Aisha Yesufu: Victim of Partisan Savagery

  Aisha Yesufu has been in the news for the right reasons. What got her in the line of partisan fire was her account of the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and parents of the abducted girls of Chibok, which she witnessed and reported last week. She wasn’t impressed, and wasn’t also afraid to admit so. For this brave indiscretion, a tribe of partisans has risen and formed a counterforce against her activism. Their outrage was a betrayal of what she advocates as a strong pillar of the #BBOG campaign.

Aisha is a private citizen, businesswoman, wife and mother. She’s an advocate of good governance, she is not a member of the political establishment. I know her well enough to express that she has no political affiliation, nor ambition. Born and bred in Kano, she’s of Edo State descent. A sketch of her biography is all one needs to realise the extent of her sacrifice in a clime of “federal character principles”, where the cartographers of ethno-religious bigotries will never even let her aspire to a political office. One may thus see now why she’s misunderstood by the fire-spitting minions who always lurk around to pounce on any critic of Buhari.

Her account of the meeting portrayed the President as emotionally absent and his Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, as contemptuous, insensitive and mischievous. Even Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, in challenging reports that the President left the meeting visibly angry, corroborated claims that parents of the missing girls present “didn’t feel him”. Both the President and his Minister, according to various accounts, were uninspiring. The summary of the meeting was: the group was mounting too much pressure on the government even though the abduction took place in the last administration.

On Twitter, Maureen, another extraordinarily resilient member of BBOG, reported a troubling exchange between Aisha Alhassan and Aisha Yesufu. The Minister, according to Maureen, asked grieving parents to leave everything to God. In their defence, Aisha Yefusu asked why she went to court and not God on losing the Governorship election in TarabaState. Poignant!

If there’s one voice I will always regard as unquestionably credible in this campaign, it has to be Aisha Yesufu’s. Unlike the others who’ve had a stint with a government or have been politicians, she IS neutral to partisan allegiances. She’s only pitched tent with the better alternative, and furiously supported Candidate Muhammadu Buhari in the period running up to the 2015 general elections.

Some of the cyber-thugs who have taken up a challenge to shame her, have never done in their entire life what she does in a single day, committing, for the about 750 days past, her hard-earned resources to advocating for the rescue of our Chibok girls. At the time many were reluctant to lending their voice to the story of the abduction, she emerged from absolute oblivion and challenged the Jonathan-led government to be honest in admitting its poor response to the condition of citizens abducted in northeast Nigeria.

Of Chibok girls, while some bigoted people attempted to deemphasize them for being mostly Christians, this Muslim woman defied the polarizing scheme of mediocrity in championing what has now become symbolic. She drew the attention of the world to the previously overlooked cases of abduction of our innocent citizens in that terrorist-infested region. She was so notorious in her confrontations with Jonathanians that when the veteran journalist, Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, died in a stampede in Saudi Arabia, some, mistaking Bilkisu for Aisha, put up a picture of of the latter to celebrate the death. Because she was a bogey to those agents of darkness who promoted the tragedy that was Goodluck Jonathan.

Aisha’s only flaw, which her critics fail or refuse to recognise, is that she’s not politically correct. Unlike Dr. ObyEzekwesili, who’s friends with prominent people in our political establishment, she does not belong in the elite class, and doesn’t give a damn how she’s perceived by them.

A day to ministerial inauguration, Barr. Solomon Dalung, then a ministerial designate, was at the BBOG sit-out, and Aisha, being Aisha, looked him in the eyes and said, “You are one of us. Tomorrow you will be a part of them. We don’t know your portfolio yet, but we want you to represent our interests there. And if you don’t… ” And then she shook her head. Dalung got her message.

This is the Aisha these partisans who have never done anything different to promote justice in this country seek to shame. It doesn’t matter to them that her account of theBBOG group’s meeting with President Buhari was simply her honest perception of the man’s attitude towards them. She hadn’t come to look at a deity in reverance, but to meet ahuman elected to do better than a failed human before him.

