by Abdulwahed I. Omar
The massacre of defenseless students in Yobe State and the routine decimation of communities in Borno and Adamawa States bring to the fore the gory reality of the new phase of war on terror. In the attack on the students, the Boko Haram members were reported to have operated for hours unchallenged.
The attacks on Michika, Madagali and Shua, in Adamawa and Borno States respectively, were more audacious as the terror elements were said to have moved in murderous convoys of Hilux, chanting war songs in broad day light, killing, pillaging and daring any one to challenge them. Distress calls to our security forces were said to have elicited no reaction.
By the time it was over, scores of lives had been wasted and property worth billions of Naira including a heritage site, the oldest missionary/seminary school in the area had been destroyed. Other property uprooted, were shopping malls, banks and police stations. Earlier, Boko Haram had with unscrupulous and vicious regularity, destroyed other communities, leaving death in their wake.
We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are shocked by this brazen and ferocious savagery and saddened by the seeming helplessness of our security forces. The earlier successes of the declaration of emergency seem to have petered away, giving room to despair.
What could have been responsible for these painful reversals?
Are the insurgents getting better organized, armed or funded? Have inter-agency/service rivalries worsened? Are security votes drying up or are they being misapplied? Are our forces sufficiently and adequately armed and motivated? Do we have a desert army? Are some people somewhere playing roulette with the security of Nigeria? Are the hands of our troops tied behind their back? Have co-ordinations and synergy built over time by different tiers of government suddenly broken down?
We at the Congress can only ask more questions: Where is our Airforce? What has happened to our satellites? What is the role of Cameroun in all this? Is 2015 part of this war?Who ordered the withdrawal of security forces before the attack on helpless students? Who/what prevented our troops from responding to distress calIs? Is this a prelude to the removal of opposition civilian governors? What has gone wrong with the war on terror?
The Congress appreciates the challenges of our intelligence and security forces by way of a porous border, large and uncharted expanse of land, and an extremely difficult terrain but finds unacceptable this level of mindless violence and the response of our security forces. This is an open war. Our armed forces cannot afford to be caught napping like this. They must be seen to renew their commitment and capacity to protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria.
We want to sound a note of warning that we will not fold our hands or be indifferent by-standers while our territory is being ceded away, while scores of innocent lives and priceless property are being wasted on a daily basis. Accordingly, and consistent with our peace initiative last year christened Peace Summit, we shall mobilize our members to the streets to protest these massacres and the questionable responses of our security forces.
Finally, our heart-felt condolences go to the governments of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, the communities and families of these victims.
Abdulwahed I. Omar is the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress.