] Ghazali] Muhammad Al- Nyanya bombing and illogical reactions
“What worries me about Nigeria is that I am afraid of polarization. It can be dangerous and everyone should avoid that by all means. It could lead to what nobody wants.
• Hildegard Behrendt-Kigozi (Nigeria Resident Representative, Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation) few images captured by our ever vigilant media out of several events that trailed the despicable bombing of the crowded motor park at Nyanya, will remain etched in the memory of most discerning Nigerians for a long time on account of their sheer symbolism. The first was the prostate picture of a high-profile foreigner - the American Ambassador to Nigeria in the process of donating urgently needed blood to survivors of the bombing at an Abuja Hospital hours after the incident.
The second was that of a jubilant President Goodluck Jonathan at a campaign rally in Kano barely twenty four hours after the bombing, as he celebrated the return of Ibrahim Shekarau, the former Governor of the state back into the PDP fold. The third depicting the mournful figure of the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives Aminu Tambawal, also in the process of donating blood to the needy survivors of the bombing.
Put together, the three images painted a highly disturbing reality on the state of governance, responsible citizenship, and indeed leadership in our nation today. When we contemplate the gyrating figure of President Jonathan at the head of the motley crowd exuberant PDP hierarchy with their obscene dance steps before the pitiful crowd the event in Kano, that first word that screamed for expression was “irresponsibility”. We are also instantaneously reminded of the sort of mediocre leadership Nigerians are compelled to contend with in these troubling times.
The Nyanya bombing killed more than eighty Nigerians at the last count. Many could also die in the in the next few days from their grievous injuries. In most civilized countries, the president would have cancelled all official duties and also declared a national day of mourning to commiserate with the families of the victims and to also honour the dead compatriots.
But here we had a party and a president concerned only about the elections in 2015 and how to reap where they have not sowed. It took the personal examples of the American ambassador and Honourable Speaker Aminu Tambuwal to exhibit exactly what leadership called for in the present circumstances!
The fact that it took the personal example of a foreigner, and the Speaker, to teach the presidency the bare essence of leadership and responsible citizenship, in the prevailing circumstances, millions of Nigerians must have been embarrassed ‘ on their behalf’. And that is because this administration has continued to give Nigerians reason to doubt that it fully understands the meaning of shame.
The compelling irony of those images could not have escaped the attention of millions of discerning Nigerians have flatly refused to buy into the desperate ‘divide and rule’ strategy of the ruling which appears to be running out of ingenuity. For example, in an incredulous response to the bombing even before investigators had concluded the cordoning of the crime scene, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, blamed the carnage on opposition politicians and in the process, gave Nigerians further grounds to doubt his scholarship, if not his sanity altogether. But that is not all. He also, in the process, effectively compromised the quality of the investigations that were to follow.
The logical question to ask, of course, is why the government, or the party he represents, has so far failed to follow-up on his lead if they were credible? Are they waiting until the more innocent Nigerians are annihilated? What is not in doubt for certain is that if the immediate period of the Nyanya bombing was the most unsuitable time for the President and his party to organize their dance of shame, this, without the slightest doubt, is also the most inconvenient time to play dirty politics with a scourge Nigerians as a collective should be united and determined to fight.
Metuh’s comments, and the behaviour of the President and his party, stank to high heavens. It clearly irritated Nigerians at home and abroad going by the raging online debate on the matter. And not even the half-hearted claim by his minders that the President Jonathan also donated blood to the victims can reduce the stench. Without conclusive proof, the claim seemed more like an after-thought.
If I was disappointed though not totally surprised at the reaction of Metuh and the PDP on the tragedy, I was equally left bemused by the views credited to Wole Soyinka that northern leaders were behind the attacks and that the region was reaping it’s deserved consequences as a result. His views have also gone viral on the internet. Ironically, only a few days earlier he won my praise when he declared at a function convened by the clergy that the collective resolve of Nigerians of all ethnic and religious persuasion, and not prayers, could rid the nation of its security challenges.
Unfortunately, his subsequent comments on the Nyanya bombing appeared to contradict his statements earlier one. They were shrouded in the same dogmatic politics of the 1960s, which earned the Nobel laureate a lengthy spell in Gowon’s gulag. I am a northerner from the North-Central region. I wholeheartedly reject Soyinka’s notion that I need to hack-off my nose for the purpose of spiting my face which is exactly what his theory on the factors that contributed to the Nyanya bombing amounted to.
His claim that there was nothing the federal government can do to defeat terrorism if the locals in the affected areas did not cooperate with security forces was also flawed. It stands truth on its head and tragically made the unfortunate victims of the violent acts wilful accomplices to the terrorism of a tiny sect which continues to abuse the tenets of a religion shared by an overwhelming population of a region. It is a region steeped in glorious history. Its people include the descendants of distinguished scholars and empire builders in the mould of Othman Dan Fodio, Sheik Muhammad Ibn El-Kanemi and the rest.
I am from the north and totally reject the insinuation by Soyinka, that Northern leaders, on my behalf, somehow had a roundtable with their army of destitute and walking dead, and resolved as collective, to visit terror on the totality of Nigerians for the simplistic reason that political power had eluded the region since 1999!
And that is because if we accept Soyinka’s patently illogical theory, the north, especially its majority Muslim population, deliberately killed prominent Islamic scholars like Sheikh Jafar, who was vociferous in condemnation of the Boko Haram sect to demonstrate its displeasure at a southern presidency. It also annihilated one of its Civil War heroes (Muhammad Shuwa), for the same reason.
Because the north has lost out in the power game, it was also targeted its most revered traditional rulers like Ado Bayero, not to mention the Emir of Fika, both of whom survived bloody assassination attempts.
To get back at the south for snatching power from its grasp, the north also commenced the deliberate obliteration of the foundations of its backward economy, and almost completely degraded the capacity for even the barest form of subsistent farming. A system that sustained the larger swaths of its teeming population for centuries through the denial of the requisite security!
His assertion that northern youth are programmed at birth not to cooperate with security agencies could not be more absurd. It also insults the uncommon courage of Borno’s civilian JTF who have confronted members of the sect with stones and sticks when necessary! If I may also educate Soyinka, technology -in the form of a functional CCTV system, more than citizen support led to the speedy apprehension of the bombers of the Boston marathon.
But really, how silly can some theories be? If such views were propagated by a permanent resident of an obscure beer parlour in Ajegunle, I would not have dignified it with this reaction. But we are talking of a whole Professor of literature here, and one who also happens to be a Nobel laureate. His views attract universal following. I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass. His comments risked being accepted as the gospel truth!