10 February 2013

Nigeria: Who Killed Health Workers in Kano?

Photo: Gates Foundation
A local health worker carries polio vaccines in Nigeria (file photo).


On Friday, residents of Anguwan-Uku, a densely populated area in the Kano metropolis, was thrown into mourning and confusion as nine female health workers on immunisation duty were gunned down. Kano is gaining notoriety for constant gun rampage activities and Anguwan-Uku seems to be a particular hotspot.

The murder of these health workers sends a clear message: the terror war is very much on. Those optimists who believed the supposed olive branch offered by the "Boko Haram" was genuine may now accept the reality.

The people behind this senseless murder are just what they are: completely demented beings. These health workers are sisters, wives, mothers and children of some other members of the society and were out on a noble mission. What possible wrong could they have committed by participating in a mission to save the next generation?

We have reached a stage where no institution or person is sacred anymore. There is no sanctity of life any longer, and the security agents seem as lost as the rest of Nigerians. We have argued in this space before that the security agencies need to change strategy and tactics because those they are fighting are steps ahead of them. Many will want to believe we are not at war, but the actions of security agencies like excessive barricades around their formations clearly present evidence of not just a nation at war but one she is not even set to win.

Religious leaders who discredit immunisation meant to prevent diseases like polio and save our children should blame themselves for this carnage. When people hide behind the toga of religion to foment trouble or encourage archaic fundamentalism capable of disorienting the society, they should be held liable for the consequences of their actions and inactions. The perpetrators of these acts will always find a way to get to us; the more we allow them to cower us, the greater the chances of their victory over us.

The dead cannot be recalled but we must not let the victims of the Kano massacre die in vain. People who don't respect life and property and want to revert to the pre-civilisation era should be regarded as enemies of progress.

This carnage goes beyond Kano; it is about the survival of Nigeria. It is important that the murderers be brought to justice quickly. Protection of life and property is the raison d'etre of government. Any government that cannot perform this function has no reason to exist.

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