This Day (Lagos)

28 July 2014

Nigeria: The Weird World of Bombs and Tombs

guest column

"A dream-team is an assembly of humane and urbane beings, who uphold in the highest esteem a moral sanctity and fundamental necessity that allows man to live as individual within the community of others without molestation, harassment or threat of extermination." - Anonymous

Let's for a minute focus our mind's eye on the world we live in. What can you capture in 60 seconds of news around the world? Turn your inner radar to the global cable channels and see what kind of news items take the lead? Mine in a sentence is filled with weird and horrific tales of death, destruction and utter conflagration - or a quick march of retrogressive acceleration towards human extinction! Our world is fully endangered by the untamed activities of man's inhumanity to man. Imagine man killing man in scores and hundreds without batting an eyelid.

From Eastern Europe through the Middle East and down to Africa, lives are daily being cut short by bullets and bombs, which burdens an agonising community of the bereaved to rush left over bodies and bones into early graves of marked and unmarked tombs! What a wicked world we live in. Not even animals kill for sport. Meanwhile, as we are still battle to unravel the mystery surrounding a Malaysian commuter airplane that went missing with its over 290 passengers, four months ago; the Russia-backed Separatists in Ukraine have also been alleged to have recently downed another commercial passenger craft, belonging to the same Malaysia airline company. This dastardly act of man-made Armageddon burnt into ashes bodies and properties of 298 innocent world travellers! Gory story! Out of the lot, 189 came from the small country of Netherlands.

The United States and United Kingdom plus several nations around the globe did share in the immense agony and pain of sudden death of men, women and children who hitherto were filled with lofty dreams and ideas that could help heal our dying world. Amongst the ill-fated was a Grade A Researcher on HIV/AIDS pandemic. The renowned Professor of Dutch extraction was based in USA. What a loss? It took the steel spine of a maniac to push the odd button that fired an earth-to-air missile that delivered such a deadly impact that blew the mind of the world apart. Does it really matter who takes the blame now for this sinful behaviour. What will be the outcome of the UN-sponsored post mortem of the ugly incident? As if the bloodletting wasn't enough, old wounds dating back to primordial times have been rudely re-opened between the arch belligerents in the Middle East - Israel and Palestine! These historic womb brothers and sisters, from whom the two leading religions Christianity and Islam were birthed and brand-packed worldwide, are now back at each other's throat with guns and bayonets - even weapons of mass destruction called scud missiles; instead of the age-long stone-sling; made popular by Biblical Lilliputian David against giant Goliath, the Philistine colossus! Sadly, nearly 1,000 souls have been fatally sent into the wailing ghost-land of untimely death. Some people are now maimed for life! Mostly helpless and hapless children that never knew why grown up adults, men of faith, chose to war-war rather than jaw-jaw. What is the actual price for peace and unity? The UN under its Secretary General, Ban-Ki Moon, US President, Barrack Obama and some folks in the Maghreb have all come up as mediators - seeking a ceasefire and an opportunity for elusive unity in a zone bedevilled by inequity and iniquity. But the Hamas and the agents of the Netanyahu-led Israeli army are far from listening. They just won't agree to the path of peace called truce. What a wasteful, waning and warring world to live in. Also in the league, Africa, the continent of the world's largest Black race, does not fare any better. In fact, Africans have learnt to deploy light and heavy weapons that they do not produce, to make short the lifespan of their own kiths and kin. Today the infamous Rwandan war of attrition and genocide, of yesteryears, is fast becoming a child's play when juxtaposed with the internecine wars in the Central Africa Republic; the old and new Sudan (North and South); the menace of religious bigots and terrorist activities in Mali, Kenya and Nigeria! Thousands of lives and unquantifiable properties have been buried in a hurry. What a shame? Thus the rat race for political power and lust for lucre have turned the Blackman against the rudiments of his cultured morality, modesty, honesty and tenacity of purpose - all attributes that sustained good governance in ancient African kingdoms and empires. In today's world, Africa only counts as a gracing ground for raw materials or a dumpsite for foreign goods. No wonder the new scramble for Africa; after a century since the partition of the continent by Europeans colonialists of Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and Italy in 1884-85.