Some of her traducers, in the last bid of their desperation to shame her, resorted to sharing a 5-minute video of Aisha Alhassan to present the events of a meeting that lasted for hours. I hope they see the cruelty of their mischief. And those who are asking the campaigners to “give up and face reality”, such damning absurdity is not a surprise coming from partisan savages. I just hope they know what it means to imagine their own biological daughter alive, and being abused, among a cult of their fellow savages who differ from them only in the style of their savagery

If the girls of Chibok were of famous surnames, children of the criminally wealthy somebodies of Maitama, Asokoro and Aso Drive districts of Abuja, and abducted at Loyola Jesuit, Whiteplains British School, El-Amin International School, International Community School or Nigerian Turkish International College, there would never have been a loss or lack of intelligence on their whereabouts, and no government would ever risk not making them its priority. That we have a kind-hearted woman such as Aisha Yesufu, who’s neither a politician nor political, losing her resources and health to amplify the voice and publicise the agonies of the nobodies whose children were abducted, is one heroism we ought to support. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

Nigerian of the Year I & II

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2014 was a tumultuous year. It’s a year I remember in the shade of red, in my imagination of the globe now as a mottle of red, green, blue and brown – blood, vegetation, oceans and deserts. And Nigeria, especially the northern part, is one of the red patches on the globe, having lost too many citizens to the year’s escalated terrorism. Several disasters, mostly initiated by the folly of man, contributed in making the globe redder this year. In Middle East, the State of Israel was furious in highlighting the red on the territory that hosts the people of Gaza, while, close by, the ISIS militants did theirs in Syria and Iraq. Africa which, like Middle East, has always been a slaughterhouse where we seem to celebrate the death of humanism, joined the Project Red fad as we killed one another in Central African Republic, Kenya, South Sudan and Nigeria, while the saner societies advanced in technological and scientific inventions. By the time Ebola struck, we weren’t actually caught off guard, only lacking the medical facilities to contain the virus that spread across various countries killing and exposing the deficiencies of a continent. Nigeria, having won the fight against the spread of Ebola, was badly hit by terrorism, and also by the ethnic militancy in the north-central states of Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba, which are the fault of its insensitivity to cultural and religious dissidents over the years. Consequently, 2014 was also the year of emergency activism and inspiring heroism by Nigerians who had had enough of the government’s unimpressive and considerably politicised counterterrorism and systemic corruption.

I chose to categorise this recognition of exceptional accomplishments by Nigerians into two to highlight the contributions of the private citizens who had no link with, and had never been in, government and that of public servants, past and serving. “Nigerian of the Year I” is a celebration of those ordinary Nigerians who, noticing the deficiencies of this country and seeming cluelessness and incompetence of the government, sacrificed themselves to protect the resources, interests, virtues and lives of the citizens. “Nigeria of the Year II” is for those influential public servants, both past and active.

Nigerian of the Year I

This recognition can never go to an individual as it’s on record that all the most successful advocacies witnessed in 2015 were pursued by groups of likeminded citizens. And it has to be given to a group because all involved in such advocacies were equally threatened, and members have lost lives or fortunes in their attempts to protect us from either the system or a perceived external threat.

My nominees for the first category are: the Ebola Fighters in Nigeria, led by the inspiring Dr Stella Adadevoh; the ‪#‎BringBackOurGirls‬‬‬ Campaigners, led by the courageous Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; and the Civilian JTF, led by that faceless and unknown Nigerian. I must add that all of these groups deserve this honour, but there’s a certain privilege that wasn’t enjoyed by one of these groups, in spite of its consistent incursions into danger all through the year, which make them the most qualified for this category. This privilege is media representation and praise, and the group denied that is the Civilian JTF!

Being the most dangerous, and yet unfairly underreported advocacy, the sacrifices of these vigilante groups of the north-eastern Nigeria are hardly noticed and rarely praised by us, because we’re only moved by televised tragedies, and while some of us were busy with the ‪#‎FreeGaza‬‬‬ campaign, with a certain people even writing to justify anti-Semitism in their attack of our call for commitment and dedication to protecting Nigeria, these unnamed and faceless “soldiers in kaftan” were walking the talk, being killed for what’s not exactly their business, doing the work of those constitutionally tasked with protecting us: the military and para-military institutions.

But I must apologise to those expecting me to mention the Ebola fighters, already declared as Man of the Year by TIME, especially our own beloved Dr. Stella Adadevoh whose sacrifice was indeed inspiring. The recognition, without mincing words, is in acknowledgment of the existence of a group that had risen to fight the biggest threat in the history of this country, a threat that is already turning the whole country into a funeral house. Similarly, while it’s the duty of doctors to protect lives, for which they may be paid, it’s not the duty of unarmed citizens to fight terrorism in the field, and succeeding despite getting killed.

