Roses and Angels III

roses and angels

…continued from here

Mama died on the second week of her mourning, and the villagers shouted hosanna. The gods had again shown their inestimable strength and had done justice to Papa.

Three weeks passed, and you joined Uncle Ofodili and his family to their house – a house which few weeks ago you shared with your parents alone. Your cousins took over your little fancy room, and you slept in the kitchen.  You hated the hardness of the floor, and the cold which could not be absorbed by the faded wrapper that had become your bed. But you were grateful for the privacy it afforded you. So, you spent the nights praying, dwelling on the life you had with your parents, and studying your old books with the hope that Uncle Ofodili will one day ask you to resume school again.

But even that was short-lived. Your privacy was cut short by Uncle Ofodili who sneaked in every night and persuaded you in his baritone voice to ‘open your legs’. You were not sure what he wanted with your open legs, but your instincts and that leer in his eyes told you that what he desired of you was bad, very bad.

A week passed, and Uncle Ofodili did not stop coming. He was even more forceful with every passing day. The last time, he struck you, and when Aunty offhandedly enquired the cause of your black-eye, you lied to her that you fell. You feared that the worse will happen if Aunty found out herself, so one morning, after Uncle left for work, and after you had bathed Chika and Ikem and made breakfast, and done the dishes and scrubbed the house and dropped the children off at school, you braced up, and confided in Aunty. 

At first, she was shocked. She struck you with the china ware in her hands, and further pummeled you with every item within her reach. You pleaded with her, you told her you were sorry, and you will not err again, but her beating and curses drowned your pleas. That night, she called you a cursed child, and sent you out of the house, wearing nothing but your open wounds and a broken spirit.

It was Madam Janet, your new neighbour who took you in for the night. You recounted your ordeals to her and she let you spend the night in her apartment. She cleaned your wounds and offered you her guest room. Though you could still feel the pains running through your body, though you were still shivering in fright, you saw a glimmer of hope in Madam Janet. Maybe she would take you in, you thought.

But the next day, she asked you to leave. She feared for her young marriage. You pleaded gently, tears flowing like a spring, she said no. So you left, dazed, weary and craving for death.

Years passed and something happened within you, strengthening you, and  drowning your past. Until today, you have not given a serious thought to your parent, home, poetry or music. But today, history has not only resurrected in your mind. Today, history has taken a bold step towards you, and Uncle Ofodili, who was only a figment of that history, had journeyed out of the past, and found his way to your bedside.

You are shaking. The lights are still off when Johnny walks in. He is seething with fury and with his eyes as red as palm oil. He has obviously drowned himself in Cocaine again. Chief must have told him, but you do not care.

“You,” he spits, “you’re such a pig”

You give him reasons, but he doesn’t hear. “He’s a dick,” Johnny retorts, “just as the rest. Uncle or not, since you had fucked him, you shudda got me my fucking balance”.

He is holding your neck with such force you think it might as well snap. You scream, desperately flailing your hands on his stoic face. Vexed, he lets go of you, but before that, strikes his heavy fists on your face. He has hit you many times before, but this time, your screams are louder and your thoughts are still hung on the past, refusing like your shadow, to let go of you.

That evening, you resolve to leave Johnny, and your wrecked existence.

You park your few decent cloths and tips you hid away in your old shoes, and you leave town. The taxi driver is running at dangerous speed like an angry cheetah. But you do not even notice, so you do not complain. Your thoughts wander again.

The very next morning, Madam Janet true to her decision, sent you packing. You were stranded, lonely, shivering and hopeless. You walked the streets until dusk came and you panicked, while hunger gnawed at the ligaments of your belly. Slowly, night drew its dark curtains over the firmaments, and full blown anxiety sank into your heart. You were a solitary figure, a poignant image under a rotting electric pole, watching the people walking back and forth to their waiting destinations. No one spoke to you. Their faces were straight, and their feet, eager with motion.

 Then it pulled over, a small gulf with tinted glasses.

to be continued next week

by Uche Anichebe

it rained again today

I came across this poem and fell in love, not just because it’s a well-crafted piece of art but because boy, I PLAYED in the rain as a kid.

Its writer is a wonderful young man by name of Alyazid Alexander Osinachi Okoli who writes under the pseudonym, ‘The BlackInk’. (Ghen ghen):) When asked about himself, this dude only says “I am a graduate of the great University of Nigeria, read pharmacy…that’s it!”

Hmmm…this poet pipu can like to talk short short shaa. 😉

I’ll drop a little warning before I stop blabbing and post it already; Don’t read this poem as a grammar-savvy intellect or a grown person for that matter, read it like a child, through the eyes of the little boy or girl you used to be.

So! Here goes…

 

IT RAINED AGAIN TODAY

childintherain

its raining again….
my little com-com is set
i can hear its drum play
atop our zinc,…chidera lets go

slippers would bar my flow
bare-footed i set for the door
jumping like a milking goat
i scream out loud in joy

its raining again….
My little legs,dangling
held close by my dirty pant
arms spread wide, i soar in the rain

nne went to the market
as usual my plates are unwashed
but maybe she would understand
it afterall rained again, today

its raining again
legs dancing in the mud
sliding up and down the dirt
with absolute reckless abandon

what other fun beats playing
not just it,but also in the rain
screaming,”rain rain go away”
but wishing it poured down

more more and more

it rained again today
mama’s Cain awaits my bum-bum
but right now who cares
tell her it rained again today

– the blackINK.

Mention me on twirra @ojukwu_martin

ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 9 & 10 of the National Confab

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It’s been two weeks-plus since my last update ON TOP D MATTER of the ongoing National Conference and a lot has happened. WAW brings you recapitulated roll-call of events over the time since then…

  1. NGN3 Trillion Security Allocation:

On the 19th of May, Femi Falana, SAN, while contributing to a debate on the rescue of the abducted Chibok students, alleged that the government from 2010 to 2014, voted N3 trillion on security and expressed concern that nothing much has come out of it in the face of continued security challenges and ill- equipped nature of the country’s soldiers. He therefore urged his fellow delegates to demand that the government account for the manner in which this allocation was spent. His motion met stiff opposition from other delegates like Iyom Josephine Anenih, Chief Anayo Nnebe and Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN. No more was said on the proposed probe.

 

  1. Dead delegates and Replacements:

The National Conference sitting in Abuja was on the 5th of May, Monday hit by another sad news of the death of a delegate, Dr Mohammed Abubakar Jumare age 71, from Kaduna State. Dr Jumare who came to the Conference as an Elder Statesman died in the early hours of Monday in Abuja and was buried later in the day in Zaria. Until his death, he was Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission, Kaduna state. The confab you will remember had earlier lost retired police AIG Hamma Misau from Bauchi state.

Earlier on Tuesday, the 20th, two new delegates emerged to replace the two deceased delegates. They are ex-AIG Ahmed Ibrahim Baba and Alhaji Sidi Amin, who were introduced to other delegates after the committees reconvened for plenary.

 

  1. Extension By Four Weeks:

Vanguard reported that the Federal Government on Thursday, the 22nd of May extended the National Conference by four weeks to make up for lost time occasioned by many public holidays and the hosting of the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA). With this, the conference will now end on July 17, 2014 and not on June 17, 2014 as was scheduled.

Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, announced this to delegates, saying that after a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the Federal Government agreed to grant the conference four weeks extension. He revealed that the conference had applied for six weeks to enable it cover some lost grounds but was instead granted four weeks. Deliberating on the issues, the conference secretariat suggested that sittings should also be held on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, delegates rejected the idea and suggested that two hours of lunch time should be reduced to one hour. Again, that was not taken as the secretariat use the two hours lunch time to prepare minutes of proceedings of the conference.

