A protest demanding firmer government action against Boko Haram will hold Thursday
Anger and frustration reverberated across Nigeria Wednesday, a day after the extremist Boko Haram sect slaughtered nearly 50 students in Yobe State, in a bloody assault that stirred a nation fatigued by Boko Haram killings, and ridiculed President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim of success against the sect.
Politicians, civil society groups, political parties, individuals issued statements Wednesday condemning the attack, mourning the victims, and criticizing the government for failing to foil an attack that seemed predictable since school children had previously been murdered that way in the same state.
“This will not be the first time in recent times that school children are being attacked, and it is particularly disheartening that the Federal Government is yet to devise a strategy of keeping our schools safe from terror attacks,” former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said in a statement.
“When you attack students, you are attacking the foundation of the country’s future. So this attack to me, is to plunge the nation into a bleak and blank future,” said Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba. “It is obvious that we are now dealing with a bunch of animals to whom human life is now totally meaningless and worthless.”
Armed assailants descended on Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe in the dead of night Tuesday, setting the hostels alight as the pupils slept in their dormitories, before shooting and hacking to death those who attempted to flee.
One of the bereaved parents was quoted by activist Ibrahim Wala as narrating how his son narrowly escaped death by jumping into a ditch where he witnessed his school mates being slaughtered.
According to the boy’s father, for the hours the attack lasted, and despite the presence of security operatives in Buni-Yadi town, no security personnel or rescue team showed up at the school.
“The murder of innocent school children by some psychopaths is most barbaric, inhuman and criminal,” said Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun.
“What could drive people to do such mad thing is unimaginable. What for and in the name of what could anyone murder innocent school children in such cold blood?”
The attack occurred less than 12 hours after President Jonathan assured Nigerians his administration was making gains rooting the insurgents from Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States.
In a televised interview, Mr. Jonathan rebuked a suggestion by the governor of the worst-hit state of Borno, Kashim Shettima, that government forces were under-motivated and ill-equipped to fight the deadly and protracted war.
The comments were “unfortunate”, and untrue, the president said.
But as if to give weight to Mr. Shettima’s concerns, army chief, Major General Kenneth Minimah, on Wednesday told a Senate committee the force was underfunded, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
Major-General Minimah was later directed by the Senate Committee on Defence and Army to relocate temporarily to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Mr. Minimah said the Army was up to the task and that it was just a matter of time before it would bring the insurgents to their knees, the NAN reported.
That pledge would barely reassure a nation that has witnessed multiple Boko Haram attacks in 2014 alone, with as much as 250 people killed.
As the attacks escalated, Mr. Jonathan has drawn increased criticisms over his handling of the crisis. The killings have continued despite the president’s repeated pledges to rein in the insurgents.
On Wednesday, activists rallied support online for a protest billed for Thursday to demand a firmer action from the federal government against the insurgents. The protest is to hold 10 a.m from the Unity Fountain, in Abuja.
“It truly hurts that children whom we sent to school as symbols of our unity as a country have become sacrificial offerings in some people’s project towards disunity,”said Bem Angwe, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission. “This must not be allowed,”