A Unity of Classes at Abuja’s #BringBackOurGirls Campaign

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I have been writing, possessed by a fantasy, about elitism, lamenting its destructive effects in my bids to identify with the sufferings of the masses. For, if vulnerability to political oppression and social injustice is the qualification for membership of the masses, I’m a frontline member. This has been my understanding. I’m not just a statistic, I assure myself. I’m a voice of reason; I’m a name that seeks to unify the religiously hateful and ethnically bigoted citizens, who are the bad products of this uncritically embraced politics. For this, I have been dubbed a “hopeless populist” by those who correctly understand my position, people I still refer to as the pro-establishment. But to the masses, whose sufferings I highlight, week in, week out, enduring the scorns of the fairly criticised elite, I’m also an accomplice in the rape of this country!

In the weeks past, in private conferences with friends who are the most prominent critics and observers of this generation, I was deconstructed as a pretentious advocate of the masses. “If a revolution begins in Nigeria right now,” my big brother Alkasim Abdulkadir declared in one of such gatherings, “You will be killed!” I had been absent-minded, not following the argument. But when I looked up, bewildered, there was an answer: “Because you have a car and an iPad!” I didn’t have to contest that. It was an epiphany I had deliberately refused to acknowledge. A car and an iPad are, to the people who survive on Fanta and Bread, garri and groundnuts, credentials of elitism, thus making their owner too a symbol of oppression, an ambassador of the treasury-looting Cabal they have been struggling, restlessly, to embarrass. In words. And, to some extent, in action.

So, I was not shocked, only demoralised this week when on Wednesday, Abuja’s #BringBackOurGirls campaigners were physically attacked by the same “masses” whose vulnerabilities we seek to protect – actually by a rented crowd tasked by the government to disrupt the cause at the venue of our daily sit-out, Unity Fountain. Two ironies are noted on this day: one, the undemocratic assault was on the eve of our Democracy Day in the presence of the Police who let them, perhaps for also being members of the family of the rented citizens, being that, to the comedians among us, the acronym of Nigeria Police Force, NPF, also stands for Nigeria Poor Family; two, that the venue for the sit-outs where the clash of classes took place, where the exhibition of disunity took place, where the dramatisation of a people’s gullibility took place, is called Unity Fountain! Ours, sadly, is a unity of disunity, a unity of the nation’s biggest troubles. It was a government-sponsored comedy show!

In my review of #BringBackOurGirls, obviously done to justify my participation, in my piece “Finally, Our Deaths Will be Televised”, on May 9, I wrote this about the campaigners: “The success of Abuja’s #BringBackOurChild campaign is attributed to various factors of which the social class of the campaigners is the top. A friend of mine playfully dubbed the campaign ’The Ajebota Awakening‘; but in all fairness, these are the only people, largely members of the (comfortable) middle-class, worthy to be listened to by the government of which they’re either beneficiaries, previously involved or with whose functionaries they’re friends or relatives.”

But in spite of my confidence in these revolutionary Ajebotas, I was disturbed on the day the elite comrade, Dino Melaye, addressing the campaigners, quoted a dead white man, thus: “One day the poor will have nothing to eat except the poor.” It was both a contradiction and a prophecy by a Dino who owns a fleet of exotic sports cars numbered one to ten, and perhaps more, as evident in the numbers on the ones he had driven to the sit-out, scandalising us, the unqualified Ajebotas, who survive on salaries that aren’t enough to cover our bills.

The disunity of classes at Unity Fountain was a part materialisation of Comrade Melaye’s prophecy, and I was sure he understood that he’s overripe, being extravagantly “wealthy”, for consumption by “the poor” referenced. We have been revolutionarily insular for not involving the the larger class, the worst hit victims of all forms of oppression ever designed by the ruling elite. For me, an acceptable criticism of #BringBackOurGirls may be our inability, even though it’s a cause deserving urgency, to “de-elitise” the campaign. By having the masses properly sensitised, not exactly involved, because bringing them to Abuja, I fear, may also be a form of renting. We need to show them that the security arrangements also threaten their existence. But who am I fooling to assume that the masses aren’t aware of the threats, which had consumed them, twice, in the Nyaya blasts?

