Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal did not hide his grief over the massacre of the 59 students of the Federal Government College Buni Yadi, in Yobe State. To underscore his state of mind he delivered what easily passes as a lamentation while welcoming his colleagues. UCHENNA AWOM, analyses the speech which raises pertinent issues to ponder on, concerning the ravaging insecurity in the North.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal is grieved, not because of the Nigerian state but the palouse state of its security. Tambuwal not known for much expletives is worried that some divisive, devilish and deranged minds waxing in religious bigotry have surreptitiously smacked Nigeria in the face, the worst was to go after the symbols of her future (the children).
At the base of his lamentation was the brutal and callous murder of defenseless innocent students of the Buni, Yadi college in the troubled state of Yobe. He declared that the times is not given to apportioning blames. Yet Tambuwal’s body language suggests very strongly that he may have mapped out those to blame, it is left to be interpreted and properly situated if that is the case.
However, he only pricked the consciousness of the people over the failure of leadership, which includes him and largely the elders in the North. The truth which is staring all in the face is that Nigeria is bleeding, the blood of her youths that were brutally spilled while asleep is sure crying and Tambuwal cannot hold back.
To underscore the extent of his grieve, he told his colleagues in the lower chamber on resumption from their short holidays that he welcomes them not as before but with greatest sense of anguish.
He had in a near sobbing mien told them that however, “on this day it is with the greatest sense of anguish that I welcome you back”, like reechoing the anguish of others before him, he reminded them that; “On February 25, 2014, the very day the House adjourned Plenary, Nigeria suffered a horrendous terrorist attack that struck a fatal blow at the heart and soul of the Nigerian nation and desecrated values that decent peoples of all nations hold dear. On that night, about 59 students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State were killed in the most heinous manner.
“Some of our future national leaders were mowed down in gruesome circumstances in their sleep. Some were shot dead while many were burnt beyond recognition. That day was a day that will live in infamy in the history of this nation”. His was not an understatement, it was pure and simple a trite lamentation coming from the heart, yet the irony as people would seem to express is that the weeping seem to be coming way behind.
Nonetheless, the Speaker has to cry out now no matter how late, because time is running out and the Boko Haram menace somehow has kick-started the horrific reality that the once peaceful Nigeria is being re-characterized.
Tambuwal went on to aver that; “When innocent, harmless and defenseless women and children become the targets of these heartless murderous bandits; when the lives of sleeping children are so callously snuffed out, it becomes clear that these agents of terror have murdered sleep and they henceforth deserve none.
“Whatever grievances the terrorists harbor against the government of Nigeria, Nigeria’s innocent children have nothing to do with it.
Nigeria’s children bear no responsibility for either policy making or policy implementation in Nigeria. It is therefore an act of cowardice worthy of ringing condemnation to target the children, to strike at those who are not only innocent but are also unable to strike back or defend themselves. There can be no reason, no justification and no acceptable excuse for this act of mindless brutality.
Whatever message the terrorists set out to send to the Nigerian government has been drowned out by the cries for justice by the blood of these innocent martyrs”.
Was it a message to the Nigerian government alone? There seems to be a major contradiction, or was it that the Speaker forgot to add that behind the façade of the insurgents onslaught, is a subtle protest against the elites that is not limited to the political elite. That the lists may also include economic, social, religious and traditional elite? Perhaps, it would help Mr. speaker who is known for his cherubic mien, to add that long time of economic and social oppression against the masses can ignite internal insurrection that is capable of inviting an external criminal elements for sympathy?
The problem in solving the rising insecurity particularly the type that is ravaging the North, especially in the North East is the tendency to shy away from pointing at other pertinent variables that are local in nature either for fear of being politically hedged in, or to ensure steady political patronage from a target political population. The essence of Mr. Speaker’s lamentation was that all must be involved in the fight against the insurgents, that is to say that whatever can be done must be bereft of any idea of making political capital out of it.
To Tambuwal the problem of insurgency must be seen as a Nigerian problem irrespective of political, ethnic and religious affinity. He therefore set out to entrench the argument in this address when the House resumed last Tuesday.
It was apt when he said that; “It is to remember these innocent children and other victims of violence in this country, that the House has declared today “A day of mourning” to express our collective outrage on these killings that have gone on for far too long. My dear Colleagues, please travel with me on an imaginary journey to Federal Government College, Buni Yadi.
“Picture the scene as the terrorists creep into the hostels and the children begin to wake up one after the other, with their eyes heavy with sleep, each of them convinced that this is some nightmare.
