Too Many Sambisa Forest to Clear
It is, indeed, no news that the throat of the Nigerian state is presently being choked by the Boko Haram insurgents. The recent serial bomb blasts at Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, which claimed over 100 lives and the villainous abduction of over 200 faultless girls at Chibok, testify to this gloomy fact.
While the Aso Rock has always remained popular in the mind of Nigerians as the dwelling of the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, another Aso Rock-like place by the name Sambisa forest, too, has wildly become famous globally for allegedly housing Abubakar Shekau, the Commander in Chief of the Boko Haram Militant Forces.
Sambisa forest, like Aso Rock, is not where an ordinary citizen would go without urinating in his trousers. Sambisa, a name which sounds like Samba - a Brazilian genre of music - has become associated with naked terrorism, free flow of blood, splattered human parts, burnt skulls, charred teeth, and sorrow, tears and blood - in the parlance of the Late Afro legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
This writer also believes that the Sambisa forest is, at the risk of sounding exaggerative, a hell on earth. However, under a lens of critical examination, the Sambisa forest is just one of the no-go areas in the mansion of our nationhood. There are, as a matter of fact, too many Sambisa forest to clear in the present day Nigeria.
There is a Sambisa forest of religious dogmatism, of religious fanaticism and of religious capitalism. Our people, the Nigerian people, are a very religious people, who drink religion effortlessly like fishes drink water in the ocean. This, however, should not have been a problem if the revered religious leaders in the nation are not capitalizing on it.
Islamic leaders have succeeded in rebranding the Quran and the message of the holy Prophet Muhammed (peace be unto him), telling their congregation that it is not unjust to kill non-muslims, of course, Christians inclusive. This kind of mindless teachings have combined with other factors to put Nigeria in this present pitiable state.
The Christians leaders, too, have changed the gospel of Christ, transmogrifying it into a money-making machine. Today, like toothpaste, pastors and prophets advertise Christ on billboards, promising breakthroughs and miracles, just because there are so many gullible Christians in the streets who still believe that the gospel of Christ is bread and butter, money and riches.
These religious miasma has become so offensive, so intolerable; it is a no-go area, a Sambisa forest that needs to be cleared. I admit that religious issues are very sensitive, but this should not stop writers, film producers, critics and intellectuals from talking about it. These things will land us in more serious trouble if we continue to pretend that they don't exist. We can't pretend for too long; we have to start acting now.
Another Sambisa forest in Nigeria is located at Abuja, in a place called the National Assembly. Nigerian legislators are the most paid in the whole world, earning more than double of the pay received by legislators of some first world countries. This is not only ridiculous but cruel and insensitive.
The jumbo pay being received by legislators was once at the front burner of national discourse, but was, however, mysteriously swept into the mist. Afterward, this issue became a no-go area, a Sambisa forest, hardly talked about in the pages of national newspapers.
We, Nigerians, seem to have accepted that our legislators have good reasons for exploiting us. We seem to have succumbed to our deprivation, to our exploitation, to our domination and subjugation by our own representatives, by those we elected into public offices to fight for us, for our unborn children.
The Sambisa forest of corruption needs not to be talked about on this column because it is too pervasive, too popular to be introduced. The Nigerian state has for years refused to criminalized corruption as it is done in civilized countries such as China, the United States, France, Germany etc.
While petty robbers, snatchers of handsets and pickpockets, are burnt alive in market places and sent to the gaol if luckily charged to court, corrupt public officials are pampered when caught and asked to pay Liliputan fines, an amount equivalent to the cost of about ten bags of beans. This kind of social arrangement, which promotes senseless inequality and the domination of one man by another man, cannot escape social problems such as terrorism, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, prostitution, child trafficking, internet fraud, bribery, nepotism, ethnicity, etc.
Consequently, the only Sambisa forest that deserve to be combed and razed to dust is not the Sambisa forest in Borno State. There are too many Sambisa forests which deserve to be cleared.
The US and China have pledged to help Nigeria comb the Sambisa forest in search of the missing girls that were abducted at Chibok by the Boko Haram insurgents. This is fine and good; it is my wish that they do it successfully. But who will help Nigeria comb the other Sambisa forests, which, though have no bombs and AK-47 riffles hidden in them, have wrecked more havoc than the stormy Boko Haram insurgency because they are gradually gaining legitimacy?
The answer, I believe, is the citizens and only the citizens of Nigeria. The US and other world powers, at best, will only comb for us the Sambisa forest controlled by Shekau and his boys, but it is our duty, fellow Nigerians, to comb the several filthy Sambisa forests that exist in all sectors of the Nigerian state.