a New Year! The old passed and the new has come. The year 2011 marks the beginning of a new decade. The last decade, we experienced a plethora of events that shaped history. The bombing of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, Barrack Obama’s ascendancy to President of the United States and the global economic recession are examples of developments that played pivotal roles. They may as well have cleared the path for future happenings.
As the New Year unfolds, one can only hope that the inadequacies of the previous years do not follow us like shadows. Most people pray for good health, great friends and of course more money. We all want a peaceful and serene life and usually aspire to be better individuals. This may be the reason why many make New Year resolutions. Addicted smokers decide to kick the habit. Alcoholics resolve to reduce the “bottles” by one or two. The overweight woman promises herself to exercise more and to eat less and of course everybody’s favorite- trying to get closer to God. What exactly makes the New Year so significant in resolution making? It is perhaps because a New Year comes with a psychological boost. It gives a mental kick that tends to wipes your slates clean akin to an infant’s mind.
In reality, the majority of New Year resolutions never go beyond the first couple of weeks. People cannot seem to get their engines going after awhile. Their resolve begins to wane. The key word in staying through to anything is discipline. And the fact is that the majority of us lack this virtue. We see temporary defeat as failure and give up all together when faced with challenges. I personally believe that if one began his resolve on let’s say the 28th or 29th of December, he would have a better chance of accomplishing his goal. That way, his mind is programmed for continuity rather than commencement. Thinking about it, how does one suppose the New Year prevents the body from needing nicotine? Does the New Year prevent an obese woman from binge eating? Why would an alcoholic suddenly stop drinking because of a change in the last digits of the year? I find it particularly amusing.
Ok enough about resolutions! I want to talk about more serious issues.
have looked for the best words to describe the recent spate of violence that have erupted all over the country. From Bayelsa to Jos and now the FCT. Violence has taken a new dimension in Nigeria. Before now, it wore a mask but evil has been stripped naked. The things we only hear about from far away Afghanistan and the Darfur region have gradually begun to take centre stage in Nigeria. What used to be an anathema to the Nigerian nature is becoming custom.
The latest bomb explosion occurred right inside a Barracks. What sort of message does that send out to the international community? That soldiers who are supposed to protect our borders can be hit. Scores of innocent people have been reported killed. The inhumanity manifested by these iniquitous minds have sent a clear message to Nigerians-we are not safe. Our leaders cannot protect us, the police and other security agencies are impotent in curbing this problem. What good are a police and SSS that are only reactionary? They come out dishing out political rhetoric. “We will fish them out. This violence must stop. Enough is enough”. They collect estacodes for their brilliant speeches and the following week, a worse case erupts. The same old bullshit. Nothing ever gets done.
The Jos crisis is a typical example. It is now no more a matter of if it will happen again but when. The signs and symptoms of a failed state have begun to show. These series of violence and kidnappings around the country underscores a canker worm that has grown into a monster. A monster called Impunity. If the murderers of women and children were caught and severely punished, the Jos problem might have been contained. If perpetuators of the Boko-Haram Sect (Islamic fundamentalist group) had been appropriately punished (some of them got as little as five year jail terms), it would have sent a warning message. The law is meant to serve as a deterrent. But in Nigeria, everything is politics. States governments go the extra length in trying to shield perpetuators as exemplified by the extra judicial killing of the Boko Haram leader in Bauchi.
About the Abuja bomb explosion, news began to filter in around 8:00 pm. I was busy trying to prepare myself for the cross over service when my friend in London sent me a facebook message about the blast. By that time AIT had not aired it so I had to wait for the news bar. They had actually gone on to read entertainment news. Like clockwork, my phones began to ring with friends advising me not to go out anymore that a church (Dunamis) in the Jikwe area of Abuja had been hit by another bomb. The major weapon of terrorism-fear- had begun to circulate. There was panic everywhere. When NTA decided the bomb explosion was news worthy, they under reported the number of casualties (granted, information was sketchy but it seemed they were holding out). NTA now went ahead to report a second blast. This turned to be a rumor! The largest television network in Africa was reporting misinformation. In fairness to them they said the reports were unconfirmed but I find it grossly irresponsible. Aljazeera gave what was required, accurate and factual information. This is not the first time in this country that security agencies have tagged some things “top secret” only to find out about it on CNN. If we cast our minds back to the Ikeja Cantonment blasts, it was lack of factual information that led to the death of people in the swamps.
