Kankara Abduction and the Nigerian Wonder

RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 08054699539 (text only)

Ring true YEMI ADEBOWALE       Phone number 08054699539

Nine days ago, terrorists walked into Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State and abducted 361 students. That’s a massive number. How were they able to pin down such a large number of students unhindered? The terrorists must have operated with at least 1000 men. How did they move to the school with such a large number of forces undetected by our security agents? Then, after pinning down the students, they moved them into the Kankara forest, some kilometres away. It takes massive logistics to move 361 students for a journey of this nature. The terrorists must have used at least 10 mass transit buses. If it was done with trucks, as was the case of Dapchi, they must have used four trucks taking an average of 100 boys per truck.

For seven days, this large convoy of terrorists and students moved undetected from the school to Kankara forest and further to Zamfara forest in Tsafe. They went 82.5 kilometres into Zamfara State. For seven days, the so-called rag tag terrorists effectively handled the logistics of providing food and healthcare for 344 students (17 supposedly escaped within Kankara forest). According to the Zamfara State Commissioner of Police, Usman Nagogo, the schoolboys were looking healthy, and none complained of any ailment when released.

While all these shenanigans were on, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACABAN, moved in, took over the responsibility from government and security agents, and started negotiating with the terrorists.

Eventually, the highly influential Fulani MACABAN facilitated the release of the schoolboys last Thursday. Did money change hands? MACABAN obviously spoke the language understood by the terrorists. The truth is that bandits are Fulani militias. What a country! Critical questions are trailing the abduction and release of the Kankara boys. I have raised some of these in this piece. Some people are obviously hiding so many things about the Kankara abduction. They are having a good laugh, thinking they have fooled Nigerians. Many of us are not fools. I know that the true stories of all that transpired in Kankara will eventually emerge. All the deceits, fraud and trickeries will one day emerge. There is nothing hidden that will not be eventually revealed. For now, let’s celebrate the return of these traumatised kids.

Let’s flip to our security agents. The bane of Nigerian security agencies remains the failed leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and the inept heads of the various centrally-controlled agencies. As a result, they are deprived of high tech equipment and motivation for the job. They also lack capacity for intelligence gathering. This is why the military, police and DSS could not rescue the Kankara boys. Modern technology and manpower for such rescue operation are missing in Nigeria. It is a big shame. I did not see a single attack helicopters hovering around the Kankara forest and surrounding areas after the abduction. I did not see Drones in action carrying out air surveillance. There was nothing like high-tech command and control centre for the rescue operation. The approach was analogue and archaic.

So, where is the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for surveillance said to have been produced by the Nigerian Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna, and inaugurated with fanfare by Buhari in February 2018? The President told us that the UAV codenamed TSAIGUMI would be used to fight terrorism, armed banditry and other sophisticated crimes through enhanced air surveillance. We were correctly told that the UAV could loiter and maintain an unblinking stare over a chosen area for hours and that its operator, often miles away, can provide a continuous stream of vital information on enemy activities and if the platform is weaponised, it patiently chooses the best moment to engage.

Yes, the employment of UAV capabilities for intelligence, surveillance/reconnaissance and, where possible, strike operations, significantly increases the chances of success while minimising unwanted collateral damage.Buhari told us that this UAV would boost on-going and future security operations. So, why was the UAV not in action in the Kankara forest?

According to our President (and rightly too), the world is witnessing an ever increasing surge in the employment of UAV in military operations because, while standard air weapons such as missiles, fighters and bombers work against well-defined targets like conventional enemy forces or installations. They are not as useful in today’s complex wars that are fought against adversaries who are often hidden amongst innocent populations or in locations similarly sensitive or difficult to strike by normal conventional means. Yes, this is the modern trend. Unfortunately, Nigeria has been left behind. Our country’s UAV launched by Buhari in February 2018 is a ruse. I challenge Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, to mention a single operation in which the UAV was used since inauguration. Buhari was simply deceived to inaugurate a fantasy Nigerian UAV.
No doubt, this country urgently needs real UAVs with attack capabilities and weaponised platforms to demolish Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers. The truth is that we don’t have any UAV. We must seek help from countries with such capabilities. For me, the first choice, if this government truly want an end to insecurity across our country, would be Israeli private military contractors. They will come in with superior equipment/manpower and get the job done.

The abduction of the Kankara schoolboys occurred while the Commander-in-Chief/Chief Security Officer of the country (President Buhari) was in his home state. I suspect it was to taunt him and make money from the government, because they know he can’t bite. There are speculations that the bandits got good money before releasing the Kankara boys. The security of this country had long been compromised under Buhari’s watch. The Kankara abduction is one disgrace that should ordinarily jolt our President into action. But it won’t happen. Buhari can no longer be jolted by anything. This is why he did not directly speak on the abduction. He did not openly give any instruction to heads of security agents while the drama was on. Nigeria is in a big mess, running on auto pilot.