But I understand the sentiments in favour of the Ebola fighters. It’s the reality that, here, Ebola is seen as a threat to us, the urban and itinerant haves, while the major victims of terrorism in Nigeria have been the “subaltern” citizens, the “second-class” Nigerians in Gwoza, Potiskum, Chibok, Bama, Baga, Mubi, and at Nyanya Parks, churches and mosques that can’t afford advance security arrangements.

Nigerian of the Year II

In 2014, of the Nigerian public servants, while the Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah and her colleague at the Ministry of Petroleum, Ms. Diezani Alison-Madueke were graduating from scandal to controversy, leaving their most cerebral colleague in charge of Finance to defend the government’s misappropriations of public funds, there was a Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, an active public servant, alerting us to the worst of such scandals, General Muhammadu Buhari still struggling to remain the poster-child of the opposition party in Nigeria, prominent members of the APC weaving cheap conspiracy theories about the genesis and operations of the Boko Haram and promoting them as facts to blackmail a clearly underperforming government and a Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a former public servant, as the face of the nation’s hitherto dormant civil society. 2014 was indeed the year of both exceptional and characterless public servants, and while Sanusi had played a part in his whistle-blowing showmanship, with Buhari being resisted as a spent force, Oby was unstoppable.

Sure, you know the winner. I stood firm in defending her and even took it personal when some close friends disparaged an aspect of her, with clearly flawed statistics. She’s no saint, but Dr. Oby Ezekwesili is that beautiful mind whose existence, especially this year, challenged us to stand for something in life. She had paid a price for her revolutionary stance as the face of the civil society, pursuing a cause that most of our NGOs that had fed fat on grants from the West ought to have advocated and sustained.

She was called names even by some of her Igbo kinsmen in the cause of her struggle for a responsible Nigeria as she led the ‪#‎BringBackOurGirls‬‬‬ campaign to the attention of the world. She was called names for standing up for the destiny of some “northern girls” by a mischievous group that sought to blackmail her with a sentimental history of the Biafra War, reminding her that the ongoing social devolution in the north is an atonement for the sins of the North.

But she wasn’t deterred, she’s first a human being – a principle she advocates. And not even the opposition party was safe from her unpatronising criticism this year. As a guest of the opposition party at a summit held in the first quarter of the year, she reminded the members that the quest for change is more than just a change of party and acronym, highlighting their structural and ideological flaws. That’s the spirit of the phenomenal woman!

Needless to list her antagonists, among whom are young Nigerians on the payroll of, and sympathetic to, the government, especially the delusional ones on the social media who have made a career out of tweeting disrespectful rants at her. And these are young people, whose country and future she was fighting to salvage, young enough to be her kids. They called her a hypocrite, and it’s so because the indecorous clowns didn’t seem to know that they were really referring to that seasoned technocrat who’s become a globally sought-after policy advisor, having paid her dues at various international financial institutions, which peaked at appointment as a Vice President of the World Bank, after a tenure as Minister of Education. It’s, however, disquieting that a notable citizen who has sacrificed a lot in reactivating our dormant civil society, amplifying the tragedy of the ordinary Nigerian was so vilified by amnesiac hacks. But, may God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

OBY 2

It’s Christmas in Chibok, Mr. President!

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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 Letter to that Nigerian-Palestinian

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Dear Friend,

Before you accuse me of finding nothing worth praising about you and yours, let me quickly empathise with you, and of course myself, over the killings in Gaza. You, as a humanist, one whose empathy has no border, are a citizen of the world, one of the reasons the earth is still habitable by the sane. It would be morally irresponsible for anyone to frown at your frantic advocacy which seeks an end to the killings in Gaza, only that commonsense demands a man whose house is on fire to rush for the extinguisher for his own dwelling first, before attending to a similar fire elsewhere.

London stands up for Gaza, because London is not bereaved. New York Stands up for Gaza because New York isn’t being threatened by hurricane-somebody now. Palestine would not stand up for Chibok because they also have a strip of misery in which they are just as worthless: Gaza. And the young Malala Yousafzai who came and roused the conscience of her fathers in Nigeria, was not here as a Pakistani as you have announced in defending your geographically insensitive activism from my “secular advocacy”. She was here as a Birmingham, England-based NGO owner, to stand with the girls of Nigeria in whose education Malala Fund has invested thousands of dollars. She has, as the news says, even “offered to partner with the UN efforts to mitigate the impacts of the abduction and help the girls (whose welfare is a responsibility of her NGO) return to school.”

