Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I am a Nigerian, who has always believed in the hope for a better tomorrow in my country, which hope I have held strong on to, and has encouraged me to make my permanent abode my homeland despite my sojourns de la diaspora.
However, the flicker in the hope seems to diminish with every passing day, as I have witnessed with growing horror and unhappiness what should have being quelled as a minor internal crisis escalate into this hurtful and dismal global nightmare, with my country at the centre of the debacle. What began in 2008, resurfaced with more serious attacks in 2010, but was often dismissed as mere sectarian skirmishes, or attacks just aimed at the Police Force. This was particularly as it did not affect the Urban masses, and news of the lives lost often seemed as tales spun from some distant part of the planet, and not unchecked violence in our own homeland.
With the 2011 Christmas day bombing, it came closer to ‘home’, and then, people began getting worried. But the Government reassured us of safety. It subsequently became obvious that the safety meant was for those who could afford it, as more bullet-proof cars were acquired for senior government personnel, and security increased in distinct hotels and organisations. But for the masses, nothing really changed. Except for the growing discomfort of the extra traffic in already bad roads, occasioned by Police check-points.
Of course, it was general knowledge that this inconveniencing ‘intelligence’ method of checking booths of certain cars would yield no results, and Nigerians were not deceived that they were being adequately protected. In the face of being detained for 'resisting' security measures, the populace however continued to endure these daily irritants in silence, leaving only the security personnel satisfied that they have checked terror.
As has always been the case with other national issues of foremost importance, we all toed the footsteps of the Government in slipping back into complacency, and ‘coming to terms’ with the situation, as if it were merely a headache which comes from time to time, but is not terminal.
Unfortunately, recent events have shown that this disease is indeed terminal, and must be cured once and for all. It is really sad though, that it took the abduction of almost 300 innocent girls, and the resultant outrage of the international community for us to finally face head-on the dire situation we are in. Prior to now, it had seemed as though we had all been walking about half-asleep. This time however, the world seems to have jolted us awake, and I doubt if there is sleep in sight for a while.
As a country, we have abdicated out right to privacy: we have failed to clean up our own mess. But it is a right we should be only too happy to give away to the international community, who have stepped in to help scratch the itch our hands failed to get to, in bringing our girls back. My focus however, is not just on bringing the girls back, but keeping them – and other girls – safe. In fact, keeping us all safe.
The world has decided to share our problems with us, and by doing this, they implicitly also share responsibility in ensuring that a decisive end should be brought to this reign of terror, so that it does not resurface. In order to successfully cure this wound, it is important for us to scrape the wound and look deeper than its surface.
The current happenings in Nigeria are symptoms of a much deeper wound, which I doubt the action styled landing of the US/UK/Israeli/French troops can quite easily exterminate. The inhumane abductions, senseless maiming, and sheer terror being unleashed on the populace has its roots in innate corruption, entrenched since our independence. If all the funds allocated to the different parts of the country, particularly the Northern States, had been truly utilized in empowering the people to acquire proper education or find gainful employment, perhaps, the people at the helm of these nefarious activities would have turned out differently. Perhaps, Shekau could have been a United Nations ambassador today, rather than an international fugitive. It is now that the spoils of corruption are made visible.
The insecurity and violence in the country is also traceable to bad leadership and unaccountability. With the revenue generated from Oil alone in Nigeria, we should have been able to acquire first-class security equipments, and ensure that the security officials are well equipped to combat terror. At the minimum, security vote is included in the budget every year. Asides the acquisition of bullet-proof cars and hiring bodyguards for the top government officials however, little is shown of how the security vote is put to optimal use.
I remember specifically that a contract was awarded for the installation of security cameras all over Abuja between 2011-2012. The stories from the grapevine was that the cost of the contract was in the neighbourhood of N6 billion. I remember the ‘cameras’ being fixed, and wondered that they did not move like the cameras in London. However, these cameras never proved to work, and right now, none remains on the streets of Abuja. If not for unaccountability, we would have found it easier to trace the perpetrators of the Nyanya bombings, and the abduction of our schoolgirls.
The Nigerian people are unable to hold their leaders accountable, as was shown by some leaders embarking on political rallies in the face of bombings and kidnappings. Little doubt that but for the intervention of the international community, the abductions would have been swept under the carpet, and life returned to 'normalcy'.
So for the masses, it is a welcome ‘infraction' on our sovereignty’ by the world at large to enable us find our girls.
The world should therefore not stop at just sending in troops. They should extract some sort of understanding with the Nigerian leaders (failure of which should be punishable by the International Court of Justice) that the Nigerian Government would ensure the masses enjoy the fruits of the land, rather than those at the helm of affairs simply enriching their own pockets. This is because if our girls are just brought back, with no plans of keeping them safe, then all efforts expended have been expended in vain.
We are praying for the safe return of our children, and urging the world to help us in bring them back, and keep us safe. Until our children are back, there is no "Children's Day" for us. Please bring them back.