One ou­trage too many

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE -

The Mon­day morn­ing ex­plo­sion at the Nyanya bus sta­tion in Abuja, which led to at least 75 deaths, seems to have forced a re­think among Nige­ri­ans, es­pe­cially those who con­sider the North East, which has been blighted by ter­ror for so long, to be an­other Siberia or outer Mon­go­lia.

It ap­pears that the tragic in­ci­dent has helped to con­cen­trate our col­lec­tive at­ten­tion to the gravest chal­lenge to our na­tion­hood since the Nige­rian civil war which ended over 4 decades ago. The Nyanya in­ci­dent is not the first to have been car­ried out so close to the top ech­e­lon of Nigeria’s power elite. At least 4 other such ugly in­ci­dents have hap­pened at Mo­gadishu bar­racks, the po­lice head­quar­ters, United Na­tions build­ing and a church in Madal­lah, a sub­urb of the Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory. All those bloody events were her­alded by the first such das­tardly act near Ea­gle Square on Oc­to­ber 1, 2010. The in­ci­dents in Abuja could be de­scribed as just a blip in the long-drawn cam­paign of ter­ror that has gripped North East for so many years and which is now, in one form or an­other, threat­en­ing to con­sume the North Western and North Cen­tral Nigeria. Whether it is the in­sur­gency be­ing as­cribed to Boko Haram or the more re­cent ter­ror at­tacks be­ing blamed on herds­men, there is a clear pat­tern of di­vi­sive­ness which, rather than throw light to the broad ter­ror­ism faced by dif­fer­ent Nige­rian com­mu­ni­ties, only adds to the mud­dle which the counter of­fen­sive has been re­duced to.

Mean­while, the ter­ror­ists, who­ever they may be, are hav­ing a field day, show­ing the au­thor­i­ties as un­con­cerned and in­ef­fec­tive, while cit­i­zens’ lives and liveli­hood are be­ing snuffed out with such reck­less aban­don. One day it is hap­less com­muters set­ting out to work in Abuja, the next, it is school­girls ab­ducted in Chi­bok, Borno State, an­other day it is some­one go­ing about his law­ful busi­ness in the re­mote Gwoza moun­tains of Borno State or school­child­ren at a govern­ment school in Buni Yadi.

Mean­while both the govern­ment and the op­po­si­tion have turned the whole tragedy into a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball for them to kick and drib­ble at will while more and more Nige­ri­ans lose their lives and liveli­hood. With an eye on the next elec­tion, the par­ti­sans are busy mak­ing out­ra­geous claims as they try to link one an­other to the un­fold­ing tragedy. The Pres­i­dency, which should know bet­ter, ap­pears to egg on the cur­rent tragic-com­edy by fail­ing to rise above it and pro­vide the lead­er­ship needed to con­front the af­front to our na­tion­hood. It bears re­mind­ing that the Pres­i­dent swore an oath to pre­serve, pro­tect and de­fend the con­sti­tu­tion of the Federal Repub­lic of Nigeria and to de­vote him­self to the ser­vice and well-be­ing of the people of Nigeria.

That federal repub­lic in­cludes ev­ery inch of Nigeria and al­low­ing ter­ror­ists and crim­i­nals to treat our cit­i­zens as if they be­long to no na­tion is un­ac­cept­able. Even more ab­hor­rent is the stereo­typ­ing and pro­fil­ing of the sup­posed as­sailants in or­der to pro­mote re­li­gious and eth­nic di­vi­sion. It is partly the suc­cess of that nar­ra­tive which has made other Nige­ri­ans, far from the theatre of ou­trage, to wrongly think it is about oth­ers and does not con­cern them. That at­ti­tude is what has brought us this far and could push us into the abyss if we do not hold our lead­ers in and out of govern­ment ac­count­able for their ac­tion and in­ac­tion. This news­pa­per be­lieves that Nige­ri­ans will need to close rank and see ter­ror as some­thing that will de­vour ev­ery­one in its path and chal­lenge the re­ceived wis­dom on our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. Since the politi­cians ap­pear more in­ter­ested in the next elec­tion, cit­i­zens will need to force a sin­cere ap­proach to tack­ling the men­ace on their agenda.

As some com­mu­ni­ties in Zam­fara state, the new theatre of crim­i­nal­ity and ter­ror, told some govern­ment of­fi­cials on con­do­lence visit af­ter nearly 200 people were mas­sa­cred 2 weeks ago, the politi­cians should not bother com­ing to cam­paign for the 2015 elec­tions as those com­mu­ni­ties may have been wiped out while the au­thor­i­ties are fid­dling. It is prob­a­bly an apt mes­sage to the whole Nige­rian elite, both within and out­side govern­ment, who are not do­ing much while the com­mu­ni­ties are be­ing wiped out or forced to flee and cit­i­zens are feel­ing for­saken by the lead­er­ship.

The se­cu­rity meet­ing called by Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan sched­uled for this morn­ing to be fol­lowed by an­other with gov­er­nors is a good first step to get se­ri­ous about the omi­nous chal­lenge fac­ing Nigeria. If need be, a Coun­cil of State meet­ing should also be called with a view to set­ting up a war coun­cil that may draw from re­tired se­cu­rity of­fi­cials who may have in­sight on how to deal with this un­prece­dented chal­lenge. But meet­ings in them­selves will mean noth­ing if all they do is re­state what ev­ery­one al­ready knows while our front­line troops are left to be can­non fod­der for ter­ror­ists to gloat about. As this news­pa­per has stated sev­eral times ear­lier, all op­tions should be open in a sin­cere ap­proach to deal­ing with the con­tin­ued blood­let­ting.

Daily Trust calls on both the federal and state gov­ern­ments to close rank and work out strate­gies of deal­ing with the ex­is­ten­tial chal­lenge fac­ing a large swathe of Nige­ri­ans. What­ever the strate­gies de­vised should be im­ple­mented within a short time frame in or­der to re­store con­fi­dence of Nige­ri­ans that our lead­ers are not just fix­ated on the next elec­tion while scores of cit­i­zens are slaugh­tered on a daily ba­sis. It should shock all right­think­ing people that Nigeria is now ahead of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in terms of the daily tally of dead and in­jured. As many se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cials have ad­mit­ted pri­vately, Nigeria is at war and ev­ery­thing nec­es­sary should be done to win it in the short­est pos­si­ble time. Like all wars how­ever, we should be care­ful of those who may want to per­pet­u­ate it while they con­tinue to ben­e­fit from it.

The cur­rent govern­ment and all those with a stake in Nigeria can­not af­ford to let the ter­ror­ism chal­lenge fes­ter and con­sume us all. We all have a duty to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Jonathan and sup­port him in deal­ing with ter­ror­ism and crim­i­nal­ity in a more de­ci­sive and not so di­vi­sive man­ner that could al­low us to put it be­hind us in the not so dis­tant time.

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