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)