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Remembering Mogadishu

IT is ironical the cantonment in Abuja where a blast killed and injured people in a 2010 pre-New Year revel is named Mogadishu after the capital of Somalia, which has had no central government since General Mahammad Siad Barre was over thrown in 1991. Scores of secessions saw to disintegration of a territory Ethiopians, French, British, Italians and Russians fancied at several points in its history. Barre’s dictatorship lasted 22 years.

Mogadishu was theatre of a war in 1992 in which Nigerian soldiers played prominent roles in rescuing United States soldiers (part of a United Nations force) whom Somalians disgraced out of the city. Since then Mogadishu has become synonymous with lawlessness.

The cantonment in Abuja was initially Sani Abacha Barracks, its mammy market, by the cantonment gate, scene of the blasts, was a relaxation point for officers and civilians on their way from work.

Choice of a site close to the barracks for an attack has great publicity value. More attacks on barracks, churches, schools, markets, entertainment centres, have followed Mogadishu.

Nigerians are worried about the regularity of the attacks and the flippant approaches of governments to the challenge. From the utterances of governments, it seems that plans to end the attacks are inadequate.

For how long would government play to the gallery with important issues like security? Would government strengthen our security agencies or depend on outsiders every time there are these incidents?

The issue is not about investigating bomb attacks; it is about government having the political will to deal with the culprits. The absence of will leads to government not utilising results of investigations. Security agencies also conduct shoddy investigations that confound issues.

Attacks have become too frequent to be ignored. Government’s statements condemning the attacks are becoming sparser. The official condemnations have been hollow since 2010. They leave people wondering what government would do.

The descent to Mogadishu can be fast. It starts with neglect of the people, something our governments are doing with rapacious adroitness. Elections are the only concern of politicians. They would do anything to see that elections hold.

Insecurity is rising. The usual sources – armed robbery, kidnapping, communal clashes, riots, militancy – are taking a back seat to bomb blasts and political thuggery. Concerns about power manoeuvres are more important to governments than the people. The results are increasing poverty and the lengthening distance between the people and governments.

The road to Mogadishu is paved with neglect of the people. We are travelling it at full speed, blissfully believing that once the 2015 elections hold, the nation’s political stability is guaranteed. These calculations exclude the people, who governments should serve, for whom, according to our Constitution, governments exist.



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