Just as I finally summoned enough interest to write about the Baga killings, news came in that Islamists terrorist group, Boko Haram, has struck again, this time in the city of Maiduguri. According to Sahara Reporters-
Top security officials just confirmed to SaharaReporters that Islamist fighters today overwhelmed the 243 battalion of the Nigerian Army stationed at Monguno Barracks. The insurgents killed an undetermined number of soldiers and wounded the brigade commander of the barracks.
Our sources said soldiers who put up resistance to the invading insurgents were killed, adding that many soldiers then ran in different directions. They disclosed that 1,400 soldiers were stationed at the barracks at the time of the attack, adding that military authorities were not aware of their exact whereabouts or how many of them had been killed. “We still don’t know what has happened to them [soldiers], but we know that Boko Haram now controls the barracks and Monguno town,” one officer based in Abuja confirmed.
When the Islamists terrorist group Boko Haram struck in Baga and killed a disputed 2,000 people , it was no longer considered newsworthy, at least not in Nigeria. I must confess that even as a Nigerian, I did not bother to check out the news, deven though the headlines screamed at me. According to CNN –
During the raid that started January 3, hundreds of gunmen seized the town of Baga and neighboring villages, as well as a multinational military base.
Attacks started at dawn and continued throughout last weekend, according to residents.
Though local officials gave conflicting death tolls, they agreed on the massive number of fatalities.
More than 2,000 people were killed in attacks on 16 villages, Bukar said. He could not explain how he arrived at that toll.
But the local district head said hundreds of people had been killed, not thousands. The actual toll will be known after a headcount of households is complete, Hassan said.
Two days after the attack, a man who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau [the leader of Boko Haram] came and addressed us. He said: “Today, where is your government from local to highest level? You are now under our control.” And he preached to us.
After that, Shekau and many of the insurgents left the town in the hands of some Boko Haram members who are from Baga.
These men have taken control of the young women in the town. They rape and abuse our daughters.
In the evening they choose ones who are neither pregnant nor nursing mothers and take them away. They don’t bring them back until the morning. If it is not rape what are they doing to them?
I guess we are now so desensitised to the atrocities of Boko Haram that it seems more murders in the name of Allah is no longer news, at least not when it involves Boko Haram. This might sound callous or insensitive, especially since the Baga killings occurred around the time of Charlie Hebdo killings, which I took the time to write about. So, why this seemingly uncaring attitude towards the Islamists terrorists presently ravaging my birth land (Holy FSM, I can’t even bring myself to call it my homeland anymore)?
I think this ‘What else is new’ attitude towards the misadventures of Boko Haram is indeed sad and scary. When an abnormality becomes the norm, there is cause for concern. It is not a case of indifference but a case of wondering how to write about what has been written about so many times. What words that have not already been used can one use to condemn the ever-latest atrocities of Boko Haram? We are surely running out of adjectives to write yet another screaming ‘Boko Haram has struck again’ headline. Even as I was finally writing on the Baga killings, news filtered in that Boko Haram has struck again, this time in Monguno and are making a bold attempt to capture the big city of Maiduguri.
Sadly enough, what grabbed the headlines in the atrocity of Boko Haram in Baga was the disputed number of victims of these callous Islamists terrorists. The government, when it finally deemed it fit to comment on the murders via some comments made in a hurry by a government official, claimed that the number of deaths was about 150 people. International papers and some Nigerians have pegged the number at 2,000. Of course, there should be total outrage regardless of the number, however this is Nigeria where lives means little and certainly means nothing to the government in power and politicians jostling for power.
How does a country that cannot even verify the number of people killed in yet another terrorists attack be bothered to sympathise with the families of the victims? Even now, it is still difficult to verify how many schoolgirls in Chibok were abducted by Boko Haram.
Nigeria is a country fast collapsing under the heavy weight of corruption, deception, and religious platitudes. Corruption reigns supreme. The country is like a headless chicken running helter-skelter with no sense of direction. It knows it is nearing its death but well, it will still run, even if headless.