 

  1. Land:

The Land Tenure Matters and National Boundaries Committee has recommended the removal of the Land Use Act from the Constitution because its poor implementation has worsened land problems in the country.

According to the General A. B. Mamman-led committee, the new Constitution should give all Nigerians the right to have access to and own land irrespective of ethnic origin, class or gender as well as the right of communities to have land protected from human activities that would hinder or degrade the productivity of such land, through pollution and flooding.

It recommended the right of landowners to adequate compensation commensurate with current market value and social attributes of land in the event of acquisition by the government for public purpose, and that prior to government acquiring any land from any community, there must be compensation and when the government fails to use the land for a period of 10 years, it would forfeit the land and return it to the people.

 

  1. 13% Derivation for Oil-producing states:

The issue of percentage derivation of oil proceeds is presently at 13% for oil-producing states but it wasn’t that way as at the time inner-caucus proceedings commenced. Delegates majorly from the Niger-Delta pushed for a 50% derivation against the 13% which was status quo. Their counterparts from the North sought to further reduce the 13% to 5%. After debates, a resolution was agreed upon, leaving the derivation as it was for oil-producing states – at 13%. What this means is that for all oil proceeds remitted to the Federal Government, 13% would first be paid to oil-producing states as derivation, a certain percentage to the Federal Government for administration and the remaining percentage shared equally among all states including the oil-producing ones.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard on the 24th of May, former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Obong Victor Attah who is the Co-Chairman, Committee on Devolution of Power, said the decision to retain the 13% derivation was taken to ensure that certain things were protected within the entity called Nigeria and to guard against what may lead to secession or further inflict wounds against the backdrop that the country was, at the moment, facing security challenges.

 

 

  1. $1 Trillion for Niger-Delta Clean-up:

SOUTH-SOUTH delegates yesterday decried the harm wrought on Niger-Delta environment by oil exploitation and demanded $1trillion about N160 trillion to clean up the region and save the inhabitants. The demand came on a day that Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark warned that Niger Delta might be wiped out without urgent clean up as delegates disagreed over the recommendations of the Committee on Environment.

Lamenting the untold hardship Niger Deltans living along the coastal lines face, he recalled that the United Nations had, in 2011, submitted a report to the Federal government stating that it would take 30 years and $20 billion to clean up the oil spills in the Niger Delta region. He said it was sad that it took the Federal Government two years to set up a committee to consider the report.

In her contribution, a Federal  Government delegate, Ms Annkio Briggs who urged the Federal Government to commence the process of clean-up of the Niger-Delta with initial budget of one trillion US Dollars,  stressed that what was happening in the region was destructive and caused by environmental pollution and degradation as a result of gas flaring and oil spillage.

 

  1. Northern Bid to Scrap NDDC, Niger-Delta Ministry Fails:

Attempts by northern delegates to adopt a proposal for scrapping the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, hit a brick wall as delegates overwhelmingly opposed the proposal. The North, in a position submitted by Professor Aishatu Madawaki, a delegate from Sokoto State, said the existing ministry and agency were a duplication of the Federal Ministry of Environment, since they were performing similar functions.

They proposed that in a situation where the ministry and agency were allowed to remain, then a similar body be created equally for the northern region to take care of its soil erosion, desert encroachment, desertification and deforestation, among other issues in the region. But the proposal did not sail through as delegates opposed it.

Speculations are rife that the bid was born of the drawn-out debates over the 13% derivation paid to oil-producing states from oil proceeds.

 

 

  1. Churches, Mosques Will Now Pay Tax:

DELEGATES at the on- going National Conference yesterday, the 27th of May voted to enlist churches, mosques and religious organizations into the tax net. If the recommendations of the Conference sail through the National Assembly, leaders of religious bodies will be subjected to paying of tax like other Nigerians, business men, government organisations and enterprises.

