted school has never been straightforward as the ding dong that has always ensued between the government and the media has always left the people with the impression that it is either the figure was exaggerated or that it was underplayed. However, the fact has always remained, according to an African proverb that, “The worst you can do to truth is to cloth it in lies, you can't undo it”.
Without any iota of exaggeration, this ding dong was witnessed in 2018 when a faction of the Jihadist Boko Haram movement, kidnapped 113 children from Dapchi in North Eastern part of the country on February 19. As reported, the sect later released 107 of them. Five reportedly died; one remains captive. It is germane at this juncture to recall in this context that the kidnap came four years after militants captured 276 girls from Chibok, another North-Eastern town.
Regrettably, as if the foregoing harvests of sorrow were not enough to dispirit parents and guardian in the northeastern part of the country, and the entire Nigerian population, not few people have in the last 3 days been reading screaming news headlines in the media that are in the exactitude or similitude of, “Hundreds of Students Feared Missing After Attack at Nigeria ...”, “Katsina School Attack: 333 students missing – Governor”, “Kankara Katsina State: Student kidnapping for (GSSS Kankara Katsina State) secondary school latest and how Buhari react from Daura”, “Parents Pray for Hundreds of Students Kidnapped in Nigeria's Katsina” and other headlines that easily catch readers’ attention.
Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that the casting of the foregoing screaming headlines that are currently trending online were inspired by the kidnap of hundreds of students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) in Katsina State few days ago. As gathered, at least one security personnel was shot at the school.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient for this writer to throw light on why the component of the headline of this piece reads, “There Our Government Goes Again!”
The reason cannot be farfetched as the government, instead of doing the needful has begun disputing the number of kidnapped students from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
Sequel to the development, the Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari, on Sunday, confirmed that a total of 333 students of the School, Kankara, are still missing.
The governor stated this while briefing the federal government delegation to Katsina led by Minister of Defence, Salihi Magashi, at the Katsina Government House. The delegation also included the service chiefs.
The governor also confirmed that the school has a total population of 839 students before the incident happened.
He said, “Based on the available record we have, we are still searching for 333 students through either the forest or their parents to ascertain the actual number that has been kidnapped.
He added, “We are still counting because more are coming out from the forest and we are calling through the numbers of those parents that have phone numbers to find out whether or not their children have gone back home”.
As expected, the presidency has given a much lower tally. It is apt to say that this is one of the reasons part of the headline of this piece reads, “There Our Government Goes Again!”
To this end, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has told the BBC Hausa Service that only 10 of the schoolboys are still with the bandits.
The BBC Hausa bulletin reads, “The government of Nigeria has said its security forces have surrounded the location where gunmen have kept schoolchildren abducted from a secondary school in Katsina State.
“Spokesman for the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, told the BBC only 10 children were remaining in the hands of the gunmen according to their colleagues who escaped from the gunmen.
"The number is below figures released by school authorities at the beginning. Garba Shehu said the school children who escaped said 10 of their friends were still with their abductors.”
The questions which most concerned Nigerians are variously whispering to themselves in reaction to the ding dong that is presently ensuing between the federal government and Masari on the actual number of students that were kidnapped are, “Why can’t the government take time to talk to the parents of the kidnapped students, the principal or other officials of the school as well as some of the escaped students before hastily coming to conclusion that only 10 students were kidnapped?” Why can’t the government make effort to identify the actual group that carried out the kidnap instead of generically saying that bandits were responsible for the kidnap? Also, being asked are “Why did the government not sought how it happened?” and “How are they going to get this students out from captivity?”
Ostensibly against the backdrop of the government efforts to engage in denials, blame and refutations, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, Plan International, a non-governmental organization, said there was need for a quick headcount of the students to ensure we have a clear picture of how many students are missing. Abdu also called on the Nigerian federal government, the Katsina State government and all relevant security agencies to ensure rescue of all abducted and missing students and that they are returned unharmed. In addition, he demanded that “it is time that the governments at both federal and states across the country prioritize ensuring protection of schools and also build capacities of communities to protect schools as well as in early warning signals.”
He noted that the country is scheduled to host a global conference on the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) in 2021 and making reference to a September 2020 statement credited to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu in commemoration of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, that “We as a nation are committed to observe all relevant international conventions that are contributory to the protection of schools and learning centres and facilities from attack”, the Plan International Country Director said “It is unacceptable that students in our schools are still being abducted and the whole nation appears helpless.”