When I think of my once beloved motherland, my heart feels heavy. They say there is no place like home, and that home is where the heart is. However, I dare say, home is not necessarily, where the heart is, but where we feel most welcomed and safe. Our hearts can be in a place where we are definitely not safe and we truly can’t refer to that unsafe place as home. So yeah, I now find it difficult to call Nigeria home especially since the passage of the anti Lgbt law, which stipulates 14 years imprisonment for engaging in same sex relationships and 10 years jail-term for advocating for LGBT rights. I dare say, #NigerianLGBTLivesMatterToo.
Many wondered why the world did not condemn the Baga attacks with as much gusto as they did the Charlie Hebdo attack in France. I was not surprised at the seeming indifference. Even the Nigerian newspapers hardly covered the Baga attacks and of course, the government could not be bothered to make official statement on the attack. Maybe President Goodluck Jonathan got tired of recycling the same old statements and empty promises. More so, his election campaigns can’t be derailed because a few more people lost their lives to Boko Haram, afterall #Electionmatterstoo.
I can’t blame the world leaders for not making noise about the latest Boko Haram atrocity in Nigeria. In fairness, the world did make a lot of noise about the abducted girls. The hashtag #Bringbackourgirls generated a lot of publicity and there were many leaders and celebrities brandishing this demand. Yeah, “Bring back our girls”, they all demanded but the girls are yet to be brought back. However, one must wonder, was the demand directed at Boko Haram, the Nigerian Government, or the international investigators that were dispatched to Nigeria by concerned world leaders to assist with this investigation? I guess we will never really know. Maybe it is a demand to all concerned. Yes, bring back our girls. Sigh.
I wondered though if after all that ‘Bring back out girls’ outcry, the international investigators discovered the mess that is Boko Haram is indeed a mess that can only be sorted out in-house.
Boko Haram is an in-house mess.
Boko Haram is Nigeria’s Shit and only Nigerians can clean it up.
Many greedy Nigerian politicians contributed their excreta towards making the shit that is Boko Haram.
Boko Haram is a mess created and sustained by Nigerian leaders and politicians who use religion as a tool of power.
Boko Haram is a mess that is consuming its creators and has grown wings above the contributors that excreted the shit.
Boko Harm is a mess that has taken a life of its own but it is still very useful to those that are willing to play the religious game to gain political power.
What better way to put the fear of Boko Haram in Nigerians than to strike when the elections are at hand?
What better way to show Nigerians that the present president cannot curtail these rampaging Islamists terrorists than to kill at will, very near the presidential election period?
What better way to send the message across that they would prefer power goes to the only other viable presidential contender (who btw, happens to be a sharia fanatic who was handpicked by Boko Haram to negotiate on their behalf), than to kill as many as they can and cause people to be more disgruntled with the present government?
I won’t be surprised if we witnessed more Boko Haram attacks leading to this February 14 elections. They probably are saving their signature assaults for the week leading to the presidential election.
Nigeria is a country collapsing under the weight of corruption and deception. It is a country where fellow Nigerians don’t even trust what is coming out from the mouths of their own neighbours, never mind the mouths of their leaders and politicians.
This deception is endangering social movements in Nigeria and the lack of transparency is affecting just how willing we are to be part of these movements and in what esteem we hold these movements.
How are we going to have grassroots led revolution when the masses can’t even trust the self-styled social crusaders? For example, during the ‘Bring Back our girls campaign’, there were actually women who were hired by social groups to pose as mothers of the kidnapped schoolgirls. People blame the first lady for lashing out at these groups when they paid her a visit. I can imagine the contempt she feels for them because she knows just what game they are playing.
