Tag Archives: Boko Haram

Why now?

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CNN had it boldly written on screen “Nigeria strikes back at Boko Haram” and when mighty CNN says it, then it must be true and the nation should rejoice because the news is “on CNN”! We dance around in excitement not just because of the feat achieved but in – not entirely misplaced – reverence of all things western.

But its true though, whether CNN reports it or not, the Nigerian military has recovered over 500 persons previously in the clutches of Boko Haram in the past 2 weeks. One heartrending picture of a malnourished little child rescued from captivity made the front page of our national daily. Pictures of the rescued persons make front page of many newspapers, our military is working and our local media (not just CNN) are reporting.

Prayer – For the freedom of the people in captivity, for the peaceful rest they will have outside captivity and for food like they never had in captivity, I thank thee oh Lord.

The soldiers were even able to arrest the official fuel supplier of the Boko Haram, Mr. Supplier made headline news too. The nation is happy, finally our military is working and people are being freed from captivity. I am happy too, happy for the many people who have regained freedom, happy for the children who might now be better fed.

I am happy for the military too. So far, I haven’t heard that they have lost any men recovering people from BH. I haven’t heard that they turned tail and ran too.

Prayer – For the lives of our soldiers and their recovered pride, I thank thee oh Lord!

The question that nobody is asking that I am asking however is “why now?”. My friend doesn’t understand it either, he wonders why after many years of seeming incapable, the Nigerian military is suddenly fighting Boko Haram to near defeat. He wonders how after four years of (a.) not having resources (b.) not having ammunition (c.) not having eyes in Sambisa and (d.) not having anything at all, the military is suddenly able to nearly vanquish BH.

I wonder too. I wonder if the many lives previously lost to Boko Haram could have been avoided. I wonder if the captives could not have been recovered earlier. I wonder if those malnourished children and desolate looking women recovered from captivity could have remained free in the first place. What is this sudden magic and why now?

BH was a source of many debates on social media, some arguments ran along the lines of:

  1. The army is trying
  2. GEJ is trying
  3. BH wants to discredit GEJ’s government
  4. BH is APC funded
  5. Nobody was kidnapped

There were some other arguments just painful to recall because of their invalidity. Which one of the above arguments presently hold true in the face of the military’s renewed strength and activity?

Prayer – For common sense for me and my fellow Nigerians, I pray thee oh Lord!

Boko Haram was supposedly set up by the opposition to discredit the GEJ administration. Mere weeks to the end of the GEJ administration, it can now stop BH? Why couldn’t they do it before? Why didn’t they do it before its menace sent them packing out of office? Why are they doing it now that the supposed champions of Boko Haram are about to take over? Something does not add up.

Why now?

Prayer – For answers I may never get to questions that bother me, I pray…?

SO MANY NIGERIAN WAYS TO GO!

We will all die eventually, no doubt about that. But some of us intend to die when God says its time and for me, it will be time when I am 92years old, with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren surrounding my bedside. Death is inevitable, of course it is, but I refuse to die a Nigerian death. I refuse to die a statistical figure in the pages of a rarely read newspaper. I refuse to die a senseless death, fodder for back and forth name-calling between political opponents hoping to score insignificant points. I will not die a Nigerian death.

There are many ways to go as a Nigerian, none of which is the way I have envisaged my eventual passing. You could die in a bomb blast! If you live in the southern part of Nigeria, this may not be your end (I presently live in the southern part)! If you live in the northern part, then you should be worried. When the bomb goes off and takes your precious life, social media will light up, not in your specific remembrance but in remembrance of a collective figure like 30 and it might read something like this “30 people lost in another blast, God console their families”, then of course there will be all black pictures or a picture of a burning candle to show your collective faces (no individual will get special recognition). 2 to 3 days after, or a week at the very most, you will be totally forgotten and the rest of the country waiting to die either in a Nigerian way or in a normal way will move on.

You could die in a road accident, this is really a very common type of death, with our roads. Many die on our roads, those ones don’t even get any media mention. At the end of every year or at its beginning FRSC will mention your precious life as statistics, “1000 lives lost in road mishaps in 2014” and that’s that for you.

