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COMMENTARY: Tributes To Potiskum Students And Insurgents’ Victims


By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

Just like other young Nigerians, they had looked forward to another bubbling and fulfilled week in their educational pursuit. Alas! The day was cut short; lives abruptly terminated by the deadly attack of the evil ones, leaving the families and friends of the victims as well as the entire country in pains, pensive mood and long lasting mourning.

130929203511-boko-haram-screengrab-abubakar-shekau-horizontal-galleryThe death on Monday, November 10, 2014 of 52 (or more) students of the Senior Secondary School in Potiskum, Yobe State, North Eastern Nigeria, by a suicide bomber who disguised as a student was another shocking, sorrowful and worrisome callous killings by the insurgents who have turned the Northern part of the country to a theater of war.

I was actually on a brief visit to my daughter’s school that fateful Monday morning when the hint of the sad and shocking report reached me. It was not a pleasant one, given the hours of the day the attack occurred, the place and the casualties that involved. Indeed, the renewed militant killing was somewhat unexpected, as the last in the same town (Potiskum) took place a week earlier, before the latest. The memories of the successive insurgents renewed attacks in Gombe, Yobe, Bauchi and Niger States within the last two weeks or thereabout, were unpleasant and horrible, just like the previous attack witnessed in various parts of the North in the last five years.

As the 52 students of Potiskum secondary school exited the world, in the same manner with the insurgents victims of devastating Nyanya Motor park twin blasts; the Boni Yadi explosion, Mubi, Gwoza, Kadunga invasion and other blasts either in the former and fresh war, they all deserve a good mention and the victims worth given tributes.

Therefore, I join the parents and the families of the victims of all the attacks in painful memory of the innocent and promising lives that have been lost. Tributes to these young Nigerians, brothers and sisters who were silent and fell to the bullets, bombing and tortures of the daring insurgents.

For the fact that the 52 students of Potiskum School and others killed earlier were the victims of the Nigerian societal and political ills, we pray may their souls rest in peace and families given the zeal and audacity to bear the colossus and immemorable loss. Tributes to them; adieu to the fallen young and aged Nigerians. And these perished souls shall never be forgotten in the political anal of this country.

Here, the travails of over 200 abducted Chibok girls in Borno State come to mind. It is exactly 214 today (Friday, November 14, 2014) they have been held hostage in the bush in Borno State, by the Boko Haram fighters. The kind wish for them despite the over stay in the jungle and uncertainty of their fate, is that they are released safely and reunite with their family members.

Sequel to this, an appeal goes to the dreaded Boko Haram militants (whichever versions), their backers, financiers and supporters to please truly repent, down their weapons and embrace true peace for the sake of this country and her future. Boko Haram fighters, Nigerian families have mourned too many sudden death and wasted so much of human potentials due to the repeated killings and explosions, so safe Nigerians from further loss of her precious manpower and let the country heave a sigh of relief.

Still, the points shall be repeated and established here that the counter attack by the Military to effectively curtailed and checked the insurgents violent advances in the North had failed due to some numbers of correctable factors.

The Nigerian leadership lacks moral discipline and this is very important and must be urgently restored. Corruption is prevalent in every aspect of national life in Nigeria; this must be sincerely and persistently checked. Painfully, sincerity of purpose is equally lacking especially on the part of leadership – thus the country have on record more of personal struggle, rather than collective and national!

It is the fall out of the similar challenges that has robbed the soldiers due mobilization and motivation, hence the failure to collectively face and fight the insurgents with the spirit of patriotism and nationalism. The result are distrust; disunity, disobedience among the artillery. Unfortunately, all of these have translated into good advantages for the militants, the major reasons why they are able to re – strategize and advance in their horrendous activities. These are national challenges and they must be addressed with the utmost priority.

…And The President Declares After The Killing

President Goodluck Jonathan’s formal declaration – acceptance of support groups’ request to him to re – contest for Presidency had ealier been fixed for Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – a day before Monday Potiskum secondary school students massive killing. No doubt, the country then was still caught in the mourning mood.

At the newsstands, offices and other public places, the discussion about Mr. President’s formal declaration as reported by the mass media on Tuesday morning, was in the front burner. Many Nigerians had viewed that the exercise be cancelled and shifted to another date. Few telephone calls I had before setting out that day in which the topic accidentally featured also posited that the best for Mr. President to do was to reschedule the function.

Again, I had an early morning appointment with a friend, Human Resources Manager of a private hospital the same day and reading the news from a newspaper which I was holding; he asked me: Would President Jonathan still declare his intention today despite the massacre of the young souls yesterday? Without any response, he provided answers to his question, saying the event should have been put off and rescheduled as a mark of honour to the departed ones. Besides, there were many posts on social media that day addressing this issue.

The summary was that Mr. President should have been more sensitive, therefore, stepped down the Tuesday pronouncement for another time. I kept to myself, yet, ran in me a thought that this people were not journalists – rather individuals of different professional background, that make the entity called Nigeria. I felt if they were newsmen and saying these, the allegations of ‘influenced and racketed’ views would have probably been made possible. Readers should take note of these points, as you read on for final (personal) conclusion.

On reactions, the opposition APC has for instance condemned the declaration, accusing the President of “dancing on the graves of the students (Potiskum) as well as the victims of Boko Haram insurgency…” Well, this is the position of the party, therefore, I have no responsibility to defend or rationalize it, in this context. The sources will do that, if challenged in that regards. I have also heard condemnation to the comment, one of such is “it was a stupid statement; can’t you hear the list of many achievements Mr President mentioned in his speech”. Please decide, if there is a link on this comment, the reaction (party’s) and the real issue on ground.