As much as I wish to condemn the poverty that has formatted the brains of the poor Nigerians, I’m not ignorant of their resistance to involvement in, and suspicion of, whatever passes for activism. Mob violence is often the result of their attempts to protest an injustice, where anything grand sighted in their march, even structures unrelated to the government, structures owned by private entrepreneurs, are seen as oppressive, and are hence demolished or set on fire. So the thoughtless philosophers must have, listed in their jeremiads, the near impossibility of having the poor and hungry involved in such “idleness”—which is exactly what such struggles, and activism of all forms, are to them. How did I know this? I always highlight my participation in #OccupyNigeria as an experience that further exposed Nigerians as their own worst enemies.

Minna, a town with the most colourful contrast of the rich and the poor, being the residence of two former presidents, both scandalously rich, and the poor abandoned in its many slums even denied the benefits of good governance, is not a greenhouse of activism. In fact, it finds such demonstration of grievances over an unpopular policy as sponsored. As an initiator of the campaign, I had to go round Minna with a few loyal friends to convince the people about the fraud that was the fuel subsidy removal, and why their participation can have the inhuman decision reversed. Their responses varied from the suspicious, down through the understandably indifferent, who had already concluded that the existence of government was just nominal, to those who assaulted our sensibility, saying, “How much are we going to be paid if we show up for the protest?”

They would not acknowledge our lecture that #OccupyNigeria was a campaign that sought to fight for their rights and welfare. They would only lament about the fuel price hike and its dreaded consequences at their neighborhood “parliaments”. The most honest of the groups we approached gave this condition for their participation, one we could not accept: they wanted to show up for the protest armed, because, according to their spokesperson, the police might intercept, which they actually did, and their only alternative was, in their words, “caccake yan-iskan” – “butcher the bastards.” The bastards being the Police!

We discouraged all who had promised to “butcher” the police and even those who expected payments from showing up for the protest. The only groups we encouraged to take part were the ones that didn’t ask for too much: something to eat during the procession. And even they, too, still wondered who had contacted us, their guess being the opposition party, to challenge the government. They didn’t understand how, by occupying the streets of Minna with placards held high above our heads, a government in faraway Abuja would be responsive to our plights, and demands. In spite of our sensitisation!

The first protest in Minna’s #OccupyNigeria campaign was on January 8, 2012. It was on a Sunday, and on being intercepted by the Police we devised a means of deconstructing the conspiracies of armchair theorists who had dismissed the campaign as an initiative of the “Muslim north” to frustrate the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian and southerner, by guarding a church. The guards were all Muslims, and theirs was in solidarity with nothing other than humanity which was what we all had in common!

In the following days, we reached out to the unions in Minna to join, support and lead the campaign instead of grumbling in their bedrooms and offices, suffering and smiling as Fela said of the average Nigerian. The members of unions and associations contacted, most of whom had interests in the government, of which they are beneficiaries, turned down public participation with excuses that confirmed their sycophancy. In a final bid, we allied with like-minded groups to organise a manageable march.

Three days later, Minna was on fire: the campaign was hijacked, and nobody knew who the rioters were. I got my things and returned to Abuja, not ready for the SSS who had called to have a “chat” with me. I was angry not only because we were betrayed by the “enlightened” citizens, but because the rioters were creations of the self-serving policies of our ruling elite. After that experience, I registered that unless significant public figures, citizens whose patriotism and conscience are genuine, are involved in a campaign, I’ll not be even a kilometer close!