The decision to make religious bodies pay taxes came up when a delegate representing Civil Organisations, Mallam Naseer Kura in his contribution to the debate on the report observed that religious leaders were making much money and should be taxed.

Also in his contribution, a delegate representing the Nigeria Guild of Editors, Isaac Ighure frowned at the situation where according to him pastors and heads of churches make too much money with some of them owning private jets. “Some people buy private jets when people in their churches are suffering and living in abject poverty, they should be made to pay taxes,” he submitted.

The delegates in their deliberation on the report of the committee on religion also voted that federal and state governments should stop the sponsorship of Islamic and Christian pilgrimages.

A move to scrap Islamic and Christian pilgrims’ boards however, led to an uproar which forced the conference leadership to move the vote on the issue to today, the 28th.

Delegates also rejected a motion for setting aside Fridays as free working days when the matter came up for voting.

 

 

  1. Will Delegates Fast For Nigeria?

Earlier yesterday, a delegate, Prof. Yusuf Turaki had blamed both Northern political and religious leaders for allowing Boko Haram insurgents to fester in the region. Turaki, who spoke while making his contribution to the debate on the report of the conference Committee on Religion at the plenary on Tuesday, warned that Northern Nigeria is at the brinks of collapse and ruin solely on account of religious extremism, militancy, fanaticism and bigotry.

Also contributing, a delegate from Benue State, Senator Jack Tilley-Gyado, suggested that delegates should observe a three-day fast to seek the face of God concerning many sins being committed by those in authority, including past leaders some of whom he said were part of the ongoing conference.

“Please don’t serve lunch for three days” he implored, “We will achieve peace and those who are overweight will lose weight. We should go back and create the middle class. I know that no human beings can equal the Holly Books. But we are not reading them, we are not practicing them”.

 

Will the delegates go with this fast agenda?

conf01

Today and the next three days will tell…

 

 Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twirra

 

MY BEEF WITH DAME JONATHAN

beef02DameJonathan

It gets tiring having to repeat the same thing to different people. So I will say it one more time,

I DO NOT HATE IYAWO JONATHAN!

She is wife of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I will now coman be hating her? Shebi I chop raw craze??

craze01

All my morale can muster is a little beef, just a tiny amount of beef with the first lady. If you are salivating because of all these mentions of beef, you should get off my blog right now! Hahahaha, gotcha! Just joking…seriously though, GERROUT!!!

So the beef…TINY beef, remember…

I was on facebook the other time and this young man updated his status with ramblings about all the great things Mrs. Jonathan had done for her hubby in their wee years as a couple, and how those things made her the Mother Theresa of VWI – Virtuous Women Incorporated – and how God had rewarded her for her virtue with the position of first lady, and how as a result, we (ebullient me included) ought to shut our bad belle mouths and give her some respect. Cha e!

My honest reaction? I just tire! If there exists a Nigerian out there who believes this yiddi-yadda enough to pull out his Nokia phone, tap it out on his keypad, raise the 3-ft network pole and upload it on facebook, then I will…*curses*relobusnxhcouwujsdhpdhow@%*#(hhlfhoh&((*^*(Y&jhk*incantations*… calm down and blame it on Mark Zuckerberg.

Questionses: Since when did VWI become an issue in these spheres? And since when did first ladyship become the divine reward for virtuousness? Mama Oboks down the road is virtuous as far as I know – at least her bòlè tastes like virtuous rainbows – yet she is not even the first lady of her own home. Okay, let us assume that we are in version 2.0 of Planet Earth and here, first ladyship and Mother-ship of the VWI were the reward for virtuousness. Even then, did I ever wonder to the hearing of any being, living or non-living, above or below the earth, about the virtue or lack thereof of Dame Jonathan?