Still, I found an aspect of the ruling PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh’s comment (defence) on the declaration debate interesting. He recalled and accused APC in a release on (Thursday, November 13, 2014) of holding a political mega rally for its former Governor of Ekiti State, South Western Nigeria, Dr. kayode Fayemi, on May 20, 2014, in spite of twin bomb blast attack in Jos the Plateau State capital, which killed 118 people, with 56 injured.

Metuh cited many other examples in the press release. But let me also add for Metuh and the ruling party that Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, third day after the Potiskum killing and a day after President Jonathan’s declaration marked his Sixth Year Anniversary in office. I give the points to Metuh and his party that these arguments might go far after all.

However, the exception to the PDP and President’s supporters who see nothing wrong in Tuesday declaration is that Oshimhole event’s impacts are restricted to Edo alone. Both Ekiti and Edo events had in attendance the national leaders of the opposition party, which is the reason why I stated earlier this point is debatable.

Again, one fundamental fact President Jonathan must face is that, he represents Nigeria and his office covers all the States of Federation as well as takes responsibility for the security situation in the entire States. Therefore, Potiskum in Yobe State is one of the States he declared for, to get votes during the coming presidential poll and the people of the State are one of those, he will visit to canvass for their votes when electioneering campaign proper takes off.

I wish to ask for instance, if Mr. President is challenged to defend his declaration 24 hours after 52 young girls and boys were killed in Potiskum, (in the State), how will he go about that? The same goes for other places the President had similar antecedent. What happens to that declaration if one of the VIPs was a victim of Yobe killing; will it still hold?

This takes us to counter accusations always adduced by the ruling party and the President’s supporters. Comparison with another wrong done by the oppositions when President errs is not the best way of addressing key and critical national issues and moving the country forward.

In other way, why should Mr. President commit similar error repeatedly and drag himself into avoidable controversy, after which his party, supporters and aides stoutly defend the action. Why can’t Mr President live by example – do things right, so that he and his party will have reason and moral right to call opposition parties and politicians who are wrong, to order and urge them to follow his good example as well as his party? Mr. President, ability to stand out as a role model over stunning attributes is a virtue for a good leader – a position you occupy in the country today.

Mr. President, yes, you announced one minute of silence for the Potiskum casualties; you might have reeled out the achievements of your administration in the last six years; you might have sounded so authorative in justfying the reasons why you are seeking for re-election before your party supporters and the entire world. But then, you should know that the votes you are looking for to emerge victorious, are far beyond those from the PDP card carrying members as well as members of your support groups, but from the ordinary Nigerians, including those from the states their young ones have been lost to dreadful insurgents attacks and treated in the insensitive manner.

Finally, Mr. President, you should realize that the score card of political office holders is multi-faceted and that the cumulative scores could not be done in isolation of none of the aspects of governance, security inclusive. Your administration no doubt has been challenged and found wanting in this area (security) and this is a germane and very significant aspect. In this period of political harvest, it is therefore not clear if millions of Nigerians will want toy with this part of their lives, regarding the candidates they will give their votes in the coming general elections. A food for thought Mr. President.


From the public come comments and reactions of different definitions to every piece published. So, last week Friday, November 7, 2014 after the week’s Posting titled: News Analysis: SURE-P/FERMA Federal Task Force: An Appendage Of Impunity came an e – mail (reaction) which I have decided to share with our readers;

From: oiye_2007@yahoo.com

“I don’t know if you were the writer of the federal task force thing I just read on ‘net’ but pl”s to make a good journalist try get your fact before publishing any story which you really don’t know anyting about…many of your talk about the task force are all wrong…am part of the team the president as I know of was only trying to use this medium in creating jobs for the youth,if you hv ever gone to the camp you will see that most of us there are all graduate we aint hoodlums,ok the governor claimed people ran off mere siting the FTF with guns I laugh @ many ignorance, because of this stories are fabricated one…it pains me a lot personally seeing this jaguns writing by the media..I wonder where nigeria medium will stop writing on what they hear rather than getting the real fact…go to badagry toll gate camp and see for yourself” (unedited)

My Reply:

“Well, you are being hasty in your reactions and that is why you again, muddled the points in the piece. Go back, read it and get a clearer understanding of the very aspect you mentioned and referring.

Forget about whether you are an official of the Force, read it with an open and independent mind, so that you can sift between your assumption and emotion as well as the real contents.

I put it to you again, you are being emotional and it is better you put that aside before your marathon and very offensive comments.

All the same, I,m not offended, journalists are used to situation like this.

Also note, AE is a serious news website. So, read us very well and like us. You are most welcome, fellow Nigerian!”


Again, to this reader, the scheme – (SURE – P) was recognized and that was why it was described in the piece as – “a social – economic measure by the present administration”. How it is now being implemented was the issue in focus.

The word “Alleged”: This word was used on comment made by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State that the Task Force officers dislodged the state traffic (LASTMA0 officials from the roads with guns. You can’t hang a writer especially using such word “alleged” in a story as it gives room for approval or otherwise. It is not a confirmation, rather speculative, note please.

“Rascality”: If the writer feels this expression was too heavy, then how do you explain muscle flexing, reputed with the Lagos SURE – P/ FERMA Federal Task Force?

Finally, the reader missed the point if he ever thought the writer advocated for disengagement of the officers. The last line reads: ”… the officers to be productively and more professionally re –engaged in any government establishment or agency known to the law…” With these, the reader should again get the key points correctly before the castigation.

E – Mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com ; Twitter: @tajudeen balogun


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