Patriots must continue to condemn this depressing and lethargic response of our President to the Kankara abduction. Not even a visit to distraught parents or the school. Would he have acted in this manner if his son were to be among the abducted children?

The Christian Association of Nigeria was apt when it said “from all indications, government is not bothered about the security of the people despite all the killings recorded daily.”
CAN adds: “The President turned down the invitation of the House of Representatives to explain and rob minds with the legislators on the way out of our deplorable security situation in the country. What an attitude of ‘I don’t care!’ President Buhari should remember that history is being written about him with the way he is addressing all these security challenges just as we are talking about the Chibok schoolgirls and the Jonathan administration.”

The pan-northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum adds that Nigeria as a country is no longer safe under the Buhari government.
For the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Nigeria’s security challenges indicate that Buhari is incompetent. The group calls for the immediate resignation of the President and reorganisation of the nation’s security architecture. The National Coordinator of the Coalition, Balarabe Rufai explains: “The audacity with which the over 300 school children were abducted right under the nose of the President who was a few kilometers away in Katsina at that time, confirms fears that government has completely lost it and therefore no longer reliable.”
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has not helped matters with his hopeless amnesty for bandits in this state. In fact, Masari has contributed to the growth of terrorism in Katsina State by putting money in the hands of bandits in the name of amnesty.

Let’s flip back to our gallant security agents. They are disillusioned because their commanders have abandoned them. So, they can’t effectively end Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers. There is no motivation. Imagine soldiers on the war front being owed allowances and denied things as ordinary as water. We’ve seen video of soldiers lamenting over lack of basic amenities on the war front. Many have overstayed at the war front contrary to the rules of engagement. Some once rebelled against the Theatre Commander in Maiduguri. In 2018, there was a mutiny at the Maiduguri Airport as aggrieved soldiers barricaded some sections of the airport and fired shots in the air, causing pandemonium. They claimed they had overstayed and resisted redeployment to another location in Borno State.

I just laughed when the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, challenged the military to occupy Lake Chad and the whole of Sambisa forest, in order to curb Boko Haram. He remarked: “Now, I don’t know why we can’t occupy the whole of Lake Chad and why we can’t occupy the whole of Sambisa forest. If we want peace, we have to dominate these areas. If we want peace, we have to do away with those terrorists who occupy that place.”
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State had also challenged the military to take the fight to Lake Chad and clear that place of terrorists. Our gallant soldiers are willing but where is the motivation to do this? Where is the equipment and technology to do this? Where is the Army Chief and also the Air Chief, that should lead from the front?

Patriots must continue the pressure on Buhari to seek help from abroad by embracing foreign military contractors (mercenaries) to help Nigeria end the madness of Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers. Our President has to put his ego aside, that is if he still has any, and do the needful. Developed countries also engage military contractors. The United States used them during the gulf war and also in the war in Afghanistan.

The Prickly SIM Registration Rules
The instruction to mobile phone companies to blocked subscribers who fail to link National Identification Numbers, NINs, to their telephone lines within two weeks is strange, coldblooded and disgusting. It shows this government is not in touch with the people they claim to represent. Those with NINs can do this in minutes, but what happens to millions of others without NINs? The process of getting NINs has been slipshod since commencement, with little progress after almost 10 years. Only about 43 million Nigerians have so far been registered.

Of course, the incompetent National Identity Management Company, NIMC, cannot register over 160 million telecom subscribers within two weeks. This is where the weird agenda of the federal government comes in. The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has hired 173 private companies and 30 other government agencies to handle the enrolment and data capturing. Billions of Naira has been paid out. It’s job for the boys.
Notwithstanding, there is no way these hired firms can capture and register about 160 million Nigerians within two weeks. No such magic can be done. So, telling subscribers to add valid NINs to SIM records within two weeks is preposterous. Millions of Nigerians will now desperately storm the registration centres, thus, creating a crisis.

For me, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who is driving this new SIM registration rules, is obviously high on something. Only God knows what it is. Pantami is even threatening operators, saying “violators of this directive will get stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.” Pantami’s objective is to inflict pain on already traumatised Nigerians. This minister is horrible and has no business remaining in government a day longer.
The most annoying thing about this rubbish called SIM update is that they are asking us to link the same finger prints/personal details already existing in the SIM registration we did with the telecoms providers. This is an unnecessary repetition. What is Pantami trying to achieve with this nonsense? I need to point out that kidnappers don’t use their phones to negotiate with families of victims. They use that of the victims. So, this talk about registering SIMs over and over again, in order to nab criminals is rubbish. The National Assembly must rise up and stop this garbage engineered by Pantami. The pain on Nigerians is excruciating. Enough is enough.