Nigeria: When Silence Is Not Golden


"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men." -- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In a bizarre twist of fate, foreign soldiers (Nigerien forces to be specific) are those crossing into the Nigerian territory to rescue Nigerians let down by their own government and its armed forces in the face of outright provocation by some vicious marauders. Has Nigeria become so weak and timid that it cannot effectively secure its people?

Senator Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East) lamented this shameful anomaly on the floor of the Senate when he said it was "the very reason why not less than 5,000 people in the affected areas have migrated to Niger Republic for safety."

The responsibility that the Nigerian government abdicated was sympathetically undertaken by it's neighbour; this is strange and sad.

One wonders whether our government has been rendered hors de combat by the incessant destruction of lives and property by bandits in the North West.

Gone are the glorious old days when some invading Chadian rebels met their match in our gallant soldiers led by the then GOC of 3 Division (3DIV), Major General Muhammadu Buhari. So relentless were our soldiers in repelling the rebels that they trespassed deep into the Chadian territory to ensure that the rebels were gone for good.

Sadly, daily kidnapping and banditry have become inveterate menaces in most North West states. Bloodthirsty and murderous bandits ride motorcycles across villages and towns, wreaking havoc on innocent and helpless people and thier property. They kill indiscriminately, hold women hostage (to be raped serially), loot anything valuable, rustle livestock and set ablaze whatever is left behind.

After every attack comes the customary condemnation by the president, then marching orders to security agencies to crush the bandits. However, the bandits are emboldened the more to perpetuate carnage. Instead of the government to empty the quiver of its wrath upon the bandits, some helpless governors overtly cajole the bandits to halt their onslaught.

Recent killings in parts of Katsina State proved that negotiation with bandits is an exercise in futility; it only emboldens and gives them an undeserved sense of importance and makes them stakeholders in security matters.

Confused citizens ask why do the security operatives not use the zest and skill they often exhibit in arresting critics of some governors to crush banditry and kidnapping. Parts of Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states have been turned into killing fields.

Mass graves are dug in several communities where the bandits have attacked. Traumatised survivors are displaced from their villages to wherever they find refuge.

However, in the ensuing turmoil, the silence of northern leaders of thought is deafening, the cacophony that protested killings under Jonathan's administration has suddenly drowned amid renewed killings.

Religious leaders who preach the sacredness of life are suddenly mute in the wake of its desecration and political leaders have become dispirited.

For fear of the Sanusi treatment, perhaps, traditional leaders are hesitating to call out the government to do the needful despite the gory pictures and videos that continue to flood the internet in the wake of attacks.

Also, modern day social media which serves as a veritable platform to amplify grievances is not loud enough.

Silence can never be golden in circumstances like this.

Therefore, all well-meaning citizens must unite in demanding that the government fulfills its constitutional obligations by saving its people from the scourge of kidnapping and banditry.

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