Did you hear of the slaughter of over 80 harmless Nigerians in Kano last week? What of the one that followed shortly in its heels in Adamawa State that left more than 25 persons dead? If you did not, I have heard of them and saw them in the social media. Some were skinned alive. Some were shattered with intestines gushing out, pellets of bomb and flesh flying in all directions. And some were roasted like goat on a Christmas day. It is outrageous. It is horrendous. It is distasteful. It is barbaric and cowardly.
Kano, the commercial nerve centre of the North and the second most populous city in Nigeria is lately wearing a new look as the epicenter of terrorism. It has been turned to a war zone reminiscent of Biafra. Life is no longer safe; everyone is living in fear and sleeping with both eyes open. It is one week one bomb, and no one knows the direction the next bomb will come, and that alone is enough to induce fear all the time. A city that was once famed for its hospitality and conviviality is gradually turning to a terrorist den. One needs an injection of liquid hope to continue to live there. Boko Haram wants to do to this city what it did to Maiduguri: to create fear in the people and turn it to a desert where nothing survives.
Just last week Monday when people were still in shock over the bombing of five Marcopolo luxury buses loaded to the hilt and heading to Lagos from Sabongari park in Kano, another bombs exploded four days after, leaving no one in doubt that Boko Haram is not kidding. And before we could bury the dead and dry our tears they struck in Ganye, a border town in Adamawa state killing over 25 people and freeing 120 prison inmates. No doubt, the same religious zealots must equally have been responsible for the overnight raid on Attakar and Dajak communities in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State last Wednesday which left 20 people dead.
Sometimes I am at a loss to comprehend what is happening in our country today. How long shall we continue to bury our people? How long shall we continue to endure this nonsense from Boko Haram? What is Jonathan doing at Aso Rock? Is leadership no longer about safeguarding life and property of the citizens? Then what is he doing about the insecurity in the North or has he gone on mental furlough, not knowing what next to do? Since he came on board as president, predictably, his enemies went to work in the night, planting tares while he slept. Boko Haram which I see as a Northern contraption to hound him out of office has grown in leaps and bounds, becoming more audacious and sophisticated. Initially, the president’s reaction to this state of siege and mayhem in the north was that of outrage. When a bomb is thrown by Boko Haram he would reassure Nigerians that he was on top of the situation. But today that assurance has grown from an echo to a dim voice as the bombs splatter and the wreckage become unimaginable.
Martin Luther King Jr. said that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And what matters to us today is not about 2015 which he is busy plotting for but about the security of our nation, about the senseless killing of innocent citizens and non-citizens in the North.
What worries me to no end is that majority of the victims of the insurgency in the North are Igbos and yet, our leaders in the east are acting as if nothing is happening. They must speak with clarity against evil, their silence and inaction in the face of obvious danger and injustice against their kith and kin does not bode well for the progress and unity of Igbos. An Ethiopian proverb goes: “when spiders unite they can tie down a lion.” In every “katakata” in the country Igbos are the victims, if not the target. The recent Kano episode left the Igbos as the major beneficiaries. Understandably, majority of the passengers in the five loaded luxury buses heading to Lagos were ostensibly Igbo traders who ply their trade in the North.
I find neither rhyme nor reason why Igbos should always be at the receiving end of every major upheaval in Nigeria. Igbos were forced to flee the North in 1966 because of the pogrom. They lost hundreds of thousands of lives and their property were confiscated and declared abandoned from Port Harcourt to Lagos and the North in a country we say with glee that “though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand”. Since the amalgamation of Northern and southern protectorates in 1914 which gave birth to what we today call Nigeria, no Igbo man has ruled the country in an executive capacity. Providence thrust that chance on the laps of General Aguiyi Ironsi in the 1966 coup d’état but before he could say “Jack Robinson”, he was killed along with his friend Fajuyi in the forest of Iwo, 10 kilometers from Ibadan.
Igbos have shed so much blood for the unity of Nigeria that a time has come for us to say “enough is enough” to those who do not wish us well. The fad now is that after all the massacre by Boko Haram the corpses of Igbo victims are given mass burial for fear of reprisal attack. After we have been killed and silenced with no one to plead our case, the same authorities who instigated the mayhem will not consider us human enough to be given decent burial in our ancestral homes. They dump us in shallow graves and the matter ends there. That is the plight of Igbos today. Our so-called leaders cannot speak out, they behave like pigmies in a time that calls for men!
This is not the time to keep silent because our times demand it and our history compels it. This is not the time to keep silent because, as Winston Churchill said in his moment of danger, “when the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber”. We cannot keep silent over the mayhem and cloud of fear in the North. We cannot keep silent over the incremental erosion of our unity and sovereignty in the country. We are all in danger because we are a part of the main! Today it is the North, tomorrow we do not know where the wind may blow to. Already not less than 20 terrorist cells have been uncovered in the West, incubating and bidding for time to strike.
How can we stem the tide of fundamentalist irredentism? How can we wage and contain the onslaught of Boko Haram which has vowed to splash blood in every hamlet until they make Nigeria an Islamic republic?
Jonathan is in a quandary. Boko Haram is like a tsetse fly in his scrotum, he does not know how to kill it without endangering his “shokoto”, and that is why he deserves our pity. But if you ask me, I would suggest he uses high level diplomacy to make them come out and surrender for negotiation, there is nothing wrong about that. President Obama used it to stem the tide of international terrorism. President Yar’Ardua tried it with the militants and succeeded, proving that it is only in surrender that we can taste victory. Then after that, he will pardon them like Alamesiegha. It is better to grant them amnesty than to have the carcass of innocent Nigerians littered along our streets.