By Debo OladimejiAgainst the spate of insecurity in the country following the kidnapped of more than 100 students at a Christian boarding school in Kaduna on Monday morning, the governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma has called on opposition party and aggrieved politicians to speak out against such unwholesome activities.
He said condemnation of such unwholesome activities of those destabilising the country by the elite would have changed the narratives.
Shooting wildly, armed assailants breached the walls of Bethel Baptist High School in Maraban Rido on the outskirts of Kaduna State capital, Kaduna, at about 2 a.m. on July 5 and took students in the school hostel away at gunpoint.
A Bethel teacher told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that 140 students were kidnapped while 25 students escaped, but area residents living close to the school said that 179 children were abducted of which only 15 escaped.
Established by Bethel Baptist Church in Kaduna, a member church of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), the boarding school was attacked after kidnappers overcame security personnel, sources said.
The attack was the fourth mass school kidnapping in Kaduna state since December, according to AFP. World magazine recently examined the kidnapping surge, which the Nigerian government blames on bandits while many Christians blame Muslim Fulani extremists.
Joseph Hayab, a Baptist pastor and chairman of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said his son was among those who narrowly escaped.
“Right now I’m speechless,” Hayab told MSN. “The school is an educational ministry of my church. This is a very, very sad situation for us.”
Nigeria leads the world in the number of kidnapped Christians, with 990 tallied by Open Doors.
Speaking on the spate of insecurity in Nigeria Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo said other stakeholders, including monarchs; religious and political leaders must engage more with the people to restore peace in the country.
To Governor Uzodinma opposition politicians and disgruntled personalities have being encouraging insecurity across the country.
According to him, former political office holders who fail to speak out against the activities of trouble makers have questions to answer.
He, however, noted that those destroying public property must be ready to face the consequences.
The governor admitted that Nigeria was going through trying times.
He said: “It is not only in Imo State, I didn’t limit it to Imo State. I am saying that cases of insecurity here and there in the country have not been helped by the posture of opposition party and some aggrieved politicians, the reason being that at a time like this in Nigeria, anybody worth his onions as a leader should be able to speak out.
“How many of them are speaking out? How many of them are condemning what is going on? Rather, what you see are leaders fanning the embers of insecurity, blaming only government. We must be tired of this blame thing by now and then contribute our own quota towards ensuring that national security is not threatened in the country.
“So, it is not something for politics. It’s something that if you are a former Senate President and you are a former speaker, or a former deputy senate president, or a former deputy speaker and things like this are happening in the country and you are not able to speak out and we’re not seeing you where you are engaging in addressing the young men and women in your area on the need for a united Nigeria and this is a country that has given you opportunity to serve at that level one time or the other, then it is either overtly or covertly, you have a question to answer.
“So, let us not pretend as if all is well, all is not well, leaders must rise to ensure that they work hand in hand with government to ensure their security in the country.
“Have you seen a situation where people will wake up and take buses to school and then load 200 students, you can imagine how many buses that will take 200 students and drive them away to somewhere and they will be asking for ransom, what type of society is that?
“This is not the society we used to know. We should all be worried and not only be worried, or to sit down and begin to blame government or blame, Mr. President, we should all get involved.
“In Imo State as I speak to you, only me cannot restore security, only me cannot guarantee security. I have to work with traditional rulers, I have to work with opinion leaders, I have to work with the youth leaders, to be able to deploy community kind of security programme, to be able to resist what is going on today.
“You have heard how people will come from outside the state in the name of unknown gunmen. I don’t know when we will begin to know this people and they will commit atrocities, and they will now flee.
“So, these are the things. I want to use this opportunity to invite all leaders; religious leaders, political leaders, community leaders, traditionally institutions, to join hands, because the only country we have is this Nigeria, we don’t have another country and if we’re not united we will achieve nothing.
“We must contribute our quota, however it is, to ensure that Nigeria remains a strong and united, a place that we will go about our businesses, equity and justice is guaranteed and then we have a country.”
Uzodimma said: “Of course, not just in my state, everywhere in Nigeria there are security breaches here and there, of course Imo is not left out.
“Imo is okay now; people can come around and do their businesses. The normal live and activities have resumed in Imo; security agencies are on top of the situation.”
He went further: “It is not only in Imo State that we have had the challenges of insecurity, there is insecurity in other states. In fact, I can even tell you that Imo’s case is better, apart from one or two cases that involved very important personalities.