Members of the House of Representatives were enraged last Tuesday. The cause of the indignation was the abduction of the 110 schoolgirls in Government Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State, on February 19.
A member of the House representing Bursari/Gaidam/Yanusari Federal Constituency, Hon Goni Bukar Lawan had brought to the attention of the House the ugly incident, under matters of urgent national importance. At the end of the day, the lawmakers described the incident as a national shame and embarrasment, vowing to take action
Speaking during debate on the motion on the need to urgently rescue the girls, Lawan, who incidentally hails from Dapchi painted a very scary picture of the security situation in Yobe and the entire North East. According to him, abduction of school children in Yobe State and other North East states have become a regular occurrence. However, the lawmaker said the government has not taken any pro-active step to stem the tide.
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan sums the position of the House on the incident thus :“This is unacceptable and the House of Representatives, and indeed Nigerians, will hold the security agencies responsible. They all bear responsibility for this unfortunate incident.
“The traumatic experience of the Chibok abduction which is still fresh in our minds should have serve as a warning signal to security agencies to provide adequate security protection to all schools in the North East.”
It is good that federal legislators are enraged about the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls. But after the indignation, what next? My fear is that a few days time, we will forget and carry on as if all is well, until maybe another set of school boys or girls are either abducted or massacred. God forbid.
It is said that thunder does not strike twice. But this is Nigeria where we take everything for granted. After the abduction of some schoolgirls in Chibok , Borno state four years ago, one would have thought that we have learnt some lessons both as individuals and as a nation to prevent a reoccurance; but the Dapchi incident indicates that no lesson was learnt.
Remember that before Chibok , there was Buni Yadi, in same Yobe State, where 58 innocent school boys were massacred at the Federal Government College in that community.
One intriguing thing is that since the Dapchi incident , both the Nigeria Army and Nigerian Police have been shifting blames on who was responsible for the security lapse that gave rise to the abduction. Regardless of the various attempts by the security agencies to trade blames; the truth is that Dapchi incident is a failure of security. Both the army and police failed the Dapchi students, and the nation at large, when it mattered most.
Is it not ridiculous and the height of complacency that a school in the North East and Yobe in particular, where students have been under constant attack, would be left so vulnerable? It all shows how bad things are in the country, security wise.
In the last couple of days, the House has adopted several motions calling on the executive arm of government to take one step or the other to stem the killings of innocent and defenceless Nigerians by marauders . In fact, since the House resumed from its last Christmas break, there is hardly a legislative day that a motion on attacks in one state or the other is brought before the parliament.
. The other day, it was in Zamfara. Before then it was Taraba. Benue and the list of states under siege keep growing. In fact, two weeks ago, the Green Chamber passed a vote of no confidence on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and demanded for his immediate replacement. But the IGP is still still seating pretty tight in office.
It is heart rending that inspite of the security situation, there seem to be no tangible action taken by the government to enhance the security of lives and property in the country. There is no doubt that the government, especially the executive arm, has failed to live up to its responsibility of ensuring the security of the people.
On the other hand, even the House has not done much to see that its resolutions are complied with. Regardless, the parliament seem to be the last hope of the people on this matter. The lawmakers must not fail the people.
It is good that the Green Chamber has resolved to set up a high powered ad-hoc committee to probe the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls. But this resolution must not be treated like just every other resolution of the House. The least the Nigerian people expect from the lawmakers is a very thorough and dispassionate probe.
In the course of its assignment, the House must ask some salient questions. Top on this is to unravel the truth about the fight against terrorism in the country. Is it true that Boko Haram has been degraded to the extent that Shekau is on the run? What is the veracity of the speculation that the Boko Haram leader who has been “killed” several times was almost captured recently, before the troop received an order from above to retreat? If it is true, who gave the order? These are some of the questions our lawmakers must get answers to.
Lawmakers must resist the temptation to play politics with this particular assignment. For starters, anybody who is a chairman of any of the House security committees should not head this all Important committee. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Suffice it to say that the House also has its own share of blame in the sorry state of security in the country. There are six different standing committees on security in the Green chamber, with oversight functions on security agencies. These are committees on Army, Navy, Airforce, Defence, Police, National Security and Public Safety. Now, beyond routine visits to these agencies in the name of oversight, appropriating funds for them, as we well as defending them on the floor of the House, when issues arise, what do these committees do to ensure that the security agencies are alive to their duties ?
In its bid to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the Dapchi school girls, the House leadership should also look inward. It should beam the searchlight on itself . The House must find how well its relevant committees have done their duties. It would not be out of place for the House to overhaul its own committee, if need be.
At the end of its investigation, the Green Chamber must put its feet down and ensure that whatever recommendations, the ad-hoc committee comes up with, are implemented by the executive arm of government. If it entails heads rolling over the Dapchi incident, so be it. In this matter, there must be no sentiment or politics. The House must not fail the people.