My Fellow Nigerians,
It would seem we are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, stuck between a rock and a hard place. These days it is hard to remain positive about my beloved country Nigeria. It seems as though the country is beset on all sides by astronomical problems that would seem Herculean for any man born of a woman to solve. I pay a lot of attention to news of what is going on in my country and day after day, I see more bad news. Terrorism has sadly become part of the Nigerian discourse and the Nigerian condition. Cases of corruption in high places keep coming to light that make you wonder if the perpetrators of these acts have any shred of human decency, I daresay humanity in them. Terrorism and Corruption are similar in the damage they do to our people and society, one kills immediately while the other kills by perpetuating poverty and committing ethical genocide for generations to come.
Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad better known as Boko Haram struck at the media by attacking two newspaper locations for one of Nigeria’s most widely read papers, Thisday. Both were suicide bombs, one was in Abuja the capital and the other was in Kaduna. This comes a week after the US embassy issued a warning to its citizens about an impending attack in Abuja. The government and intelligence spokespersons came out and claimed that the report was false and citizens have nothing to be afraid of. I am sure they now have both feet in their mouths after the tragedy of these suicide bombs. Several people lost their lives and of course our president comes out and gives a replicated speech expressing what by now seems like feigned outrage. It has become a pattern. Bomb goes of, people are in pain and angry at how helpless the country seems against these terrorists and our knight in shining kpangolo, President Goodluck Ebele Azikwe (how dare he use that name) Jonathan comes out and gives us one of his copy and paste speeches and feigns an outrage that would win a razzie for worst acting performance.
The bomb that went off in Abuja was driven into the premises with a jeep, which of course meant less scrutiny by the security, why? Because in Nigeria, we do not want to offend the big man driving a jeep by asking too many questions and guess what, the terrorists know this as well. Hence they are not showing up driving an outdated car that will be subject to much scrutiny because they know that the appearance of being rich is akin to being a god in Nigeria. Also get this; after bomb went off, standers by went to loot the offices that were just bombed. Are you kidding me? When I read the story, I had to shake my head at how the situation highlighted two of the biggest problems we are currently facing as a nation today, terrorism obviously and poverty.
Another dimension to the attack on the Newspaper is the fact that they attacked a newspaper. This adds to the institutions they have targeted so far. They have attacked schools, markets, government offices, security and armed forces, churches, mosques and prisons all of which are in the northern portion of the country. They justified the attack on the newspaper by saying that they decided to attack the newspaper for misrepresentation. Since when has bombing a place served as a rejoinder to an article about you? Obviously this is not only an attack on the media but an attack on free speech as a whole. They have decided to threaten the media and blackmail them into cowering and refusing to publish the truth about the group. By doing this they have sent a shiver down the spine of many an editor or reporter in the country. I sincerely hope the media refuses to back down and takes up the challenge to continue to do their job. The media and newspapers especially are one of the last bastions of freedom in our country. Kill the media and you kill hope for the common man, you kill their voice.
Speaking of the common man, another tragedy that has befallen our great nation (yes I will forever call Nigeria great) is the issue of scam. No I am not talking about the advanced fee fraud (419) we are or were notorious for as a nation. I am talking about things such as the Pension scam where civil servants colluded to rob the pension scheme of billions of naira. I am talking of the fuel subsidy scam where the NNPC, fuel marketers and importers colluded to defraud the country of money that if the reports are to be believed reaching into the trillions of naira and by translation billions of dollars. It is my hope that the judiciary does its job and prosecutes these people and gets to the bottom of the situation. The uncovering of these two scams make me wonder about what else is hidden that has not been uncovered. How else is the Nigerian populace being defrauded today? It is a sad story because if one is to look around at things that are not working well, you don’t have to be a genius to guess that there are yet many skeletons that are yet to be uncovered. I sincerely wonder from where the common man will get help from when he is beset on all sides by so many problems. He cannot move around freely in his own country for fear of crime, accidents, terrorism and of course the dreaded hydra of corruption has connived it seems with these evil forces to rob him of his wealth and dignity.
I believe when a person steals public funds he is not just stealing from the government, he is stealing from each and every Nigerian. Every naira stolen can go a long way to righting the many wrongs in this country, it is the money stolen that can help provide jobs, help send children to school, build roads, better equip our hospitals, and reduce poverty to its knees. It is really shame that when I was a kid and someone stole millions you would be amazed and dumbfounded. Nowadays it takes stealing billions of naira of public funds to even warrant any outrage or attention from Nigerians. It is reaching a point where we have been desensitized to reading about people embezzling billions that if care is not taken trillions will become the norm in the near future. One of the more frustrating things is that the system seems to be self-perpetuating. The system of corruption seems so endemic that a solution seems light years away. I think we as a people need to stop celebrating people that we know are living beyond their means. When a person comes to give testimony about how they bought a 100 million naira house and they earn a little less than 80 thousand naira a month and have 4 kids, it is our responsibility to question the source of these people’s wealth. We should stop glorifying the pursuit of awoof money (post for another day) and start asking questions, publicly!
On terrorism and corruption, what I can say in summary is that we should all be watchful. It is our country, it is our homeland we have the right to be here. No group of people is greater than the rest of us. We are Nigerian and we are a proud and strong people. Anyone who connives to kill and steal is no friend of ours, he/she is an enemy of progress and must be made to pay.
The video below is purely tongue in cheek, my actual thoughts on Goodluck right now is, shirmen shugaban kasa, dan iska kawai (translation, not a big fan of our dear president)