You see, it’s not the way you internationalise your empathies that disturbs me, it’s this seeming pretence that all is well in your backyard while you weep over the blazing fire in faraway Gaza. If you, and others like you, had been half as passionate and emotional in your reaction to local tragedies as you are over the killings in Palestine, the troubles in the northeastern Nigeria wouldn’t have escalated to its present extent. The Palestinians, and their global solidarity soldiers, have gone berserk over the burning of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair, their citizen, and you, amnesiac activist of a burning nation, have also been losing sleep over Khudair, ignoring the tens of Khudairs who die in your backyard every day!

It’s not the internationalisation of your empathies that disturbs me, it’s your lack of wisdom to understand that Khudair has his fighters — and he’s fully named, his age too revealed –while all the killed and abducted Dantalas and Asma’us and Johns and Naomis of Yobe and Borno are seen as mere statistics, unworthy of collective advocacy by you.

Ours is not a criticism of the northern establishment, but that of its hypocritical allegiance to “brotherhood of faith”, which is what you say in your solidarity with the Palestinians, ignoring that we’re just as bereaved here, and unknowing that Palestine is also a home for non-Muslims. But, wait, what sort of a human being is responsive to the tragedies that fall upon just the people of his faith?

Ours is a criticism of the collective, not of a specific group. This is a reminder that we have not done enough, not a declaration that we have not done anything at all. It’s a criticism of me and you who, safe from the bullets of Boko Haram, have not done anything comparable to the emotions shown in the sensitivity of our countrymen to the happening in Gaza. Are you, my dear global citizen, trying to say that we, especially resident northerners, need CNN and Aljazeera to remind us that there are carnages going on in our backyard before we acknowledge them?
Haven’t we all lost friends and friends of friends and relatives and relatives of relatives in this madness? What media is more effective than being actually bereaved? The most effective media is our emotions, and on this I dare say that we haven’t shown and done enough. My participation in #BringBackOurGirls shows me the hypocrisy of our Muslim brothers and sisters who, dismissing our hashtags as a gimmick, are now loud champions of #FreePalestine.

See, we are as bereaved as the people of Palestine and it’s quite ironic that, instead of gathering our lots to empathise with ourselves first and demand solutions and justice, we pretend as though all’s well in our house. Why are the people of Palestine not empathising with the people of Borno if our “brotherhood of faith” is actually reciprocal? Why? I repeat: why aren’t the people of Palestine extending their “brotherhood of faith” to us in the hours of our bereavements? The Palestinians have never stopped fighting. They have their men up and running against oppression. Who’s up fighting for us, especially for Chibok and the larger northeast? Why leaving these campaigns against Boko Haram’s terrors to just the members of Civilian JTF and #BringBackOurGirls campaigners?

You even said that no atrocity is more than that going on in Gaza, and I ask: is there an experience worse than having minors abducted, savagely raped and impregnated by terrorists? Saying that no atrocity is as bad as that in Gaza means that the sanctity of a Palestinian’s life is higher than that of a Nigerian’s. And that, fellow countryman, is an unfortunate and disturbing utterance.

Similarly, you have to be really careful in your advocacy. At least get relevant history books to properly understand the religious and political complexity of the territorial conflicts that have turned Gaza into a prison-mortuary. Your alignment with the Palestinians, your brothers-in-faith, may lead you into something called antisemitism. And you also need to understand that it’s the peak of such misguided hatred that resulted into the formation of a racist ideology that once sought to promote the “Aryan” German race as the best of humans. Nazism, consequently, championed the killings of the innocent Jews, who were considered threats to proposed German nationalism.

In your analyses of the happenings in Gaza, you have, quite sadly, pandered to a way of the Hitler-led Aryan racists who considered the Jewish race abolishable pests.

Do have restraint in understanding that the happenings in Israel is not a crime perpetrated, and supported, by the whole of Jews. It’s a crime perpetrated by a monstrous ideology championed by a people of Jewish identity, just the way Nazism was not supported by the whole of Germans, but by a small but powerful National Socialist party clique. If you’re to adopt this form of flawed thinking in portraying ethnic or religious groups, obviously the whole of Muslims should be similarly persecuted for the crimes of Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabbab, the Taliban and even Boko Haram who all pretend to be advocates of rights for the Muslim!

