I was originally going to write about female genital mutilation, that chilling feminine horror that millions of Nigerian women are subjected to in their childhoods. However, the Abuja and Kaduna bomb blasts on Thursday, call for a special column, after all this is a collective horror that we need to talk about. And do we need to talk Nigeria!
I remember clearly the very first bomb that ushered in this horrific chapter of Nigerian history. It was on the 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence, and like predicted on that day by many of my friends, we weren’t going to get answers anytime soon. They were right. The mastermind of that horror, while not Boko Haram, is yet to be declared guilty and his benefactors remain at large. And so Nigeria got used to bombs and life goes on.
Jos, the ironically named “home of peace and tourism” has not been peaceful in a while. I remember when we used to feel outrage at the rampage and counter rampages. I remember when young people started movements, fundraisers and outreaches to save Jos. I remember, “We JOS want peace.” And now the horror that Jos has become doesn’t even faze us. We have come to expect a burning Jos, a burning North and life goes on. No more outrage, no more youthful hubris that we can save Jos and by extension, our country. We are getting used to it. Horror has come to stay in our country.
Boko Haram blew into the timeline of our history bringing destruction and death. They do it so well. A church here, a hospital there, an international organization sometimes and now they have graduated to terrifying the press. Last Thursday reminded me of the death of Dele Giwa and the deaths of hundreds of our press corps, killed for telling the truth. By the way, who killed Dele Giwa? We are yet to know. So Boko Haram stopped the children of the North from going to school, are terrorizing medical workers, killed foreign NGO workers and beheaded even more of them. Religious institutions now hold services in the North in absolute fear. Policemen now beg not to be transferred to the North and they threaten to quit the Police Force if this happens. They are human and they are afraid. The terrorists are winning, we are getting used to it and what are we to do? We have become strange bedfellows with horror, death and pain.
Recently I read an article about how the aged mother of Tony Elemelu was kidnapped in her home in the East. In the very same week, a 5 year old was also kidnapped in the same region. Young people who should spend their time being productive now work as kidnappers and terrorists. Nowhere is safe in our country.
Lagos, that metropolis of gleaming new money, efficient government, and people living full lives on rubbish dump is not safe either. If it is not armed robbers and their pedestrian guns, it is the police force collecting bribes in broad daylight; corruption so bold, it dares you to look at it, to stop it. But who will bell the cat?
So all of these should be juxtaposed with the speed at which our economy is growing. Ladies, and gentlemen, Nigeria is not poor. We are getting richer. But what do we make of a growing economy when most people live one gunshot in Lagos, one bomb in the North, and one kidnapping in the East away from things falling apart?
Nigerians, we are at war. That is all that can be said for this. We are at war.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.