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ANALYSIS: Mass closure of Northern schools: Is the Boko Haram ideology winning?

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The recent abductions of school-children in Northern Nigeria by terrorists had led to the closure of over 600 schools, according to reports, in a bid to ensure the safety of the populace while fighting this scourge.

Niger, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Borno States are amongst the states who have decreed varying degrees of educational lockdowns in what has proven to be a quandary for the state governors.

In hindsight, these leaders at the helm of affairs should have predicted this dangerous downturn after the reclamation of the Sambisa Forest by the Nigerian Army which led to the near-obliteration of Boko Haram insurgent – who in turn scampered across various Northern states with the aim of wreaking mayhem via banditry and abductions.

The scale of Boko Haram’s insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has long been clear.

But it took the abduction of December 2020 of more than 340 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State for many people – even within Nigeria – to appreciate just how bad the insecurity has become in the country’s neglected northwest.

The abductors pulled up on motorbikes at the all-boys secondary school in Kankara, in Katsina State, spent an hour rounding up the students who didn’t manage to bolt and then marched them into Rugu forest in neighbouring Zamfara State.

In a video message, the kidnappers said they were Boko Haram, a claim endorsed by the jihadist group. But that connection was quickly debunked. The group was identified as known “bandits” – one of the scores of armed gangs that have killed, raped, and plundered across the northwest, forcing more than 200,000 people from their homes.

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There was a happy end to the schoolboys’ six-day ordeal. Surrounded by the army, unable to escape, the kidnappers released them – with the government insisting no ransom was paid. But the raid underlined the utter vulnerability of people to the bandits, who can do whatever they want.

Adding to the insidious cycle was the acquiescing on the part of the Federal Government to the ransom demands of these Boko Haram insurgents, who in turn, used the funds to procure more weapons for their criminal activities. There seems to be no end in sight.

Like many governments, the Nigerian authorities often deny that they pay ransoms. But schoolchildren and bandits have contradicted their accounts.

Many Nigerians say they wish that the government would protect them from abductions in the first place, rather than paying ransoms it can ill afford or authorizing dangerous and expensive rescues.

But the police are perceived as being in the pockets of those who can pay for protection.
The military is spread so thin that the defense minister said that villagers should defend themselves from bandits. He suggested that those who did not were cowards.

“Is it the responsibility of the military alone?” Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi, the defense minister, asked reporters a few hours after an attack on a school in Kagara on Feb. 17. “It’s the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and find safety, when necessary.

“But we shouldn’t be cowards,” General Magashi said. “At times, the banditry will come with about three shots of ammunition. When they fire shots, everybody runs. In our younger days, we’d stand to fight any aggression coming to us. I don’t know why people are running away from minor things like that.”

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As abductions have become more indiscriminate, there has been a sharp rise in the number of deaths associated with them, with perpetrators viewing their victims’ lives as expendable, according to the recent report on the economics of abductions, conducted by SBM Intelligence, a Nigerian intelligence platform.

“When you have such large-scale abduction of children, especially defenseless, harmless children, the ransom value will be high because of the international pressure to rescue them,” said Confidence McHarry, a security analyst who worked on the SBM Intelligence report. “As the abductor, everything is in your favor.”

At least $18 million was paid to kidnappers from June 2011 to March 2020, the report said.
A “Safe School Initiative” was launched after the Chibok girls were abducted to bolster security in schools in north-eastern Nigeria by building fences around them.

At least $20m ($14m) was pledged for the three-year project, which was supported by the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, the former UK prime minister.

Many container schools were built as temporary learning spaces as part of the scheme, but it is not known if any fences were built in communities affected.

The educational prospects for children in Nigeria, where one-third of primary-age children already do not go to school, is at stake.

With the kidnappings happening in northern Nigeria, “for some students, that’s the end of their academic life,” said Muhammad Galma, a retired army major and security expert. “No parent would want to endanger his or her child’s life simply because of education.”