And #BringBackOurGirls is not an exception. The campaign gathered this global momentum simply because of the personalities of the people involved. I could not have organised and sustain the campaign. I do not have the clout of Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili who, in the Nigerian dictionary, being a one-time Minister, is a Big Woman, an Oga Madam, even to the cruelest policeman. If the police see a hundred Gimbas as heads of #BringBackOurGirls, the first question may be “Who are you?” The answer is a definite call for tear-gas, and brutalities of all forms. This campaign for the freedom of abducted Chibok deserves urgency. Asking the campaigners to have the “masses”, whatever that really is, lectured and convinced and lured into participation is like asking a person whose house is on fire to consult neighbours before going for an extinguisher.

Revolution should be initiated by a people capable of sustaining it, people with a thing other than just anger: alternative blueprint. If 50 million politically naive, angry citizens, denied the privilege of education and decent employments seize the country today from the autocrats in power, what and who would be their alternatives? This is the lesson we have learnt from our brothers in Egypt and Syria and LIbya. If idealism has failed functional countries like Egypt, it must serve as a warning to us, aspiring revolutionaries. The only practicable solution for rescuing Nigeria right now is for the Oby Ezekwesilis of every region, ethnic group and even religion to rise up and lead a campaign against perceived oppressive systems. Let this debate begin. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

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Femi Fani-Kayode: the Hate Preacher and His Imaginary Audience

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In all my playful attempts to pan the gimmicks of former presidential aide and Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, in social media, I was advised to redirect my interest to more profitable contributions to public discourse. A politically isolated man, clearly incapable of protecting the electoral deposit of any serious people or party, he seems permanently engaged in seeking whatever might pull him even a little bit out of isolation and attract the attention of both the people and the Establishment. The same Establishment to whom he remains, as I’ve heard members of it describe him, a drug-abusing desperado.

To refer to the politics and principles of Mr. Fani-Kayode as ”controversial” is undeserved praise, for controversy is often our perception of the things we do not understand. Nobody misunderstands this former Minister. For a man who wrote, without shame, actually unregretfully, that he had “intimate relationship” with women who are now other men’s wives, women who have now attained social relevance and political prominence, women who are now mothers training children to whom they hope to be seen as behaviourally perfect, women who are now role models and mentors to the younger generation, just to illustrate that he’s not a bigot since the ladies are from the ethnic group he was being accused of hating—there is only one adjective that accurately qualifies him: petty.

That Fani-Kayode and his ilk have found themselves in positions of power, where their decisions were relied on for policies to be implemented, is a scary realisation; they are responsible for the ruin that is our heritage. Their rise to relevance is a proof of the dangerous political opportunism in practice in Nigeria, one that favours a clique that comprises family and friends of families whose principals were once in charge of an affair in the country.

In his latest attempt to confuse himself, in one of his usually long, incoherent and verbose essays, “Goodbye Nigeria, Welcome Oduduwa Republic”, he took us down a memory lane that only exposes his absolute ignorance of the present trouble with Nigeria. He praises the Nigeria of Murtala Mohammed and Theophilius Yakubu Danjuma as the model, and of course he has every right to do that. Yet he remembers the middle-class, these are his family and friends, “whose wealth once knew no bounds and who . . . once owned the finest cars and properties in London, Paris and New York.” He also does not forget the globetrotting beneficiaries of Nigeria’s corruption who “once graced the streets of Belgravia, Chelsea, Hampstead and Knightsbridge.” Of the things that make a nation, or that are reminders that a nation has fallen, the former Minister highlights that our “ancestors studied at Oxford and Cambridge as far back as the 1800′s” and that our “inhabitants and various ethnic nationalities once ruled vast empires” and that our “progenitors contributed so much to the traditions, religion and culture of Ancient Egypt”. Of course, Ancient Egypt!

Perhaps his most embarrassing psychobabbles are those that come out in his quest to know “(w)hat has happened to our great intellectuals…” without even acknowledging that a Nobel laureate walks amongst us today and that there are many sound intellectuals at our ivory towers who, unlike him, haven’t been favoured to be invited for recognition or political appointments by the Establishment. Equally disturbing are his demands to know what happened to “…our men and women of courage and vision who once, like a collosus, bestrode the world” in a time where the Jelani Aliyus, the Chimamanda Adichies, the Abba Gumels, to name just a few, have made marks in inventions, literature and Mathematics respectively. Even at Facebook Inc., the owner of the social networking service, Facebook, where Fani-Kayode amuses his “friends” and followers, Nigerian-born scientists and engineers are employed to contribute to this evolution of the world’s biggest online community. That we have no institution to engage these masters of specialised disciplines for the development of our own country is a failure of this generation whose destruction, Fani-Kayode, and even his father, is a contributor.

But noteworthy in his thesis on a dysfunctional nation is where he, a threatened intellectual, propounds the reason we must see the existence of Nigeria as useless. Mr Fani-Kayode does not mention a single plight of the members of the lower-class who are the actual victims of mis-governance by the elite of which he is a member. What bothers Fani-Kayode cannot really be the “born to rule” posturing of the northern elite referred to as “the northern oligarchs” with whom he is close friends. What bothers him is obviously the fact that he’s been outsmarted in this political equation in which he has neither regional nor national value. His only value as a Nigerian is the fact that he’s the son of a one-time-long-ago Big Man who had afforded his son’s schooling at Redbrick institutions, easy wealth, globetrotting and, more than these, potential membership of the Establishment.

Fani-Kayode’s grouse is the impossibility of sharing a space in a nation “with religious extremists who slit the throats of children”, yet the security arrangements being undermined by these murderous terrorists were designed by the Establishment! As a one-time Minister of Aviation, he had his chance to collaborate with relevant agencies and organisations in building intelligent security systems through which these antisocials and terrorists could not have passed through without detection, talk less going on to threaten our existence as they are now.

Possessed by his characteristic bigotry, Mr Fani-Kayode, in disparaging the north and its intolerable terrorists does not admit that of the three Nigerian-born terrorists overseas, caught in the act, two are actually his kinsmen, fellow Yoruba who, like Shekau, have become throat-slitting Islamist terrorists. Last year, Michael Adebolajo, who asked to be called Mujahid Abu Hamza, and Michael Adebowale, who asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah, were convicted of murdering – and I mean by slitting the throat – of a 25-year-old British soldier, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, south London. The third, Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, whose attempt to was foiled, is the son of a northern “oligarch”. Yet, as if these two kinsmen are not enough proof, in the same year, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the extradition of a Yoruba man, Lawal Babafemi, to the U.S. to answer terrorism charges. The 32-year-old tribesman of Fani-Kayode has been declared wanted by the FBI for membership of the terrorist organisation, al-Qaeda. He’s also reported to be friends with senior members of Al-Qaeda, Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan. And he’s a citizen of Fani-Kayode’s imaginary Oduduwa Republic. A few months after the Woolwich Murder, two Nigerians, Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed Oluremi Adewumi, were arrested by the Nigerian secret police and charged with assisting an Iranian militant cell in planning possible attacks in Nigeria. I don’t know who Berende is, but Adewumi is unmistakably a Yoruba, Fani-Kayode’s kinsman!

Violence is not a bigot. It consumes every ethnic group, race, religion and political party, indiscriminately where there’s no trust and communication. Consequently, every bigoted and extremist element in the society is potentially violent, and following Fani-Kayode’s antecedents as a hate-preacher who has no convinced audience (yet), he’s guilty of all he’s accused the “born to rule” northerners of. Violence is the aftermath of institutional destructions, of which Fani-Kayode who’s been a regular “customer” of the EFCC, is not innocent. An act of terrorism is the effect of an evil ideology that consumes even the Yoruba, that has consumed Adebolajo and Adebowale and Adewumi and Babafemi, whose yet-to-be discovered bretheren may end us as citizens of the proposed Oduduwa Republic!

Fortunately, the Yoruba are not sheep, and thus any opportunistic shepherd imagining to successfully lead them even one mile into the valley of deceit is only being delusional. On different occasions, I told my friends, many of whom are Yoruba, that the Yoruba people are my favourite in Nigeria, being the most educated as portrayed and the most enlightened as I’ve personally observed. I have absolute confidence in their resistance to being hoodwinked by an individual’s or a group’s religious and ethnic pettiness.

So, I’m not surprised to see that Yorubas are among the loudest critics of Femi Fani-Kayode’s relevance-seeking stunts. Of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, none has ever been as vigilant and critical of amorphous ethno-religious advocacies like the Yoruba. Don’t misunderstand this, but if Fani-Kayode were a northerner or a “Biafran”, the foot soldiers of his delusional campaigns for secession may have already dominated our space, all fanatically and franctically in solidarity with ”one of their own!”

Nigeria is what it is today because of the “neutrality” of the south-western people whose son was denied Presidency and yet, despite their expressed bitterness, they remain trustworthy believers in One Nigeria. If Abiola were a northerner or easterner, a second civil war might have just been coming to an end now. It’s a pity that Fani-Kayode has no idea that he’s from an ethnic group hard to polarise and play. In my next coming, if that’s indeed possible, I wish to be from a people so sane and progressive.

Nigeria has never at any time been under the rulership of a single ethnic group. The destruction of this country is a collective effort of the political elite whose membership cuts across every ethnic group and religion and region. The Civil War, for instance, was waged when the leadership of Nigeria was under a Christian Head of State and a Christian Deputy. But, to an incurably bigoted Nigerian, the war was a design of the northern Muslims to kill the “Christian South”.

We’re are our worst enemies, and an experience this week confirms that: I read that one million Mexicans – yes, 1,000,000! – converged just to say “#BringBackOurGirls”, in solidarity with Nigerians. Yet, here, at a similar “mass” sit-out in Abuja, the conservative estimate of campaigners has reduced to about 100. Yet, elsewhere I read:”According to Dermographia, the population of Abuja’s Urban Area as of 2012 is 2,245,000.”

Ours is a nation of one-hundred-and-seventy-point-something million cowards of which only the negligible and statistically powerless “point-something” are patriotic. This is why I feel that we deserve what’s happening to us. A functional nation is not built by amens and tweets alone. As a representative of the new generation, my dream is to see Nigeria rescued from the Fani-Kayodes who have employed ethnic, religious and regional sentiments to keep us perpetually against one another. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

Of Conspiracy Theories and Denials

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Abubakar Shekau was formerly a lieutenant at Lord’s Resistance Army. He left LRA after a marked difference in the direction of the terrorist cult’s ideology with his boss, and converted to Islam to champion an Al-Qaeda-style insurgency. He migrated to Nigeria in 2005, and settled down in Shekau, Yobe State. In his early interviews, he insisted, refuting his boss’s charges of insubordination, that he left because of his disapproval of LRA’s quest for a society governed by the Biblical Ten Commandments. His preference of Sharia was after a brief stay in the Yemeni city of Sana’a where, for studying Islamic orthodoxy in toto, according to him, he was nicknamed Darul Tauheed. Shekau was an LRA-trained, ultra-conservative Christian and Ugandan. We must join hands in rejecting his claims.

Of course, the source of the above is my imagination, my own conspiracy theory, to pander to the ongoing misuse of our intellect in analysing the genesis and complexities of our troubles as a nation and as a people, and on the junctures where humanity takes flight and abandons us to conspire against one another, against reason, and against common sense. The past few weeks have been about competing to outdo one another in inventions of unverifiable stories, sometimes amusing and, other times, and these are of higher frequency, shameful, so much so that you wish to recommend the conspiracy theorists for admission into mental institutions.

If you have joined our deception-gathering agents, whose operations are everything but secret, the Nigerian secret police, in living in denial of Shekau’s actual existence as shared by their spokesperson Ms Marilyn Ogah, there are archives to go explore – and the Internet is one of them. There are videos of Shekau’s existence as an unknown radical preacher and now the most wanted bogeyman in the world on Youtube and other video-sharing websites where doubters can watch and study him, his mannerisms, and transformations, employing your latent Sherlock Holmes-esque skills. In the early days of this insurgency, a friend of mine who had followed Shekau’s commentaries on the affairs of the world, long before he metamorphosed into an invisible man that taunts our undermined military might, gave me a DVD of the man’s selected sermons. The DVDs were on sale in Minna, I don’t know about now. Shekau is real, and dangerous in pseudo-intellectual warfare. And to say that he doesn’t know an “alif” about Islam is cheap, for the Shekau I listened to was a considerably learned man who wallowed, which he now does in full blast, in hollow ideologies, possessed by the demons of an unrealisable society he yearned for!

Screaming that Islam is a religion of peace and dismissing Shekau as non-Muslim or non-Nigerian, as some have done in shock over possibility of a Nigerian destroying his own people, is no longer an effective reaction to terrors and stereotypes. Evil has neither a religion nor a nationality, neither a race nor an ethnicity, and so long as this remains undisputed the activity of a particular terrorist group is not a fault of the larger people whose belief and ideology it selfishly abuses.

The merchants of death at Boko Haram have never identified with any concept aside from one built around the Islamic, even if ignorantly, which their Commander had explained until he no longer made sense. Shekau is not a Christian. He’s not Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of LRA whose delusion was vaguely attributed to his quest for “a society governed by the Biblical Ten Commandments.” But everybody knows that Kony is not a practising Christian. The same way our most intelligent dismissal of Shakau may be to highlight that he’s not a practising Muslim, for the Muslim identity is now both spiritual and political.

What the Boko Haram insurgents perpetrate is understandably un-islamic but they are Muslims. Disqualifying them as non-Muslims is not only a cheap escape from this maddening reality that begs for our honest confrontations but questions the authenticity of our own faith too. For instance, Islam is unambiguous in its condemnation of polytheism. In fact, polytheism is the shortest and smoothest highway to apostasy but so many of us patronise marabouts and seers to seek solutions for our problems, and to ‘protect’ our future, in spite of our knowledge of the consequences. Unfaithful Muslims, of whom the terrorists are frontline members, are candidates of Jahannam. Being a Muslim doesn’t mean being spiritually and behaviorally upright, being a Mumineen, a believer, is what makes one so. Islam is not a secret cult, and apostasy in a world where the “Islamists” have turned the Muslim identity into political is now contradictory, and should be declared with caution. Shekau may have lost his spiritual identification with Islam, but he’s politically a Muslim.

Every ideology can be exploited to promote an evil cause. Like the abuse of democratic ideals by Nigerian politicians. So, instead of propounding conspiracy theories, let’s dedicate our energy to all efforts being made to rescue the girls abducted in Chibok – and all, boys and girls, abducted before them! Where are they, over a month later? Our campaign right now must be to remind the international community that has stripped us naked, fairly so, that #BringBackOurGirls is neither a posing nor fashion contest. We don’t want to see their Yves Saint Laurent suits, don’t want to see their gucci shoes, don’t want to see their Rolex watches… anymore. If they really want to help us, then they must understand that urgency is requisite in counter-terrorism. But if their actual intention is merely to embarrass us in style, laugh over our postcolonial failures in the closet, and publicise the other side of our ‘barbarous’ people, then let them open up and leave us alone. They must stop documenting our miseries if they’re not willing to assist us. Our girls have marked 32 days, over a month, in captivity. Is this a fashionable tragedy?

And all the way from America, where President Jonathan has adopted as the arbitrator of our public opinion in his “America Will know” blunder, a certain Senator has called our President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, “some guy” and his government “practically non-existent!” Well, John McCain owes us no apology at all. Practically, he said. And I agree. See, a people’s daughters were abducted, they’re in immeasurable misery, yet the impractical “Establishment” is expecting them to “waka come” – and see them in their grand Palace (of shame). Aren’t they and their ilk, (s)elected to serve, supposed to visit the ‘mourning’ citizens and apologise for failing to defend them as pledged in their Oath of Office or assure them of a possibility of rescuing those unfortunate daughters of a “non-existent” country? Yet they sit on a trillion naira, expecting hashtags to gather and venture into Sambisa Forest and touch the heart of the morally unconscious terrorists or even, by a twist of miracle, save the citizens they have vowed to protect!