Hate the Israelis who, under zionism, did to Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews, but do not go close to hating the whole of Jews. Saying I hate the Jews means I hate some significant figures that shaped me, mine and the larger world. Saying I hate the Jews means I hate Jesus, who in my theology is Isah (AS), needed to authenticate my belief; saying I hate the Jews means I hate Moses (AS), similarly needed; saying I hate the Jews is an ingratitude to Albert Einstein’s contribution to science; saying I hate the Jews is an ingratitude to Sergey Brin, the founder of Google, whose invention has redeemed me in ways I’m incapable of repaying; saying I hate the Jews is also an ingratitude to Mark Zuckerberg whose innovation is the reason you and I are “friends” – even though we’ve never met – sharing thoughts on the ways of the world.

As long as you’re on Facebook, and employ Google to aid your quests for knowledge, both creations of inventors of Jewish identity, declaring that you hate the Jews is a contradiction, a joke clearly on you. And, as Muslims, your faith is threatened the moment you withhold your love for Jesus and Moses.

Don’t let a criminal be a representative of his race, religion and nationality. This approach, this dangerous stereotyping, has been the reason for these many conflicts we are still unable to resolve in this damned world. We must embrace our humanity, the only thing we all have in common, if we’re indeed interested in resolving our racial, religious, political, regional, territorial and ethnic conflicts!

Unlike you, whenever I see a group of people, the first identity that strikes me is the human, not the religious, not the political, not the racial, and obviously not the ethnic. Aside from my immediate family, my next closest family are the righteous people, people always in pursuit of Justice without discrimination, and of their other identities I’m unmindful.

I’ve long overcome the naiveté of hating a people based on the crimes of a group of which they are non-compliant members, just the way I don’t owe any non-Muslim and southerner apology for the atrocities of the Boko Haram. I only owe them explanation, defence, solidarity and empathy. My seeming silence over the killings in Gaza is simply because I’ve also been mourning, and also holed up in a mess of immeasurable depth. The Palestinians, I know, have global solidarity soldiers fighting for them. But, beyond hashtags, who are actually fighting for the redemptions of this place in which we don’t need a visa to reside?

This week, at our Abuja’s #BringBackOurGirls sit-in, as I listened to Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a woman whose public service records never really attracted my curiosity, but I’ve come to like as a humanist and patriot of impressive resilience, lament on the fate and conditions of the abducted girls and the dysfunctionality of the system in charge of our safety, something within me collapsed. So I withdrew from the crowd, hoping that could stem it, but I still couldn’t fight the tears. And that was how I left the sit-in, broken. This is because, in the cruel politics of migrations in this century, I have no home other than Nigeria, and the tragedy that befalls a fellow countryman, irrespective of his/her religious and ethnic and regional affiliations, is a shared grief.

I’m not inconsiderate to your reference to “brotherhood of faith” in standing for the people of Gaza, but I will never ever stand for them simply because we’re of the same religion. My own version of that excuse of yours is: “faith in the universal brotherhood of Man.” I only empathise with them because of a shared humanity. As for those who rightly explain that humanity has no border, which I also endorse, my belief in yours may only be confirmed if you also recognise the conditions of the Iraqi Christians who’re now fleeing Mosul, for they have been told by the ISIS animals to convert to Islam or lose their lives. Many of you are in Abuja, but participating in #BringBackOurGirls is seen as a “waste of time”, insulting those who defy the tasks of their 9-to-5 daily to be a part of the campaign, ignorant of the impending dangers, the danger of becoming refugees in your own city!

Yet, some of you have sought to typify my refusal to label corpses in order to know which deserves my empathy as simply a bid to earn a medal from the non-Muslims I’ve been struggling so hard, according to you, to impress; some of the same non-Muslims who, in a spark of mischief, have in their turn called me an “Islamic propagandist”, whatever that is, for condemning the profiling of northerners in the East, for endorsing a Muslim as presidential candidate… But I’m indifferent to their malicious labeling just as I’ve been to yours because you’re both incapable of denying me the rights to such expressions.

Humanity is still a joke because of this army of cerebrally malfunctioned brothers and sisters to whom we’re seen as hypocrites merely trying to impress the non-members of our group, for exposing a form of oppressive hypocrisy. Well, my dear friend, I don’t write to influence or change you; my writing is a sport that seeks to prove that I don’t think the way you do, and that the way I think is independent of yours. I hope this would be taken in good faith. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda
@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

To Critics of #BringBackOurGirls: a Letter

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I promise I’ll be brief.

