By Aanu Oluyide

Over the past 7 years Nigeria has had a meltdown in security which keeps getting worse and worse, year in year out. It all started like a play, but tracing it down from 2014 till now it has become a more pathetic and psychologically draining venture.

Security refers to a state of being free from danger, from threats. In broader terms security is freedom. Security is a state of being secure and an assurance of peace. What we know as security could be further broken down into security of human lives, human properties, the security of a nation against external forces. In this vein Nigeria, a country of 200 million people has lost security in every sense. Security and kidnaping should not appear in the same sentence but before the next few paragraphs you are going to read we should also examine kidnapping.

The opposite of security is insecurity and from the definition of the former, the latter is clearer. Everybody in Nigeria understands what kidnaping means, abducting someone or many people and holding them captive, for killing or ransom. Taking a look back from 2014 we can trace the event that has led to series of more damaging events.

A particular part of the country, the same part where the president is from, has been worst hit with the insecurity of their lives and properties and the kidnapping of children. Northern Nigeria moved from experiencing bomb blasts and killings by members of Islamic terrorist groups Boko Haram and the not very popular ISWAP to school children being kidnapped in huge numbers. Delving into how we got to this present appalling state of affairs may not present a proper view of what we are in, so why not take a few steps back with me.

Most people may not know this, but between 2014 and 2021 we have had more than 1,200 students being kidnapped. In 2021 alone, we have 344 even though the year has just started. I will take you through a breakdown but have it at the back of your mind that these are just official numbers, the possibility of the numbers being more than is reported, is high.

Where it all began, April 14 2014, when 276 students were kidnapped by Boko Haram at a government secondary school in Chibok, Borno state. These students were mostly females and this was during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The events that followed caused a lot of outrage concerning the government’s effort to secure them. Reports have it that the Nigerian army was informed 4 hours to the kidnapping but did nothing to secure the school and the area. It is a common thing for the Nigerian Army to deny things like this so of course, they denied it.

Between 2014 – 2016, some series of events followed, like pictures of some of the girls getting pregnant, some being married off to Boko Haram members, some were also seen being taken to neighboring countries like Chad and Niger, most likely for slavery. Let us not forget that 57 of the girls escaped, some were returned in the following years while some are still there, to be found no more. The kidnapping of Chibok girls was one of the sole reasons why former president Jonathan didn’t win the 2015 presidential elections.

Four years after, into the 3rd year of President Buhari, Feb 17, 2018, 113 students were kidnapped by ISWAP at Government Girls Secondary and Technical College Dapchi, Yobe state. It took the government more than a month to intervene or take any step towards the release of the girls. That was the first ransom in exchange for school children that the Nigerian government will make, ushering us into a country that rewards terrorism and insecurity heavily. The government denied paying ransom for the release of the girls but United Nations countered this claim by making statements that proved that the government of President Buhari paid those kidnappers an undisclosed but huge amount of money before the girls were freed.

Moving on to December 11 2020 another round of students were kidnapped. This time at Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State. More than 500 boys were taken away from their school by masked gunmen. Masari, an aide to President Buhari first made a statement that the boys kidnapped were 34. The government must be trying to save face and cover the incident up but it didn’t take long to know that 500 boys were abducted and carted away during the day with no military intervention. The boys were reported to be forced to eat raw potatoes to survive. Having launched a government of bandits, evil, and terrorism reward, the Nigerian government negotiated 800 million Naira requested before the boys were released. It should amaze you, right?

Barely two weeks after, 80 students were kidnapped at Islamiya schools, Mahuta town, Katsina state. This one was quite funny because it did not make much of a noise in the news as the others, I mean the government recently paid millions of naira for Kankara Boys to be released right? The pattern was already being laid, establishing kidnapping business transactions between unknown gunmen (as they call them) and the government of President Buhari. After a gun battle ensued between local vigilantes and the abductors the students were released.

Now the Nigerian government has been very hypocritical when it comes to the use of language, the government of President Buhari hides the identities of these evildoers and continuously refering to them as bandits.

Added to Covid 19 that is ravaging the world, Nigeria is having a disease that’s worse than coronavirus. This year, there have been two rounds of kidnapping already and we don’t know how many will happen next. 27 students were kidnapped at Government Science College, Kagara in Niger state while another 317 were taken from their school in Jangebe, Zamfara state. This was only between the 17th and 26th of February 2021. The government has usually paid the ransom, amounting to more than 400 million Naira for the release.

For a country that is the poverty headquarters of the world, for a government that has borrowed so much that they even started spending foreign reserves, the government of Buhari has used the collective money of Nigerians to reward terrorists, kidnappers, and their most preferred name; Bandits. Nigerians are saying that banditry and kidnapping is the most lucrative business anyone can engage in.

The Buhari-led government is traumatizing children and using them as an exchange for their impunity, selfishness, and wickedness. How much lower can we go? The government is not only terrorizing and traumatizing these children but their parents.

For a region of Nigeria where only 10 students take entrance examinations into secondary school, a region where the larger population of children do not go to school, it is wickedness for those who manage to go to school, to be kidnapped and their kidnappers paid for it. The Buhari-led government has failed woefully and we won’t keep quiet about it. The results of this would be that instead of trying to solve the issue of illiteracy in the core North it would get worse, parents and wards will be discouraged to send their children to school.

President Buhari and his government took their children away from the country, fund their luxurious and elite education abroad with the sweats and taxes of Nigerians while children of the masses get abducted by gunmen who receive handsome payment for committing such atrocities. Have you ever seen a government that rewards terrorists, cover up their identities, rehabilitates killers back into society, and pays them handsomely? That is the Government a retired army general is leading. All we hear is released children; we have never heard of arrested kidnappers.

The government that negotiates with killers, the government that welcomes border trespassing, that is President Buhari of the federal republic of Nigeria. A lot of things have become the norm in this country because it has happened severally and Nigerians are getting used to it. Getting used to kidnappings of their children, killings, and properties. How long do we have to go?

How many more need to happen?

(c) Aanu Oluyide 2021