Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday said when 29 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, were abducted, the plan was to attack and kill the bandits even if it meant some students would die in the process.
El-Rufai added that Kaduna is currently at war and such would only be considered as collateral damage, a price he would be willing to pay instead of paying ransom.
The governor, however, said before this could be done, the bandits hurriedly changed location which led to the students spending over a month in captivity.
The governor said this on Thursday during a webinar organised by the Africa Leadership Group.
The event which was tagged: ‘Developing a Viable Nation 2’ was hosted by Pastor of Trinity House Church, Ituah Ighodalo.
Responding to a question on his refusal to negotiate with bandits, the governor said, “Two days after the abduction of the Afaka young people, I was assured by the air force and the army that they knew where the kidnappers were with the students and they had encircled (them).
“We were going to attack them. We would lose a few students but we would kill all the bandits and we would recover some of the students. That was our plan. That was the plan of the air force and the army… But they slipped through the cordon of the army. That is why they were not attacked.
“We know it is risky, we know in the process we may lose some of the abductees but it is a price we have to pay. This is war, there will always be collateral damage in war and we will rather do that than pay money because paying money has not solved the problem anywhere in the world.”
El-Rufai admitted that he had “lost weight” over the insecurity in Kaduna State which was giving him sleepless nights.
The governor, however, claimed that insecurity in Kaduna was not as bad as Niger, Katsina and Zamfara but the media only focused attention on his state because it fitted into their narrative of ethnic clashes.
El-Rufai said in Katsina and Niger states, entire villages were sacked by bandits but nothing of such happened in Kaduna.
On why he asked former President Goodluck Jonathan to negotiate with Boko Haram to rescue Chibok girls, the governor stated that he only gave that advice because that was the first time such abduction would take place.
He said Boko Haram is driven by an ideology and not by money in the case of today’s bandits.
The governor also spoke about his expectations for Nigeria in 2023.
El-Rufai said it was his wish that the next President of Nigeria would not be more than 65 years.
The governor said political leadership is mentally and physically draining and a younger person would handle the stress better than an older person.
El-Rufai also said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), hardly achieved much because he is a nice guy that doesn’t like to sack.
He said he believed in sacking incompetent hands and that was why he achieved more.