Prominent groups and Nigerians from different walks of life, on Sunday, took a swipe at the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over Friday’s abduction of students of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
Most of those who reacted said Buhari had failed and said they were shocked that the President had not visited the school despite the fact that he is in Katsina State on a weeklong vacation.
Those, who commented on the abduction of the students and Buhari’s inaction, included the Coalition of Northern Groups; the Middle Belt Forum; the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin; the Pan Niger Delta Forum; and the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Also, on Sunday, several Nigerians took to the social media to lambast the President for failing to visit the school.
However, the Presidency, through the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said its focus was how to quickly resolve the issue thrown up by the abduction of the students, and not politics.
Shehu said this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, who sought to know from him when Buhari was planning to visit the school.
In responding, the presidential aide said, “As I speak to you, the Minister of Defence and the nation’s service chiefs just left the place.”
When told that Nigerians were already faulting the President for sending a delegation, while he is currently in the state, Shehu said, “Our focus is about resolving the issue. Leave us out of politics.”
Buhari criticised for failing to visit school
Several Nigerians took to the social media to criticise the President for failing to visit the school and wondered why he would ask the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, to travel to Katsina State from Abuja, when he (Buhari) was currently in the same state on vacation.
One @SodiqTade tweeted, “My problem right now is Buhari sending delegates to Katsina from Abuja while he is currently in the same state. It takes minutes to get to the school but no let’s waste resources.
“Those who asked Goodluck Jonathan to travel miles from Kano down to the incident site in Borno on same day are now making ‘long distance’ excuse for Buhari. Even though the incident site is Katsina and Buhari is in the same Katsina. They said 150 minutes road journey is much for him.”
@EhiOziegbe tweeted, “Buhari should resign if he is not well. How can he be in Katsina and a delegation is going there? There is something that is not adding up with all the nonsense happening in the North.”
Similarly, one @Boufdadi tweeted, “Where is Buhari? Why isn’t he showing his face? Why can’t he go and commiserate with the parents of the abducted children? There are things we are not being told. Time will tell us these things.”
Another tweep, @maojawo, described the visit by the delegation as a waste of public resources.
“Wastage seems to be the only thing this government know how to do. Buhari in Katsina cannot pay condolence to the people, he sent people from Abuja to do it for him. The time, energy, and resources for it are wasted,” he tweeted.
“Is the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria not in Katsina State? Only God knows how much fund will go down into this visit,” @aladeniyi_ asked.
In his contribution, @DanielBalogun wondered why Buhari could not cut short his vacation to visit the school and commiserate with families of the victims.
“This does not add up. Ordinarily, the sitting President will cut short his private visit to attend to issue in his state. He should be seen with Masari to find the 333/600 students remaining. Another lesser delegation? Really? Is Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo also incapacitated?” he tweeted.
Be a man of honour, resign, M’Belt Forum tells Buhari
The Middle Belt Forum, on Sunday, asked the President to resign from his position having failed to tackle the security challenges facing the country.
Speaking with one of our correspondents in Jos, the National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu, lamented the incident and wondered why Buhari, who promised to bring insurgency to an end within three months of assuming office, would continue to remain in power for more than six years without solving the problem.
Porgu said, “As far as we are concerned, in a civilised society, he would have resigned as an honourable person, because he has not been able to fulfil his promise to Nigerians.
“Unfortunately, in our clime, that has not happened, because people are not people of honour. The abduction in Kastina is just one too many. Those who abducted the young students will go and initiate them forcefully into terrorism and this is an unfortunate development.
“As the students were abducted, just yesterday (Saturday), a village south of Chibok in Borno State was attacked by terrorists, and from the information I gathered, two soldiers were killed along with one civilian, while the soldiers were able to bring down two of the insurgents.”
On his part, Odumakin said the nation had become virtually ungoverned under the President.
The position of the President has become untenable and it is a wasteful venture calling for his resignation. The country under him is virtually ungoverned and practically ungovernable,” he stated.
While sympathising with the families of the abducted students, PANDEF described the action as condemnable and unacceptable, especially as it happened in the President’s home state.
It, however, said calls for the resignation of Buhari over the prevailing insecurity in the country was misplaced.
The spokesman for PANDEF, Ken Robinson, who stated this in a chat with one of our correspondents, said there were constitutional provisions to fall back on if the President was failing in his responsibilities.