New imperialists have since become helmsmen in Africa. Zimbabwe is almost ruined under the iron-fist of Robert Mugabe, who wants to die in power at over 80 years of age. Cameroun is on cue too. Ghana managed to rescue herself from the jaws of this man-made shark of self immolation. But the greatest fear of all is the fate of Africa's most populous country, Nigeria. The century old political house built by Lord Lugard, whose wife named the nations around the River Niger as "Niger-Area People", which later became Nigeria during the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914, is, currently quaking in uncertain seismic movement towards gravitational pull. God forbid, if Nigeria fails Africa will suffer untold hardship. For Nigerians are too many, and too smart to seek refuge in smaller countries in Africa. Ask South Africa and Ghana their current experience of having Nigerians in their countries.

Therefore, the wave of financial impropriety, political insincerity and intolerance coupled with the impunity of impeachment and religious bigotry; a situation escalated by mass unemployment and rogue ruler-ship, may be responsible factors for the hard-to-quell trend of socio-political and religious insurgencies in our hitherto peaceful country. So, it is no longer news that political office holders get thrown away selectively from their high thrones in Nigeria, based on baseless excuses tagged "gross misconduct" that do not apply to the politically-correct federal government party members, often cuddled warmly referred to as "family Members." Needless to name names and instances! And despite the hues and cries from the opposition, government apologists have been gaily rejoicing their unearned victories; by classifying terrorism as the lot of people out of power! Hmmm, wrong conclusion drawn from a wrong premise. In the last five years, thousands of Nigerians of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds have been deleted from the register of living beings. No thanks to the spate of car and suicide bomb blasts, engineered by Boko Haram insurgents. Rather than stem the tide against this common enemy, both the government and the opposition have chosen to proverbially heal the skin disease while leaving the leprosy untreated. That is, chasing shadow and abandoning the substance like kids. I still wonder and ponder, silently and loudly, what might have become of my country if the two huge car bomb attacks on the city of Kaduna, 23 July 2014, had hit their targets: of former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, and the 80-year-old Muslim scholar, Sheihk Dahiru Usman Bauchi, after this year's Ramadan Tasfir, peace talks! More so, as the ex ruler, an opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, had in the last 72 hours before the attempted assassination poked hot needle on the flesh of the PDP government in power. Pity, nearly a hundred compatriots were killed and hurried into the other side of the divide during the incident.

Despite the fatality and morbidity rate, Nigerians could heave a sigh of relief that a not-too-popular government didn't get labelled by opportunists who truly have the bad intentions to see Nigeria divided and weakened. The follow up bombs in Kano and elsewhere all fall within the same framework of detest and distaste. However, it is therefore a welcome development that President Goodluck Jonathan has finally parleyed with his erstwhile adversary and former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano. Such a laudable meeting, brokered by the Sultan of Sokoto, is a great exercise in damage control and crisis management. Same accolade goes to the condemnation of violence in the country, and the accompanying clarion calls for peace and tranquillity, by statesmen such as former military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the Turaki Adamawa and national leader of the APC. Many clerics too have been drumming for a cessation of hostilities and a return of sanity to Nigeria and Nigerians.

Aside, the appearance of the fatal Ebola virus in our country at this precarious period, which has killed one person; also requires a quick intervention by the government and immediate prevention through mass action, to be emboldened by appropriate public health advocacy and citizens' awareness campaigns. Finally, let's be resolute in our actions and begin to embrace new understanding in order to survive these hard times. May the peace of the Ramadan be with us all, and Barka da Sallah to our Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide. Long live Nigeria and Nigerians

-Yusuf, a Public Affairs Commentator, wrote from Abuja

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