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Rachael weeping for her children

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By Bisi Lawrence

The Boko Haram sect has become bolder than ever. They can now confidently announce a locality that they have marked down for an attack, and proceed to launch the assault almost at will. They warned about the mayhem they were going to visit on several areas of Christmas Day, and almost made good their word. And now they have announced their intention of repeating that performance tomorrow.

So much has been said about the slaughter of Christians in Madala, near Abuja, on Christmas Day, It has all been condemnations upon condemnations. I would like to register my denunciation too. It will add no value or effect to the huge store of disapproval that has been subscribed here at home and from foreign countries. But one says one’s piece, all the same.

The expression of sorrow or sympathy sometimes gives quality to the emotion by its intensity or perceived genuineness. Sometimes, only the bereaved can feel the pain, and then it may lie too deep to be demonstrated. A woman, who saw her husband and five children off to church on Christmas Day in the morning, would confidently wait to share smiles and joy with them when they returned.

How does she adequately react, how does she fully demonstrate the weight of sorrow that descends on her when she realizes that she will see them no more? Who could understand the depth of that kind of grief to appreciate her plight and match it with whatever she could utter, or could not even say out? That woman in Madala said what made sense, but ended up not making sense.

How could people who went to church on Christmas Day be wiped out – just like that? She could not even shed profuse tears. She spoke and then kept quiet, lost to the movement of life around her. That must have been the kind of situation recorded in the Bible at the “massacre of the innocents,” at the birth of Christ: “A voice was heard in Rama; Rachel weeping for her children because they were not ..

There were hundreds of others looking for a lost son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother, friend or neighbour, or some relative or another. The official who attempted to pin the figure of the victims down at twenty-five was almost lynched.

Eventually, the number was raised to forty though no one even tried to guess how many were the bereaved who were left behind to bear the sorrow of the grievous loss. And yet, many of them need help. The orphans have to go to school; the widows need sustenance; the maimed need rehabilitation.

While we pour deserved imprecations on the heads of the agents of the devil who call themselves Boko Haram, let us spare a thought for the positive action that we have to take as a nation and individuals in respect of those whose losses go

beyond the death of their loved ones. Let the necessary and responsible organizations swing into immediate action now.

The time is near, and may indeed have arrived, when we shall have to look one another in the face and tell it the way it is. This is not the first time that Christians have been attacked and killed in this brutal fashion by the Boko Haram. A sprinkling of the adherents of other religions might have been affected now and then, but there has been little doubt that the target has always been Christian elements.

By the description of their identity, the murderers appear to be a sect of the Islamic religion which has had a long history of ideological conflict with Christianity. By the definition of their purpose of existence, the sect is up in arms against Western education, which has been joyfully embraced by Christians in this country for more than one-and-half centuries.

To go against one is to go against the other. It is therefore not so strange that not only schools are being bombed, but Churches are a staple target. We cannot run away from the fact that an Islamic sect is set against Christianity and killing the worshippers of Christ.

This is the truth, as clear as daylight. It may be true that Islam is not in conflict against Christianity, but that is for the adherents of Islam to declare. It is also a burden they bear to prove this to be true, though Christians do not seem to believe otherwise at this time, but we must all admit that and declare that Christians are being killed, because they are Christians. Many Christians may not have wished to say this out in clear terms so as not to injure the feelings of those who have no part in it, though of the Islamic faith.


Sympatisers at the Madalla blast scene on Christmas Day.


There is also the sensitive aspect of ethnic considerations, since the members of the Boko Haram are from the North, while many of their Christian victims are mostly from the Southern part of the country. To highlight the factual indices against that background, may be misconstrued to be an incitement of one part of the country against the other. In the final analysis, the melting forbearance may not be far from sheer cowardice.

The President of the Senate, David Mark, a former senior military officer, looked at the situation and described it as “war”. That is no incitement. An even-tempered gentleman with a robust Christian background has exercised a lot of restraint over the past several months before that remark. A number of the most respected leaders within the Christian denominations in the country have given notice that Christians may have to resort to defending themselves if their lives continue to be open to seasonal massacre. That is no incitement either.

But feelings are rising high. Everyone believes that something had better be done about containing the nefarious activities of this murderous sect, and that very quickly. There have been calls for the heads of the security chiefs, but that has been bluntly turned down. Some quarters are even ready to welcome the resignation of President Goodluck Jonathan himself but, of course, he is too busy enjoying his victory in the court case that challenged his election to listen to trite like that.

In fact, the conduct of the President with regard to the expression of concern and emotional involvement with the national tragedy, which the events of Christmas morning amount to, is better left without comment. He was even in high spirits enough to host some officials who went to “pay homage” to him at Aso Rock two days after the bombs went off.

That notwithstanding, – in the grip of the horror that occurred on Christmas morning, several commentators obviously could not restrain themselves. Nothing would be gained at the moment from sacking our security chiefs. That is the truth. We do not have better replacements in store. Many of the so-called security “experts”, who flagrantly expose their limitations in the media, have not got a clue. This is a military situation, not a public relations exercise or Boy Scout expedition.

We are faced with a well-coordinated guerilla engagement on a large scale, and it is a new experience for every one. I believe that when the beleaguered security chiefs say they are doing their best, they are only being honest. All the same, they can improve on their mode of operations to make them more effective, but it takes time.

We can only hope they will apply themselves more assiduously to the challenge of the situation upon which the lives of many people in the country depend. Several people have warned that even the existence of this country as a nation may also hang on it. Therefore, statements like the one credited to a highly-placed security officer that “it is impossible” to police Nigeria should have no place in the thinking of a responsible official.

But then, it should not be necessary to “police” the whole of Nigeria to obtain the useful information that is needed to net the sponsors of this sect. What is required, it seems to me, would be professional intelligence work. We must beef up that area of our security now. As for tomorrow – well, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

The “Cashless Economy” will officially begin in Lagos tomorrow. What is that? No one will tell me they all keep talking about the advantages which include the lowering of interest rates and that sort of high-fangled material. I ask, will it provide more jobs? But they say it won’t.

Rather, it would lead to a substantial removal of workers in the banks. Well, maybe Jonathan would have been able to create more jobs by removing the oil subsidy, and the ex-bankers would just slide into the slots so created. The year, 2012 approaches with hasty steps. Let me quickly say, Happy New Year.


Here is my uninformed take on “Subsidy”. Let us have a lot of functioning refineries in Nigeria. Crude oil will be piped to them. End products – they are legion – will be produced at low cost. Nigerians will get end and bye products at a cheap rate. Surplus products will be sold to external buyers to earn forex for the nation. Bye products like bitumen will be available for the much-needed road constructions and rehabilitations. We all live happily ever after. So help us God. QED. (Yinka Alakija – 0803.353.8058)

It is so simple, but true. We even have some refineries already, but they won’t let them work. The money they say they spend on “subsidy” would build new ones, if they wanted. But they don’t want that. Their desire is to import the refined crude that they themselves exported in the first place, so that only they may “live happily ever after”. So help them not, O God

Time out.


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