The history of state targeted violence was first seen in the Niger Delta, where government oil facilities were being attacked by militants. The Boko- Haram sect came up with nihilistic intentions in trying to rid Nigeria of western civilization leaving hundreds dead. Yet nothing was done. The governments find the puns and live out the kings. Kidnappings started -like play like play- and has now become a lucrative business all over the country. I still haven’t heard one case of arrest let alone a conviction. The Government has lost hope. It cooperates quickly by paying ransoms to criminals to save itself any embarrassments.
Independence bombing in October ushered in a different dimension-bombs. No more cutlasses and guns. That’s child’s play now. It’s now explosives. The truth must be told, if we could not stop guns, how then can we fight bombs? There is anarchy in the land. The centre has not held. If this trend is not nipped who knows what will be next. Suicide bombers? Yes, God forbid abi? Of course, we are ever quick to look to the heavens for help. It’s not God that plants bombs, it people. We could have easily said God forbid fifteen years ago if someone had suggested Jos would be like this today. What stops the perpetuators for instance from strapping Al-magir boys scattered across the country with bombs? It was a barracks this time around, why can’t it be a commuter bus. We must begin to take security serious. Terrorism is one of the most difficult things to fight because it doesn’t have a face. It can be anywhere. The only way this can be stopped is if those responsible are punished. They must be made examples. At the time of this report, no group has yet taken responsibility for the Abuja attack but while we wait for our impotent security forces to uncover this mystery, we can only begin to speculate. Who would want poor civilians dead? And why hit a barracks? These guys aren’t stupid. If they blow up a military facility it’s to send the military a message. Their message is loud and clear. My best guess is that this is political. It has little to do with ethno- religious crises.
who are those behind this? And what do they want? What can Nigeria give in return for their freedom? These hawks want back their hold Aso Rock. They are not comfortable with the present occupants of the Villa. This is about contracts. Who gets what? It’s about oil blocks and power. They want it back. Nobody envisaged a Jonathan Presidency. And the way it’s going, it may be another four long years. Nigeria can burn for all they want. This is by no means an endorsement of the Jonathan Government. I hold no brief for him, matter of fact, far from it. Under his watch, we have had mayhem unleashed on innocent lives. He has been tepid and careful. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody. The elections are around the corner. Everything is about elections. For heaven’s sake Mr. President, people are dying!
President Jonathan has to take the bull by the horn and bring this evil to justice. These politicians who would rather have the military come back won’t give up without a fight. Nigerians have been said to have a resilient spirit. But Young-Modulus’ definition of elasticity did not envisage this. We have been taking past our limit.
But there is hope. This attacks show extreme desperation. They are losing the battle. They are throwing everything at us. The only way we can fight back is to prevent them from ruling us. By our votes we can prevent them from “capturing” power again at least not for a while. It’s comes down to the 2011 elections. We can learn lessons from the Ivory Coast catastrophe how things can degenerate ever so quickly. We can see how playing politics can destroy a country. Nigerians need to come out in the forth coming elections and vote. Not just vote, defend their votes. We must take it beyond what happened in 93; where after Chief MKO was incarcerated, it became an ethnic debate. It became a Yoruba affair eventually. If we don’t fight for ourselves then we lose. God forbid (I say this with all my heart), if war breaks, these politicians will leave to their mansions abroad while poor citizens take refuge in neighboring countries. I say again, God forbid!
©2011 Ewoigbokhan Otaigbe Itua