By Ose Oyamendan
These are not great times for Nigeria. It’s like the country has finally been dribbled into a pitch dark tunne l and the light at the end of it looks like a vengeful, smoldering fire that may eat up what is left of our collective pride and dignity. Worse, you look at the list of people pinning to fix the country and you just cringe! Once we were the pride of Africa. Now, we are close to being the joke of a continent.
You want to know how dire our country is? Just jog your memory back for a few days and unwrap the tale of the presidency and a ceasefire with Boko Haram. It has now emerged that our leaders were miles off the truth and just to rub it in, the “dead” Boko Haram leader basically told the nation to forget about the missing girls. It also means that our once mighty armed forces flat out deceived us when they said Abubakar Shekau had been killed – not once but twice. Now, you wonder if a military high command that has put soldiers on trial for desertion and other crimes of war should not put itself on trial for deceiving the nation.
Every day you wake up hoping that day would be the day when miracles flood out of the forest, praying that this sore will finally be removed from the eyes of a nation. You try to will the return of the hundreds more that have been kidnapped but not publicized. But, every night you go to bed and the Chibok girls and all those in Boko Haram’s captivity are still not nearer their homes. And, you wonder – who’s going to bring our girls home? Every time you flip through the news pages you’re confronted with the abject failure of the our leadership. We vote so we can elect leaders that will protect us and provide for us. We pay taxes so these leaders have the tools to provide for us and protect us. But, Nigerian leaders have never really felt it’s their duty to provide for the citizens. For them, that is an afterthought – after providing for themselves and children of their grandchildren yet unborn. You gotta go back all the way to the first half of the first republic to find leaders who really put the interest of the people first.
It is utterly inconceivable that fifty years ago, any group of bandits would kidnap some Nigerians and flaunt their deed arrogantly. Back then, we had leaders who had given birth to a fractured nation but had pride in Nigeria and did all they could to elevate our place in the world. They treasured every life as if it was family and, for good reasons, back then we were all brothers and sisters, even if we were dysfunctional as a national family. These days, we have leaders whose sole occupation is winning elections, we have a battered armed forces who have been starved of weaponry and training for about two decades and half. And, we have spin masters who toy with the heart of the nation. And, you wonder – why our girls are not home?
Every comment on the missing girls is always clouded with politics. The noble folks camped out in protest against the presidency for not doing more to bring the girls home blame an ineffectual president and his administration. But, they miss one huge point – the chief security officer of a state is the state governor and he should be brought into more account for his abject failure in protecting girls who were in a school run by his government. But, he gets a pass because he is in the opposition. Ask most people on the streets or the protesters who the Governor of Borno state is and chances are you’ll draw a blank stare.
The president’s supporters rightly defend him with claims that he’s doing his best. But, there is another truth – in this matter his best has clearly been below par. It still confounds me why the President with the might of an armed forces behind him failed to charge after the terrorists as soon as he knew the girls were gone. There are military battalions within a hundred mile radius of the area yet the lords of Abuja spent days “monitoring the situation” It makes you wonder if any of those girls was the daughter of a big man in Abuja or Maiduguri if the response would have been the same. You know as hell they won’t be there for two hundred and four days and counting. Now, you wonder – when will our girls be really back home? And, now we’re a country of refugees! In the last few months, people have trickled from their towns and villages in the North East as Boko Haram ravaged their domains. But, it’s now a flood. The pictures of thousands of Nigerians, fleeing their homes is the saddest images a Nigerian should ever be forced to see.
It is Nigeria we’re talking of, people! A country with a history and tradition.A country that once took in refugees. This is Nigeria, a country that once reportedly paid the salaries of another nation’s striking workers. This is Nigeria, the self-styled giant of Africa. Now, Nigeria – a land of refugees. And, you start wondering – when do we get our country back?
Ose Oyamenda tweets @iam_Ose