I do not have a problem with the rise to first ladyship of Dame Jonathan or her virtue for that matter. And for Virtue’s…sorry, Pete’s sake, I do not have a problem with her distorted reincarnation of the English language! For once, people, focus! I would respect a good president who intermittently used Pidgin English on national TV; because communication aims for comprehension, Pidgin English is ‘official’ for Nigerians. I wouldn’t crucify the first lady, or any public official for lack of command of the intricacies of the English language. Not because English language is not our first language as some Dameists blindly argue – please ask them which language is then OUR first language in Nigeria? – but simply because gbagaun or the lack of gbagaun isn’t, fitn’t, wasn’t, weren’t, justn’t, wouldn’t and shouldn’t be the issue!

The attention we pay to the gbagaun is merely what it is – a cure for gloom and heartache, entertainment which I enjoy with no apologies along with millions of people out there and – google it if you doubt me – a muse for hundreds of creative Nigerian youths out there.

I have sat in a room and listened to a guy distort the color of my shirt with a mixed vitriolic stream of gbagaun and saliva. But I sat till he finished and even then, I applauded him because in the book of Common Sense Chapter 1 versus 0.5, and I read: “I have come for all who speak sense and make a valid point, gbagaun or no gbagaun”. Besides, our reality in Nigeria is a lot of uneducated people, a lot of mis-educated people, a lot of half-educated people, and a lot still, of educated people.

My beef with the first lady on this matter of the #ChibokGirls is the fact that I am convinced she was putting on a show – a poorly directed show. I have heard argument that her heart was indeed moved over the plight of the #ChibokGirls and I wonder: how long does it take to move her heart? Shebi it is rock of Gibraltar? I have also heard argument that she was just crying out of love for her husband and the persecution he is undergoing at the hands of Saul and his gang of Naija-turtle Ninjas. To which I habatically say again, Cha e!

It took two weeks for the First lady to convene a meeting to discuss the issue of the kidnapped girls. And when she did, she made some grandiose comments that convinced us that the only reason SuperWoman can’t last on TV is because she dwells in our midst…in Aso rock! See here for her exact comments. As I tap out these words on my google map-enabled typewriter, Madam Jonathan is yet to lead that army to Sambisa. She is yet to lay a strand of her royal hair on the line for the rescue of the girls, ya fozikwa her wholesome self, as per her word.

But never mind those things she has not done because really, she has done enough. She has gone on national TV to let us know that the first lady called the principal and other people involved to coman find their childs, but na only them waka come. She put on a real show, as fake as it was hilarious, trying to convince Nigeria – I am scarred to believe – that she is in pain for the kidnapped girls. She has also allowed us – graciously, mind you – the privilege of witnessing firsthand, a display of executive sorrow. At least, I can finally put on my CV that I watched the first lady of Nigeria cry and her handkerchief was really white.

Indeed, she has done enough. In my dreams, I actually imagine Dame Jonathan being a woman of her word, starting with the proclamations she made when she finally came out and we were expecting ‘something’ to happen. I imagine the fine-faced Mama singing into Oga Jona’s hairy ears at night, begging – like Ruth of the Holy Bible – for him to speed up actions to #BringBackOurGirls. In my dream, I see her shedding those tears at the forefront of a peaceful crowd camped and protesting at the presidential doorstep or at the Senate or at Chibok, just like she promised. I imagine her organizing the Nigerian women into a fist whose punch the entire world couldn’t possibly stand. But only in my dreams. Because morning comes and reality sets in, Dame Patience Jonathan has done enough.

I rest my beef.

beef02

P.S. If you steal it and eat it, I won’t even curse or chase after you. Afterall #diarisgodo!

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twirra

BOKO HARAM: a ‘Thou Shalt NOT’ list

Boko Haram

Sometime between the night of April 14 and the morning of April 15, terrorists invaded Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state, Northeastern Nigeria; they were clad in military uniforms, armed and in trucks. When they left the school, they reportedly carted away 234 teenage girls (roughly between 16 and 18 years old) who were then in the school to write a paper in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination. Most schools in Bornu and other states of Northeastern Nigeria had been forced close before this time due to the recurrence of such attacks which often left students and teachers dead and kidnapped; these attacks were claimed by Boko Haram, a terrorist group. The group traces its inception to 2002 and has officially adopted the name “the Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad”, which is an English translation of Arabic, Jamā’at ahl as-sunnah li-d-da’wa wa-l-jihād. It is known in Hausa as Boko Haram which by semantic extension of Hausa words, loosely translates to ‘Western Education is sinful’.

By name and actions, this terrorist group has made it clear that theirs is a fight against rationale and logic; surely, battle against education and all forms of new-age development while existing within the new age can only qualify as irrational, and by their manner of execution, evil. The kidnap of the school girls provoked outrage which has, thanks to technological perks of the new age, quickly become global as #BringBackOurGirls campaigns continue to trend all over the world.

A lot of speculations, suggestions, orders and cries have been issued as regards what ought to be done by the government of Nigeria, families of the kidnapped students, citizens, the world and even Boko Haram. This essay will not belabor that already thoroughly hassled subject matter, instead it will focus on what Nigerians ought NOT to do in this fight to stop the terrorism.

 

THE NOT-DO LIST

If we must rescue these Nigerian daughters from their captors, Nigerians must NOT:

  1. Stop Asking Questions.

After nearly three weeks since the incident happened, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, bowed to global pressure and held a media chat on Sunday, the 4th of May in which he took questions on among other pressing issues, the Chibok mishap. I was unable to watch the session but I read the transcripts and while a number of good questions were raised, the president’s answers were – apologies to Hon Obahiagbon – higihaga and lacked vital power of conviction. Two days later on Tuesday, the 6th, CNN reporter Isha Sesay held live interviews in Abuja with Messrs. Doyin Okupe and Labaran Maku, the Senior Special Assistant to the president on Public Affairs and Minister of Information respectively. I watched the live broadcast and in the few minutes it lasted, I learnt – and I am sure, most of the world too – for the first time about actions the government had taken to salvage the situation; most worthy of mention among these was the set up, according to the report, of an information centre not only to answer questions but also to issue frequent updates to the public on the matter of the girls’ kidnap.

 

The difference between the two live broadcasts, apart from the latter being significantly shorter and ironically, in even less conducive setting, is that the interviewer asked the right questions and insisted on concrete answers. Nigerians must emulate that; we must NOT stop asking questions, the right questions and having asked them, we must then insist on somewhat concrete answers.

 

 

  1. Value fear of foolery over human life.

Apart from the many questions begging the government’s handling of the disaster, there are many other questions which have arisen and been circulating social media. These questions, by their structure, relay the suspicions of a certain group of people that the entire kidnap debacle is a sham; this group hinges these suspicions on the premise that the kidnap has some undertones of political sabotage and general foul-play. Some of the questions are captured below in the forms they originated with very minor restructuring:

“Why aren’t the names and pictures of the kidnapped girls published by the school, state government, WAEC or mass media?

Why aren’t the names and pictures of their parents circulating as well?

How come the escapees (some of the girls had reportedly escaped while being hurled away by the insurgents) have not appeared on television for interviews?

How come all 234 students are in SS3 when the entire school has a population of 1200 students?

Did the Bornu state government really give N1m each to parents of the missing girls and if yes, was the money mere compensation for their loss or something more?”

 

While some of these questions are easily answerable by hitting Google, others such as the reason behind the dearth of visual information on the identities of the kidnapped girls remain unanswered. And suspicions have thrived on this; Nigerians are wary that the entire kidnap saga is a premeditated, even farcical drama orchestrated by the opposition to make the Jonathan-led government appear even more inept.

 

These suspicions have even carried over to cast wary eyes on the recent offer of military and logistical help to Nigeria from the United States; the doubters have cited instances of post-US involvement in violence-torn countries viz Syria, Liberia, Afghanistan, et al and they ask, “what will the United States want in return?”