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In conclusion, Boko Haram and similar groups are the horrendous illustration of the Hobbesian conception of human nature, creating fear, insecurity, violent disorder, and indiscriminate crimes to control and maintain power.

This is a lesson that has been repeated throughout history and countered most strongly by the ideals of the Enlightenment-era—ideals enshrined in education that are still valued today.

Enlightenment starts with education, and by refusing these schoolchildren the right to be educated and think for themselves, Boko Haram is denying them their humanity.
At the same time, encouraging education and enlightenment is not just a motivation for ending extremism, but also a strategy for combating it.

Enlightenment is the most powerful weapon against obscurantism, extremism, and oppressive religious orthodoxy as well as terrorism.

Education will break the authority of extremist groups, encourage people to think for themselves and remove the tendency toward extremist thinking.

Of course, this will go hand in hand with inclusive governance, effective government, and economic opportunities, which both improve and are improved by education. Education that nurtures and empowers an independent, critical, and entrepreneurial mind is truly what makes the difference.

Boko Haram is struggling vigorously to keep enlightenment far from the people because they know that quality education leads to freedom.

A new generation of transformational leaders and independent thinkers must rise in Africa and promote enlightened education for this freedom to be realized.

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Division in Igala land as ruling house opposes Mathew Opaluwa’s nomination

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The announcement last week from the Igala Traditional Council that Mr Mathew Opaluwa has been chosen as the new Attah Igala to succeed the late Michael Idakwo Ameh-Oboni has sparked another bitter row amongst the ruling Oguche House.

Indeed, the preferred candidate for the exalted position, Mr Samuel Opaluwa, is challenging the choice of The Traditional Council as an act of political imposition and abuse of the law governing the selection process.

He is going ahead with his rejection of Mr Mathew Opaluwa as the new Attah Igala through an official petition he has sent to the Commissioner for Local Govt.and Chieftaincy Affairs as well as Kogi State Council of Chiefs not to accept the nomination of Mr. Mathew Opaluwa for the exalted position.

In the petition forwarded by his Lawyer, A.

S Akpala & Co., he argued that “forwarding the name of Mr Mathew Opaluwa as an Attah-Designate to the State Council of Chiefs as provided for in section 10 of Legal Notice No.

 

2 of 2015, if that were to be interpreted literally, would make the position of the Igala Area Traditional Council not only redundant but most irrelevant in such weighty case as in the recommendation of an Attah-designate”.

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It is further pointed out that “we are disgusted to note that the Review Panel shoved aside all the obvious facts in our Client’s presentation and went outside these terms to recommend a candidate who was never recommended/nominated by the relevant King makers from the Aju Ame-Achor Ruling House, and who is far junior in age to our client as a candidate for appointment to the exalted throne of Attah Igala.”

The petitioner is therefore appealing that the most elderly and qualified male contestant from the Aju Ame-Achor Ruling House, Mr. Samuel Opaluwa, who was duly screened and nominated by the kingmakers of that Ruling House be recommended to His Excellency, The Executive Governor – in Council, for appointment to the vacant throne of Attah Igala.

From  an impeccable source that Mr Samuel Opaluwa’s group of elders in the ruling Oguche House have also reacted angrily to the latest development, believing strongly that I. T. C has violated Order 2 of the procedure and regulations for the selection and Ascension to the stool of Attah Igala.

According to one of the elders of the ruling family House, Jacob Etu, a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police, “it is highly disappointing that some members of I.T.C. could be so politically and financially compromised in order to thwart the cause of Justice and peaceful life of members of the ruling family.

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With the latest development over the choice of who will succeed the late Micheal Idakwo Ameh-Oboni, the Igala people of Kogi State would still have to wait a little longer without a substantive Attah Igala.

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Big wahala dey for Niger State oo! Resident raises SOS alarm over Fulani terrorists’ invasion

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A resident of Niger State, whom we will simply refer to as “Malam Usman”, has raised a “Save Our Souls” alarm over Fulani terrorists’ invasion of the state’s towns and villages in the state.

