By Casmir Igbokwe
Traumatic is the least adjective that qualifies the tragic flow of human blood in Nigeria today. Murder of any type diminishes our humanity. It is worse when the victims are innocent, harmless and defenceless.
That is the case with the recent killing of an 18-year-old seminarian in Kaduna. Michael Nnadi was said to be an orphan. Every Catholic knows how tedious the journey to priesthood can be. That young man could have been the future Bishop of Sokoto, his diocese, or even Awka, the capital of his home state. He was one of the four seminarians some terrorists abducted from their seminary. The other three were lucky to have come out alive. But the terrorists felled Michael. Nigeria failed him.
Nigeria also failed the family of Dr. Philip Ataga. The same bandits reportedly abducted Mrs. Ataga and her two children from their residence in Kaduna. They demanded over N100 million ransom. When that was not forthcoming, they beheaded the young woman. They are still with her children and have demanded N20 million ransom for their release.
The video of the beheading of the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, sickened me. As the butcher was slaughtering him, the rest of the terrorists stood by chanting some abracadabra.
Simply put, Nigeria has become a huge theatre of the absurd. No one knows who the next victim will be. Any time you embark on a road travel, especially on the Abuja-Kaduna road, you say your last prayers. If you get to your destination intact, you thank your God for the miracle. Only last week, some gunmen attacked a bus and abducted passengers along Piri Kwali Expressway in Abuja. The fate of some of these passengers remains cloudy.
How did we even come to this sorry pass? For one, there is no serious profiling or database of criminals by the police. As rightly noted by the chairman of CAN in Kaduna, Rev. John Hayab, one can commit a crime in Kaduna bearing the name Mohammed and then commit another crime in Benue bearing the name Peter and nobody will know. And we are complaining that the United States imposed visa restrictions on us!
In Nigeria, many people roam the streets without identity. Many others migrate to the country from neighbouring countries without restriction and background checks. Some of them infuse into our communities as herdsmen and begin to cause havoc to the society.
Some of them wield AK47 rifles with impunity. In some cases, bandits carry more sophisticated weapons than the ones security operatives use. Tragically, rather than upgrade our armament and crush all criminal elements in the country, the Federal Government reportedly embarked on the so-called rehabilitation and de-radicalisation of captured terrorists.
What riles one most is the attempt to divert attention from the burning issue at hand. Last week, there was an attempt to bomb the Winners’ Chapel parish in Kaduna. According to media reports, the suspect identified himself as Mohammed Sani when he was apprehended by the church. Suddenly, the name allegedly changed to Samuel Nathaniel after the church had handed him over to the police. The CAN chairman in Kaduna, Rev. Hayab, called for thorough investigation of the matter.
The question is: who changed the name and for what purpose? Recall that Christian leaders had complained that Christians were the major target of attacks by Boko Haram. They actually staged a peaceful protest in different parts of the country over worsening insecurity in Nigeria the same Sunday that the failed bomber attempted to blow up the Kaduna church.
Also, instead of seeking urgent solutions to quench the burning fire, the Federal Government and its agents have continued to pursue rats. Or how does one situate the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari recently wrote an article for US-based magazine, Christianity Today, claiming that 90 per cent of Boko Haram victims were Muslims? What did the President intend to achieve by this comparison?
This is the same way his spokesman, Femi Adesina, attacked the sensibilities of many Nigerians recently. Adesina argued that the security situation had improved compared to the previous administration “where bombs were going off 10 times a day.” According to him, the people living in the theatre of war “will tell you that the difference between now and 2015 is the difference between heaven and hell.”
He urges Nigerians to be grateful to Buhari and the troops. You begin to wonder whether this government was elected to make comparison with the previous government or to change the bad situation.
Security is one of the three-pronged agenda of the Buhari presidency. Tackling corruption and fixing the economy are the other two. In all sincerity, can we say he has fulfilled his promise? The answer, obviously, is in the negative.
So far, the efforts he is making appear inadequate. A layman like me keeps wondering why it has taken us too long to rout Boko Haram. How can a bunch of criminals hold the entire country to ransom for years? Today, the terrorists control many parts of the North-East. What happens to the billions of naira mapped out as security votes every year? Are the soldiers adequately motivated and equipped?
It is good the powers that be in Abuja are no more comfortable with the situation because they too are not safe. Now, a Nigerian Airline, Misha Travels, has started a daily flight between Abuja and Kaduna, a distance of about two hours by road. This was necessitated by frequent attacks on road travellers by bandits. Even the railway is not safe anymore. Last month, there was an attack on passengers near Kaduna’s Rigasa Station about 8am. The point is, you may dodge the criminals on the expressway, but you may not escape them in the town. Nnadi and Mrs. Ataga were not kidnapped on the expressway.
Concerned Nigerians have called on the President to rejig his security architecture. The Senate and the House of Representatives asked him to sack his service chiefs. Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe went further to ask him to resign. He has not done any of these.
What he has done is to constitute a committee to periodically review the security challenges in Nigeria and help find lasting solutions. Members of the committee are drawn from the executive, legislature and the ruling party. The Federal Government also reportedly agreed to increase the funding of the security services, especially the police, in order to boost their commitment to fight crime. There are plans as well to recruit more personnel in the security forces. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, enthused that Nigerians would soon begin to see changes.
This is hoping that the promised changes will not wear the cloak of 2015 change! There is no need playing the ostrich now. All Nigerians must join hands to help in rescuing our nation from the jaws of terrorists. Let us continue to remember Nnadi, Ataga, Andimi and all the departed Nigerian martyrs in our prayers. Their tragic death will not be in vain.
Re: Fighting corruption with machete
Casmir, a good attitude is what is needed to fight corruption. APC government uses deceit in governance. Deceit is a form of corruption, with any contrary opinion termed hate speech. The people in government are mostly corrupt. Today, the best houses in the nation’s capital are allegedly owned by people in government. They own the best cars and are highest donors in churches and public functions. Most of them own companies and award themselves juicy contracts through proxies. They embark on white elephants because of financial gain to themselves. Most government policies don’t promote the fight against corruption. For example, a worker who received monthly wage is forced to pay one or two-year rent instead of monthly. Casmir, sir, no amount of committees, policies or grammar can win the war against corruption, unless we tell ourselves the truth and effect a positive attitude towards our way of life.
– Pharm Okwy Njike,+2348038854922
Thanks, Casmir. I am suggesting ‘profiling of citizens’ from seven years upwards. Government should create a portal for all and document terminal and semesterial reports of students and others. INEC should establish eligibility committee in parties to audition aspirants based on their profile. With this, we will produce worthy leaders.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
EFCC has a lot of work to do in fighting corruption, especially in government agencies, where corruption is their first name. EFCC should go after heads of agencies to end corruption in governance. Corruption has made us a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community and we are not moving forward in infrastructural development and others. We must get rid of corruption before it destroys Nigeria.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Dear Casy, the anti-corruption fight of the APC government under Buhari is a ruse and targeted against PDP members. Some of us know that some APC members who funded Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2015 were corrupt, there are Buhari’s appointments in MDAs, his re-election, the Maina-gate, Ikoyi, Babachir Lawal gate, also the baboon, python, monkey that swallowed our billions of naira. Some APC members installed ATM machines in their homes. May God save us.
– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495
- First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, February 10, 2020