CARNAGE IN THE NORTH EAST ANY RESPITE?
if you type the word Boko Haram in the search engine on the net, the system is likely to go gaga in the first few minutes because the word happen to be one of those most frequently used in recent time in Nigeria. Leaving earlier religious crisis in the country from 1982 to Sharia in 2000, attentions moved to Jos Plateau state where one of its earlier internal wars led to the suspension of Senator (former Gov) Joshua Dariya as a state of emergency was declared there and being a punitive measure for not dealing squarely. The fire which engulfed Jos then, soon consumed Bauchi and now like hurricane, the war is raging unabated in the North eastern towns of Maiduguri, Damaturu, Potiskum in Nigeria. It must be noted that given the series of sectional battles engaged in by all groups- I mean MASSOB, Niger Delta Vigilante, OPC, MEND etc, none have been so committed to wasting of lives and properties than Boko Haram.
I will not know what the true impression of the government is, on the happenings in the country especially over the increasing carnage being metered on innocent souls irrespective of religion, tribe or creed in the North East, but one thing is certain governments at all level have proved inept especially in handling most of these national issues needing very urgent attention. The reality on ground shows that the nation is siege and is being held hostage by groups called cabal, Boko Haram, cartel, political class or whatever name and there is need for urgent and immediate change.
For now, it is necessary for us to play some scenario may be that would take home the message better. Imagine that your son has just graduated from school or has just been employed on a job and is posted to somewhere in the north to resume duty. Assume also that such person may be your husband, brother, wife or close relation in whom you rely on with joyful expectation especially in terms of finance. You are in regular touch, and one day, just after you would have spoken about the future, and closing on a great note, your phone rings less than 24 hours after your last talk, and a voice on the other end say “I am Michael from the Road Safety or Police in Maiduguri. We have just seen an identity card belonging to Mr. Joel with whom you spoke with yesterday. He is one of the victims of yesterday's mayhem and the body has been deposited in one of the mortuaries. Please come and identify the corpse for proper burial.” What would be your first response and reaction? What would be your wish for whosoever caused the sudden and inexplicable death? What would you do? Your guess, decision and views are part and parcel of all that families of victims of Boko Haram have continued to go through since the governments have refused to tackle menace and so it has refused to go. As a typical southerner, you can imagine the rest, but for a Muslim, the scenario is simple. Same situation would be viewed as “God gave and God has taken away.” But in Nigeria, the constitution which the president pledged to uphold, declared that there must be safety of lives and properties within the territory. How has the leadership fared in the issue of protecting of lives and properties in Nigeria?
It is not and never sufficient to say that since death has happened, nothing can be done the happen has happened. If it were to be so, the United States would not go for the soul of one or just any of her citizens treated shabbily by any nation. The raid of Entebbe is a standard case where a nation stood still as it amassed forces to release her people in the dean of the late Idi Amin Dada. Shall we also forget so easily the raid of Prime Minister Menahem Begin of Israel? It took America 10 years to locate and exterminate Osama Bin Laden for the crime he visited on innocent families. These are all nations expressing the values their people attached to life.
As I read the gory tales of the show of shame at Damaturu and Potiskum in Yobe state which included the Maiduguri on Sunday November 6, I could not understand why the Police would make such statement as “only 53 died” as contained I the front page of “SUNDAY Sun” if they were 53 how many were left to mourn the dead? It was Julius Caesar who said that “When beggars die, there are no comments seen; but the heavens themselves weep for the death of a king” If some of the dead were to be a member of the family of the Police Officer, would he classify them as only?
Now it is Christmas time and we have a combination of armed robbers, kidnappers, Road robbers, assassins for any and every reasons and now Boko Haram at the end of the day? Where are we Nigeria?
Today the North East is at war with itself. Who is the next victim? The situation now can still be remedied as it is still in the hand of our leaders to pocket, but neither the states, Inspector General of Police, the NASS nor the presidency is addressing the realities on ground. Well the mayhem is spreading in geometric progression. But real bet it might soon get to the North Central and North West and God help the state if they dare the OPC states, the MASSOB states and the Niger Delta Militancy. But if garnish the insecurities with the growing unemployment with knowledgeable graduates who will be in control? The National Assembly, Presidency and IGP do not want us to believe that we seat on the keg of Gun powder. But that is the reality, what therefore would happen? As I write, the troops loyal to late Gaddafi held the military command of Niger Republic to a gun battle during which about twenty persons died on each side last week. With the proximity of Niger Republic to Nigeria, and given the nature of our porous borders and ease with which people cross borders and their alignment with Boko Haram, of course your guess then will be as mine as to what to expect sooner than later.
But we have a government whose main interest is in the opposite direction of people's expectations. One wonders why we always have excuses why we cannot put men, money and material in place once and for all to solve the minutest problems. We have never found our bearings in solving issues in Education, Health, Power, Roads, and Water name it! But in terms of funding, we have always had more than enough to fund political rigging, tugs, killings etc. Of cause this another issue for another day.
Maybe the killing is ok that it is currently northern based. Or else if they make incursion to the South East, South West or South South, we certainly will have more than our fair share of troubles and the United Nations will not help then it will be to your tents oh Israel!
As I write, two of my friends died in most gruesome manner in the past two weeks. One, Henry and the other, Afi, these two were three past weeks part and parcels of our dreams and had their plans for the Xmas. Henry went home to Imo state for the burial arrangements of his aunty. From there he went to Asaba for a wedding. On his way back, robbers obstructed the way and as the Police went chasing for them, unfortunately, my friends vehicle ran into the same route which the robbers used for escape and was caught and asked to pay ransom. He was unable to meet the demand and was promptly killed in cold blood. Afi's case was not better. As reported in the Daily Sun of Thursday and Friday 10th and 11th November 2011. She was a staff of NNPC in the nation's capital Abuja. Afi had put in close to 30 years in service and was going home for Sallah last week. Departing from Abuja was to be the last time she was seen alive. Presumed to have arrived without calling the family, her husband put calls to all her known contacts but all calls returned without any clue. Later in the weekend, frustrated and probably going for a drink from the freezer, the man came face to face with his wife body! She had been murdered and stuffed in the freezer by her driver! That was how a man came to the reality that his wife had been killed!
The security situation in the country deserves very urgent attention and the least we can do is to provide it. No one invest in an unstable economy.
Finally I want to single out the Sultan of Sokoto for recognition. Against all odds, five years after taking over the saddle of leadership, the North West has remained calm and peaceful. It is on record that he remains the most travelled traditional leader in Nigeria. He has transverse all the geo-political zones and is not done yet. The Sultan has sent more messages of peace to more government leaders than most. But how many are following his footsteps? We do not need a traditional ruler's forum organized by the Federal Government before we preach peace. Living in peace should be an issue of common concern just as no mother waits for her husband to breast feed her baby. Security matters are specifically to be handled by those given the mandate, but reporting issues regarding personal or national security are a general concern. Let the government be more proactive in their responsibilities and the followership would do likewise. May we not be the victims of our own ineptitude.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt