It’s Christmas in Chibok, Mr. President!


You know what this is about. But, have you contacted their family to understand the meaning and depth of sorrow? Which family? This is the reason for this reminder.

While you feast, in the spirit of this sacred season, sharing love with your political family, especially the billionaire donors, there are, somewhere in the hinterlands of this country or between the borders of the country to Niger Republic, Chad or Cameroon, innocent citizens condemned to a slavery that can only be imagined by us.

I’m talking about the innocent school girls abducted at a government secondary school in Borno State. For these girls, Mr. President, December 25 doesn’t mean anything, having been held captive by savages to whom any Christian values and even the values of peace-building Muslims represent a threat they seek to exterminate, a fantasy for which they have killed thousands of your subjects, and which you seem to take for granted at our peril.

The question that your loyalists who proudly, actually shamefully, parade themselves as “Jonathanians” always ask is, are the girls of Chibok the only abducted since the wake of this insurgency, in their attempts to discredit the #BringBackOurGirls campaign and group? The answer to this has been proffered by members of the group from the incredibly energetic Mrs Aisha Yesufu whose resilience has been an inspiration for faint-hearted and absenting advocates of the movement like me to the courageous Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, on the back of whose charisma and audacity the campaign rose to the attention of the world, and now continues to dominate the discourse of man’s inhumanity in global politics.

The answer to this stubborn refusal to let go of this campaign and continuous call for the rescuing of Chibok Girls, as understood by all who still believe in the cause, is that it not only calls for you to bring back the missing girls, but any thinking person knows that any mission initiated to rescue the girls of Chibok will definitely result in the liberation of not just all the citizens abducted so far, but also the country itself from operations and oppressions of these ragtag agents of the Devil.

You see, #BringBackOurGirls is more than just a campaign, more than just a hashtag, more than just a sit-out, more than just a congregation of the nation’s finest minds, it defies the criticisms of all employed by you to frustrate and discredit it as a result of nothing other than this very singularity of the campaigners’ exact purpose: #BringBackOurGirls.

That this advocacy has survived all brazen fabrications and conspiracies against it, becoming the longest ever in Nigeria, is a tribute to the power of what the advocates themselves refer to as “the singularity of purpose” – keen focus on the efforts, reported those are, to bring back the 219 girls. This advocacy survived being dismissed as partisan, that it’s a tool of the opposition party. But even an excited APC chieftain, Mr. Audu Ogbeh, who, in his praise of the advocacy, tried to link it to the opposition party had to issue a press release at once, retracting his statement, and apologising for the mistake and embarrassment caused.

What I really don’t understand, Mr. President, is this: that your people’s daughters and sons and mothers and fathers, citizens of the country you’re elected to protect, have been in captivity without any update on efforts taken to rescue them, without any sobering, even if pretentious, assurance that they will be home soon, with their grief-stricken families. YET, here you are, again, asking for their votes, proud of your under-achievements and acting as though nothing has gone missing, not even the billions, because your family or interests are not affected. I just don’t get it.

Mr. President, if you actually believe the propaganda that places you on the same platform with the Mandelas of this world, which seems to have given you the audacity to ask these betrayed people for another opportunity to rule, to mismanage this animal farm, then your case is more than just political, it’s psychological. Or is it that I don’t really get it?

But, let’s agree that I don’t get it, can you give me, a curious subject, just one reason to cast my vote for you? You may be a good man in the closet – introverted, soft-spoken and ambitious, but your political decisions and even communication over these years, with this retinue of indecorous media aides you employ to insult citizens asking genuine questions, have only damaged you.

I know you may get elected again, a reality no sane citizen wants to ponder, because beside the few million agents of change whose decisions are based on the outcomes of their brains, there are several millions of victims of maladministration too hungry to use their brains, some, having been indoctrinated by certain political, ethnic, religious or regional overlords, are already possessed by dangerous sentiments.

You may empty even the nation’s foreign reserve which is now, I learnt, in red, but history will remember you as it does those who occupied the office before you: harshly. Wait, if the problems of this country are beyond you as shown, why desperate to remain in that Office?

While, to you, politics is a game, it’s a matter of life to us. The #BringBackOurGirls campaigners are immune to the partisan sentiments of your handlers and that of your opponents, are only interested in a nation under the leadership of a human being who is, not just a Muslim, not just a Christian, not just a Yoruba, not just a Hausa, not just an Ijaw, not just a northerner, not just a southerner, but responsible! For this, Nigerians across all divides, owe this group immense gratitude, if not for anything, for amplifying the voice of the ordinary Nigerian. The group has travelled the country and the world spreading the word of our miseries and keeping the reality of our hopelessness on the headlines of both local and international media, print, broadcast and online.

On Christmas Eve, while we empty shopping malls in our grand cities, and while you decorate the State House for another of your many fanfares, living as though all is well with the territory you have vowed to protect, members of the group, already known for their identifications of deficiencies at our squalid camps for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were in action in Adamawa State to launch #ChristmasForIDPs campaign to excite the lives of those subjects of government that is everything but responsible. This humanitarian cause was led by another incredibly amazing advocate, Mrs. Bukky Shonibare.

And do you, Mr. President, know that Mrs. Shonibare, despite her schedules, have been posting photographs of herself holding a placard that reminds us of the days our girls have spent in captivity as she counted down to Christmas, optimistic that you may surprise her, and make the girls of Chibok and all in captivity return home to mark this Christmas with their loved aways, safe from those indoctrinating them, and protected from the monster they are being turned into? Thanks to this group which your media aides, in whose skulls that mass of tissue called brain is absent, once referred to as “psychological terrorists”, we learnt that this Christmas is the 255th day since the abduction of the Chibok girls, 255 days of miseries for over 200 families. I just want you to know, I just want to remind you that among other things missing, also #BringBackOurGirls. And for this horrifying reality, I may change the antagonist in my weekly prayer for the first time ever: may God save us from you!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

A Note to Critics of Change


There is no disaster as devastating as the aggregation of petty and polarising sentiments by a people at a crossroads, a people being offered options, yet unwilling to consider these, despite their loud clamouring for change. I’m talking about these cynical Nigerians who have furiously condemned the status quo and find the brand of democracy in practice here “abominable” and in consequence will not take positions or act. These are the people for whom, as an angry Dante Alighieri once told us, the darkest places in hell is reserved for—their sin being neutrality in times of moral crisis.

I was among those who challenged the promotion of General Muhammadu Buhari as “the only morally upright politician” by some zealous supporters, finding such a formulation insulting and an unfair indictment of our generation. I held that accepting that Buhari was the only upright man meant if he bowed out, we had no replacement, and that we all needed to stop celebrating that nonsense and either begin crying or pointing to alternatives. There are indeed some out there, only lacking the myth surrounding the old soldier. Yet, I also maintained that whoever the APC fielded as presidential candidate for the 2015 elections, if against this famously failed leader named Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, would be my candidate. This, of course, held a dilemma for me at that time.

But that dilemma has now been terminated by the recently concluded presidential primaries at the conventions of the nation’s two major parties in which Buhari defeated other career politicians to pick the APC’s ticket, while the congregation at Eagle Square, possessed by Stockholm Syndrome, praised the failings of Jonathan, the man they now compare to Mandela and Martin King Jr., and thus asked him to fly PDP’s ticket at the ominous February Polls. Well, we all know the consequences of presidential anger. If you don’t, consult Jigawa’s Governor Sule Lamido. Perhaps it was this possibility that encouraged the amnesia of our Eagle Square delegates?

Unlike many others, my idea of a change in Nigeria isn’t tied to the elevation of APC to political dominance, rather to have the two major parties tangled in heavily competitive bout, with each striving to be the better suitor. Having PDP entirely replaced by APC is a return to status quo, clearly, considering the ease with which politicians defect in this space.

So, my idea of change in 2015 is more of a resolve to have the central government under the leadership of a sensible human being. But the question we ought to honestly ask ourselves, even though the answer may be unsettling, are: can the opposition oust the incumbent in this period running up to the 16th anniversary of this chaos we call democracy? Or, let me say, with a mischievous tone, are the actual majority off Twitter and Facebook and at remote villages and “forgotten cities” set to form a structure to resist the tools of “stomach infrastructure” on the way to their houses even as we speak as Election Day draws near?

I’ve compromised on some principles, but compromise that leads to the continuation of a government as tragic as Jonathan’s is something I simply can’t afford. What I must highlight is, that I don’t like Jonathan doesn’t mean I hate PDP. I believe there are some great minds in PDP, the same way I see pretenders mingling with the great minds in APC. Which is why I’ll be casting vote for some PDP candidates running for some offices in 2015.

I will not engage in, or be lured into, any petty denigration of the opposition party, nor of its newly presented presidential candidate, as is being championed by some supposedly responsible thought leaders in this space.

It’s convenient to ridicule the quest for change if you’ve not felt the impact of the maladministration that has brought this country to its knees; if you’re in faraway Europe or America, with 24-hour power and water supply; if you wake up every day without a fear over your safety and that of your loved ones; if you’re not affected by the stealing, which our wise leader once said isn’t the same as corruption, that has wracked every institution in the country; if you’re not turned against your brother from another ethnic group or religion or region by the politics and gimmicks of a dangerous President. It’s convenient to trivialize the essence of a government if you haven’t lost a family to insurgency because of an incompetent leadership. And unless you enjoy a 24-hour power supply, quality service at corruption-free institutions, impressive social amenities, all in a de-polarised system, your defence of this administration is either a case of sycophancy taken too far or delusion shamelessly justified.

There are things that shouldn’t be an issue of intellectual masturbation, and the quest for change by pathetically oppressed Nigerians is one of such. If you’ve no power to restore the lives and properties destroyed by bad leadership, the sage thing to do is being neutral and awaiting Dante Alighieri’s prescription of a harsh hell for your ilk.

But February 2015 is an uncertain period. Which is also why we must now promote, especially for those who consider politics a do-or-die affair, the meaning of democracy. We must assure the zealots that the only way to elect a new leader is by converging at polling units to vote, not by threatening those against them, or even breaking loose and harming those in the Other party. And while we do this, let’s also remember the electorate at villages with no motorable roads; those who do not know what we mean by change; those who only need food to eat, land to till, crops to harvest who are more vulnerable to the seduction of a wad of cash in exchange for their ballot papers.

Another bitter truth we have to chew is, nobody can rig an election without the complicity of the people. And when some of us contribute to electoral malpractices, the last I checked, the courtroom is the only place for resolution of such conflicts. No citizen deserves to die for the ambition of any politician. The bad and the good must co-exist, so long as our shared nationality isn’t a myth. This country is a reflection of ourselves. May God save us from us.

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter