By Bisi Lawrence
The mindless attack of Islamic terrorists or insurgents in the country on His Royal Highness, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano, has provoked a spate of comments expressing, absolute shock, downright condemnation, and utter dismay. One sees the attack as mindless because the object is one of the most eminent Muslims in the country.
He is the traditional ruler of a predominantly —almost exclusively—Muslim community in the heart of a historically Islamic terrain.
Though the city, all the same, has not been excluded from the scourge of Islamic militancy, or insurgency in the country, the occasions of acts of terrorism in the area had really added to the confused status of the terrorists’ objectives in the estimate of analysts generally.
Some four years ago, the objectives of the Boko Haram attackers were related more to sociological factors, rather than any other sources, especially as the operations were restricted to the Northern part of the country which is far less developed than the South.
But here we are halted by the brick wall of an irony:the terrorist organization, by its very title, is totally against Western education which is undoubtedly the bedrock of modern development.
Experts, who pose to know more about such things than others, were thus emphatic that the attacks had more of a civic reaction to poverty than any other motivation.
The bombing of the Mogadishu Cantonment in 2010 tended to support the view that it was the citizenry in the area moving against the government. But with the bombings and other forms of mayhem which targeted educational institutions and churches, it became apparent that the direction was more focused than that.
No one wanted to admit that it had more than a slight tinge of religious flavour to it against the Christians, especially those in the North. Nigerians fear the devastating impact that a religious war could have on the country.
The country is already virtually partitioned into the Islamic North and the Christian South sectors as it is, projecting a natural line of battle-line confrontation which no reasonable citizen would wish to come alive.
What has prevented that so far, as we all are aware—and a vital fact that may not be violated at that—is the absence of the terrorist activities in the core South, along with the tolerance and accommodation of the affected Southerners who have eschewed reprisals in their reaction to their losses.
It is a great sacrifice that the Christians in the North have had to bear in general. Many of them have been bombed out of church and home. They have lost material possessions at the hands of terrorists simply for being in the right place even at the right time.
The Boko Haram has loomed larger and larger like a dark shadow over the land. It has almost grown to become a “bogey” for frightening the citizens.
The members strike seemingly at will with little respect for their targets. They have bombed buildings of international institutions, media houses, and even military establishments.
While several Christians still threw their lives on the wings of their faith and still worshipped in churches on Sundays, others have stayed at home to pray. How much less could anyone really do when even National Day observances are held, through in military fashion, within barrack walls!
And then along the course of developments, the advice for a “negotiated settlement” began to grow into a demand and acquire a strident tone.
The advisers directed, and are still directing, that nothing short of a dialogue could solve the problem of the Boko Haram. It has been of little use to point out that negotiations with an unknown entity could be fruitless and become counter-productive.
and the boy died
In any case, how could negotiations be conducted with adversaries who demand the rejection of your faith for their own? Those who are seized with the alternative of negotiation, however, appear to wish to drive it down the throats of the citizenry good and hard, without any profound consideration for whatever the achievements might be. And yet they know that there may only be one achievement in that direction, and that is a total capitulation of the Federal Government to the demands of the terrorists.
In the past year, the Boko Haram has stepped out to expose its hand more boldly. It has made no bones about the fact that it is mostly about religion, though the identity of Islam appears to be really no more than a mask for its dastardly acts. One had been misled into thinking that what was implied by that association would be the age-old code of the Jihadists—“Death to the infidels! But, with the attacks on some notable Muslims which have now found a climax with the Emir of Kano, the equation has become somewhat distorted though the outline remains barbaric. And yet, even at this perilous juncture, some people in this country, whom you would expect should know better, are still talking about dialogue. People in Mali are not singing a song so out of tune with their national welfare. They have come face-to-face with a monster that would swallow up their existence as a nation, and they shouted to the four winds for help. But here again, we encounter what may be described as an extension, or a strip, of the irony which features an Islamic sect against the well-being of a Muslim community or personality. And that “in the name of Allah”? All right-thinking Muslims agree that the connection of God’s holy name with the violent propagation of His worship is an abomination.
The Nigerian “rapid response”, if it may be so described, is heart-warming. It is timely and responsible. Since the West African nation appears to be drawn up against forces with the same roots as the Boko Haram, to rout them there is to weaken the assistance they are said to be offering our rampant foes here at home. The experience in Mali should stand us in good stead in formulating grander and more effective strategies to deal with our own domestic problems of terrorism. There is every reason to be confident that our troops will acquit themselves honourably as always.
And so the boy died. Enoch was his name, a five-year old who was naturally the joy of his father’s heart. He had a medical problem which hit a crisis point towards the end of last year. He had earlier enjoyed a lively Christmas, sporting his little Santa Claus outfit and his toys. But the ailment was there with him, and so was a caring father who had put his hopes for the child’s welfare in the glittering medical services provided by the Lagos State Ministry of Health. And so when the crisis came, the doting father, Olufemi Ibirogba, hopefully called out for the facilities promised and displayed by the Ministry.
In particular, these facilities include the much-publicised ambulance service which seemed to have been reliable in some cases during the day-time and in circumstances that exposed its operations to public knowledge —like, usually, cases of road accidents in the city. But crises of a medical nature choose their times of occurrence at will. They thereby demand prompt response in an emergency situation. That has been the promise of the Lagos Ambulance Service, which is some twelve years old, from its inception in keeping with the tradition of such facilities. It is an important element of the general emergency lay-out provided by the government and available, or supposed to be available, through a telephone call to the appropriate number.
The life-threatening distress erupted in little Enoch’s body just after midnight. The nearest hospital was quite a distance away, and his father, Olufemi, had no car. No matter, he thought—the emergency service was there. But getting through to the officials in charge was just the beginning.
After five hours —five hours—without the appearance of the ambulance promised by the officials, the child had to be conveyed to the hospital by the earliest available public transport vehicle. The delay had, of course, taken its toll on the body of the little boy.
The wishy-washy attention provided by the hospital staff, coupled with the faulty state of the equipment available, did not improve the state of affairs. The distraught parent became frantic as he urged the nurses, the doctors, somebody, anybody to do something, all to little avail. And so the boy died.