– Alaba Yusuf
“The elephant is a gargantuan animal that no hunter can claim to have seen in a jiffy, when you see a giant say so.” – Yoruba Proverb
Some good tidings are coming at last from the closet of carnage and brigandage. The ruling class in Nigeria, as right thinking people advised much earlier, has decided to put the issue of national security on the front burner, with less politicking. The President and all political governors of the 36 states met, 24 April 2014 at Aso Rock Villa, to make sense out of the bunch of nonsense now pervading our clime.
But any conclusion of this security session that falls short of a brave proclamation matched by action on how to smoke or fish out the insurgents from their hell holes would be unacceptable, condemnable and a sheer aberration.
Meanwhile, former military Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, who was infamously labelled a ‘Boko Haram sponsor’ by some government apologists and religious extremists, was the first to catapult an iron stone-ball at the girls-snatching-and-bowel-ripping insurgents. He called their barbaric and sordid act, “a declaration of war on the nation.” The stern veteran soldier has seen the elephant in the forest of terrorism, called Sambisa. And he was swiftly awarded a round of warm applause by the Presidency for ‘uncommon’ demonstration of “patriotism and statesmanship.”
Quite understandable, when viewed from the perspective of the untamed sparring war between the Adamawa helmsman, Murtala Nyako, who had fired a hot salvo at the centre of the country’s unity, by doubting Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s security initiatives at quelling the Boko Haram hara-kiri – the asymmetrical war of attrition and population decimation.
Much earlier in the week, the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, displayed a lame-duck public relations attempt on television, in order to wipe off the sin of misinformation by a supposed ‘triumphant military’ that, in a James Bond 007’s fashion, ‘freed-all-but-eight’ of the over 200 ‘Boko Haramed’ school girls taken hostage a week ago from Chibok College in Borno State. Such a hasty eureka sound from the Defence Headquarters was too untimely, and no wonder it boomeranged as a ‘huge ruse and fluke.’ It turned out a big lie that has since been retracted by a thoroughly embarrassed DHQ and the nation, “in deferment to the parents of the missing girls and the school authority.”
The question now is: who is hiding what and why must the tongue be faster than the brains anyway? After all, Crisis Management 101 suggests the wisdom of letting the experts speak the truth while doing damage control in any chaotic situation. Why are our public handlers blowing the fuse of human relations and pressing self-destruct buttons with reckless abandon and relish? They are always “on top of the matter!”
Let’s recall the sad tale of the Nigerian Immigration Service and their death-trap stadia interview that led to the sudden demise of 19 unemployed graduates, plus the unremorseful outbursts of Abba Moro, the Interior Minister, who supervised that sorrow to the nation’s greater tomorrows.
The mean minister literarily walked on the corpses of the dead with a horrible comment: “Who told pregnant women to attend a para-military test; but I need a second chance to correct this error.” This was truly tragic indeed. And someone needs to spell to him the word wickedness in bold letters. Yet, he never got fired; instead he still keeps his plum job. Only recently Morro burrowed into his Benue hedge of the woods, to celebrate his Godfather and benefactor, Senator David Bonaventure Mark, President of the Senate, whom he flowerily described to an audience of Idoma faithful as the best human created since the invention of slice bread. We all know Mark’s infamous remark as Minister of Communications under the Ibrahim Babangida’s regime that: “telephone was not meant for the poor.”
Back to the time and space for carnage and brigandage. It is so worrisome that Nigerians are no longer scared of the sight and sound of death, robbery, ritual killings, rape or kidnapping! Are we all losing it? Going insane collectively? Strangely, the folks who are supposed to guide and guard our public conscience are feigning ignorance.
My people seem to have lost their natural culture for compassion and public spiritedness. Imagine the spate and plate of terror on our national table? Gory stories daily emanate from all parts of the country: from Borno to Adamawa, Bauchi to Katsina, Yobe to Gombe, Lagos to Oyo, Ogun to Ondo, Anambra to Abia, Kogi to Kaduna, Nasarawa to Taraba, Abuja to Niger, and so on. It is undoubtedly a horrific picture of a nation in tears and sorrow, painted in dripping human blood on the canvass of reality. Our recent economic re-grading as the top in Africa, notwithstanding!
Must decomposition become the portion of this great nation? Not God forbid, but we must forbid! For whenever and wherever vice supersedes virtue and evil overruns good then the omen is an ill-wind that blows no one any positive measure. The fate of the parents of the missing girls in Borno State, the sobbings of the bereaved and homeless in Wukari, Taraba State; the horror of Nyanya motor-park bomb-blast victims and the death of tens of thousands all over the country, are enough grounds for worry and fear in Nigeria. Even the mystery characters of Dracula or Lady Vampire would seek an end to such avoidable blood-letting.
To compound the ugly situation, hoax calls and choking rumours of bomb alerts and Boko Haram attacks now come at 10 for a kobo. The Federal Secretariat in Abuja was once declared a ghost-land by a mischievous bomb scare. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway was not spared either. The Makurdi-Abuja motorway was equally targeted. In fact, terror thrives on people’s fear of fear, which is worse than death. Terrorists create panic and pandemonium.
Meanwhile, methinks that the cause of a crisis may never be the cure all for it. So with the Boko Haram nail still deep in our flesh, we all must look at the various options and prescriptions for survival. Governor Rotimi Amechi recently brought UNESCO, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, ex Head of State Abdusallam Abubabar, former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili, and other global eggheads to witness the fanfare declaration of Port Harcourt as the “World’s Book City.” The River State capital otherwise branded a Garden City beat other renowned academic citadels such as Oxford in the United Kingdom, Lyons in France and a host of others to become the numero uno for universal written knowledge-seeking. It is so timely for a country where only 24 candidates out of a million scored 250 and above points in the Joint Admission Examination into the nation’s tertiary institutions. Thus proper education may save us all from Boko Haram and other self-inflicted crises.
Therefore, our government should not let the frustrated and anguished women of Borno State, whose doting daughters are currently languishing in the evil forest of Sambisa, to dare the devils by dining without long spoons. For the born-cold-to-harm insurgents are so blood thirsty that they can take mothers and their daughters as sex slaves and human shield without a wink. There, lives the elephant of terror for real!
Finally, there is wisdom in knowing that Sambisa forest, the deadly den of the Boko Harams, is far away from being the pleasurable holiday resort of Ibiza, where global fun-seekers dance to the beats of hedonistic samba.
The Writer, Alaba Yusuf, is an international publicist/journalist, strategist and commentator based in Abuja