Former Lagos State governor and frontline opposition figure, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu yesterday decried the deadly attacks on hapless Nigerians following the gruesome murder of over 60 students of the College of Agriculture, Gujba, in Yobe State by suspected Boko Haram elements on Sunday.
In a statement from his media office, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain lamented that “Nigeria is under attack.”
The statement, which is a sequel to a letter he personally wrote to Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, said:
“As a father and leader, I am deeply saddened by the senseless killings of innocent students. It is unacceptable and indefensible under any guise. It is an act that must be punished.
“The recent carnage in Borno State and now at the College of Agriculture in Yobe reminds us of the sinister nature of the enemy our nation now faces.
“There should be no mistake at this sombre moment. Those who launched these attacks did not launch them at the people they killed. They knew not the names of their victims or who they were.
“The dead were just unfortunate souls who happened to be close enough to murder. The real targets of these massacres were our nation, society and any semblance of civilized, modern life. Nigeria is under attack and the earlier those in charge realised this, the quicker the situation can be arrested. In terms of security, the present is not safe, neither is the future secured.
“The killings at the College of Agriculture were particularly jarring. Under cover of darkness, evil crept unto a campus of higher learning, turning it into a place of slaughter.
“These murderers snatched the lives of young people who were just entering the fullness of life. The attackers fell upon them so early that many of the students were still in bed.
“These young people only wanted an education to improve their future and that of the nation. They were armed only with this desire and with the tools of students. They had done no one any harm.
“Yet, their attackers executed them in the cruelest fashion. This is terror in its basest form. By this act, the crazed and armed menace we face tells us that attending school, attempting to get an education, is now a capital offence. Those guilty of seeking to learn are to be executed.
“This is a dire affront to fundamental humanity. It is also a frontal attack on our quest for economic development and social progress. Those that did this seek to cast a veil of fear and ignorance over Nigeria. We must remain steadfast in the belief that enlightenment and progress is best for our people.
“These killers want us to hide in the shadow of fear and live in the cave of ignorance. We must be brave enough to tell them “no.” No matter how they try to frighten us, we shall walk in the light of learning, justice, hope and tolerance, unity and progress.
“What we face is nothing less than a contest for the soul of the nation. We dare not lose the contest. These young people died just because they wanted to learn and live better. We can’t allow their deaths to be in vain.
“Thus, we must rededicate ourselves that all of our children shall learn and live better because of the education they shall receive.
“We must look beyond the deaths and spilled blood of these innocent children. In times like these, it is easy to give up and recede into our fears. Yet, we must be of good courage. We must not give way to sorrow or despair. We must forge ahead with our best plans and preparations for the people.”
Tinubu, who called on the FG to focus on making society better, said the advice was not to score political points, adding that the attackers ultimate aim is to cripple the educational system in the north and if they are not stopped they will succeed.
“They intend to make Nigeria desolate” he said, noting that “In their warped minds, this will be paradise. Paradise for them will be purgatory for the rest of us.”
Brimming with optimism that the country will overcome what he termed as “this pestilence”, Tinubu added that justice shall prevail just as every Nigerian must put hands on deck to build the nation.
“We must be of good courage. We cannot allow their violence to dictate the path that we must go.
They see a nation they want to destroy. I see a nation we should build. We shall win.
“They may have guns and terror. But they lack the moral force to stop us from building the nation we seek. We have justice and right. We shall win”, he maintained.
Wondering how long the senseless killings will last and how many lives would have been lost before this evil is halted, Tinubu challenged the federal government to become more proactive in developing a comprehensive law enforcement, intelligence-gathering and economic incentives strategy to checkmate the plague.
“On such a grave matter of national security, there is no partisanship. We are all Nigerians. We stand ready to help in this fight. We await the call of the Federal Government to do so,” the former governor said.
He extended his condolences to the government and people of Yobe State especially families, who lost loved ones in the attack.
“Your grief is heavy and thick because of the senselessness of this tragedy. But you don’t carry this grief alone. All Nigeria grieves with you. Those were our children, too” Tinubu said.