] Ghaz­ali] Muham­mad Al- Nyanya bomb­ing and il­log­i­cal re­ac­tions

Daily Trust - - OPINION -


“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!

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