February 22, 2020

How many deaths till we know too many have died?

Soldiers, policemen's murder: Reps urge Army Chief, IGP to deploy more security men to Taraba

By Tony Eluemunor

Really, should the answer not be obvious? If so, why are we not giving an all-out fight against the state of general insecurity that has blanketed the nation? Why have we not starting fighting differently as the present occasion demands?

The same people that have been leading in this failing war against insecurity for years are still there to plot, originate and command the nation’s response to this devil’s situation.

Devil’s situation? Ah! why should music be on my mind today such that is why I took my title from Bob Dylan’s music track: “Blowing In The Wind”? But I’ll leave that monster hit written in 1962, when Bob Dylan was all of 21 years old and I’ll introduce Jimmy Cliff’s wonderful phrase here:”It is strange to see we are in a devil’s situation, suffering in the land.” Well, in a lot of music lyrics sites, have rendered it as “terrible situation instead of a devil’s situation.

Yet, what is a terrible situation? My dictionary defines it as a “dreadful situation, causing alarm and fear. It means something that is extreme in degree or extent, something that is extremely intense.” It means a horrible situation. So, whether Jimmy Cliff actually sang about a devil’s or a terrible situation, it is obvious  his words find resonance in the Nigeria of 2020,as they did everywhere else where living conditions became dreadful for any reason.

Take another look at the lyrics written in 1969, please: “ Sufferin’ in the land.” It is plain to see we’re in a terrible situation ‘Sufferin’ in the land. Nearly half of the world on the verge of starvation ‘Sufferin’ in the land. And the children are crying for more education, ‘Sufferin’ in the land.Let’s singin’:Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. ‘Sufferin’ in the land. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sufferin’ in the land. Everything’s gettin’ higher and the time gettin’ tougher, ‘Sufferin’ in the land…. They’re makin’ guns and bombs to set the world on fire. ‘Sufferin’ in the land. I’m singin: Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. ‘Sufferin’ in the land. Lord, Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. ‘Sufferin’ in the land.”

Just interchange the world with Nigeria in the two places where that word appears and you would think Cliff wrote the song with Nigeria in mind. Things are that bad.

Recently, Gen Burutai warned us without mincing words that in his own estimation, terror is now wedded to Nigeria and there is no denying the fact that mindless killing has come to stay. This, coming from Gen. Burutai, the head of our Army, should be the official position; but a defeatist one. Oh, how different it is from that of the United States of America when suicide pilots rammed aeroplanes into American landmark buildings.  The US created a brand new ministry; that of Homeland Security. Well, we have created ours: Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. In addition to the billions of Naira already doled out to the North-Eastern Development Commission (when no area in the Constitution is known by that name) to repair the ravages of Boko Haram, the new ministry is just a backup of the repairs going on in that zone and other insecurity ravaged geo-political zones.

Yet, should we not extirpate the vermin that is destroying Nigeria before we should begin to rebuild? And the first act in that extirpation attempt should begin with doling out DUE punishment to Boko Haramists and bandits that have been terrorising the North-East and the North-West respectively. Really, every day, our leaders say this and that about combating banditry and Boko Haram. Yet, there appears to be a deadly and deathlike silence over the wanton killings being perpetrated by the ill-defined group or groups known as “suspected Fulani herdsmen.”

Once in a while, President Buhari has spoken euphemistically about the clash between herdsmen and farmers. FINISH!!! Have the farmers whether in Maiduguri, Sokoto, Badagri or Umuahia been attacking and decimating the herdsmen, whether Fulani or Bini or Oyo or Kalabari or Itsekiri or Urohbo or Anioma herdsmen? How many of such herdsmen have been killed so far? How many of the herdsmen’s villages have been so devastated that the herdsmen and their families have no choice other than to find refuge in Internally Displaced Persons Camps? Or, have others from the Middle Belt to the entire Southern States not been forced by attacks from some herdsmen to abandon their homes?

Has this killing by herdsmen or even by suspected herdsmen been checked in any way whatsoever? And why have the killer herdsmen, no matter which ethnic group they belong to, proved so matchless? Is it not because they are armed with AK 47 guns that are supposedly banned from getting into the hands of non-security outfits members? Has the sources of these guns been traced? If not why not?

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Death has a chokehold on Nigerians. It is present in the farms where the herdsmen pluck off unsuspecting farmers one by one. It is present on the roads where kidnappers waylay people at will. It is ever present in the North-East where Boko Haramists have stolen the peace of the inhabitants. It is common in the North-West where bandits have laid siege against the country and resume hostilities whenever they need more infuse of cash in the form of payoffs from the government.

Evil is evil, and has not only to be called that, but it has to be treated as that. How stringent is our fight against all the forms of reprehensible death squads that are creating a rivers of death in Nigeria? How many Boko Haramists have been tried and made to face justice? How do we determine those to be rehabilitated? Yes, it would be double punishment to imprison someone that was abducted from his home or school and forced to fight for Boko Haram. But these people who are seen on the videos they shot and posted by themselves on the internet, killing their fellow human beings, are less than human for human beings don’t kill others wantonly.

This came from Dylan Thomas, a poet: “If you can’t speak out against this kind of thing, a crime that’s so unjust,  Your eyes are filled with dead men’s dirt, your mind is filled with dust. Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and your blood it must refuse to flow. For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!” The white poet wrote that about the lynching of Emmet Till, a 14-year old African-American.

Bob Dylan sang: “How many times can a man look up.” Before he sees the sky?  How many ears must one person have.” Before he can hear people cry? And how many deaths will it take ‘till he knows. That too many people have died?  The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind”. Blowing in the wind? He explained: “But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know … and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been too many wars … You people over 21, you’re older and smarter.”