It appears that the glass of water has truly overflowed in Nigeria with the harrowing revelation that the captors of hundreds of school children and staff from LEA primary school in Kuriga In Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna are demanding for one billion Naira to release them. It is not just a demand cut loose to be suspended in the air, the intrepid bandits have given the Nigerian state a 20-day ultimatum before they begin to do what they want with the children. Eight months into the presidency of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it appears that Nigeria is being force-fed the agony of its darkest days under Muhammadu Buhari.

Public schools in Nigeria have since ceased to offer much more than broken chairs, windows, doors, crumbling reptile-infested school buildings and disgruntled teachers. Yet, for many rural children, whose lives at home somehow manage to be harder, school, no matter how starved of resources, still represents a special space of math and memories, of fine arts and friends. To snatch children from their school the way the bandits did is an assault not just on the integrity of Nigeria’s security but on innocence.

The Chief of Defence Staff is from Kaduna State. Many of the institutions where Nigeria trains the members of its armed forces are located in Kaduna State. Yet, it remains the only part of Nigeria where lightening strikes twice without flinching. It would take extraordinary misfortune for any of the 287 children snatched on 7th March 2024 to have been among those snatched from Baptist Bethel High School in the same local government in 2021. However, the parents whose children were snatched in 2021 will perfectly understand the agony of those whose children have been stolen this time around. They will understand the entire spectrum of dark emotions they are going through.

What is under attack in Nigeria extends beyond life and limb, even if those are invaluable. In rendering schools unsafe for children and their teachers, the bandits whose reign of terror is suppressing communities across Northern Nigeria are steadily reducing the country’s future to fiction.

Nigeria is in a transition. After eight years during which former president Muhammadu Buhari did not bother to lift a finger to leave a legacy, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is trying his hands on an office blighted in previous years by the ineptitude and inertia of its occupants. He may have had only eight months, but the eight months have been longer than eight decades.

In the muffled offices of the presidential seat in Aso Rock, the president and his closest aides must be rattled by the turn of events. Spontaneous protests have rocked major Nigerian cities as families have responded to economic hardship. Prices of goods and services have soared, cutting off essentials from many families. The rich and poor alike in Nigeria have been forced to grumble at the new equalizing reality.

The bandits’ historic demand for one billion Naira shows they are moving with the times. It is the first time in the history of Nigeria’s heartbreaking insecurity that one billion Naira has been demanded as ransom. It should greatly worry Nigerians that criminals are jerking up their prices at the same time the prices of goods and services are skyrocketing in the country.

The Chief of Defence Staff is from Kaduna State, and it is time Nigeria launched a forensic inquiry into why Kaduna easily rolls over on its back like a happy puppy and allows bandits enjoy their outings in the state each time they strike.  It should not have been easy to abduct and move 287 children, some of them undoubtedly screaming. Furthermore, it should not have been easy to house or feed them. Furthermore, it should not have been easy for security agencies to fail to respond to an emergency involving children in a state awash with Nigeria’s military might, yet in Kaduna State, all these were easy and even more.

The game Nigeria Is playing with those determined to inter the country is an unutterably dangerous one. The kid gloves with which Nigeria continues to treat those who sponsor terrorism in the country may soon be used to sew its burial shroud. The glass has long overflowed, and the eels the country is coddling today are fast metamorphosing into venomous snakes.

The Nigerian government has vowed that there will be no ransom paid the kidnappers, just as it has vowed to fish out the kidnappers. However, beyond forceful rhetoric, it is doubtful that the Nigerian government has much of a plan to catch all those involved. In fact, experience has shown that it does not.

Nigeria has to raise one billion Naira in the next few days to free its children held by terrorists. That is the ultimatum hanging over the country. That is the price hanging over the heads of innocent children. Like the sword of Damocles, bandits now wield demands over Nigeria and dare the country not to comply. If there was ever a jaguar stripped of its jagged teeth, here  it is.

Kene Obiezu,


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