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Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

This one North self and insurgency in Nigeria (I)

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By Ben Adam Shemang

Those days in my primary school in LEA Primary School Chikka, in the 70s, we used to have a Physical Education (PE) exercise called “Fire on the Mountain”. The usual setting was for the pupils to form a circle in the school play ground. The pupils were made to be in a group of twos one will stand in front while the other would stand behind. The teacher was always at the centre giving instructions through a song. Of the two pairs of pupils, the one in front was to clap while singing along with the teacher but the pupil behind was to run round and never to be late to return and stand behind their other pairs who must not move from their position. The running round the circle was at the desertion of the teacher may be twice of thrice. So it went this way:

 Teacher: Fire on the mountain

Pupils: Run, run, run away

Teacher: Fire on the Mountain

Pupils: Run, run, run away

 Teacher:  Fire on the mountain

Pupils: Run, run, run away.

Suddenly, the teacher would shout “the fire is out!” At that point, each pupil who had been running round the circle formed by the pupils, had the task of running faster ahead to stand behind their partner. Even if the running pupil had just passed the partner who was standing when it was announced by the teacher that “the fire was out”, the task was for the pupil to run round by going ahead and not reversing anti clock wise to stand behind his friend. Any group that was last would enter the centre and sit down until the real champion is found, no matter how long it took. It created excitement, friendship and healthy competition among the pupils. There was oneness among the pupils.

Can this be said of the present oneness of the north as a political slogan by northern politicians in the face of attacks by boko haram? I am not passing judgment but let’s have an insight. The economy, education, security, development, friendship, health, sports, respect, just name it, are at their very low ebb in northern Nigeria no thanks to the insurgents. And what is the approach by northern politicians and leaders from the region? Sit back, “sit down look”, the blame game, just name it.

I am not holding brief for General Azubuike Ihiejirika, the immediate past chief of Army Staff. The same goes for Senator Alli Modu Sheriff. The two are “formers”…former Chief of Army Staff and Former Governor of Borno state respectively. None of them knows me.  I hear some northerners say the former army chief is an alleged sponsor of boko haram as “revealed” by an Australian pastor, Stephen Davis. They go further to say that the general allegedly sponsor the sect s a revenge for what northerners did to Ibo during the three year civil war in Nigeria. What a cheap way of fighting bokohram by the north? When and how long was General Ihiejirika the Chief of Army Staff? So it now takes an Australian to confuse “one north” ko? To me it is so illogical!

The very top northern elites are busy discussing the general while northern towns are being captured by boko haram. Respected revered traditional rulers are being killed. The northerner is sitting and discussing General Ihiejirika, the islamists have declared an islamic republic within northern Nigeria, no the problem is Ihiejirika, towns like Gwoza, Gamboru Ngala, Bama Michika, Mubi, Bizza, Gulak, the north wants to hold a retired general responsible. The insurgents are pushing to enter Konduga, from there they enter University of Maiduguri and then next will be the state capital proper.

The North will not see this as a real threat to one north. It is said one of the emir’s palaces is the seat of government of the sect since the emir was lucky to have escaped alive. Again the north is doing “sit down look”. Over two hundred girls from Chibok Girls Secondary School stolen by boko haram have disappeared like vapour into thin air. The north said they want to gather five hundred lawyers and head for the Hague to lodge a complaint at the International Court of Justice. Is that the priority now?

Ben Adam Shemang via

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