By Omoh Giwa
Dear General Sanni Abacha.
I wonder if my uncertainty about Chief Awolowo’s location in my last missive is the reason for the delayed response to the communiqué I sent him not considering distance and international transfer rates. I am truly puzzled and at my wit’s end hence why would I consider writing to the least-liked Head of State in contemporary Nigeria, at least until after 2023 when we will have the gumption to assess the current Main Tenant of Aso. There is no smoke without fire and, considering the proximity of our fiery locations, this should get to you quickly.
It would be preposterous to ask how you are faring because how else would one fare in your condition? You who challenged singlehandedly, the notions of human rights with several political assassinations, bombed properties, and cornered billions, cannot in all sincerity claim to be at peace in the underworld. I am not trying to antagonise you in any way because you have a worthy acolyte sitting over us these days. Please pardon my unpardonable habit of digressing from the substance.
If you had access to news from Nigeria, you would also be inundated with the activities of terrorists and vandals. Just when we began to numb ourselves to the atrocities of Boko Haram, their subsidiary group, Fulani Bandits (or was it Herdsmen Internationale?) began their campaign of death in the middle belt and Northern region of Nigeria.
You are probably wondering why I am disturbing you. I want to consider the possibility that if the Big Guy is ignoring our incessant pleas and supplications, you could appeal to your boss on our behalf. The entire nation just might be depending on your benevolence once again (since your favourite pastime has been to gift us recovered looted funds for national holiday celebrations) our most benevolent dictator!
It seems that the diversification of Boko Haram (I cannot refer to them as a terror group when they do much more than terrorize us) into more lucrative ventures (onakan o woja ~ one road does not lead to the market) and it also seems that no one not even government officials are safe from their assault. Did you hear about the time they attacked Ganduje’s convoy which cost three officers their lives?
It took a troubling tone when they abducted the “Militants” strategy (how unoriginal in my opinion) and began to demand ransom (how can I take their Jihad seriously if they are interested in mundane things like money?).Although they use pre-registered phone numbers and bank details for their activities, their location is still unknown to the authorities, and they can operate for hours without interruption from any security agencies. Are you shocked? Please save your scepticism for other trivial issues like the overrunning of Afghanistan by the Taliban weeks after the withdrawal of American troops.
Some detractors have questioned the rationale behind the queues for National Identity Number during a pandemic by this administration and a proper response would have been to ensure proper documentation of all citizens of Nigeria like the Social Security Number of the United States. However, it seems as though the information gotten is used only in capturing recalcitrant secessionists threatening the unity and peace of this nation (isn’t there an infamous saying that freedom after speech cannot be guaranteed?).
One would think asking for access to healthcare, economic stability, good road networks, uninterrupted power supply, security and general better living conditions should not cause animosity but how dare common men demand better living conditions from elected representatives now Lords of the Manor? Look at me digressing again; forgive me for taking your time as Dante’s Inferno has explained how busy it gets over there.
When they began to kidnap school students like the Kangara boys and Greenfield University students, it became obvious that like their predecessors, these bandits would continually prey on the weak, lower, and middle classes. Over twenty students from Greenfield University were kidnapped and to frighten their parents into paying the ransom, they murdered the students one day at a time until only fourteen were returned alive. Even the government allegedly paid ransom of over eight hundred million naira to these bandits for the return of the schoolboys (Nigeria negotiates with terrorists). You should have witnessed when we crucified Jonathan in 2014 (if only this administration had taught the past one to negotiate and haggle prices like Nigerian women to ensure the release of Chibok girls, maybe Leah Sharibu would be slightly traumatised but at home with her parents and loved ones).
You would expect that after selling “refurbished violence-machine” as the solution to all (including solving Arsenal’s trophy drought). our leaders would present a hero/heroine to save the day enough to cause envy for Hollywood script writers.
Two events recently happened that shook me to my core: the invasion of the Nigeria Defence Academy in Kaduna and the massacre of about thirty people in Jos. The marauding bandits not only entered theAcademy but also killed two officers, kidnapped, and murdered a Major. There were no demands or ransom just mayhem and death. Or did they ask for a two hundred-million-naira ransom later? Off the radar? This incident might remind one of the invasion of the Chief of Staff’s office in Aso Rock. What equipment do these bandits have to invade the most protected home and school in Nigeria, somehow outsmarting security agents?
Do you remember when violent Trump-supporters invaded the US Capitol building and the resulting swiftness and arrests made by their security agents? Though we were embarrassed by this attack to their nation’s democracy, we cheered the restoration of order and sanity to their affairs. Is restoration in our nearest future even when heavy threatening clouds of violence hang over us? How did we get here? Where is the change we were promised?
With the imminent clouds of danger hanging like a noose on our necks, it baffles me that our Undertaker can remain silent as though he is in support of these attacksonly to issue threats to southerners who whimper when pushed to the wall.
P.S. Even if my lengthy diatribe has disturbed you, please remember that our people say a toad does not run during the day for nothing.
Department of English
University of Lagos