This week I stayed home. I correctly predicted that the fuel scarcity situation in Lagos would only get worse and I was not going to pay hiked fares just to get to the office. I requested for a week’s leave last Thursday. My boss had asked me what I needed a week’s leave for, and I had answered; “I am emotionally drained at the events I see around me. As the government has decided that they would proceed to celebrate 100 years of an entity that might not survive to be 101, at a time when national mourning was more appropriate, I choose to mourn every Nigerian that has been killed unjustly, by Boko Haram or other groups, for a week”. I opted not to mention that I would participate in the demonstration that was being planned for Thursday 06th. Thankfully she agreed and signed off on my leave application.
I had taken opinions at random as to how people felt about government’s decision to proceed with the celebrations. I was shocked at the lack of common sense and compassion prevalent in nearly 50% of the people I asked, and for that, I had decided not to add my voice to the thousands I knew would write about it. That was until my youngest daughter, 9 year old, seeing the centenary celebrations on television had this to say; “Daddy, do you have a party when many children are killed?” Not knowing what she was talking about, I answered; “No dear, you do not have a party when even one child is killed”. She then responded; “So why are president Goodluck and so many people and some white people having a big party after children were killed?” I am yet to answer her, but it triggered my thought process, to do a little research on the spate and trend of the killings and to consider the reason(s) for the lack of compassion shown by an unhealthy number of Nigerians on the issue.
For those who gave reasons like; arrangements had been made and foreign dignitaries invited, Boko Haram had been killing and will continue to kill so no need to cancel, to celebrate is to send a message to Boko haram that we will not live in fear, etc.
I only have this to say; “If you had planned your 50th birthday, secured the location, paid the caterers, decorators, sent out the invites, bought the special clothes that you and your spouse and family would adorn on the day, then 3 days to the party, your child complains of stomach pains in the morning and is dead by evening, would you still go ahead to pop champagne on the day?”
A cursory look at the documented actions attributed to Boko Haram in the last 4-5 years shows a clear departure from their initial modus operandi of planting bombs and suicide bombings targeting government buildings and installations or officials and religious targets, especially churches, to the current sociopathic and un-ideological campaign of the murdering of innocent people without any political or religious connotation.
From bombing churches and attempting to bomb government buildings in Abuja, ‘Boko Haram’ now seems to be fixated on killing innocent people in villages, burning villages to the ground, abducting young girls and women and disappearing into the night without sending communiqués to the government or news organizations. Also of consequence is that their actions seem to be restricted to villages nearest the border in the border states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. In the last 15 months, here are some of the atrocious acts attributed to Boko Haram; 19th April 2013 – In Baga Town, Borno state, 228 Nigerians murdered. June 2013 – Government College Secondary School, Damaturu Yobe, 8 students and 1 teacher murdered. 6th July 2013 – Government Secondary School, Mamudo Yobe, 41 students and 1 teacher slaughtered. 29th September 2013 – College of Agriculture, Gubja Yobe, 44 students and teachers murdered. 14th January 2014 – Maiduguri Borno, 50 people killed. 27th January 2014 – Adamawa and borno, 70 people murdered in attacks that lasted nearly 24 hours. End of January 2014 – Army Barracks in Borno, 200 soldiers killed with their many of their daughters and wives abducted and the barracks burnt to the ground. Beginning of February 2014 – Yobe, 160 soldiers who engaged Boko haram in a gun fight were executed after the soldiers ran out of bullets. Beginning of February 2014 – Yobe, several primary and secondary schools attacked with hundreds of children shot, hacked to pieces or had their throats slashed and blood drained. 15th February 2014 – Baga Village, Borno, 10 people killed. 16th February 2014 – Izge village, Borno, 90 people killed. 17th February 2014 – Galga village, Adamawa, 11 people murdered. 19th February 2014 – Buratai, Borno, home of JTF commander, Major General Tukur Buratai attacked and 1 soldier killed. 23rd February 2014 – Malari and Izge villages, Borno, 12 people killed and both villages razed. 24th February 2014 – Federal Government College, Buni, Yadi LGA, Yobe, 59 students murdered as they lay sleeping in their dormitories. 26th February 2014 – Madagali and Michika, Adamawa, 37 people murdered in 3 communities with banks and police stations razed with the entire communities!
At the onset of this administration, there was a clear belief that Boko Haram was being sponsored by politicians from Northern Nigeria who had lost out in the political equation and they intended to use Boko Haram to ensure that the country was ungovernable. This belief, whether true or false, seemingly informed the slow reaction of government to ridding the country of this menace. Irrespective of the origin and/or suspected sponsorship and the reasons for the action of Boko Haram back then, it was still criminal ineptitude that government did not address the issue with the seriousness it deserved and instead, chose to play politics whilst Nigerians were being murdered in churches in those areas. Furthermore, with the president having declared, publicly, that they knew who the sponsors were and that Boko haram was a part of his government, yet not ensuring that an arrest and prosecution or even a government sanctioned black-ops termination of such sponsors has occurred till today, whilst Nigerians continue to be massacred in the hundreds, is a definite indictment on this government.
Sadly, this initial irresponsible leaning of government has already pervaded the society to the extent that a disturbing number of Nigerians who do not live in or are indigenes of the area of activities of ‘Boko Haram’ have lost the compassion that ought to fuel their sorrow and anger at government’s inability to protect lives and properties of Nigerians in those places, and are of the erroneous opinion that the scourge is; “them killing their people just to make Nigeria ungovernable” and their belief is that; the politicians of Northern extraction should go and speak to Boko haram to stop the killings of ‘their’ people.
Maybe, both government and its supporters were right in their initial analysis of Boko Haram. However, government was wrong and irresponsible in the decision not to act to protect Nigerians no matter where such Nigerians are located.
Furthermore, after a common sense consideration of the trend of activities over the years, it is obvious that there is a clear departure from the initial plan of trying to make the country ungovernable to a clear doctrine of kill and abduct, which is more like the style of mercenary militants founds in conflict areas around Africa; South Sudan, Chad, Angola etc.
This is no longer the time to apportion blame to government, nor is it a time to point to northern politicians with the expectations that they can stop the killings. This is a time for Nigerians of all tribes and from all places, to call on government, to insist that government live up to its statutory responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of all Nigerians in all places without prejudice. That the areas under siege are areas close to the border should be of utmost importance and should inform careful consideration and analysis by the requisite agencies, as common sense tells me that this is so. Also, border areas like Bakasi and others are potential targets for these murderers, especially if, as I suspect, they are not the same book haram or they have been fully hijacked by foreign elements and their aims and objectives has changed totally.
As we mourn the evil murdering of our children yet again, this is the time for government to take a step back to rethink!
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