Because Dapchi Schoolgirls Are Not from Elite Families

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Ring True 

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

Ihave long been convinced that majority of our so-called leaders in third world countries often act contrary to reason, but it is often taken to an embarrassing level in Nigeria. The charade in Kano last weekend, which featured President Muhammadu Buhari, 22 state governors and key leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, is one of such irrational steps. While parents of the 110 girls abducted at Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, by Boko Haram on February 19, were grieving, our leaders were partying in Kano at the wedding of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s daughter and Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s son.

This is the peak of man’s inhumanity to man. The wedding ought to have been a modest one. In sane societies, Buhari and his governors would have trooped to the homes of the grieving Dapchi parents. Do they really care that Dapchi girls are still in captivity and being molested by bastards? They don’t give a damn because Dapchi schoolgirls are from poor homes. I am very sure that this wedding would have been a modest one if the daughter of one of the governors is among the abducted girls. In fact, the school would not have been callously unprotected in the first place, if one of their kids is a student of this college.
The fact that the Kano wedding took place amid fanfare, just two days after Boko Haram killed four UN aid workers in Rann, makes this scenario even more depressing. A yet to be verified number of soldiers and policemen were also killed in the Rann fiasco. Also, during the days preceding the wedding, 20 people were killed in Gwamba, Demsa Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

The point I am making is that this country is in a mourning mood and there should be no room for flamboyant merrymakings. Our leaders should be trooping to Dapchi, Rann and Damsa and not to Kano State for one showy wedding, amid pain in the nation. These so-called leaders elected to be part of an awkward show of opulence, financed with public funds, instead of empathising with Dapchi parents. Do they really care if Dapchi parents are mourning? Do they really care if over 100 Chibok schoolgirls are still in captivity? Do they really care if daily, Boko Haram and herdsmen slaughter scores of innocent Nigerians? We are daily assaulted by gory tales from, Gulak, Malam Fatori, Dikwa, Gashigha, Kala Balge, Magumeri, Rann, Madagali, Dalore and several other towns and villages in the North-east. Most of our current leaders are clearly Godless, wicked, purposeless, inept and morally-bankrupt. We have to vote them out in 2019.
Pastor Tunde Bakare’s analysis of the provocative display of opulence in Kano by Ganduje and Ajimobi was fitting. The General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly said he could not comprehend what Buhari and the 22 state governors were doing at the Kano wedding, while 110 Dapchi schoolgirls are still in captivity.

He declared: “Forgive my ill-mannerism, but I could not comprehend why a governor will celebrate the wedding of his daughter, and another governor of his son, on the front pages of newspapers, flashing it before our eyes, when other peoples’ daughters are in captivity. If any of them had lost a daughter in that captivity, would they celebrate that way? I know the Bible says rejoice with them that rejoice, but I do not know what the president of Nigeria was doing there.
“And somebody came to say ‘let me explain to you, it is Islamic tradition, before this time, about January, they had agreed, that he (Buhari) will be the one to give the bride away and Tinubu will be the one to pay the dowry,  and present the son, and they agreed long before now.’ I looked at him and said the president of Nigeria wanted to come to my daughter’s wedding, and I said to him, sir, don’t come. That is beneath your office. Face the work of the state and keep serving.
“And 22 governors showed up to mark register, when 110 daughters of citizens of your nation were captured by Boko Haram that you said you have already technically defeated? It just shows how insensitive our leaders are. We have gotten to a stage that our president has become a king and a monarch. That his son who rode his pleasurable bike that almost claimed his life, will be returning from an overseas trip, where he had received special healthcare that Nigerians cannot afford, that it took a whole minister of state to go and welcome him, because he has no job.

“Anyone who knows the true state of things in Nigeria would weep for the country. If you truly know the truth, you will weep, if you know how much we owe as a country, you will weep. For 16 years of PDP, they borrowed N6 trillion, for three years of APC, they borrowed N11 trillion. And they are not going to pay the debt. You and I, and our children, and our children’s children will pay the debt, unless they write them off again.”

The most painful aspect of the Dapchi schoolgirls’ debacle is that no single person has been sacked for the security lapses responsible for the abduction. Air Chief, Sadique Abubakar has continued with his unproductive story of flying hundreds of sorties in search of the Dapchi girls. So, what have all these sorties yielded? We have suddenly forgotten that they flew hundreds of sorties in search of the Chibok girls that yielded nothing. They are at it again, telling us the same old story. What a country. The Jama’atu Nasril Islam appropriately stated that an example must be set: “Heads must roll for this negligence. Inquiry is not the only way to go. In fact, a serious government would have by now put in jail and suspended all negligent security and political chiefs who could and should have protected these innocent children, rather than the rigmarole setting up of an investigative panel.’’

A Word for Governor Fayose
Students of Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado Ekiti, have been roaming the streets for almost four months due to a lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of the university. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, so goes a popular saying. Some of the students have become nuisance in their various communities due to this prolonged closure. Students who ought to have graduated, as well as returning and newly-admitted students are roaming on the streets. Some may not return if the school eventually reopens. Children of Ekiti State elites, including those of Governor Ayodele Fayose, don’t attend this school. This is why the crisis has remained for this long. If the closure persists, the students may miss a whole semester. My dear Fayose, I am disappointed that you have allowed this crisis to fester. I care less about your previous intervention because it did not yield fruit. You must intervene pragmatically, by addressing issues bothering on improved staff welfare and under-funding of the university. These are the problems keeping away the lecturers. Four of them are already dead due to irregular salary. The Chairman of ASUU in the university, Prof. Olufayo Olu, confirmed that the teachers are owed huge backlog of salaries and allowances. Its wage bill of N455 million, in relation to the N260 million monthly subventions from the government is preposterous. As a result, facilities in this university are in a sorry state. The school is often left in darkness. The management can’t even guarantee regular power supply due to inadequate funding.

My beloved Fayose, it is clear that your government can no longer fund Ekiti State University properly. This is a reality that you must face. I am sure that you must have read a bit about university autonomy. You must allow this university to run autonomously, and charge fees that would cover its operating cost. Your government can then offer bursaries and scholarship to students from financially-challenged homes. This is the global standard and the only way forward for this university. Nigeria is miles behind in this regard. Fayose, you must lead this change with Ekiti State University.

Food Shortage in Camps of IDPs
Governments at all levels and donor agencies must move very fast to address the starvation and disease in the camps of internally displaced persons across the North-east. Scores die daily due to food shortage in these IDP camps notwithstanding the billions of Naira the federal government, North-east governors and donor agencies claim to spend on the IDPs. An estimated six million people displaced by Boko Haram are battling with starvation. On Wednesday, frustrated IDPs, mostly women and children, at the camps in Fufore and Malkohi (Adamawa State) staged peaceful protests over lack of food in their camps. Many families in these camps are in critical living conditions due to hunger. Malam Adamu Bukar from Malkohi camp said that he has one wife and three children and they only eat once in a day. “Since early January, when they distributed the normal thirty days food items to us, we never received anything again,’’ he said.

Those in government should be ashamed that IDPs are dying of food shortage. Many are feeding fat on their misfortune. There was a time Buhari instructed the Customs to send all seized smuggled food to DP camps. This was not effectively implemented. I can authoritatively report that thousands of tons of seized food litter Customs warehouses in Lagos and other states. This same government that sent food to victims of mud slide in Sierra Leone with helicopters should do same for our IDPs. Food shortage aside, sometimes, Boko Haram will enter their camps and kill them. Sometimes, our military will drop bombs on them. These displaced Nigerians are evidently going through hell.

A Law against Hate Speech?
The bill sponsored by Senate Spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi
purportedly to curtail so-called hate speech is evidently a planned assault on free speech by people who do not really understand how democracy and the rule of law work. Just imagine a proposal of capital punishment for hate speech offenders? This will be a very good tool in the hands of despots. This Hate Speech Bill is a product of evil. We must all rise against this evil bill. All men of goodwill and lovers of democracy in the National Assembly must kill this bill with a sledge hammer. I share the assessments and worries being expressed by the sponsor of this bill but this is surely not how to go about it in a democracy.
Shuaibu Usman Leman, the National Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalist puts it pertinently: “It is instructive to note that citizens are entitled to free speech even if they hold offensive and hurtful opinions. We also cannot forget that people have the right to be biased, even offensive in their speech, even if journalism is different, and we have to be aware of this. It is therefore our considered opinion that it is pertinent to avoid such pitfalls in our bid to come up with legislations to curtail the excesses of citizens.”

These are words of wisdom and in agreement with global best practice. I believe that the National Assembly is largely composed of distinguished men who would not allow a treacherous bill of this nature to sail through. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, is obviously high on something and needs to purge himself. Only God knows what he took.