Opinion: Sorrow, tears and blood in Borno

by Sam Hart

YOBE-KILLING

The attacks on Konduga, Izge and other suburbs of Maiduguri in Borno State occurred over the weekend of February 15 and 16, 2014. On Saturday, February 15, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan was on a whistle-stop tour of palaces of Traditional Rulers. From Kano to Oyo and beyond, we were regaled with stories and assaulted with pictures of the President visiting Monarchs.

The title of this article was adapted from a hit track released by Fela Anikulapo Kuti in 1977. Fela wrote the track which was the title of the album as a response to the Soweto Uprising of 1976 in which thousands of South African students protested the forced teaching of Afrikaans, the colonial language of Apartheid. During the uprising and the ensuing riots, hundreds of students were killed.

Today, in North East Nigeria, sorrow tears and blood have become the order of the day. Specifically in Borno State, it is getting to the dangerous dimension where people hear of the massacre of hundreds of people and they just shrug and go on with their daily endeavors. How did we get to this point? What happened to our humanity? At what point did it become okay for our fellow country people to be killed when we are not at war?

Sadly, the most painful aspect of this whole tragedy is the obvious lack of institutional empathy towards their plight. In the most nauseating display of executive tactlessness I have witnessed in all my years of paying attention to power, President Goodluck Jonathan has been involved in all sorts of public displays of gaiety while a part of the country he presides over is being overwhelmed and overawed by insurgents.

The attacks on Konduga, Izge and other suburbs of Maiduguri in Borno State occurred over the weekend of February 15 and 16, 2014. On Saturday, February 15, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan was on a whistle-stop tour of palaces of Traditional Rulers. From Kano to Oyo and beyond, we were regaled with stories and assaulted with pictures of the President visiting Monarchs.

In a classic and near identical re-enaction of the fabled scenario where Emperor Nero played the fiddle (violin) while Rome burnt, Presidential Media Handlers were shoving in our faces, pictures of President Goodluck Jonathan playing the talking drum at the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo at about the same time the stories from Maiduguri were filtering in.

The next day, Sunday, February 16 2014, again, pictures were circulated from Presidential Media Offices of President Jonathan piously worshipping with Pastor Enoch Adeboye at the Olive Tree Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Banana Island, Lagos. That same day, stories of additional attacks filtered in and the body count kept rising.

On Monday, February 17, 2014, the African Independent Television (AIT) during their Newshour at 8:00pm showed a visibly flustered Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State addressing State House Correspondents after ostensibly briefing the President on the situation in Borno. If you thought the President had not taken action because he was yet to get first hand information on the situation, you were dead wrong.

On Tuesday, February 18, 2014, while the nation and the people of Borno awaited a Presidential show of support and solidarity regarding the situation in the region, again, we were assailed with odoriferous news and photographs from the Presidential Villa showing President Jonathan cavorting with members of the Actors Guild of Nigeria.

You would have expected that Mr. President would be Presidential enough to acknowledge the situation in Borno and reassure the nation that he was on top of the situation. You would have expected the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of a Nation to be hunkered down in a marathon meeting with his security chiefs to appraise the latest onslaught of the Boko Haram insurgents and forestall a recurrence but what did we get? Pictures of gaiety and merrymaking while a section of the country burnt.

I stand corrected but the only pronouncements that have emanated from the seat of power on the events of the past weekend left sour tastes. First was a hasty rebuttal of the assertion by the Borno State Governor that the Nigerian Army was overwhelmed. A Presidential rebuttal chastised him and schooled him on the fine nuances of military tactics. The man who was short of tears on television and who was in the direct line of fire of the insurgents was told by those sitting in Abuja that he did not know what he was talking about.

Then came another bilious, puke-inducing statement from Dr. Doyin Okupe that – quoting a terribly inefficient line – President Jonathan was on top of the Boko Haram insurgence. We may have to interrogate Dr. Okupe further on what it means to be on top of a situation because if this is it, then we may request that the President gets under the situation.

The statement that takes the cake is the one credited to Major General Chris Olukolade who allegedly stated that the attack on Bama in Maiduguri on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 was not enough to contact the President. The outrage over that statement is still raising major steam.

The question then becomes who will speak for the people of Borno? What are we all doing to individually or collectively bring their plight to the front burner? Is it really true that what is happening in Borno State does not affect the rest of us? Is it really okay to look the other way while fellow Nigerians get slaughtered like rams?

Who will tell the President that this cannot go on? Who will tell the President that this is the time to talk and act Presidential and assure the people of North East Nigeria that the Nation stands with them? Who will tell the President that we are still waiting to hear him speak on the #Borno Massacre?

My name is Sam Hart. I am a Nigerian. I do not represent any tribe, religion, political organization nor interest. I represent humanity and on behalf of humanity, I urge us all to join our voices and demand that attention be paid to the situation in Borno.

This too shall pass. All we ask is that it passes quickly.

May the souls of the departed find rest in the bosom of the creator.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (2)

  1. GEJ U SHOULD SIMPLY BREAK THIS FUCKING NATION UP NOW B4 ITS TOO FUCKING LATE

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