Igbo leaders in Kano have rejected mass burial for their kinsmen who were killed by terrorists who bombed a Lagos-bound 59-seater passenger bus in the Kano Central Park on Monday.
This was revealed by Senator Uche Chukwumerije at plenary on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday during a debate on the blast.
“For Igbo in Kano, the people and their leadership insist on three immediate remedial actions from government. One is permission to arrange private burials for their loved ones because some of the deceased were their leaders.
“Two, the Federal Government should set up a committee to collect and arrange any compensation fund for victims because the Igbo no longer trust the (Governor Rabiu) Kwankwaso administration.
“Thirdly, Federal Government should beef up security arrangement around Ndigbo and other endangered groups in the North. They demand a visibly effective termination of terrorism in Nigeria.
“The fight against terrorism is like a football match. The people are not interested in stories of efforts being made, but in actual results like victory goals in a football match. Ndigbo love national unity.
“But they will not continue to be the sacrificial lamb of Nigeria’s fractured history,” Chukwumerije who is also Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, said.
He, however, warned that the tragedy must not be blown out of proportion, stressing that the immediate collective task was “to contain the activities of agents provocateurs at this sensitive phase of Nigeria’s nation-building.”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who stood in for Senate President David Mark at Wednesday’s plenary, asked the Federal Government to consider other options in resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country.
He urged all the relevant committees of the Senate to look at the whole scenario and suggest another option to the government.
Ekweremadu deliberately ignored further contributions on the matter immediately after comments by Chukwumerije and Kabiru Gaya to douse the ominous tension the debate might generate because it came under Order (43) which is not subject to debate.
But Chukwumerije who raised the matter under Order (43) lamented that 24 hours after the incident, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State did not find it fit to pay a condolence visit to the motor park where the incident happened.
He said the Governor’s failure to do this had robbed the state of the opportunity of projecting the terrorists as a fringe clique outside the mainstream of the society.
Chukwumerije warned that government must not ignore the impact of the two strategic challenges of the incident, adding that “to underrate them is to ignore the strategic fact that a guerrilla-like war of attrition, targeted at our main fault line of ethnicity, will progressively corrode the confidence of the citizens in Nigeria’s social contract – just as little bites of termites destroy the foundational moorings of a structure.”
He said the head count of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Kano branch) showed that 80 per cent of the passengers of the two South-bound buses were Igbo and more dangerous still, they believe that the Monday mayhem was a pre-meditated attack primarily aimed at Ndigbo.
Similarly, Gaya said from history, Kano had been business partners with other tribes in Sabon Gari, but that some forces were being deployed to fan embers of disunity.
Gaya, Chairman of Senate Committee on States and Local Governments as well as former Governor of Kano State, alleged that some people were working against the unity of the nation.
“Yet, government is not doing anything. Nobody lives in peace and people are afraid to move around. The latest report I got now is that our children are even afraid to go to school because of what happened in Maiduguri. Are we going to continue like this?
“It is appalling that we have only 8,000 policemen in Kano to monitor security,” Gaya lamented.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika, a Lt. General, on Wednesday sent an emissary to Onitsha, Anambra State commercial hub, to calm frayed nerves.
His emissary, the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, Adebayo Olaniyi, a Major General, appealed to the Igbo to remain calm even in the face of the attack.
Olaniyi commended the maturity of Ndigbo in handling the situation while saying reprisal attack can never solve the security challenges the country is facing.
He sued for peace in the entire South East, especially the commercial city of Onitsha while maintaining that Nigerian Army was on top of the security challenges, adding that the bombing in Kano was unfortunate and needed serious maturity to handle.
The Army Chief appealed to residents to remain calm.
He added that the attack was not targeted at the Igbo alone, as other tribes, including Northerners were also affected.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Batch ‘A’ members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) currently undergoing a 21-day orientation programme in Kano have expressed fear over their safety.
Reports from the Karaye orientation camp of the NYSC said the corps members of Southern origin were apprehensive as news of the Monday’s bombing filtered into the camp, thus sparking fears among them.
However, other reports said camp officials have continued to give assurance of safety to the corps members, some of whom have expressed desire for relocation to other states preferably away from the core North.
Corps members who filled request for relocation forms earlier distributed by the NYSC camp officials expressed desire for posting to states that fall within their respective geo-political zones.
Also on Wednesday, a police historian and scholar, Kemi Rotimi, observed that the Federal Government has lost control of the war against the current insurgency.
Referring to Monday’s blast in Kano, the scholar, who was a guest on a Lagos television station’s breakfast show, said the Federal Government has definitely lost grip of how to tackle the security challenges facing the country and how to track down the Islamic Boko Haram sect.
Rotimi equally implored Nigerians who can help the Federal Government in the war against terrorism in the country to do so.
But in swift response, Senior Special Adviser on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe, said it was wrong for Rotimi to make such a statement, as the Federal Government was dealing effectively with the sect and that it was doing all it could to mitigate the insurgency.