“Picture the chaos in the rooms and the terror on the faces of the children as they watch the murderers attack the first set of students, the ones nearest to the entrance, and the students begin to realize that what is happening is not a nightmare but a reality far harsher that any nightmare the mind of a child can construct.
“Hear the panic in the voices of the children as they begin to scream for help, from God, their parents or security. But no help will come tonight. Feel the unbearable horror of this night, and hear the fading cries of these children as they finally succumb to the murderous onslaught.
“Finally, my dear colleagues imagine that it is your own child in the hostels at Buni Yadi on this hellish night. I can still hear the voice of the father of Aliyu Yola, one of the victims of the school massacre crying, “Aliyu was scared to go back to school after the last holiday. I forced him to resume not knowing he will never come back to me again”. As Jodi Picoult writes in her book “My Sister’s Keeper”, “In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child”.
“Today is not a day to apportion blames. It is a day for the expression of our sense of personal and national loss. But it is also a day for us to look for concrete solutions.
“In my brief statement immediately after that attack, I warned that Nigeria is running out of excuses for our failure to live up to our responsibility to protect our citizens. Today I wish to amend that comment and declare that we HAVE run out of excuses. We no longer have any excuse for our inability to protect our innocent defenseless children from gratuitous violence.
“In recent times, it seems the nation wakes up every morning to the sad news of one gory tale of bloodletting and killing of innocent Nigerians or another: in the North East States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe; in the North Central States of Benue and Plateau; and in other parts of Nigeria.
“We wake up to the disturbing news of daring and dastardly attacks on our military establishments resulting in the dissipation of our military infrastructure and the destruction of the lives of the heroic Nigerians who have committed their lives to the defense of our territorial integrity”.
Continuing, he said “In Maiduguri for instance, expensive military aircraft and equipment and whole military barracks have been lost in addition to the loss of men and women of our Military and other law enforcement agencies. We wake up to the chilling news of the total annihilation of innocent, law abiding families and entire communities in the most callous, reprehensible and bizarre fashion. This cannot continue. We must rise up collectively and decisively to stop these orgy of deaths, destruction and waste.
“Section 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that the security and welfare of our people is the primary purpose of government. In making this provision, the Constitution places a duty on all of us here and everyone else entrusted with the mandate of governance and representation to place a high premium on the security of lives and property of Nigerians.
“By this parameter, the Nigerian government must rise to the occasion. And by government I do not mean only the Executive. We in the Legislature are also part of government. And we cannot therefore merely join in the chorus of lamentations. Our duty is to act swiftly and decisively in the protection of the citizenry”.
“In the light of a heart-wrenching tragedy like this, our people must now see that those political, sectional and sectarian differences that have made it impossible for us to present a united front against our challenges are petty and self-absorbed. If a tragedy of the Buni Yadi magnitude does not bring us together as one nation, if the loss of our innocent children whose only offence was that they went to school to gain education and wisdom in preparation for a future of service to Nigeria and humanity does not unite us in grief, then we need to ask ourselves if we truly meet the basic spiritual requirements of nationhood.
“We cannot claim to be one nation, if we cannot find unity in grief; just as we cannot claim to be a great nation when we are incapable of preventing horrendous attacks on our children peacefully asleep in their beds.
“As a people we are known to be our brothers’ keeper. Terror has never been in our character and with God on our side we shall surely defeat this minority tribe of violence. Let us therefore arise with a single-minded resolve that the Buni Yadi massacre is one massacre too many and we shall tolerate no more”.
Well, said and of course that was the reality, which import is a marked shift from the oft orchestrated mantra of ‘the buck stops only on the executive’s table. The lamentation was not symbolic also, but rather a clarion call on all leaders that have been hitherto aloof. It was also a wake up call on all elders in the North to de-emphasis politics and the allure of public office and look steadily on the way of alleviating the suffering of the greater number of the people, majority of who are the youths.
Long silence and the culture of blame game no doubt gave the criminal elements the latitude to engrain themselves in the vulnerable areas. Perhaps, the Speaker as a leader has opened the demand for all leaders, political, religious and community leaders to wear a thinking cap to find solution to the problem. The truism is that Nigeria, in particular the North cannot afford to continue on this road that leads only to perdition.
May be now the opposition party, must realize that their responsibility transcends mere opposing to capture power, but that it includes finding solution and suggesting same to the appropriate authorities to be able to solve a national problem. Opposition or lamentation is vein when it is only targeted at the gallery, after all government and opposition must of necessity have one common agenda, which is development of the country.
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