March 31, 2022

This country has lost it

Niger Republic


THOSE who want to be politically correct may continue to play the ostrich, pretending that all is well. But all cannot be well in a country that has lost its soul. Nigeria is a country where the attitudes and feelings of love and respect for human beings have been completely eroded.

Anyone who thinks this is a harsh verdict needs to reflect on how animalistic we have become. Even wild animals in the jungle have better rules of engagement. They don’t kill their own for fun as we, who claim to be humans, do. If we reflect on the carnage in Kaduna State and the reaction of not only Nigerian leaders but also citizens, it will be self-evident that we have lost our humanity.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, finally held its National Convention in Abuja on Saturday, March 26. All the leaders of the party converged at the Eagle Square to coronate Senator Abdullahi Adamu, former governor of Nasarawa State, as the national chairman without a single ballot cast by the over 7,000 delegates that swooped on Abuja from all the nooks and crannies of the country.

Yes, some pseudo-democrats are ululating that democracy triumphed, but can there be democracy without freedom of choice? The outcome of the APC Convention and the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that allegedly ruined Nigeria has completely taken over the reins of power therein, literally, reminds me of what former Senate President, Pius Anyim, said recently on the so-called “16 ruinous years” of the PDP.

“I am sure they (APC) are no longer saying so. They are rather wooing PDP members to join them. And whenever they succeed in getting any PDP member to join their party, they celebrate it. So, they have reversed themselves and I don’t have anything to add,” Anyim said cryptically.

Truth be told, APC apparatchiks have perfected the inelegant art of living a lie and believing that nobody notices their mendacities, which explains why under their watch, the country is plumbing cataclysmic depths and yet, the party claims at every point that the country has turned the corner due to President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership dexterity.

On Friday, March 25 – eve of the APC Convention – terrorists invaded Giwa local government in Kaduna and murdered over 50 innocent citizens. Five days earlier – Sunday, March 20 – they killed at least 34 people in Kaura local government. On the Convention day, over 200 terrorists invaded Kaduna International Airport, shot dead a Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, security staff and prevented a Lagos-bound AZMAN aircraft from taking

That attack occurred at about 12.30 pm. The APC Convention didn’t start until about 8.23 pm when President Buhari arrived at Eagle Square. I stayed awake all night on Saturday watching the Convention. I saw politicians prancing like peacocks in their overflowing agbada and I listened to all the speeches. I wept for my country.

The ruling party did not deem it fit to observe a one-minute silence in honour of the more than 50 people that were slaughtered in Kaduna. No prayers were said for the repose of their souls. No APC leader mentioned the Kaduna killings in their flowery speeches. They were busy eulogising the president.

It was hero-worshipping at its worst. Buhari was deified as the best thing that happened not only to the party but to Nigeria. They fawned over him, claiming he was wearing the finest apparel even when it was obvious the king was wearing no clothes. The adulation was as stomach-churning as it was insalubrious.

Where is our humanity? In which another country will 50 citizens be killed overnight and everyone – leaders and followers – will carry on as if nothing happened? Then on Monday, March 28, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, did what he knows how best to do when he claimed that Nigeria was becoming safer every day.

As he was making that claim, Azman Air was announcing the suspension of flights to Kaduna. A couple of hours later, Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest flight carrier, followed suit, suspending operations at Kaduna International Airport.

And while Mohammed was busy talking in Abuja, terrorists, some as young as 18 years, most, if not all of them, Fulani according to eyewitnesses, with a turban on their heads and chanting Allahu Akbar staged a most dramatic and audacious attack on a Kaduna-bound train that had just left Abuja.

All hell has been let lose ever since. Now, it is neither safe to travel to Kaduna by air, road nor rail. Rail transport was, until Monday’s attack, the safest option after bandits took over the highways. With this dastardly attack, I wonder how many people will henceforth hop into a train going from Abuja to Kaduna.

Three things struck me in this attack. Most of the passengers were delegates who attended the APC National Convention on Saturday and were on their way back home. In normal times, many of them would have driven to Abuja from Kaduna or even Kano. But they reasoned it was too risky to travel by road and opted for the safest option – rail transport.

Second, it is obvious that the terrorists had information. They knew the calibre of people in that train and they went for them. After they brought the train to a halt, they went straight to the VIP coaches and abducted many of them with very high kidnap value. Third, they struck at a point where there was hardly any internet service.

It was in the middle of nowhere and they knew how long it will take for security reinforcement to come from Kaduna. The passengers were at their mercy for a very long time.

Understandably, Nigerians are outraged. A young lady, Megafu Chinelo Nwando, a medical doctor, was killed. A University of Port Harcourt-trained Dental Surgeon, she worked at St Gerald’s Hospital in Kaduna from where she resigned in February. Had she lived, she would have relocated abroad in search of greener pasture this Friday.

In a terse tweet she managed to send out while the attack was ongoing, Chinelo said: “I’m in the train. I have been shot please pray for me.” Some Nigerians who claim to love Buhari bullied her in the social media. Now, she is gone, failed by a country where leaders do not place any premium on human lives except their own.

Chinelo is not alone. In fact, while the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, is mourning her, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, is mourning three of its members – Musa-Lawal Ozigi, Trade Union Congress, TUC, Secretary-General; Tibilere Mosugu and Farida Sulaiman.

Former Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala, as well as Muhammad Amin Mahmood, an aspirant in the APC Convention are luckier. They are still alive but with bullet wounds. Alwan Ali Hassan, Managing Director of the Bank of the Agriculture, BoA, and his niece are still missing. But the story of the Kaduna train victims is the story of thousands of Nigerians without a voice who are raped, kidnapped, brutalised and butchered every day by terrorists while the rest of us go about our businesses unconcerned.

A colleague of mine, Ishaya Ibrahim, just told me a very pathetic story of a young woman who was kidnapped in Kaduna with her three children aged 11, 9 and 6 years about two months ago. The terrorists demanded N10 million ransom and two motorcycles from the family. They didn’t have the capacity to raise such money.

After one month, the terrorists asked them to bring N2 million and N100,000 worth of recharge cards. Everybody, including extended family members, rallied around to raise the money.

The terrorists took the N2 million and recharge cards, set free the woman but held the three children until the initial N10 million ransom was paid. Now, the only option left for the family is to sell their house, the only property they actually have. The property is in the market for sale but the highest they could get is a N5 million offer.

And because the poor folk could not raise N10 million, their three innocent children are still with the hoodlums. Their only crime is that they are Nigerians, a country that places absolutely no value on human life.

Unlike the tale by moonlight that these vagabonds are foreign Fulani, most sincere Northerners know that the terrorists committing these heinous crimes are not foreigners. The local people know them but are helpless because the system protects them. If we continue on this trajectory, sooner than later, even the airspace will no longer be safe.

It will be déjà vu the day the terrorists decide not only to invade an airport tarmac but actually shoot down an aircraft, the same way they bombed the Kaduna-bound train last Monday. That will be a deserving ode to our collective hypocrisy.

Vanguard News Nigeria