There is discrepancy between the figures admitted as dead by the Nigerian government, survivors, national and international press. Nigerian government states that only 150 were killed while survivors many of whom are now displaced, national and international press put the figures at 2000 for the dead and over 30,000 for the displaced.
Right, whichever figure is correct, people are dead. My painful question then is; did anyone deserve to die and why must they die? Can Nigerian leaders justify campaigning for elections to retain their offices and continue to be in the driving seats if lives and properties are not safe under their leadership and there seems to be no end in sight? Does the number of the dead and displaced really matter? Is one life lost to Boko Haram, religious and political violence in Nigeria not one life too many? Can we justify the displacement of Nigerians into Chad and others where they face more risk of death at a supposed time of peace and still claim that all is well with us in our country?
I watched a CNN report where two people Geof Porter of North African Risk Consulting and Gen. Wesley Clark, a retired US Army Officer spoke powerfully about our situation.
Mr Porter opined that there is lack of leadership and Political will to combat the menace of Boko Haram by the current administration. He was also of the opinion that this apparent lack of political will is made worse by GEJ’s fear that responding seriously and decisively to Boko Haram would jeopardise his leadership ambition. He somehow believes that if Buhari wins, which he concluded is possible too, he will restore morale among the military, cub corruption which is the bane of our country and give citizens a feeling of hope again. He mentioned something about a particular UN Law (to research this) which is preventing the USA and others from training Nigerians/army on how to combat Boko Haram and other uprisings in Nigeria.
Retired Gen Wesley Clark on the other hand was of the opinion that Boko Haram’s continuing unchalleneged will encourage them to take their threat to other countries and places. He further stated that how we stop them is a ,matter of leadership. At present our problem is lack of sincere leadership and tremendous corruption fueled by oil money. Nigeria needs full governance which will give citizens especially those in the North access to education, transportation etc. Therefore until you have a government that is corrupt free and focused on leadership not self- aggrandizement, the problems will continue to escalate and the end is not in sight.
What an insightful confirmation of what many Nigerians already know but are unwilling to speak about because its either not in their tribal, religious interest or they are happy because they are benefiting or will benefit from the poor state of affairs.
What is most alarming is that many Nigerians despite the difficulties and havoc bribery and corruption have continued to wreak in our daily lives in Nigeria, are blinded by our inherited prejudices of tribe and religion to the extent that they are prepared to live in fear, pain and suffering while protection these non-existent beliefs. There are some Nigerians who like me and others have never been to school or abroad and are happy to be left alone in their primitive villages where they survive on less than a pound a month. But is this humane? Can we still classify such people as Nigerians and citizens of this earth with equal rights? Is this the justice which many people in our world preach or pay lip service to? Does the Nigerian oil wealth belong to all of us or some? many questions needing answers but very unlikely to get such answers.
I am very shocked that in the face of the troubles in Northern Nigeria especially the hell breaking abduction of over 200 Chibok girls in April 2014, many none Northerners closed their minds as to the plight of the children and their families because it is the problem of the North or as some people bizarrely believe, it did not happen. I wondered if anyone has bothered to consider the consequences of this inhumane attitude which includes the spread of Boko Haram mayhem all over Nigeria. As Gen. Clark rightly said, leaving Boko Haram unchallenged will encourage them to take matters for granted and continue to terrorize Nigeria and the world.
Although many Nigerians may consider my fears unrealistic, I sincerely believe that unless we all come together and take on Boko Haram issues seriously, there will come a time when Nigeria will become like Somalia and Sudan. The issue is not simply of tribe and religion. It is more about poverty created by our leaders which we must combat without respect for tribe or religion. Although we differ by tribe and religion the consequences of age long leadership delinquency which has continued to bedevil Nigeria affects all of us and we cannot justify our long silence.
I am privileged to have the opportunity to live and work away from Nigeria but being someone who naturally believes in the equality of man and that unless we all strive towards making this world a better place for all to live in despite where we come from or what we look like, I am constantly affronted by the devil may care attitude of my own people and others in the world who do not care about others and tomorrow.
NB: Many of the reference to CNN report are in my own words as I understood the report given the speed of the delivery and not entirely the words of the commentators. The first picture with red infrared digital images represented the human population of number of people in Baga on 2/1/2015 and before the attack while the second is the population of Baga today after 7th January attacks. Picture credit Amnesty international and NBC news.