Since the return of 104 out of the abducted 110 Dapchi schoolgirls by Boko Haram, Nigerians have been reacting to the surprise release, believing that there is more to the process from their kidnap to their release. TADE MAKINDE reports.
FOR distraught parents of Dapchi schoolgirls abducted on February 9, fate played a pleasant one on their lives last Wednesday. But, it did not come without the parents paying a huge price: weeks of psychological trauma and near despondency. However, their life and condition turned almost by about 180 degrees last Wednesday, as 104 of the children walked out of captivity.
But has Nigerian government been able to find the solution round the menace of abduction of school girls after the Chibok and Dapchi incidents? Is the president’s warning not to tolerate further dereliction of duties by heads of security agencies bound to restore sense of urgency, responsibility and efficiency? Government has closed down boarding facilities in schools as part of measures to resolve the problem. Parents have vowed that their children would continue their education in spite of the in defiance to threat by the bloodthirsty insurgents to step up their terror actions.
In his speech when the released girls were received by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, the Director-General of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Lawan Daura, gave an insight into the seeming crisis of confidence, mutual suspicion and rivalry among the security agencies involved in the war on terror. He was quoted as saying: “In view of the nation’s experience through these years of insurgency, I suggest that efforts must be sustained towards ensuring the release of all abducted persons in the North East Theatre of Operation.
“I also advocate improvement in the strategic plan for the safety of schools in vulnerable locations, using all available national assets. Mr President, the government should also improve on the coordination efforts amongst security agencies to avoid future incidents. Also there is the need to expand the current dialogue towards conflict mitigation and resolution, with a view to getting an everlasting peace for the entire sub-region.”
Some have cited the celebrated cases involving the DSS and the National Security Adviser as instance of power struggle within the agencies of security architecture. But, the general public perception is that there is no love lost between Daura and the NSA head. Babagana Monguno, a Major-General, former Commander of the Brigade of Guards, former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Chief of Logistics at the Nigerian Defence headquarters and was Commandant of the Nigerian Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) before he retired. There is also the allegation that the principal actors will rather bypass their experienced supervisor to report instead to Chief of Staff Abba Kyari. In effect, there appears no synergy in the entire security architecture of the country.
The lack of synergy within the security architecture is of great concern for personalities like elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; National Treasurer of Afenifere, Chief Supo Shonibare and the Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Anthony Sani. Each of them advocated sweeping overhaul of the existing security measures so as to forestall similar incidents in the future, as the government battles insurgency and other violent crimes in the country. According to Yakassai: “What is needed for this and other endemic security challenges is for the government to convene national stakeholders’ conference to generate ideas that can lead into getting assorted solutions to the problems.”
Yakassai said it was sad that the authorities were yet to come up with realistic security measures concerning the issue of boarding schools in states prone to insurgency. His words: “It is unimaginable to think that with Chibok girls issue still unsolved, boarding schools in the areas prone to insurgency could be left without adequate and effective intelligence measures to safeguard a recurrence of such tragedies from happening, particularly in areas like Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.”
On his part, Afenifere chieftain, Shonibare noted: “The federal police and Army Specialised unit need to be stationed at every girls’ school in the North-East areas where Boko Haram and other insurgent groups are actively operating. This will offer some assurances to the parents and students trying to improve their life chances to eke out a living by being educated.
“Ultimately, local policing, intelligence gathering and the ability of those in the various indigenous settlements and or catchment areas to locally protect and defend those under the particular police command, is the panacea to abating the rapidly dangerous trend of these murderous religious fanatics, who because they have seen fairly tepid responses in our ability to protect the inhabitants of those zone, are gradually dangerously pursuing territorial conquest. It’s obvious that those driven from their homestead will be compelled to protect themselves if the state is unable to offer adequate protection.
“Restructuring and devolution of power, with states being able to have autonomous ability to recruit, take control and ultimate responsibility and also determine the security architecture for the enforcement of laws made by the state legislature is the solution. One can develop a template that will ensure the independence of the Police from political influences and directives. But state and even local government policing is critical to our being able to combat the enforcement of laws and protection of citizens in all parts of our country.”
Similarly, ACF Secretary General, Anthony N.Z. Sani, harped on the need for improved intelligence gathering, especially from the perspective of quality personnel to provision of necessary equipment. He said the authorities needed to “improve the quality and management practices of intelligence community, improve the number and quality of security agents as well as their equipment together with security consciousness in communities and the schools.”