You could be kidnapped, if you live in the southern part of Nigeria you are at high risk of being kidnapped and you might be killed whether you pay the ransom or not. The media will light up for you, security agencies will struggle to get media mentions acting like they are doing something to get you back, if you are just a little bit popular you might get out, if you aren’t popular you will most likely die and we will not hear about it. Your family will not announce the cause of your death too publicly either (they have to guard against presenting themselves as a target for future attacks.) Now, if you are kidnapped in the north, you have just a little bit of hope, Oby and Josephine won’t rest, they will try their best to get you back but mark my words, you will still be a statistical figure “234 chibok girls still missing after 200 days”. Then the political giants will engage each other over you “Missing girls: APC accuses PDP of negligence”. “Chibok girls: They only want us out of government – PDP Chieftain”. Will you be found? I am not too confident but at least some noise will be made.

You could die looking for a job, I understand your frustration, you have to feed yourself, you have to clothe yourself, you have to exist and exist well! If you have a degree chances are that you will be searching for gainful employment as hard as I am. Then the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) would invite you for an exam or more likely the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would (2015 is around the corner, hands are needed). You and about 1 million other people will turn up at a 1000 capacity hall and (a.) fight to squeeze in. (b.) fight for question papers (c.) fight to submit. (d.) fight to squeeze out. In the midst of all the fight, you could be among the numbers who slump and die! You will definitely make the news, your friends would say they warned you not to go. The INEC chairman would blame you for animalistic behaviour and still hold his office very arrogantly, your people could receive compensation and of course let’s not forget the media headings “20 die in INEC examination stampede!”. A week or so later, you will be forgotten, another statistical Nigerian death.

It could be sickness and I am not talking Ebola, serious affairs like Ebola which can creep into all levels of society will be fought to a standstill! The government would do all in its power to stop it. The world would help too #worldhealthorganization, they have our interests at heart. Viruses like Ebola will be contained abeg, before it wipes the entire nation or worse still wipes big people in government. Business will continue as usual after we contain the virus and heroes of the virus war will be forgotten after the government mutters platitudes. Now back to the sickness that can really kill you, it could be malaria, just simple malaria that we get periodically. You would be down with a fever, you wouldn’t have a private hospital access card or funds to pay consultancy. The Doctors would be on strike protesting something and the government would fire the resident doctors so no public hospital for you. You would probably go to a pharmacy (not any big one o), a local one where a barely educated chemist will put a few multi-coloured drugs in white paper for you. The fever could get worse and you would die. There is a slim chance that you will make the news, it will read “Thousands still die of malaria in Africa, WE NEED NETS!” Heaven forbid you get diagnosed with a major illness, you know those kinds that require surgery or advanced treatment outside the country, then would be the time to put your house in order, you would surely die, not because our doctors don’t know what to do but because they don’t have the equipment or because there are long queues waiting in lines at one or two private and public hospitals to benefit from that particular machinery.

There are many ways to die a Nigerian death, I can’t list them all but I do not intend to go in any of those ways. I will die very old with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren scattered everywhere in the world. By then I would have been published, I would have practised my communication for development too, I would have commented on several issues bothering the country and hopefully, seen giant strides in the country’s progress. By then, I would have insisted that hunger in the nation be alleviated, that poverty be combated. By then I would have loved passionately and lived very fully. By then I would be very fulfilled. I will die a biblical death, the kind where you bless your children lying down and then close your eyes to rest. I will get media mentions, full paged obituaries by friends and family. Well written eulogies from colleagues and the government of that day. A long list of survivors on every media announcement and an even longer list of gratitude from my family after the funeral rites.

Too many Nigerian ways to die, we who won’t die in any of those ways salute you!

