Defence Minister Maj- Gen. Bashir Magashi, on Wednesday sent out a message to Nigerians on how to stop kidnappers and other criminals elements in the country: “stand and face them.”
”Is it (security issue) the responsibility of the military alone? We shouldn’t be cowards,” Magashi added while reacting to the news of the killing of a student and abduction of 27 of his colleagues from a government college in Niger State.
He said it was a thing of surprise to him that Nigerians often took to their heels on hearing gunshots fired by bandits who sometimes strike with only three rounds of ammunition.
As he spoke on the sidelines of the screening of Service Chiefs by the House of Representatives, the Senate called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on the insecurity in the nation.
Also, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) advised the Federal Government to drop its rhetoric on ending insecurity and act proactively.
Magashi, who was responding to questions on the kidnap of the students, wondered why Nigerians always run away from what he called “minor, minor aggressions.”
He said: “It is the responsibility of everybody to be alert and ensure safety when necessary.
“We shouldn’t be cowards. Sometimes bandits come with about three rounds of ammunition and when they fire shots everybody will run. In our younger days, we stand to fight any form of aggression.
“Why should people run away from minor, minor aggressions?
“We should stand and face them. If these people know that the people have the competence and capability to defend themselves, they will run away.”
He however, assured that the school children would be rescued through the government adoption the same strategy used to free the over 300 pupils of a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State two months ago.
In the Senate, members condemned in “strong terms,” the kidnap of the Kagara school students and called on Buhari to implement their March 17, 2020 recommendations on combating the multi-faceted security challenges across the country.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the frequent incidents of kidnapping of students would reverse the gains made in school enrollment over the years in the North.
Lawan said parents would no longer yield to persuasion to enrol their children and wards in schools with the level of insecurity plaguing the North.
He said: ”Almost all the incidents of abducting students from schools happened in Northern Nigerian and we all know our leaders of yesterday, probably right from independence, have worked so hard to ensure that children go to school in the Northern part of Nigeria.
“With incidents like these we will be reversing all the gains that were made in convincing parents to take their children to school.”
Senator Mohammed Birma Enagi described the Federal Government as “incompetent” in dealing with the insecurity.
Enagi said: “The enemies of God, bandits, terrorists, kidnappers are everywhere. Where are we heading to in this country? What else do we need as lawmakers that we are not doing?
“Can we rightly say that the government is incompetent? Because this issue has been discussed here over and over and there is no improvement. It is getting worse.
”Instead of creating economic opportunities that will engage the unemployed and generate employment, the government is giving palliatives.”
PDP tasks security agencies
In a statement on Wednesday, the PDP expressed worry over the Kagara incident and urged Nigerians to remain vigilant
It also called on patriotic Nigerians to continue rallying around the opportunities created by democracy in the effort to rescue the nation from misrule and ensure lasting security in the country.
The statement by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan, reads in part: “Bandits were reported to have on Tuesday, moved from village to village, supported by a helicopter, as they pillaged our compatriots, sacked major highways and held communities in Niger State hostage for several hours without any counter-attack.
”The lethargic stance of the APC administration towards the fight against banditry further validates reports in the public space that the bandits are connected to the APC and enjoying cover under the ruling party.”
Three Niger LGAs under siege
The NLC lamented that people cannot access three Local Government Areas in Niger State because of banditry and kidnapping.
Although the NLC didn’t name the councils, it noted that there are also many states that people cannot walk freely because of insecurity.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, made the statement in his opening remarks at the National Executive Council meeting of the congress in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ayuba noted that Federal Government’s response to insecurity has not been effective.
He said: ”Clearly, I think the responses have not been effective and it has not been able to deliver.
“It has defiled any solution that has been proposed and even with the new Service Chiefs I am not sure that there is any impact that has been felt in responding to the insecurity issue. In fact, the situation has been going from bad to worse in many of our states.
“For you to travel from one point to another without having any hitches you must be able to thank God.”
He said for Nigeria to address insecurity squarely, it must promote industrialisation and mass employment in the manufacturing sector.