Francis Udoka Ndimkoha
“I … do solemnly swear/affirm that I will defend, be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria… That I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the best of my ability protect and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria… that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria. So help me God” (A presidential Oath of office. Emphasis, mine)
Nigeria‘s five decade history has been improperly punctuated with Violence. And for a nation that achieved independence without war, this is grossly an anomaly. We have evolved from the post-independence violence through the Post-election violence, Operation wetie, the Agbekoya revolt, and ultimately, the Nigeria-Biafra war. All these were in the first post independence decade.
Again, we had the coups and counter coups, inter-religious and ethnic violence; mostly bloody, the Maitatsin revolt, the 1993 post election violence, Niger-Delta militancy, Kidnapping, 2011 Post election violence and now, the Boko Haram Insurgency.
Obviously, we are having our fair share of violence, which has become a global phenomenon (apologies to President Goodluck Jonathan), and the land is already gorged with kindred blood. We have suddenly got so used to gory scenes that the news of another bomb blast hardly moves us. You maybe be surprised that by the time you lift your eyes from this piece, the heart-rending news of yet another blast will inundate your ears. It goes without saying, that a face that toils closely to a stone soon becomes stone itself. And instead of continuously working towards a possible solution to the blood letting that has become a hallmark of our daily news update, we are busy adapting ourselves to the tragic situation. Most of us are even fishing in the troubled waters and our government seems not to be helping matters.
As a people, we have been known to be peaceful and very hospitable, but greed and domineering tendency has brought about a downpour of blood never before imagined in our nation. This dramatic irony is better represented in the slogan of Borno State; “Home of Peace”.
Today, the one proving and readily available commodity in our Nation’s body politic is fear. Fear rules, almost supreme. When it is not fear of the unknown, it is fear of Armed Robbers or kidnappers. There is fear of Ebola Virus Disease (E.V.D) and even fear of suicide bombers. And if you have ever been in a situation of bomb false alarm, if you have ever fled, without recourse to the whereabouts your loved ones, then and only then will you realize and fully acknowledge the torment of fear. The fear of unprepared death, the thoughts of the torture in hell, and the loss of heaven or Al-janah; all random thoughts in the self-same blank mind.
Sadly, fear is the main tool at the disposal of the terrorist. He exploits the fear gnawing at timid hearts, and then he strikes. To the victim, nothing is as dreadful as being taken unawares. To the terrorist, power lies in the ability to create panic and induce fear. Thus at the speed of sound, souls return to the creator, flesh and bones are scattered in the vicinity and charred into cinders. Moments later, there is a press release by the suicide squad, owning-up to the heinous crime. Next comes the government press release condemning the blast, assuring and re-assuring the people that they are on top of the situation and everyone should go about their lawful duties.
If only the people know their true power. If only we realize that we can really do a lot and go a long way to rid our nation or criminal and terrorist elements in our midst. Yes. These terrorist are our kit and kins. Some, our neighbours. It makes no difference if they are illegal immigrants. We are duty bound to report every suspicious move, irrespective of the fact that our military is already compromised. We need to come to terms with the fact that we are the government and the government is us. We have to reassure ourselves that we are the last human frontiers to these marauding beasts. We need to realize that the hands of the federal government is tied mainly because the forces behind this terrorism looms the same forces behind the government or how else can you explain the fact that each day, bomb factories are discovered, arrests are made and it all amounts to nothing? How can you explain the secret trial of terror suspects in a supposed democratic setting? How can you explain the situation whereby there are names on the lips of people as the “terror sponsors”, yet no major arrest has been made by the government? Don’t they have intelligence reports? Can they convince us that they truly do not know the real terror sponsors or are the sponsors the same as the expected sponsors of the ruling party in the next general elections?
We condemn government’s pussyfooting but we equally condemn the people’s lackadaisical attitude. The people need to sit up to their constitutional followership and good citizenship duties, as the only way to get the government to rise up to her responsibility of protecting lives and property, as they swore to do. The people are all that is required to stop the nation from her giant strides towards Gaza. We have seen how community policing and “Civilian JTF” has fared. It looms a Herculean task because only the government has the power to make arrests, yet the complicity of our armed forces in this insecurity regime is legible from her demeanor. The much we can do is to encourage the people to keep trying because according to Chimamanda Adichie;
“Let us tell ourselves the truth; what can an ordinary person do? Nothing! Even those people check cars, if the open a boot and see a big bomb, what will they do? Will they try to subdue an armed suicide bomber? Will they pour water on the bomb to defuse it? Will they not turn and run as fast as their legs can carry them?” (Chimamanda Adichie: The miraculous deliverance of oga Jona)
We believe that if the government is truly committed to ending insecurity, we won’t have a situation whereby over 250 students were kidnapped in a secondary school in Chibok for more that a hundred and ten days (110), yet no concrete and obvious effort is being made to free them. We urge the government to bring to the table even those who are being fingered as “terror sponsors”, so as to help resolve this impasse. It is not enough to label opposition party members as terror sponsors, but gladly accept them into the ruling party and even give them appointments once they defect! It is not enough to divert the course of investigation by quickly going on air to accuse perceived enemies of the government as the people behind every other bomb that goes off, without realizing that it is a direct accusation to the government in power, yes, what it implies is that the government knows the people that are reducing our population by crude means, and yet cannot summon courage to either expose them or arrest and prosecute them. Call it weakness, sheer deceit or outright clueless leadership?
Yet we should be strong in our resolve to continue as one united nation. We should break the wall of party politics, in the overall interest of the country. The people should be constructive in criticism, while the government should be open to listen and adjust. The people should give useful information and support the government in power, while the government should be ready work with the useful information as well as protect the sources of such information.
It is well with Nigeria.