I really wish I could sit down with my kids in the future, telling them, with painful nostalgia and perhaps pride, of a terrorist cult called “Boko Haram” that terrorised my youth, as our parents had told us of Maitatsine’s violent dissent – and the immediate subduing of Mohammed Marwa-indoctrinated Yan Tatsine by a militarily no-nonsense government of President Shehu Shagai, and also Major-General Muhammadu Buhari !

But our present counter-terrorism isn’t a guarantee for that hope. I fear that our kids may be similarly rattled by this evil creation of our time, a product of a dangerously built society. I fear. For us. How this literally frail Shekau who may not even stand me in a boxing bout managed to defy our security arrangements, outwitting the salary-earning, civilian-brutalising “sojas” there to defend the people, is a proof that ours is a structurally collapsing nation. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

Finally, Our Deaths Will Be Televised!

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There’s no indignity as having the news of a people’s misery and deaths denied, played down or unsympathetically politicized. The only tragedy worse than this may be the lack of strategy or, as some have said of the ongoing counter-terrorism, of the “will” to end these many killings.

The past few weeks have been peculiarly Nigerian – a condition I liken to a nightmare. The most frightening, especially to the ruling class, was the ease with which Abuja was threatened, its security arrangement openly undermined, not once, nor twice, in a short time: the attack of the headquarters of our biggest intelligence-gathering agency in broad daylight and the bombing, twice, of Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja. Outside the marble corridors of Abuja, it was actually the abduction of almost 300 schoolgirls that has sparked a fashionably viral hashtag campaign – #BringBackOurGirls.

The online campaign turned into physical protests, attracting the attention of the international community and the active participation of conscientious people all over the world. In Abuja, the nation’s second largest hub of internet users after Lagos, the campaign has become a daily convergence for a series of meetings – and so far two marches to offices of concerned security chiefs have taken place – where deliberations on the fate and freedom of the abducted girls were made. The success of Abuja’s #BringBackOurChild campaign is attributed to various factors of which the social class of the campaigners is the top. A friend of mine playfully dubbed the campaign “The Ajebota Awakening”, these are the only people, largely members of the (comfortable) middle-class, worthy of being listened to by the government of which they’re either beneficiaries, previously involved or with whose functionaries they’re friends or relatives.

All the revolts against the establishment ever initiated by the masses were discriminately crushed by the security personnel, their bodies and rights trodden underfoot. The only revolution a hungry people know is called riot. It’s destructive, and costly. Because they’re immediately possessed by anger the moment they take to the street to protest an injustice. So, statistically, a successful revolt of the masses is impossible, in fact unthinkable, in Nigeria. This is why it’s advisable to applaud the efforts of the “middle-class”, the similarly oppressed people, now strutting to challenge the authorities to #BringBackOurGirls.

This is also why I do not understand those who have condemned the participation of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s wife and daughter in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. What we call activism is actually a campaign against, or reaction to, perceived injustice, social and political. It’s the responsibility of everyone of us; even those unaffected are indirect victims.

This is why I do not understand the “I wish I were an activist” armchair critics to whom a rise against national threat is a responsibility of a few, of “activists.” See, activism is not a profession, it’s an instinctual response to a failed system. And if you’ve not been really rattled by the happenings in Nigeria, that’s because you’ve run out of compassion!

The participating Atikus are, in my understanding of ethics, more responsible and relevant than their critics tweeting from bedroom and offices in this dangerous time. You may call their involvement a publicity stunt, but publicity, attracting the eyes of the world to our wounds, is what we need in this search for healing, this agitation for purpose, for the meaning of being (a Nigerian). Thankfully, our misery has been noticed, and promises to intervene already pledged by the real countries of which the involvement of one, the United States of America, known for marked double-standards, has further polarized the citizens.