This is because you are notorious for making declarations without bothering to understand what’s been said or done. And by being brief, I wish to reduce the possibility of your succumbing to your nature. I’ll be very brief, I assure you.

Your first error, which seems to have become your guiding principle, is the assumption that activism is the responsibility of a select group. I’m tired of repeating myself, of spelling out what activism is, of restating that “activism is not a profession, it’s an instinctual response to a failed system.”

Activism is the responsibility of every one. There are no membership requirements, since citizenship of a dysfunctional country is the only qualification for, and invitation to, be active against such a system. This is the truth you have not acknowledged, as you sail in the boat of cynicism, in which you fault the campaigns of fellow citizens who have taken to the street to challenge a government you nonetheless have also dismissed as a failure.

You see, there’s nothing wrong with your attempts to change Nigeria from your bedrooms–with tweets, Facebook updates and even sensational Op-Eds and polarising advocacies. But, don’t you think criticising those in the field, patriots who step out of their comfort zones to challenge social and political aberrations, is an indictment of your delusion?

Isn’t that what it is, delusion, to expect a desired change without civic engagement? Even miracles don’t occur without an effort!

If you’re indisposed to take part in a campaign designed to seek good governance and accountability from the establishment, unimpressed by the “methods” deployed by the organisers, why didn’t you come out to show these “ignorant” and “insular” citizens how to organise civic engagements, demonstrating the correct method to adopt in organising an effective protest? It is the absence of your ilk, the know-it-alls, that makes nuisance like us occupy the streets. Don’t you agree? Are you satisfied with the way this country is being run? If you are not, why aren’t you doing something aside from occupying your bed? It’s either you’re dishonest, merely being the intellectual drama queens, certified attention-seeking dissenters or, and this too is a credible suspicion, fire over at your neighbour’s is not a shared problem.

A shared nationality, dear critics, is enough reason to be alarmed by the tragedies that have befallen fellow citizens. It is thus heartbreaking to read your criticism of citizens who rose up, on the news of abductions of schoolgirls in the terrorist-infested northeast, asking the government to #BringBackOurGirls. If these citizens had not risen up to expose the government, the abduction would’ve been dismissed as another of our many collateral damages, like the many before it. This enough-is-enough response to an institutionally confused government has not only embarrassed the government, its unjustifiable incompetence has been clearly spelled with hashtags, and on the placards, by famous global influencers: politicians, religious clerics, musicians, actors, name it. On the strength of this campaign, the President and his colleagues from neighbouring countries were summoned by Paris in the name of a summit.

It is this same activism you consider as “elitist” that inspired Michelle Obama to hold up a placard in solidarity with rattled Nigerians. It’s the same activism you consider as “political” that earned Nigeria offers of military support by real States who love their citizens. It is the same activists you consider as “idle” that have kept the search for the abducted girls a task the government could not afford to give up on simply because, definitely, “America will know!” It’s the activists whose campaigns you dismiss as “needless” that have invigorated the intellectual study and investigations of the capability of the Nigerian military, and introduced lay-citizens to the complexities of terrorism in Nigeria. #BringBackOurGirls is run by neither Muslims nor Christians, neither Hausa nor Igbo, neither northerners nor southerners. It is run by Nigerians, stripped of labels ethnic or religious, regional or political, a band of people united by the intensity of their shared grief!

But you critics don’t seem to understand the gravity of silence, which is a sort of complicity with influential citizens in the battering of a defenceless people.

I liken your present security arrangement to my friend’s dogs. He bought the puppies just when he was about to leave the country for his postgraduate studies, and left them to be trained by his mai-guard. On his return, years later, the cute things had grown up, evolved into unfriendly beasts. Still grappling with certain proprietary airs, my friend headed to the cages to play with his old pets. He was lucky to have been saved on time, injured and bloodied by beasts who no longer recognise him.

We undermine the escalating terrorism, because we live in big cities with security outposts here and there; but if we’re not careful, if we don’t pursue this campaign for protection of this country, our presently enjoyed security arrangements will alienate you from your folks just in the way the dogs did my friend uninvolved in their nurturing.

You, cynics, are in danger of becoming strangers in your own country. You have to make the choice today: understand that you’re also an activist, or end up as refugee in your own country.

May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

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)

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)