 

While some might and have indeed voiced that – find these suspicions paranoiac and even outrageous, I believe that their existence is proof that Nigerians are paying attention and are thinking. This is good and must not stop because as the Igbos say, onye ajuju anaghi efu uzo. He who asks questions never loses his way. At the same time, the doubters and all Nigerians must realize that if indeed this kidnap is a staged make-up by the opposition and we are all going to look like fools when it is blown open, I daresay that this is one foolery worth practicing.

 

There are a number of things that could be done to defuse the possibilities of this ‘scam’ turning fatal for us as a country – for example, our local media could sit up to ask more questions even of the US-led aid, demand for information on the identities of the kidnapped girls and their families and promptly return feedback to the listening public regardless of the response to the demand, etc – but there are no other options to save the #ChibokGirls besides whatever little action can be mustered by an unarmed public in raising awareness and crying out for help. Assume for an incredulous minute that the kidnap is fake and the bragging video recently distributed by Shekau was a product of technological tweaking, the myriad of attacks, latest among which are the Nyanya bombings, have been real enough – we scraped real Nigerians’ razed flesh and bones off the floor and donated real blood to the injured; the Monday massacre of over a hundred people in Gamboru Ngala of the same Borno state seems real enough too.

 

If there is even the slightest chance that even one girl has been kidnapped and is right now being fattened for the sex-slave market in Sambisa, Nigerians must NOT stop crying foul. If the only price we have to pay, in the event of this truly turning out to be a hoax, is carrying the tag of fools, Nigerians must NOT be afraid to look foolish – it wouldn’t be the first time.

 

 

  1. Make this into a regional or religious matter.

A man residing in Southern Nigeria with his family is watching the news and the Nyanya bomb or kidnap of girls from Chibok breaks. He watches until the news presenter completes her report then he says, “Nawa oh, these Hausa people sef! God help them oh” and he retires to bed for a good night’s rest. This scenario is mirrored in many families in all parts of Nigeria except for parts of the Northeast and federal capital territory that have been affected by the terrorist attacks. It is an inclination by the ‘unaffected’ Nigerian to stereotype every Boko Haram insurgent as hausa or northern, and so long as they restrict their terror to the northern states – their ‘home states’ – it is okay. This thinking is not just wrong but potentially fatal.

 

Researching the uprising of Boko Haram, the distasteful but glaring truth is that Nigeria bred Boko Haram; first by leaving a vast amount of uneducated youths unaccounted and uncared for; second by ignoring the ‘minor’ violent operations of the group in the few years after its emergence under Ustaz Yusuf in 2002; and finally, by turning a blind eye to the cultivation of the idle youth into mercenaries and foot soldiers of the sect. Nigeria is responsible for the growth of this terrorist sect into a large debilitating and malignant global tumor. We did this collectively, as a whole nation of South, North, East, West, Central, Christians and Muslims. And in its bestial attacks, the sect has not spared any sections.

 

I am aware that some supposedly holy men of God, especially affiliated to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hold a different opinion. They theorize that the bombings and kidnap are all anti-Christian; an Evangelist Owojaiye published a list of 180 of the abductees to prove his claim that 90% of the girls are Christian and so – he affirmed – it was targeted at Christians. This is misleading and a cheap strategy to continue to live in self-denial while profiting from a pitiable situation.

 

Boko Haram has made it very clear that their enemy is westernization and anyone who is in support of it. Also on many occasions, elite Islam scholars have arisen to condemn the sect as a misrepresentation of the ideals of Islam which is primarily a peace-seeking religion. Anyone who is aware of Nigeria’s perilous history with religious crises and yet chooses to ignore facts in favor of this fanatic charade is either blind or thoroughly biased or both. And must NOT be heeded.

