Nothing kills faster than living in fear. I can still recall an occurrence in my teenage years when I was a victim of a robbery. The young men in dark shades invaded my house with their shiny guns. It was as if death was seconds away, I was vibrating, sweating and thinking of a way of escape all at the same time. These young men exercised their power by giving orders to my Father as they told him to lie down with his face to the floor while a gun was pointed to his skull. My grandmother was screaming for help, my energetic siblings were gentle as doves as the hoodlums asked for all the money we had. Fear gripped the whole household as everyone was praying hard in his heart to survive this moment of throe. It lasted for twenty long minutes. The criminals left with all what they could get and it was after their exit that I valued the importance of peace and serenity.
I can’t imagine how Nigerians living in the North East go through living in such hard times everyday for the past five years. Not to talk of over 200 girls in the hands of the deadly sect, Boko Haram in the forests of Borno.
The fear of Boko Haram known as “Bokophobia” has been on the prowl for the past five years and ravaged almost all the North Eastern States of Nigeria. The deadly sect is responsible for colossal loss of lives and properties as they constantly engage in destructive activities, taking on schools, barracks, public squares amongst many others. The barbaric killings by the insurgents has resulted in about 10,000 deaths between 2002 and 2013. The sect has earned itself enough credentials in killing indiscriminately that the sound of the name; Boko Haram connotes more than just fear but an instant death.
To say that the intelligence of the insurgents is higher than that of the Nigerian military and security operatives will be an understatement. From the manner of their strikes, one will see strategic planning and a resourceful sect that is not crying about lack of funds. Bombing consistently over a period of three years without being caught requires huge amounts of funding, bombs are not produced without adequate funds and rifles don’t just cross the Nigerian border for free. It takes intelligence and experience to carry out a suicide bombing attack at Nyanya park and on the night of the same day kidnap over 200 girls in Chibok village, Borno State. This is criminal intelligence at its peak and a massive budget executed by the terrorists. Are these terrorists more intelligent than the Nigerian military? Are they richer than Nigeria? Or maybe their leaders are not as corrupt as Nigerian leaders?
During the early days of Boko Haram insurgency, a large portion of Nigerians opined that it was borne out of religious strife. The recent killings by the sect has changed the minds of many as they believed that it is rather a political plot than a religious crises. It is hard to understand why a particular group of people will delight in wasting innocent lives all in a bid to make political statements and christen the Goodluck Jonathan administration as an unsafe one. Why waste lives of teenage boys and girls in broad daylight for political gains? It is quite pathetic to say the least as the insurgents go on a destructive spree with stark impunity. It sounds inhumane to hear that kidnapping of 234 girls is a way of distracting the Presidency. If you are interested in frustrating the President, why not kidnap his family members or members of his cabinet? Kidnapping innocent girls and boys and wasting precious lives through bombing will not distract an unsympathetic President like Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. If these killings are by anyway political, then the sponsors are running at a loss.
Furthermore, it is necessary to monitor the response of the government in a bid to combat the attacks of the terrorists. On May 14, 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in a bid to kick against the activities of the deadly sect. This gave freedom for the Nigerian Armed Forces to go all out against the likely hideouts of Boko Haram. This only added salt to injury as the sect did more deadly deeds of attacking schools and lynching students in a barbaric manner. There was a rumoured installation of CCTVs in the nation’s capital, Abuja to track activities of Boko Haram. All the efforts of the Federal Government turned futile as a report from Amnesty International has it that 1500 people have died with hundreds of thousands displaced as a result of insurgency this year. Some few weeks ago, an attempted jailbreak by the insurgents to free some of their colleagues in the custody of the State Security Services (SSS) in Abuja; the backyard of Presidential Villa was halted though twenty-one of them lost their lives. This only shows failure on the part of the Presidency in its fight against terrorism.
Moreso, the obvious insensitivity of the government depicts a failed leadership. The President who is saddled with the responsibility to ensure that Nigerians are safe and that they live in peace and tranquility is not concerned with the pathetic state of insecurity in the country. Going for a political rally the day following April 14, 2014 which saw Nyanya park bombed and 234 girls kidnapped is a sign of disrespect to the nation and to the bereaved. 234 girls are missing for the past two weeks and yet the President was silent about it and did not even deem it fit to inform the masses about the recent developments (if any) during his speech on May Day at the Eagles Square in Abuja. He has only now been forced to respond following the international appeal of the tragic incident. This depicts an act of insensitivity to the needs of the people as the President is busy with his plans for the 2015 elections.
As the seventeen days of abduction of over 200 girls of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State gets international media attention, I will like to crave the indulgence of the President to learn from his colleagues from other countries. I believe that Nigeria is going through her years of wilderness and as such needs a focused and brave leader who knows what to do at each stage of the tempestuous journey and does not care whose ox is gored so far it is the right thing to do. The famous quote of Robert Schuller comes to mind; “tough times never last but tough people do”. Insurgency is not going to last forever but we need a brave leader to overcome the antics of Boko Haram even if it means seeking help from foreign security operatives. The girls are not going to be in the denizens of Boko Haram forever but it will take coordinated and assiduous efforts of the Nigerian Army to get them out. Jonathan should learn from the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera who stood at the mouth of the trapped hole to embrace survivors of the Chilean Mine Rescue in August 2010 where miners were trapped underground for 69 days. He should also take cue from the conscientious efforts of Malyasian Prime minister, Najib Rasak who has been in charge of probably the largest search in human history as they are optimistic to find the remains of aircraft MH370 which disappeared on March 8, 2014 while taking 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
What more can we ask for than soothing words from the lips of the President to heal the wounds inflicted by the insurgents on several families. When will the President speak? What will he say to the over 200 families that have been plunged into utter gloom? What will he do to rescue millions of Nigerians from the devastating claws of Bokophobia which is more deadly that having a cocked Berreta pointed at your skull? All these and more are questions on the hearts of Nigerians as they continue the #BringBackOurGirls protest.
OSHO SAMUEL ADETUNJI