DAILY TIMES: Like Dapchi, like Chibok: Deepening misery and lost future

Nineteen days after about 110 students of Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi, Yobe State were herded away in trucks, panic, confusion and worry still linger over the fate of the missing schoolgirls, rehashing sordid memories of over 200 missing Chibok girls abducted in 2014 by Boko Haram elements, The Daily Times has gathered. With tales of indoctrination, sexual abuse that trailed the previous abduction, and the possibility of destinies and dreams condemned to the graveyard, sleep has eluded Kachalla Bukar, father of one of the schoolgirls, Aisha, 14, abducted by the terrors of the North-East. 

Kachalla, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), said tears had not stopped streaming down the cheeks of his wife since the February 19 abduction, making agony an unwelcome companion of his entire family. “We don’t want these girls to stay long with those militants. Anything can happen to them,’’ Kachallah said. 

While some survivors have given conditions to return to school, a survivor, Miriam Miko, 15, said she would never return to school, shattering her dream of becoming a health technologist later in life in an interview with an online portal, The Cable. 

For Mariam, only living souls can dream and hope. Before the latest attack on GGSTC, Dapchi, insurgents had violently terminated the lives of 42 students of Government Secondary School, Mamudo in 2013, while 58 were killed in Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in 2014 – all in Yobe State. In the run up to the presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari had assured that every Nigerian child would be safe in Nigerian schools, but some observers say it is now a watery assurance with the abduction of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State. 

According to the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), Boko Haram insurgency has caused the closure of more than 57 percent of schools in Borno State, leaving about three million children without education and 2,295 teachers killed across the North-East since 2009. Meanwhile, the incessant attacks on schools across Nigeria by kidnappers and insurgents have sparked the debate about scrapping or keeping the boarding school system among stakeholders and experts. 

An educationist, Dr. Safiya Muhammed, said the boarding system should be discontinued if it cannot guarantee the safety of students. She said, “The boarding system has been very good in the past when schools were really secure but the situation has changed. “As long as there is no security surrounding boarding houses, I do not think this system should continue because it creates lots of challenges for the girls and their parents.” 

Safiya, who spoke on a live interview monitored in Lagos, said that despite the advantages of the boarding system, there can’t be effective learning when life is threatened. Another educationist, Mr. Remi Lawal, traced Nigeria’s security issues to politics. Lawal believes there is no reason to scrap the boarding system. Hear him: “I do not honestly think we should scrap the boarding system because of this. The two cases we have had lent credence to politics of ‘do-or –die’ in our nation. Only one can be attributed to criminals who we know were armed by politicians. 

I would suggest we follow the trend of these abductions, the last time the military was removed shortly before the abduction. And it is the same for this. “The entire security issues are political, cutting the nose to spite the face. All these are mere postulations, no proofs to validate my claims. Scrapping any aspect of education will only fulfill the desire of politicians to keep us uneducated and subjugated.’’ 

Reacting to the unfortunate incident, second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Onyekachi Ubani, berated Federal Government for failing to secure the abducted schoolsgirls in Dapchi despite the fact that a similar incident happened four years ago. Onyekachi, who spoke on a live programme broadcast in Lagos, said nothing was learnt from the previous abduction. 

He, however, called for Nigerians to embrace state police. He said, “It is unfortunate. I think they have not handled it well. You know the one that happened in America (Florida shooting), I’ve been following it. The government was blaming the FBI because there was this issue of threat they didn’t take seriously. “When they make a mistake, they correct it immediately. In our own case, what did we learn a lesson from Chibok? We have learnt nothing. And you can see that we have repeated the same mistake. So I think government should be blamed.’’ 

He continued: “One, you told Nigerians you have defeated Boko Haram completely last week (not technically), and this week, they struck. “And they struck with ease, they struck with efficiency. So, it then means that you are lying. You have not defeated them technically or totally. 

It is unfortunate.” On the way forward, Ubanu said: “The way forward is to review the security architecture. State police, despite all likelihood of abuse, to me, is still the best. A former JTF Commander in Maiduguri, Born State, blamed the latest abduction of Dapchi schoolgirls on the decision of the Federal Government to pay insurgents millions of dollars in exchange for Chibok girls. The commander, who spoke in confidence with The Daily Times, said paying insurgents for the release of Chibok girls is enough motivation to kidnap more for more money.

He said, “What we are doing wrong is that we negotiated for the release of Chibok girls. We paid millions of dollars to the terrorists and released some of their commanders as demanded. “So, we have given them the motivation to kidnap more if they want more money and the release of their brethren still in custody. We are back to square one.” 

Nigeria FG confirms 110 school girls abducted in Dapchi, Boko Haram faction group responsible On what the Federal Government should do, the former commander had this to say: “First thing is for all megaphone of governments and security agencies to stop announcing that they have defeated Boko Haram. 

Each time they do so, they motivate them to do something outrageous to tell the world that they are still there. He added: “Ending Boko Haram menace won’t be easy because religion is involved. What else can you do to a people who are ready to die believing that dying guarantees them entry into paradise? They will always find willing recruits in the impoverished fringes of the North who believe fighting and dying is eminently more rewarding than living a miserable life. 

“So the fight will have to be systematic and sustained, fuelled by impeccable intelligence gathering and precision strikes to eliminate their leadership at all levels, then the followers will scatter.’’
Naija Newspapers
Naija Newspapers

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