by Lai Mohammed
How can a people be so trampled upon, so disdained, so unloved, so abused, so oppressed, so deceived, so cheated, so raped, so robbed by an elected leader and his small cabal, and yet live in peace
When Nigerians spoke up about insecurity in the North, they were labelled detractors; when the opposition party and concerned leaders spoke up, they characterized them as power hungry, Islamists fundamentalists and exponents of janjaweed ideology. When the international media did, they were termed APC opposition collaborators, apologists or even pawns. When Hilary Clinton did, she was ridiculed as incompetent, and in fact the cause of the problem and the reason why the girls were abducted; when the American Government did, they were called busy bodies who have their own unresolved problems; when former PDP governors and other politicians did, they were immediately described as disgruntled.
Whatever the case maybe, those who complain, object, criticize, observe or even perceive that PDP or Jonathan administration should have, could have, should be, or could be doing more are wrong. They are ‘sick”, they are senseless conspirators and saboteurs, and they are described in many unprintable words that should never be used in the kind of discourse that is the subject of the matter. The kind of language that must never be bequeathed to any coming generation, language that is uniformly condemned and rejected all over the world, yet used freely and repeatedly by key operatives of Nigerian government, and Nigeria’s ruling party, PDP.
But now, a past president, leader of PDP, and former chair of PDP BOT, and more importantly, a benefactor of the current President, one to whom the President has in the past owed his allegiance, and repeatedly credited as the instrument of God in his meteoric rise in politics and leadership, and one who is the catalyst of his name and luck, Goodluck, has spoken. He said the President did not believe the Chibok girls were missing initially. According to him, Jonathan considered it a political gimmick, and chose not to err on the side of caution when the lives of some of the most vulnerable Nigerians were at stake.
The former president from his military and presidential experience expressed the thought that this unfortunate approach adopted by the President wasted the most vital window of opportunity in rescuing the girls, and taking them out of harm’s way, the vital initial twelve hours. In the words of former President Obasanjo, President Jonathan finally, slowly and reluctantly answered the call to act only when the international community put pressure on him and the matter overshadowed the World Economic Forum being hosted in the nation’s capital.
The former president described the current president as slow, and failing to meet Nigerians expectations! This is historic and unprecedented! There is no record of a former democratically elected president describing a successor in this manner. The only time such indictment of the position by a predecessor occurs, is in the context of a forceful takeover, and mostly, in an attempt to justify the forceful takeover.
Over the weekend, on account of the wondrous technology of communication, broadcast and cable television, we were treated to the “American Wonder” of the value of citizens, and to what lengths nations should go to secure them. The news as monitored demonstrated the real role of the President of a nation with the deployment of the best of America’s special forces to secure a non-contentious release of a soldier who though in captivity for 5 years, remained unforgotten by his country.
America, of the “AmericaWillKnow# fame, swapped five dangerous terrorists just to secure the life of one non-commissioned officer, a Sergeant. The president got personally involved and spoke directly to the King of Qatar who took custody of five dangerous prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, who America gave for just one of its own.
What was most touching and telling was that Mr. Obama personally took charge of securing the release of “just” one low level American soldier. One whose existence in many ways didn’t mean much to him, one whose capture and detention did not stop him from winning elections. He called the parents, brought them to the White House and shared his podium and moment of glory with them. They hugged, backslapped, and walked away together holding each other fondly, endearingly and so ordinarily, perhaps to eat brunch together in the White House.
Days before this happened, no security report of danger to his life could stop President Barrack Obama from flying across the world to celebrate Memorial Day in the heart of the war, and where he was most likely to be in harms way. He chose the epicenter over the attention-center. He chose Bagram, Afghanistan, over the White House in Washington DC.
Nothing could stop him.
Contrast this with what is happening at home. When recently we had Children’s day, our own President Jonathan didn’t go to visit the children who are in despair, children who have been unable to attend school on account of the Boko Haram insurgency, children whose lives have been changed forever by fear, tragedy and loss, children who have lost parents or siblings, some of whom want to be like him in the future. Our only connection with them is the technological wonder of cable TV, with CNN meeting with them, touring their school, meeting their teachers, listening to them and transmitting their pain, their hopes, their aspirations to the world. CNN could go, but our own President could not.
How can a people be so trampled upon, so disdained, so unloved, so abused, so oppressed, so deceived, so cheated, so raped, so robbed by an elected leader and his small cabal, and yet live in peace. Not just Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, the reality is that our whole nation is a Trauma Center. Citizens across the country have all been traumatized beyond belief by a small group who by our error of judgment and history are ruling today.
We are a people traumatized more by our leaders than our attackers. Our attackers have banked on the failure of our leaders to traumatize us even more. We are a people in despair, in pain and sorrow, not just for the lost souls or missing girls, but for the soul of our nation and the missing leadership. Traumatized by terrorists, traumatized by an incompetent government, traumatized by poor infrastructure, traumatized by darkness, traumatized by impunity, traumatized by our helplessness when those who steal go unpunished, traumatized when children are missing and the president is dancing, traumatized when he, and the leadership of his party deny the obvious, when they belittle the lives of our children by disputing their abduction, when they insult the pain of parents, the fear and grief of communities, traumatized when we realize we can’t depend on our government to protect us, or come to our aid.
Traumatized when the government spokesperson labels us, victims of this government, as opposition controlled states, traumatized when to them, those who are concerned enough about the safety and destiny of our girls, are reduced to mere “campaigners” who are 90% opposition. Traumatized to discover that our president only sees electoral capital, not human capital, not Nigerian capital, not citizens of Nigeria, traumatized at the reality of our exclusion by the president and PDP.
At a point, trauma leads to delusion and irrational behaviour. How much more trauma can we take? How much more can we bear? As a nation, we are unraveling, things are falling apart, the center is not holding, anarchy is upon the land, but the reason is simple. There is a failure at the center.
There is rot, incompetence, callousness, clannishness, ineptitude, a scale of corruption and stealing, a level of impunity that is emanating from the center. The stench is so bad, you can smell it far north, far east, far south, and far west. That is why things are falling apart, that is why the center isn’t holding, that is why anarchy is upon the land, that, I submit is the reason for, and our greatest trauma.
Nigerians, your silence is at its loudest decibels. Things get worse because you fail to speak. You have a voice! It’s your vote! The time is now! You must arise, you must save, you must rescue, you must redeem, you must rehabilitate, you must rejuvenate, you must restore your lives, your families, your people, your land, your country.
There was a country, there must be a country again. It is urgent, it is upon us, it will break if we don’t make it, we have no choice, we have a choice to make. It is time to reject this mediocrity. Why? Our compassion should be a virtue, not a curse.
How can this president, the first lady, and all who speak with, and for them be our stars? Why should our individuals in the professions, sports, and all bring us fame and our leaders bring us shame? Something is wrong! If PhD is the qualification, how did this dubious one from Otuoke emerge? If being shoeless is the qualification, there are far brighter shoeless patriots. How did cluelessness and insensitivity emerge? How did non-existent moral fabric become the blanket in Aso Rock?
We can’t go on like this. We just cannot.
Lai Mohammed is Interim Publicity Secretary of the APC
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.