-By Alaba Yusuf
“If a young man is felling a tree near the house, the elder should direct where it falls.”
– Yoruba adage
Naturally, man is deemed a superior being to mere animals because he or she can think, mind and find solutions to day to day situations. And so it has been from the dark ages to modern times. No wonder, the philosopher Descartes postulated about man thus: ‘I think, and that is why I am.’ But what happens when man does the unthinkable, unfathomable, questionable, condemnable and absolutely abominable? Such as man eating man, man killing man for sport, man trafficking man and man raping women and minors? Man, at times, is a horrible being doing horrific things!
The litany of sad events in today’s Nigeria, shows that our nation is fast turning into a land of carnage and brigandage. It is very sad and sordid. As those we all look up to for solution seem to have little or no clues. So much so that the world’s attention has been draw to the callous and wanton destruction of lives and property of ordinary hapless citizens in search of daily bread in Africa’s largest country; by elements whose cause for opposition to society is yet to be unravelled.
So in a land where standard statistics is very uncommon, reports have it that almost 5000 persons must have been sent to early graves, at times mass burial or no tomb at all, by the unrepentant insurgents called Boko Haram. These terrorists have also added horrible dimension to their war trade – the abduction and trafficking of teenage school girls as sex slaves!
For instance, about 130 of such helpless students studying for the West African School Certificate Council Examination, WASCE, were bundled into trucks and whisked away into the mosquito-infested forests along the borders of Nigeria and the Cameroun. This happened on Tuesday 15 April 2014, in Chibok Government College, Southern part of Borno State. It is fair enough that about 120 have managed to escape hours with the help of security agents, after many traumatising hours in the den of marauders. But eight are still missing despite the N50 million bounty placed by the Borno Government for clues on finding the girls.
This is one evil too many. More so as it came in the wake of the tummy-churning Nyanya-Abuja Bus Station bomb, that Monday after Palm Sunday a Black Day in the country; with the mortuaries in Federal Capital Territory groaning for space to accommodate scores of dead bodies.
These incidents have triggered the alarm bells of emotion, grief and consternation amongst our compatriots and all humane men and women of the world. Meanwhile, the inspiring sight of the British High Commissioner to Nigeria donating his precious blood and calling on Nigerians to do the same to save the lives of hundreds of maimed bomb victims, confirmed that evil will never thrive if good people unite to checkmate it.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once told me in an interview that, ‘Nobody is safe from terrorism.’ This is so apt. But are Nigerians really changing adversity into prosperity, through effective crisis management and the restoration of good governance, genuine security and enduring credibility? Do we really care about others? And how true are we to the tenets of being ‘our brothers and sisters’ keepers.’
Many have condemned a situation where the country’s number one citizen, who should be the main mourner in this war of attrition, was seen dancing and canvassing for political support for his party on live television in Kano City; barely 24 hours after a dastardly dynamite detonated in his backyard rudely woke up the world to the unending asymmetrical war of terror on the street.
Some even reminded the President of his joy of giving out his daughter in marriage a day before the Sunday blast. These people argue that the joy of the bereaved have now been permanently replaced with sorrow due to the bomb that butchered their loved ones, and that no one should make light of such matters. I believe President Goodluck Jonathan and his political team meant no evil by going ahead with an already planned rally; especially so, if it was a way to say ‘we braved the odds to hold our rally, Boko Haram threat or not.’ But the anger against a dancing mourner may not be ill-directed.
Come to think of it. What fate must have befallen the young girls forcibly abducted from school prep into the camps of gun-toting and sex starved bandits? I ponder as a parent if my girl-child was meted such a crude deal! I really don’t know what I would not do. My heart is dripping with cold sweat as I wonder without a clue the tale that my country is telling its citizens home and abroad.
Why is it that our nation is often afflicted with the tale of the unexpected? Whence goes our usual African hospitality and cultured compassion? Why kill for sport and take the lives of the innocent? Must blood continue to flow into the ocean like the River Niger and Benue? Who will stop this era of carnage and brigandage?
It has been said that conventions are made for human convenience. Hence our leaders, in all ramifications of the word, must and should return sanity back to our commonality for the sake of humanity. Time is here for us to limit the animals in our midst and invoke the compassion and concern of welfare and wellbeing that make man the leader of all mammals ever created.
Finally, as the nation sorrows, the 492 ‘elders or the wise ones’ at the National Conference, the CONFAB Delegates, plus the Council of State comprising the President and all the 36 State Governors, should as a matter of urgency wear the garb of true patriotism and nationalism, by intervening to address and patch up the torn apparel of this country which is now being tempted to dance naked in the global market.
Certainly, any breakdown of the social contract in 170-million-peopled Nigeria would no doubt spell double trouble for the ECOWAS Sub-region, African Continent and the world at large. These drums of war must stop now, for the dancers would not know their bounds if the circus commence. Now is the time for total reconciliation of all the conflicting interest within our nation. For how long more can we harbour this war of attrition that is decimating our collective existence?
The Writer, Alaba Yusuf, is an international publicist/journalist, strategist and commentator based in Abuja