BY NDAHI MARAMA, MAIDUGURI
Is Nigeria worth dying for? May the patriotism in me not allow me question my belief in the entity called Nigeria.
However, circumstances compel one to sometimes ask what is in it for us as Nigerians. Does it worth it to be truly Nigerian when you are safer being indifferent? I realised how risky and the burden you bear to be a true Nigerian Saturday. All I wanted was to exercise my right, vote in the Presidential and National Assembly elections and have a good feeling that my vote will count in moving Nigeria forward. Ordinarily, it should not be a huge task. But we all know that the times are not ordinary in Nigeria. It’s worse even you are in the North East of Nigeria. My drive to simply cast my vote last Saturday exposed to the agony Boko Haram insurgents have subjected us to for years. I did not know that the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, will add to it. It was a sad experience.
I come from Marama in Hawul Local Government Area but I live in Maiduguri. Traveling home to cast my vote, ordinarily should not take me more than two hours. But guess what Boko Haram caused me.
Many roads have been closed following incessant attacks by the terrorists.
The 180 kilometre Maiduguri- Damboa- Biu road has been inaccessible for several years due to danger of attacks by insurgents. Biu Local Government is where the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai hails from.
Biu is the second largest Local Government Area after Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, MMC, with Hawul, Kwaya Kusar and Bayo Local Government Areas under its Emirate.
This means all these four Council Areas in addition to Shani Emirate could only be reached from Maiduguri through the same routes. At a point in time, the Chief of Army Staff had to reopen the Maiduguri- Damaturu- Buni Yadi- Buratai -Biu road for motorists and passengers. Unfortunately, this very road now is also unsafe, and mostly remains closed from time to time.
Thursday, February 14, 2019 was a memorable day to me.
I embarked on the hectic journey to my home town MARAMA in Hawul LGA just to exercise my franchise in the postponed Presidential and National Assembly elections on 16th February, 2019.
At about 6am, I left my house in Maiduguri to Biu Motorpark in Maiduguri to begin the journey to MARAMA.
I took Keke Napep/tricycle rider to the park, but was disappointed as a result of shortage of commercial vehicles resulting from the large turnout of would-be-voters who also trooped out to reach their various destinations in Biu Emirate.
So, I decided to charter another tricycle that took me to Borno Express Motor park. Luckily, I was able to board a commercial Toyota Bus to Gombe state. How does it feel departing from your state capital to go home but passing through two other states to get to your destination? That’s the agony Boko Haram caused me last week.
In that journey, we left the park at about 8:30am and embarked on what I could describe as an endless journey, because it took me 12hours before reaching my destination.
One would ask why the delay for supposedly a journey of only or less than 180kms?. Simply put, the answer is that our driver had to pass two other states before reaching Biu.
We started the journey from Maiduguri to Damaturu, the Yobe state capital which is about 130kms away, before proceeding to Potiskum which is about 120kms from Damaturu.
While in Potiskum, our driver chose to avoid the about 200km road linking Potiskum-Bajoga-Gombe state, but diverted us through Potiskum- Darazo road in Bauchi State, which is a 100kms away. While in Darazo, we continued the journey to Gombe state which is about 130kms away.
We therefore arrived Gombe state at about 3:45pm, in which I boarded another vehicle to Biu. The Gombe -Biu road which is about 120kms away is one of the most deplorable roads in the whole of this country with not only potholes, but death traps due to wash away surfaces of bridges that were at the verge of collapse. Our driver almost spent over 2hours before reaching Biu.
It was when we reached Biu at about 5:45pm, before I entered another commercial vehicle to Marama town where I expected to cast my vote, but was disenfranchised or rather disappointed by the postponed Saturday 16th polls by INEC.
As I write, I am considering embarking on the same hectic journey to ensure that I exercise my voting right in the rescheduled elections today, Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Does it worth it? Is Nigeria worth dying for when our leaders don’t care about us? It’s about our future which they have made bleak. I seek prayers as I journey in this dangerous terrain for the sake of our country. We should not give up on Nigeria. But is Nigeria worth dying for?