PRESIDENT Buhari boasted he would rescue all 276 schoolgirls that terrorists kidnapped in Chibok, Borno State, during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, but he has failed in that talk as he is leaving office with 96 girls remaining with their captors.
Buhari, who leaves office on May 29, vowed while campaigning for the presidential position in 2015 that he would ensure the girls return safely to their parents soon.
He assured Nigerians he would make the country a safe nation if Nigerians elected him.
“I have had the opportunity to serve my country in the military up to the highest level, as a major-general and as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In the course of my service, I defended the territorial integrity of Nigeria, and if called upon to do so again, I shall rise to the occasion.
“As a father, I feel the pain of the victims of insurgency, kidnapping and violence. Under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil. I will give it all it takes to ensure that our girls kidnapped from Chibok are rescued and reintegrated with their families,” Buhari said.
The ICIR reports that the President did not keep his word. Apart from failing to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls, insurgents and other criminals had whisked away approximately 900 children from their schools during his eight years in office.
This makes the population of kidnapped schoolchildren under the President triple the 276 Chibok schoolgirls whisked away under Jonathan, his predecessor.
The data for Jonathan’s government do not include nearly 100 students that terrorists murdered in two schools in Yobe state during his tenure.
The first was an attack on a Government Secondary School in the village of Mamudo, Yobe state, in 2013, in which saw at least, 42 people were killed, including students.
The second terror was at the state’s Federal Government College of Buni Yadi in 2014. The attackers burnt or slaughtered 59 schoolchildren, who were all boys.
Madagali, in Adamawa State, was one of the worst-hit towns during the Boko Haram insurgency
The number of kidnapped school children under President Buhari is in addition to thousands of citizens who died from insecurity-related incidents during his tenure.
They also add to hundreds of orphaned children and thousands of citizens that insurgency or other conflicts under his government displaced.
In February 2021, The ICIR reported how terrorists kidnapped 881 school children and students under Buhari’s watch in less than seven years.
A report shows over 10,000 people died from insecurity-related causes in 2021 alone in Nigeria.
The ICIR reported how 287 people were killed in five months through similar reasons in the South-East, one of the country’s six regions, in 2021.
Similarly, this organisation reported how over 80,000 Nigerians fled to the Niger Republic in three months during the President’s term.
As Buhari leaves office, killings and abductions have surged after the 2023 elections, especially in the North-Central, where three of the six states making up the region have persistently faced attacks from non-state actors. The states are Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue.
Gunmen stormed the Gitata district of Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State on May 12 and mowed down about 40 farmers, including women and children.
Sources claimed the onslaught was an escalation of a similar attack on Tattara Mada and Angwan Barau communities in the Kokona local government area in the state in April, where 20 persons reportedly died and property worth millions were destroyed.
In Plateau state, a yet-to-be-arrested group pounced on the Bwoi District of Mangu local government area of Plateau sd,tate on May 16 and killed dozens of residents.
That tragedy adds to other villagers murdered the same day in Adaka village in Makurdi local government and in the Ijaha community of Apa local government area of Benue State, where a report said nine people died.
Plateau and Benue states (in the North-Central), as well as Kaduna, Katsina, and Zamfara states in the North-West have been killing fields, where thousands of Nigerians have died from insecurity-related causes during the Buhari administration.
The killings have negatively affected education in the states. In January 2022, The ICIR reported how parents withdrew their children from schools in Kaduna and Niger states because of insecurity.
In Zamfara state, this organisation also reported in October 2022 how 30 schools remained shut after one year. The government had opened 45 of the 75 schools it shut after a year.
Challenges such as these are part of the reasons Nigeria has 20 million out-of-school children, the highest number globally.
Hundreds of the nation’s security and paramilitary forces fighting to dislodge terrorists and other criminals also died. The Punch newspaper reported in January that 2,140 soldiers, police officers, and others were killed during the President’s tenure.
Insecurity takes different forms under Buhari across the geo-political zones. Though he inherited the menace, many Nigerians believe the situation worsened during his tenure – against their expectation that he would contain it as a retired military general and a former Head of State.
Banditry and kidnapping reign in the North-West and North-Central, and there were still pockets of insurgency in the North-East as of 2022.
‘Unknown gunmen’ take charge of the South-East, killing people and grounding businesses, while ritual killings surged in the South-West with the attendant human toll.
But there has been relative peace in the South-South, where agitators for (petroleum) resource control had wreaked havoc in the past. The region has been largely peaceful because of the Federal government’s empowerment programmes for the repentant militants. Ex-militants also secured juicy contracts from the Buhari government to monitor oil infrastructures.
In 2022, The ICIR reported how terrorists attacked 18 correctional centres and released inmates, including other terrorists across Nigeria, under the President’s watch.
In July 2022, suspected insurgents attacked the Presidential Guards Brigade in the nation’s capital, a situation that forced the National Assembly to threaten to impeach him.
Buhari inherited a nation blanketed by terrorist attacks, especially in three North-East states: Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
In addition to the three states, the terrorists attacked Kano. They also struck the United Nations building in Abuja on August 27, 2011, and another barrage by the group consumed the Police Headquarters in the nation’s capital on July 16, 2012, killing many people, while many fires that erupted from the attack destroyed many assets.
The last major insurgent attack in Nigeria occurred around the Lake Chad region in March, where more than 30 civilians reportedly died.
But Buhari has arguably contained insurgency by the terrorist groups, Boko Haram and Islamic West Africa Province (ISWAP), even if other forms of heinous criminality that consume lives have festered across the country.
As Buhari hands over to the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, on May 29, parents of Chibok schoolgirls who are yet to have their children back from captivity will no doubt be more hopeless and sadder about how President Buhari has failed to make good his vow to rescue their children from their captors.