There’s something painfully hypocritical about the Nigerians now condemning the United States of America’s offer to support us in curbing this escalating terrorism, having all understood that our indigenous counter-terrorism measures have failed.

At least, with foreigners involved in this fight, there may be less ranting over our government’s complicity in fueling terrorism in the north, over cheap and unverifiable propaganda and conspiracy theories. I welcome the Americans because, for a start, there’s no hope of a triumph over the terrorist cult in locally politicised security arrangements.

I don’t understand this: you’ve accused Goodluck Jonathan of being an Abubakar Shekau masked, and even ridiculed the efforts of the understandably unmotivated Nigerian soldiers dying to protect you in the northeast. In a bid to end this mischievous conspiracy, the accused accepted the offer of “neutral” forces – and by this I mean neutrality in the politics of our ethno-religious rivalries, for Uncle Sam’s interests aren’t that petty – to intervene. Suddenly you feel the President has been innocent, and that it’s actually the expected Americans, through their compliantly evil CIA, who have been messing up this polity all along. I wrote against our hypocrisy on the Boko Haram when some of us became uncritical disciples of Governor Nyako-promoted conspiracy theory.

I do not, and may never, believe in conspiracy theory. At least not when there are many unexplored clues. I think doing so is a misuse of our intellect, an absolute abuse of human wisdom and the power of reasoning. Conspiracy theory ought to be the last deduction, and final intellectual resort, of any thinking person. That we do not understand doesn’t mean we must embrace cheap escapism or accuse an easy target of perpetrating an only partially investigated crime.

So spare me the history lecture, I don’t mind having this godforsaken country colonized again, with every damned institution under a racist Conrad, every school under an erudite missionary – a bumpy reverse into a century past.

Are we the only race ever possessed by these crises of spiritual, ethnic and national identities? Have we no wisdom to manage diversity? Why are we so innately savage? As long as we’re incapable of running an institution, there’s no shame in “stepping aside” for the actually sympathetic savages to assist us. Of course, this too is a conspiracy theory – a script of the American “occupiers!”

The hypocrisy of expecting a government you accuse of being complicit in sponsoring terrorism to stop the trend is a disturbing misuse of intellect. While the foreigners have already offered to assist us, our government, from all I’ve gathered so far, has no tangible clues about the whereabouts of the missing girls, so they chose to inaugurate a committee, a needless fanfare to waste national resources and time.

With the rate at which insanity consumes our leaders, especially the occupants of Aso Rock who seem to have run out of conscience, there’s a need to have Henry Ross Perot’s wisdom permanently engraved on a wall in the offices of high-ranking public servants and politicians in Nigeria. Even in Mr. President’s “Oval Office” or whatever he calls that relaxation chamber that is his office. Perot has said, and we have acknowledged without heeding:

“If you see a snake, just kill it. Don’t appoint a committee on snakes.”

Our girls have been abducted by the most dangerous of snakes ever witnessed in the history of this country for destruction, both medically and psychologically, yet you set up a committee to gather and drink champagne and laugh over the delusion of rescuing them? Because they’re children of nobodies? Just look at the way FEC meeting was cancelled some days ago in honour of VP Sambo’s deceased brother by a president who could not cancel a political rally in honour of Nyanya blast victims. Because they’re nobodies. They’re just statistics. Worthless. Like our rebased GDP!

As for those who have already prophesied a catastrophe as the aftermath of foreign interventions, what would be more catastrophic than having minors continuously abducted by the terrorists, and savagely raped, without a means or will of rescuing them? Nigeria is already a catastrophe for those who have stopped living in denial; and with the coming of foreigners, I guarantee that our deaths are now going to be televised, documented and no longer seen as lies and propaganda by mischievously insular politicians and their polarized supporters. We must now begin to seek for ways to end the hashtags, for every day is an unbearable torture for our sisters and daughters in captivity. Hashtags don’t cure; they don’t even prevent. They only inform. And that has already been achieved.

May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)