 

 

  1. Perpetuate a proven fruitless blame game.

On the morning of April 14, a few hours before the Chibok kidnap, a bomb explosion in a bus park in Nyanya claimed over a hundred lives. The president visited the scene of the blast later that day but was sighted the next day first in Kano for a political rally and then in Ibadan at the celebration of the centenary birth anniversary of the Olubadan of Ibadan. News of these actions sparked a lot of dissent among the Nigeria public who quickly launched into tidal wave upon wave of blames. People attacked Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s family, his university degree in Zoology and even his hometown of Otuoke in Bayelsa state. How could he have been so insensitive?

 

In all of these however, no one thought about the Olubadan who along with his chiefs and people, welcomed the president to his party barely 24 hours after the explosion and fewer hours after news of the kidnap started to trickle in. Nor did anybody consider the hundreds of Nigerians who turned up at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rally at Kano on that day, cheering and waving flags. How could they have been so insensitive?

 

The blame game was vituperative, biased, painfully tangential to the issue at hand, and overwhelmingly ineffective. As is characteristic with the art of pointing a finger, all other fingers pointed back at the pointers – Nigerians, until people decided it was time to really act rather than continue to ply the art. People took up the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on different levels, in different places, to different places, and in a few days, the world couldn’t help but notice. The entire globe has seen people in uniform colors, rallying with placards and songs for the return of the #ChibokGirls and the international news media are camped at our doorsteps. Because of the intense pressure generated by this campaign, we’re seeing action or at least, a very striking semblance of it from the president and his government.

 

An adage goes thus, “the lizard who sits in bed, blaming the sun for blazing too hot or the rain for pouring too heavy will die of hunger” Clearly, blames get no one anywhere and must NOT be continued, especially when they only serve to assuage one’s need to vent in a situation that requires much more than mere venting.

 

 

  1. Get distracted by the First Lady.

After having vowed to lead a protest to Borno state even at mortal risk to her person, the first lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan convened another high-powered meeting in Abuja with concerned parties on Sunday, the 5th of April. She reportedly burst into tears in a video that has gone viral since then, tagged ‘Chai…there is God o!’ The first lady was also linked with ordering the arrest in Abuja of Naomi Mutah, a lead protester for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. While the charge has been denied by her aides, the comments and actions of Dame Patience Jonathan in the face of this crisis have been summarily embarrassing.

 

The #ChibokGirls case is one which cries for a mother’s voice and a feminine touch, and in a world that is quickly awakening to the power of womanhood, one can only muse over what significantly commendable differences a more articulated, less compromised, less unwittingly jocular first lady would have made. Dame Jonathan’s peculiarities are not strange to Nigerians but in the face of a crisis whose magnitude has bared us all to the eyes of the world, we must not get distracted by her.

 

If you’re reading this and thinking “Didn’t he just say we mustn’t throw blames?” then please read again. The Nigerian focus cannot afford to be dislodged from the search for these children especially considering recent developments; not even for the first lady, it can’t.

 

CONCLUSION

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

#BringBackOurGirls

 

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

HEROICS OF A ‘TERRORIZED’ FIRST LADY

DameJonathan

The Nigerian First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan in a recent meeting with governors’ and ministers’ wives, female senators, commissioners and more than 200 women from various groups at the State House in Abuja, reportedly authored the following utterances:

“I cannot perpetuate hearsay and rumour; I must have facts to tell the international community. We will set up a committee to seek the truth as women”

“If any of those we call refuse to come, we will take the protest to Chibok”

“I do not mind being shot as long as they return our girls to us safely, we are tired of the kidnapping”

“They (first ladies of neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger) intimated me of their readiness to help, they also asked me questions that I could not answer ‎and as women we are the last hope of this nation. We cannot fail our fellow women and the nation”

“‎If need be, we will call on the northern elders to help us so that our children and husbands will not die”‎‎ ‎

In reply, I say…SUPER STORY!

Please Madam First Lady, make me eat my words…