Jona and the Northern Nightmare

For some Nigerians, especially those from the (yet?) ‘untouched’ Western and Eastern parts, the kidnap of more than two hundred school girls from Chibok, a small community in Borno State, is the wake-up call to a spiritedly driven group that shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon, and a leadership that desires no committed part in the ‘mass-destruction struggle’- a wasteful interest to be minded by government, they probably think, in the face of supreme agendas beyond 2014. Many thanks to the increasingly active segment of civil society greatly aided by the Twitter platform.
The Chibok happening is no less confronting and touching as the several other impunities that ‘Nigeria’ has stopped talking about, waiting only to be blown out by a curious search of the internet data on Nigeria. The ‘enemy of the people’- so the people think, and truly, partly so- that needs no elegant introduction is the Boko Haram sect: the nightmare of the North (I would have reckoned ‘Nigeria’ instead, except that using ‘North’ as a matter-of-factness brings out the folly of those in other parts of the country who are yet to see the national factor in the situation). Only recently did Nigeria become the giant of African economy (on paper). While Minister Okonjo Iweala spoke, and other government officials smiled in all directions, ‘time’ laughed hysterically and ran off to hide somewhere around the Northern populace. The bombing of Nyanya Park in Abuja was a terrible aftermath. Lives were lost, properties were destroyed. One question comes to mind here: How many people actually died? Was it only a single ethnic group that suffered? Was it only Christianity or only Islam? Very clearly, it couldn’t have been designed as a sentimentally targeted attack. That same day, while the country grieved, President Goodluck Jonathan danced. It wasn’t a sufficiently credible reason to halt any activity of government.
“After all, these lives get lost, and our people do not seem very disturbed. What havoc can it, another one of what they are used to, wreck?”
We tweeted like we used to. We said all sorts like we used to. Gradually, we moved into other businesses as the days rolled by. The present business of the day started about one month ago. Boko Haram had abducted girls from Chibok in Borno! Where are our girls? Even if we find out where they are, how many girls are we looking for? The Military responded: “Hundred girls”. Now, the search begins. Again, they cried out: “We have recovered them”. Everyone cannot be fooled; we got to know the truth: the number the military stated was not even up to half of the real number abducted and they recovered no one. The only girls that escaped did it themselves- even in the face of instant death, were they caught. Shall we then share their praise with an opportunistic military? Were their lies and deception intended to relieve the concerned parents of initial shock? One month gone and no sign of our girls. The concerned parents organized themselves and attempted to search for their girls, the same thing we do in all parts of the country whenever we realize that the government will either not do it or will waste time. We tar our neighbourhood roads, we fix our community security challenges, we build our own schools and hospitals where we can be sure to have the best facilities for our people. Aren’t we, the people, government in our own right? They revealed that their girls and others are held in Boko Haram’s Sambisa Forest Camp. What next?
For one thing, the paramount role of the ‘international’ cannot be overlooked in this situation. The increasing intervention of several foreign media agencies and celebrities, running commentaries and write-ups and posing with the #BringBackOurGirls poster; pledges of military assistance; the link that binds the local insurgent groups with other groups outside the confines of the country. There is no gain without pain. For the assistance rendered, we should not forget that a price will be paid. But we should not care too much about external interference in our matters- have we ever been free from it since independence?
Perhaps, the greatest danger that we need to bother about is the allegiance of the presidency. It is now common to hear that the president is incompetent, visionless and weak. One reason for this could be the 2015 elections- in which case he should think he is deploying political wisdom. There are two options for Mr. President. The first is for him to put aside his second term ambitions and focus on the job of securing Nigeria from every threat. The second- and obvious- is for him to do the reverse of the first. It will be time-wasting for Nigerians to think that not having Jonathan as president in 2015 will solve the Boko Haram problem. Our concern should be to fight Boko Haram- 2015 or no 2015. And who knows, Jonathan may laugh last if he follows the first option above with all sincerity.

Author: ifeadedeji

I am a graduate student in African Studies at the Center for International Studies, Ohio University where I work as a research assistant and Editor of Africa@OHIO Blog. I hold a bachelors in political science, and use this space as a container of my thoughts.

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