IF YOU WERE KIDNAPPED

If you were kidnapped, yes you, gi nwa onye m bu n’obi, gi nwa bu ezi oyi m, if you were kidnapped

I would be very pained

I would be bothered and be downright uncomfortable

Tears would spring to my eyes and spill down my cheeks at the thought of your torment

I would worry endlessly about you, I would wonder if you had been harmed,

If you were in pain or if you had been tortured

Situations would revolve in my mind and I would picture you in them all

 

If I heard you were kidnapped, I would ask, why, who and what for?!

If I was told boko haram took you, I would shake my head and wear a straight face

I would shout, mba! Nkea akali go!

I would scream for your return

I would petition the government and security agencies to demand action

I would call on all human rights groups to fight for your rescue

 

If you were kidnapped, I would understand the pain your parents would feel

I would feel their heartache, their sorrow and their loss

I would feel their confusion, their hurt and their despair at their sad lot

I would feel their pain as keenly as if they were my own parents searching for me

I would call up your parents, sit with them, cry with them, say words to make them feel better

 

 

If you, my friend, were kidnapped, I would never forget

I love you, you are a part of me, I wouldn’t take your loss kindly

I would do all in my power to get you back

To make sure that memories of you never fade

I would always listen for news of you

I would attempt anything and everything to get you back

Your memory will never be lost, not to my other interests, not to epidemics, not to other cares and worries

 

If you were kidnapped, I would want you back

I would want you back because you are precious, because you are priceless, because you are an important piece of me

 

I would do all these for you my good friend,

If some females in some obscure part of the country were kidnapped

I would not be bothered, of what use are they to me pray tell?

My passion to bring back missing people only extends to people whose loss affects me!

Any other person, I will forget!

 

 

Note: “Gi nwa onye m bu n’obi” – “You that is dear to my heart”. “Gi nwa bu ezi oyi m” – “You that is my good friend”. “Mba, nkea akali go” – “No, this is too much”

 

 

BRING BACK OUR GIRLS, BRING BACK NIGERIA

BY

THERESA 

About two weeks ago, hundreds of young Nigerian school girls had their lives altered. They were abducted; thrown into a realm of uncertainty which outsiders like you and I can only weakly attempt to define by the boundaries of our imagination. These girls HAVE dreams, aspirations, hopes and plans none of which foretold the tragic fate which has befallen them. These girls ARE daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, cousins, grand-daughters, friends and much more to people who currently experience unimaginable pain. Regardless of gender, age, religion, ethnicity and social class, we all share something with these girls. We share a bond; our humanity is a common denominator.

The saying “life goes on” always holds true even after war and in this case, will unfortunately be same. But how should life go on especially in the wake of this and other recent occurrences? Do we fold our arms, remain “powerless” and allow politically motivated insurgents define life for us? Do we go on with our lives, offering the occasional “hmms, oohs and ahhs” when such things happen and continue in our own bubbles with the erroneous beliefs that our buildings, our streets, our states and regions make us impossible to reach and so, far from harm’s way? Do we carry on, attribute this to destiny and assume that our “destiny” would be different from theirs? Do we offer supplication to God as lone solution? Or do we merely wish our problems away?

These problems we face are collective. They are not just the government’s and not only the victims’ but ours as a people. Stop for a minute and reminisce about the life you have now then imagine a scenario where you are forcefully extricated from your current position and the world as you see it, as you know it, and as you live in it gets replaced with chaos that you not just passively observe but actively live through. Picture a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a grand-daughter, a niece, a cousin, or a friend of yours and imagine that one day they are taken from you. Consider the many possibilities- sexual, physical, psychological abuse and torture. Go a step further to consequences- unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition and many more. How about death maybe not before but even after experiencing all that was previously mentioned? This is the very depressing but harsh reality for many right now.

There is only so much most of us can do but every little bit counts. Through prayers, petitions and protests we have to continuously speak for them and demand that this ugly occurrence be given the highest level of attention by the powers that be. It does not matter if just one or one million girls were kidnapped, the cause must be fought for. It does not matter who does what in what manner and the least concern should be intents or genuineness of the messengers as long as the message- to bring back the girls- gets spread. We have to make conscious efforts to see that this is not swept under a rug and ensure that no one forgets if not this will become just another feature in a long list of unending sad tales in our country.  We must demand action. We must demand peace. We must speak. If we do not then we have failed those girls and ourselves and in the nearer future, we could be calling for more people to be brought back- our sons, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, friends, you and I.