The SOS was delivered by Malam Usman to ElombahNews through voice and text messages and subsequent telephone conversations.

In the text message, he wrote:

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“Big wahala dey for Niger State oo!

“The day before they sacked Gulbin Boka, yesterday Shadadi, today Bangi.

“By the time they are done with villages, towns will follow.

“The next step will be kidnapping while traveling from one location to another.”

According to sources within the state, the places mentioned above – Gulbin Boka, Shadadi and Bangi – are middle class towns within the state.

According to telephone conversations held with Malam Usman, who spoke in Hausa language, the bandits arrived his village, one of the three mentioned above, with about one hundred and eighty motorcycles, each one carrying a rider with two passengers.

The marauding band struck last week, robbed the whole town and set shops ablaze, after which they

left.

The whole operation lasted hours as it started early hours of the morning and continued till around 01:00PM.

Meanwhile, while the attack lasted, there was no security agent in sight!

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The distraught villagers ran helter-skelter into surrounding bushes, while the advantaged ones flew to other towns and villages the bandits are yet to attack.

Malam Usman begged the federal and state governments to authorise  residents to buy and possess gun to enable them defend themselves against the bandits.

This, he said, is because government agencies have proved futile in protecting them, while others are suspected to even connive with them to perpetrate mayhem.

Meanwhile, recently the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello also raised alarm that Boko Haram terrorists have captured some towns and villages in the state and have hoisted their flags in the captured areas.

Presently, several elites from Northern parts of Nigeria have severely condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for the worsening insecurity in the region.

One such heavy critic is a popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi.

Sheikh Gumi said that the bloodshed and killings in President Buhari’s government is devastating and by far more than that of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

He called for Buhari’s resignation, blaming him for bloodshed and saying he is full of mistakes.

Speaking in a recorded video, he also apologized to former President Jonathan, saying the former president was a better president than Buhari, whom he referred to as a tribalist and a segregationist.

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a senior Army officer in the Nigeria Army Headquarters in Abuja, who confirmed the development.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, as he is not the Army spokesman, he said that the Department of State Security (DSS) has updated the Headquarters about the development and that efforts are in place to restore order in the affected areas.

 

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Donald Trump Launches New Communication Platform After Being Banned On Twitter

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Former US President, Mr. Donald Trump has launched a new “communications” website, which says it will publish content “straight from the desk” of the former US president.

Mr Trump was banned by Twitter and suspended by Facebook and YouTube after the Capitol riots in January.

The former president has since been releasing statements by press release – which the new website will now host.

Users will be able to like posts – and also share them on Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“It is a blog,” Kara Swisher, technology columnist for the New York Times told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I was like ‘2002 is calling and it wants its blog back…’

“I don’t know what the overall plan is because he does have some very sharp digital advisers.

It is just the beginning of his attempts to try to re-establish a louder ability to participate in digital media.”

 

The move comes a day before a decision is due from Facebook’s Oversight Board on whether to permanently ban Mr Trump.

Mr Trump’s senior adviser, Jason Miller, had previously said a new social media platform was to be launched. “This new platform is going to be big,” he said in March.

But Mr Miller tweeted on Tuesday that the new website was not the social media platform he had previously hyped.

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“We’ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future,” he said.

The website is reportedly built by Campaign Nucleus, a digital services company created by Mr Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale.

Several posts on the site repeat debunked claims that last year’s presidential election was rigged.

Facebook’s Oversight Board will announce its decision on whether Mr Trump is to be permanently banned from the platform on 09:00 EST (14:00 BST).

If he is allowed back on to the site, Facebook will have seven days to reactivate his account.

YouTube has said they will reactivate Mr Trump’s account when the threat of “real-world violence” reduces.

Twitter, where Mr Trump had 88 million followers, has banned him permanently.

A Twitter spokesperson told the BBC: “Generally, sharing content from the website referenced is permitted as long as the material does not otherwise violate the Twitter Rules”.

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