The recent killing of health workers in Kano and Yobe states by gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect is a heinous and condemnable act. The attacks coming on the heels of the cease fire announced by the Islamist sect have, indeed, made nonsense of their declared intention to dialogue with the Federal Government.
In the February 8, Kano incident, the gunmen reportedly killed nine female polio immunization workers in two separate attacks in the state capital.
The twin attacks which occurred in Turani and Nassarawa councils also left four additional female workers injured. Similarly, three North Korean medical doctors were killed in Potiskum, Yobe State, by gunmen in the early hours of February 10, 2013.
The gunmen were said to have sneaked into the doctors’ apartment in the state capital and killed them. The slain doctors attached to Potiskum General Hospital were among some Koreans that offer technical expertise on various fields of human development including medical science, agriculture and engineering through a technical partnership between Yobe State Government and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The killing of these health workers in Kano and Yobe states is unfortunate and despicable. The willful murder does not portray the country well before the comity of nations.
The government must do something urgently to apprehend those behind the terror attacks and bring them to book. The current cycle of violence in the northern part of the country appears to be on the increase because those apprehended have not been tried and convicted.
If those arrested have been tried and punished, it will serve as deterrence to others. Good enough, President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the inimical act and assured all Nigerians and members of the international community, especially international health organizations and Nigeria’s development partners of his government’s commitment to accelerating the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the country.
In the same vein, the Nigerian Senate has also condemned the brutal killing of the health workers in the two northern states. Having noted that the murder of the health workers is a setback to the global effort at polio eradication, the Senate called on the religious leaders to help create awareness on the importance of polio vaccine. We condemn the killing of the health workers and urge the government to ensure that enhanced security measures are put in place for all health workers in high-risk areas.
In fact, let government ensure the overall security of all Nigerians at all times. Since the attack on the female health workers on polio immunization in Kano followed a radio broadcast that painted the immunization programme in bad light, there is the need for more enlightenment on the use of vaccines to prevent child-killer diseases, which polio is just one of them.
Both the Federal and the Kano State governments should collaborate in this campaign to educate the public on the life-saving values in polio vaccination. Contrary to their erroneous belief, immunisation does not cause infertility. It ensures children’s health. Besides, government should intensify effort to bring to an end the atmosphere of general insecurity in the country.
There is the need to provide adequate security for all Nigerians. The persistent and successful terror attacks in some parts of the country can be traced to failure of intelligence. All security agencies in the country should improve on intelligence gathering in order to act proactively and nip in the bud some of these dastardly attacks.
They should work together in order to contain the present wave of terrorism in the country. While commiserating with the families of those killed in the two incidents, we call on the international community, especially health-related donor agencies and partners, not to be deterred by the development.