This is Nigeria, or is it (not)?

Daily Trust - - VIEWS -

We may never know who did it. We hardly do. And when we do, prose­cu­tion will so bun­gle it that a judge is left no choice but to refuse to con­vict. In­sur­gency wins Pyrrhic vic­tory. Then cal­lous car­nage, like bloody Mon­day’s in Nyanya, oc­curs, and the na­tion is at a stand­still, dumb­founded. What took hours or may be days in plan­ning was ex­e­cuted in a split sec­ond that fateful and tragic morn­ing at the El-Rufa’i bus stop. In that split sec­ond, lives trans­lated to the great be­yond. Des­tinies were cut short for more than a hun­dred people, and for hun­dreds more, it is life with last­ing trauma in be­reave­ment, and dis­mem­ber­ment and vi­cious mem­o­ries of mu­ti­la­tions and bloody flow from vic­tims.

Those who have the liver could watch the video and hear eye wit­ness ac­counts over the moan­ing and groan­ing of the af­flicted and the be­wil­dered as­so­ciates of vic­tims, who them­selves merely cheated death by a hair’s breadth. Said one wit­ness, “what I saw was a gory sight, many hu­man be­ings like my­self were burn­ing in cars. They wailed strug­gling and say­ing ‘help me help me!’ ...Then si­lence - the help never came”. One shell-shocked woman could only ask no one in par­tic­u­lar, “what is this, what is this, what is this?”

To say there is angst in the na­tion is to state what is plainly ob­vi­ous. Nyanya, near Abuja is where or­di­nary folk like the foot soldiers of these in­sur­gents live. It is an ironic life. The folks of Nyanya live to ser­vice the city of Abuja, in con­tra­dic­tion to the people for whom they work their life is brutish and de­void of all com­forts. Over­crowded “face-me-I-face you” liv­ing quar­ters, with shared toi­lets (pit la­trines) and kitchens. Even on foot, hu­man traf­fic grinds to a halt un­til space can be found for one more step. In Nyanya live the low­est rungs of so­ci­ety - dream­ers of mak­ing it big in Abuja and tol­er­at­ing con­di­tions far more squalid than those es­caped from at home. To get to work in Abuja, res­i­dents of Nyanya leave home at dusk to take a po­si­tion in the bus queue. Buses are over­crowded par­tic­u­larly the coaches pop­u­larly called el Rufa’i, for he in­tro­duced them when he was Min­is­ter of the Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory. The in­sur­gents there­fore chose the hour with the high­est dev­il­ish in­tent. So far the be­liev­able story seems to be that they drove a car bomb into the bus park and det­o­nated it.

Bro­ken, I know many Nige­ri­ans are like me, an­gry, frus­trated, and pained. Those in­no­cents left home this morn­ing to earn an hon­est liv­ing. They may have prayed to God plead­ing ‘Lord I hope this day is good. It was an early morn­ing as­sem­bly of the ex­pec­tant. They orig­i­nated from all cor­ners of Nigeria con­verg­ing on Dream City that Abuja is dif­fer­ent Nige­rian na­tion­al­i­ties, dif­fer­ent faiths, as­sem­bled to­gether by an all know­ing God who was go­ing to claim souls that be­longed to de­mand­ing?

In one of the gory videos of the Nyanya blast, you hear some­one’s voice ask­ing “is this Nigeria; is this Nigeria; is this Nigeria? It is a per­ti­nent ques­tion, akin to David Diop’s mono­logue on Africa in his poem Africa My Africa. One could con­tinue where that by­stander chok3d to a stop at. Nigeria is this you, whose back is bent un­der the weight of your many chal­lenges.

Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan did well to can­cel a trip to the South West and visit the site of the blast while blood was still fresh on the queues. He re­flected the na­tional mood in the quest for an an­swer to the ques­tion - is this Nigeria? Is this Nigeria? Who is be­hind all this?

Who­ever claims re­spon­si­bil­ity for this das­tardly act, Nige­ri­ans must rally round the flag and salute the troops hav­ing to turn their guns home­wards upon a na­tional threat that is within our borders. A na­tion is not cowed by in­sur­gency. It rises up to the fight with stronger de­ter­mi­na­tion. Stake­hold­ers must rally round the Govern­ment in all the ways imag­in­able. One of them as raised by Se­nate Pres­i­dent David Mark for the me­dia to sen­si­tise so­ci­ety on se­cu­rity con­cerns, but it also needs to be em­pha­sised that our bane as a na­tion is our cor­rupt na­ture. Lead­er­ship is not ac­count­able and hence all strata of gov­er­nance is

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