I had always been worried that we were losing our moral fiber and were starting to grow insensitive to the rising terror in our midst. We just need to realize that being tired of complaining is no longer an option.
On Easter Sunday, I was on the phone with a distant cousin. We wanted to attend The AY Show as most people in Lagos had also planned to. It was a holiday after all and better still, the next day was work free. He had wanted to find out if I had extra tickets to the show so he could bring his wife along. Somewhere during our talk about me coming over for Sunday rice and leaving for the show from his house, I mentioned the bomb blasts that had just occurred in Kaduna. My cousin goes; “Eyaah. How many die for there?” I replied; “I think over 20 sha. We never still sure.” Then he said; “Na wa o! When this thing go end? Anyway shey you still dey show my side, so that I go know whether to put drinks for fridge.” I answered; “I never sure but I go call you before I come.”
After I dropped the phone, it hit me. My cousin and I had just talked about a shocking and very disturbing (less than 4 hours old) incident in my country, and the talk didn’t go beyond a 30 second cliché show of sympathy before we moved on to the ‘more important’ rice and chicken talk. That is what Nigeria and Nigerians have become.
At that point I needed to be sure that this was a rare occasion with my cousin and me. I needed to know that a majority of Nigerians actually were more sensitive to the issue than we had just displayed in that phone conversation. I couldn’t do a ‘vox pop’ on the streets instantly so I went on social media to get a feel of what Nigerians were saying and doing. I did catch a few people talking about the unfortunate blasts (which were strangely predicted by the US Embassy while issuing travel warnings to their citizens, yet nothing was done to prevent it. But that’s talk for another day). But the day was mostly dominated by conversation about the title race in the English Premier League and how it suddenly seemed like Manchester United would take it all. There was also a lot of talk about the fact that D’banj had officially changed his name to Daniel Banjo. The Kaduna talk rarely came up.
Radio, another good medium for getting an idea of what people are thinking at any given time, was not any different. Besides the mention of the deaths on the headline news, it seemed like just any other day, with music being played and listeners calling in to talk Easter and everything around it.
I had always been worried that we were losing our moral fiber and were starting to grow insensitive to the rising terror in our midst. The signs had always been there but for some reason; this just seemed like it had happened too fast and gone too far. The one question I keep asking but can’t seem to find an acceptable answer to is; “How did we get here?”
We as Nigerians have always known that one of our biggest problems is a lack of persistence when pushing for a cause. We are used to saying “God dey” and moving on, somehow hoping that things would sort themselves out magically. Interestingly, we are very aware that we love to complain without acting, so much so that we even complain about the fact that all we do is complain. So without a doubt, we actually know what our problem is. Why then is it so hard to tackle? What will it take for us to actually believe in something and pursue it, or not believe in something and make sure it is quashed?
The events of 8 April, 2012 in Kaduna were very sad for me. But what was even worse came from the general public. The momentary feeling of shock, then disgust, followed by sympathy for the victims and then anger at the terrorists and government, has become the routine. It lasts a few minutes or hours at the most and then we are back to normal. That is exactly why we are where we are. The ease, with which we resign to fate and conclude that we are helpless, is exactly why more will continue to die amongst us.
Life is the ultimate asset any human has. The fact that it is being taken away with all of us Nigerians just sitting by and watching is a shame on all of us. I don’t expect us to grind our activities to a complete halt but we definitely can do better than we are at the moment. We need to shed the belief that ‘what doesn’t directly affect me doesn’t concern me’. We need to show signs that we want to be better because right now, we are not. Nobody can force you to grieve. Neither can anyone make you move to Kaduna and carry placards. But the fact remains that what we are doing now, isn’t our best. We need to regain a hold of our moral fiber before the decay is complete. I don’t believe we are heartless as a people. We just need to realize that being tired of complaining is no longer an option.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.