As a Nigerian who has been very much involved in protests and social movements, paying people to join protests is actually the norm, it is nothing new or strange. It is simply how it is done. Simples. Nevertheless, why would anyone need to hire women to pose as mothers of these kidnapped girls? As i stated in my post Boko Haram, #Bringbackourgirls, conspiracy theories, media and the mess called Nigeria, these actions only serve to compromise the investigations. It is also self-serving, as the group who claims to have the mothers of the kidnapped girls becomes the group to reckon with. And with recognition comes publicity, money and all sorts of funds. It is a sad case. But well, this is a country where some people are actually hired to cry at funerals, so really, it is nothing new.
Deception and corruption is not just a government ill, but also an illness that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the social movements in Nigeria. This monster is having a field time bedevilling the socio-political groups close to my heart and that include the LGBT community, and the burgeoning Nigerian atheist/agnostic /freethinker community. However, that is a story for another day.
Even the socialist/progressives/left groups were distracted from demanding a better government and preparing for the political elections by the juicy money on offer in the recently concluded National Conference charade. It was a case of satisfying what we Nigerians call ‘Stomach infrastructure’.
Their participation in the fruitless National Conference had nothing to do with genuine change. The progressives can pat themselves on the back for the few minutes they had on the floor to accentuate, postulate, and jargonise their rhetoric, but they know and we know that these ‘postulations’ are all going to end in the dustbin. In fact, all the papers and talks have already been consigned to the trashcan of history. It was not the first national conference and it won’t be last, at least not until a truly sovereign National Conference is convened. In the meantime, the self-styled social crusaders/activists can pat themselves on the back and smile to the bank with their share of the National Conference bounties. That is the face and spirit of Nigeria.
Boko Haram is not necessarily what is killing Nigeria, the country is collapsing under the weight of corruption, deception, bad leadership and lackadaisical citizens. Boko Haram would be a thing of the past if we had a country that was not already ravaged by corruption, deception, tribalism, religious fanaticism and the ‘God is in control’ attitude of Nigerians. I guess even international leaders and their investigators had to wash their hands off Nigeria and the Boko Haram saga when they realised it is a home problem that requires a home solution.
Nigerians can demand this solution from their government by demanding that Boko Haram be brought to justice and doing it not just via hashtag but the Egypt/Tunisia revolution style, and with a concrete vision of what type of people and ideology they want in power.
On its part, the government can curtail Boko Haram by first starting with cleansing its funders and sympathisers from the seat of power and make sure the large security votes actually goes towards equipping the army and police force. However, I guess, that would mean blocking the source of corrupt money going to the thieves in power who are the backbone of the leaders. A dilemma indeed, especially for a president seeking re-election.
We don’t know the number of people killed in Baga because life really means little. What difference would one more life or one thousand lives lost to Boko Haram make to a failed nation like Nigeria?
Just the other week, I suffered a personal tragedy as i lost my 3-day-old niece because doctors in Nigeria were on strike. The doctor in the private hospital where the child was delivered gave false assurances about his capacity to perform a needed minor surgery on the baby. As it turned out, this was just so the baby could be delivered in his hospital to enable him charge for the delivery, knowing fully well he wouldn’t be able to perform the needed surgery. He ended up sending the new-born baby to a deserted General hospital where doctors have been on strike for months and after three days of waiting for a doctor who kept promising to perform the surgery but kept postponing the operation, the baby died. It was such a needless death. Just another life taken so young, another life that was unfortunate to be born in Nigeria. Sadly, there will be no justice for the innocent life cut short by greed, deception, corruption, and a failing state. This is Nigeria and life is not sacred in Nigeria.
When we argue about how many lives were lost in Baga, let us just remember that Nigeria is not a country that values the lives of its citizens.
It is a sad situation and I hope we get to a place where all lives matters. But right now, Nigerian lives don’t matter, at least not to Nigerian leaders. If Lives don’t matter to doctors, why should it matter to Nigerian politicians? And if Nigerian lives don’t matter to Nigerian leaders, I wouldn’t blame the world leaders and celebrities if they are not hashtagging #Nigerianlivesmatter.
Charity they say begins at home and I concur.