This is one in a series of causes that must be fought for in order to restore some semblance of normalcy in our society. Nigeria’s turmoil has gone past the point of generating passive response. Way too many lives have been lost in recent times, way too many tears have been shed, a lot of families have been forever disconnected and properties to the tune of billions lost. At the centre of these goings-on are power hungry individuals whose insatiable appetite to conquer and devour has reduced the populace to pawns in a political game of chess. Individuals who must be held accountable and peace demanded from. Nigeria as we once knew it (even with its former peculiarities) has been stolen from us. Terrorism is here and is very real and if not checked, soon no barricade- physical, mental or social- will suffice for the masses regardless of who we are, where we live, what we look like and what we do. Control must be regained lest we become controlled. We must do something- We must all lend our voices.

This is a #BringBackOurGirls fight and a #BringBackNigeria war.    

 

 

ROASTED PARTS OF OUR FUTURE

Why are the streets normal? Why are we going about our business as usual? Why has nothing changed? Why is life moving on like it always does? I had thought I would wake up to see red skies like eyes, shedding blood red tears and weeping over Nigeria, mourning the lives of the 29 innocents killed in Yobe State. I had thought I would wake up to see groups of people standing in corners, discussing in hushed tones the pure wickedness, heartlessness, callousness and inhumanity that would make human beings roast young children alive. I thought there would be an uproar, I thought fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, human beings with any sense of humanity would rise to condemn this wicked act, but alas, I saw nothing!

The newspapers reported it as statistics, “29 children killed in Yobe State”. A bystander looks and says “29? Thank God, it wasn’t more!” We fools! We have become totally uncaring of atrocities and abominations that ought to horrify us! How do we roast our future? How do we kill children who need to live to sustain our nation? How do we equate lives to numbers and statistics? Pray tell me how a human person can sit and hear the cries of innocent children, screaming, struggling to escape and hail himself for a job well done? Explain to me how wicked you have to be, to murder sleep? How exactly pray tell, do you see children running away from death and slit their throats, returning them remorselessly to the fate they sought to escape?

I thought I would wake up to outrage. I thought I would wake to a clamour for justice. I thought I would wake to see right thinking individuals demanding security from its government.  The paramount thing a government owes its people is security, safety of their lives and of all they own. Any government that cannot provide and ensure this, is NO GOVERNMENT at all!

I went to a federal school myself. I went to my school with pride, I announced proudly at every given opportunity that I was a student of Federal Government Girls’ College Onitsha. Federal schools were the only places to be back then. Parents clamoured to send their children to any unity school. It didn’t matter where the school was, north, east or west, it was probably still better than the local schools in their states of residence. Federal schools were for a long time the only hope the normal Nigerian family had of standard education for their children, it still is. Nobody ever imagined abductions and killings in those exalted institutions back then. So many leading individuals I know attended unity schools, my classmates at federal, awesome girls all of them, making giant strides in their chosen fields. It blows my mind to think that it could have been any of us.

Many students still pass through unity schools, students with prospects, with talents and abilities to excel in various fields and cause change in society. Tell me, how does one lock all this in a room and burn it? How do we break the hearts of Parents who thought they had given their children their best? How do we turn gifts of love to death traps? How do we commit these evil acts against God and humanity?

I thought I would wake up to see a people demanding and insisting on change. I thought I would see people demanding for sanity, for justice, for action! Alas I saw nothing! I saw people going about their normal businesses, leaving battles that God has asked us to fight, back at His doorstep. I saw a people counting human lives as numbers and forgetting that they could be numbers too. I saw a people who thought they were free from harm, who are still unwilling to do battle, to demand justice and claim their right to life, not just any kind of life, quality life.

I saw a people whose future had been roasted in 29 parts, ignorant of the fact that their silence would lead to a total incineration of the lives of their children!

 mourning-armin_vogel