He stated, “The fact remains that this administration of Muhammadu Buhari has failed Nigerians and has failed to secure and protect the lives and property of Nigerians across the country.”
On its part, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said calling for the resignation of the President because of the pervading insecurity in the country would not solve the problem.
Ohanaeze’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chuks Ibegbu, who spoke to one of our correspondents, asked: “If he resigns, who solves the problem?
“You can consider that in a sane clime, but we have not yet built sanity in our polity. Those that may be genuinely asking him to resign will become attack dogs if you tell them. Our real solution is restructuring our polity.”
Self-defence only option left for northerners – CNG
But the Coalition of Northern Group said the call for the resignation of the President, would not be out of place.
According to the CNG, the only option left for northerners in the current face of insecurity, is self defence.
The CNG’s Spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman told one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Sunday that the organisation was pained by the renewed onslaught of attacks on Northerners by bandits.
Protest rocks Kankara
Some residents staged a peaceful protest in Kankara, Katsina State, on Sunday, to demand the prompt rescue of secondary school students abducted by bandits on Friday.
The protest was led by a woman, who did not disclose her name but claimed that she was a mother of one of the abducted students.
The protesters went around the school’s premises and some parts of the town with placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘Government must speak out’, ‘We want our children back’, and ‘We want security in Kankara’.
The protesters also sang solidarity songs reflecting the messages on the placards.
They later retired to their various homes.
The spokesman for the state police command, SP Gambo Isah, said he would call back although it was learnt later that he was out of Katsina on official assignment.
PDP alleges teargas attack on protesting parents
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party on Sunday alleged that teargas canisters were thrown at protesting parents of the students by the police.
This was contained a statement titled ‘PDP Queries Buhari Presidency over Tear Gas attack on Katsina Abducted Students’ Parents,’ signed by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday.
The PDP queried the Buhari Presidency over what it described as “the unwarranted tear gas attack” by the police on grieving parents of the kidnapped students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
The Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Salihi Magashi (retd.) on Sunday, gave an assurance that all the abducted students “would return home safely within the next few hours.”
He gave the assurance in Katsina before going into a closed-door meeting with the state governor, Aminu Masari.
The minister and the service chiefs were in Katsina on a sympathy visit over the abduction of the students on Friday.
Magashi said from the briefings he was given by the heads of security agencies on the ground, the rescue of the students was a matter of time.
Masari thanked the delegation for the visit and gave an assurance that the state was making efforts to ensure the release of the students.
333 students still missing – Gov
The governor said 333 students had yet to be accounted for.
The governor stated, “The children so far kidnapped cut across the state, because the boarding school houses all children from all parts of the state and even some from outside the state.
“It has a population of 839 and so far, we have yet to account for 333 students. And we are still counting because more are coming out from the forest and we are calling through the numbers of those parents who have phone numbers to find out whether or not their children have gone back home. Because we have discovered that there are so many local governments that the children have gone back, but based on the available record, we are still searching for 333 students either in the forest or through their parents to ascertain the actual number that have been kidnapped.”
The governor said the bandits had yet to contact the government or anybody on the abduction of the students, and gave an assurance that efforts were being made to ensure their release.
Meanwhile, all schools in Katsina State were on Saturday directed to end the third term for the 2019/2020 academic session.
The schools, which were supposed to end the session next week, were directed to remain closed until further notice.
Although no reason was given for the decision, the development is being linked to Friday’s abduction of unknown numbers of students of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer of the state Ministry of Education, Sani Suleiman, read in part, “This is to inform the general public, especially principals, parents/guardians, proprietors of community and private schools that the third term for 2019/2020 academic session has come to an end today, Saturday, December 12, 2020.
UNICEF seeks immediate release of abducted students
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children Fund has condemned the abduction of the students and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
The UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie Poirier, in a statement on Sunday, described the attack on the school as a violation of the children’s rights.
Poirier said the Fund was deeply concerned about the incident.
She said, “On Friday evening, armed men attacked the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, northwest Nigeria. According to unconfirmed reports, hundreds of students are still unaccounted for.
“UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms this brutal attack and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all the children and their return to their families.
“Attacks on schools are a violation of children’s rights. This is a grim reminder that abduction of children and widespread grave violations of children’s rights continue to take place in northern Nigeria.”