By Isaac Asabor
It is no longer news that Nigeria is at war with herself as a huge gamut of the youth population has in the recent times been overwhelmed by the spirit and culture of war. Hardly will one open the pages of any given newspaper, listen to radio or TV or even surf through the internet, without reading or hearing about destruction in the form of gruesome murder and arson that were in most cases fueled by the need for secession or invasion of gunmen in other people’s land.
Without any scintilla of hyperbole, how much we have destroyed than built is unarguably conspicuous in virtually all parts of the country; particularly in the South East region, and that has become synonymous with the region’s identity in the recent times. Our country has been bent towards self-destruction and self-extinction in the past few weeks that it is by each passing day unprecedentedly threatening our co-existence as Nigerians. As a departure from the somewhat peaceful days in the country, what portends to deafen the ears is the mourning of bereaved families burying their loved ones; either killed by kidnappers or bandits and worse still, what meets the eyes are bodies littering our land all over. Did I hear you say “Lori iro”? If in doubt, take your time to find out from residents of Shikaan, Mbagena and Kpav in Benue State who have literarily been wailing from the rooftops on how they had being incessantly attacked by suspected Fulani herdsmen that are wont to invade their communities whenever the need to spill blood arises.
In fact, the gory images the subconscious mind now conjures whenever the names, kidnappers, armed bandits and terrorists are mentioned are sounds of predatory birds and wild carnivores preying on the bodies of Nigerians! Imagination now runs riot that the picture one see these days in our villages are the wailings of women, young children, old men, and women under renewed attacks! What covers our skies are smokes of villages on fire! And on everyone’s face are signs of despair, destruction, and uncertainties about the future!
Against the backdrop of media reports, a frightening upsurge of violence has left the country in upheaval at the collapse in security. Attacks by ferocious Boko Haram group in the north-east have been compounded by a sharp rise in abductions targeting civilians in schools and on major highways across Nigeria. Mass killings by bandit groups in rural towns, rise in armed robberies in urban areas and increasingly daring attacks on security forces and INEC offices in the south-east have all compounded fears in the land.
As gathered, in April 2021 alone, almost 600 civilians were killed across the country and at least 406 abducted by armed groups, according to analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations. The violence has left much of the country on edge and President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) are facing the fiercest criticism like never before.
Considering the fact that “all fingers are not equal” as men are not equal in status, wealth, orientation, disposition, size, and shape, it is salient to reason that brains of great scientists and great doctors who would have rolled back the burden of diseases that we are faced with on daily basis; of great musicians and artists who would have composed songs we would be singing for generations; brains of great economists who would have revived our economy from the jaws and menace of those politicians who looted the country’s resources and threw our economy, mercilessly, to the dogs might have being among those killed since the height of insecurity in the country became extremely worrisome.
It can also be reasoned in this context that those sent to untimely graves would have being great leaders, or politicians who would have called for freedom, liberty and equal distribution of resources in our country; those who would have called for the rule of law, those who would have proclaimed to us, that in the eyes of those laws we should be viewed equally; those who would have called for our government to discharge its full responsibilities, that where there is plenty, poverty is but evil, and where there is government, our citizens should not be facing what they face today in the land of great abundance! That poverty and government are incompatible; great enemies to each other, especially in this century!
Given the undeserved collective experience which Nigerians are passing through since the emergence of the ongoing Buhari-led administration, it is expedient to say that where there is a properly functioning system, human being, the child of Almighty God, should not live in poverty, but in plenty, with dignified life! It is not a misnomer to say that the great leaders we lost to human brutality fueled by the superstition that we cannot co-exist, side by side, as sisterly tribes or communities or sub communities will be highly regretted. At the moment, our land is tragically full of graves with bones of great athletes who would have won us medals and trophies from different competitions! In those graves are bones of beauty queens: young Nigerians who died at very young age, with potentials unleashed; robbed from us by human cruelty; brains of activists, those who would have called for justice, freedom for all; and for self-expression, a chance to be listened to and to listen to others, to distinguish ourselves from other creatures, the beasts of the forests and the wild. In those graves are the brains of great professors: educationists who would have taught our generations to achieve their God-given potentials; that every child should be given a decent chance in life to achieve whatever he or she sets his or her eyebrows on, and our government should function to avail those chances.
But history has shown, time and again, that when men overcome their differences and decide to work for the betterment of all, they can bend the arc of history once more in a better direction. In this context, to the direction of brotherliness. It is up to us then to bring back hopes to our people. It is up to the youth to rise from all corners of our country, and beyond our borders, to call for peace and national reconciliation! It is up to us to put the best angels of our humanity to work. It is up to us to remind our politicians that it is not destruction as they constantly peddle that we need as a nation, what we need from our government is a restoration of human dignity, wiping of tears from our faces, and an end to the bloodshed that has soaked our soils for so long! It is up to us to call for rebuilding of our country: one in which justice flows like the mighty waters of the Niger; one in which freedom for all matches our common humanity; one in which plenty is cherished by all; one in which equality in the eye of laws is like a daily bread and easily accessed by all; one in which all our citizens should live as they wish and worship as they please!
We must call for those things to happen, not because they lay the foundation for our growth, although they do; not because the civilized world demands them, although it does; not because we missed them for so long, though we do; and not because our politicians constantly forget them, though they do! We called for them because that is the best way to live as human beings, to meet the challenges of the constantly changing world. From the ashes of self-destruction, we can rise once more and bend the arc of history in a better direction, where our common humanity can be unleashed! Let us be each other’s keeper, let’s work for one another, let us watch each other’s back, and protect our hard-won liberty and freedom from the menace of mankind! Let us rewrite our history once more! To me, it is expedient we start bending the arc of history to brotherliness and rise from the ashes of self-destruction.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.