By Amma Ogan
Nigeria’s history seems is full of those moments when one is forced to ask where are we going, or, who are we fooling? For the most part these questions have come at regular intervals. In the last four years though since the advent of ‘Boko Haram’ the pace has been frightening and it seems to me in the last two months has assumed a terrifying reality. That, is the sensation you get when you have a nightmare and in your subconscious state your world is caught up in a violent convulsion that signals the end of everything you know. Then you wake up and relief floods your mind, and you laugh if off. Maybe it was that egusi and efo having been left in one place for too long, bubbling up to assert its alter ego.
But what has happened here is no mere nightmare. It is the result of something we, our government, have allowed to keep happening. At the venue of our 50th birthday celebration a bomb goes off . What does the man of the moment do the following year? He stays at home.
In the last four years Boko Haram has grown into a terrifying threat each time resorting to action that is more deadly and abhorrent than the last. Each time, taunting Nigeria with its ability to confound any forces summoned against it.
Maybe it’s the stultifying religiosity of our times that has overtaken people’s minds, lulled us into the unreality of leaving it all to a greater power to manage for us. We seem to wallow in our abject inability to control our destiny, nay, to even define a destiny; to take charge of where we want to be, to take responsibility for who we are. Governance in Nigeria is about looting. Boko Haram on the other hand, whomever they may be, because Nigerians, the media, the government, the political parties, the security agencies don’t seem to know, are the exact opposite. Boko Haram defines its targets does what it wants. And comes back for more.
It kills scores of people each week. It slits the throats of our sons when they are sleeping in their dormitories at night, it abducts our daughters in the hundreds and threatens to sell them into slavery in 2014, and it has been wreaking this mayhem steadily, over the last four years.
And yet Goodluck Jonathan, the president of this country who cannot ensure the safety and security of our children is running for reelection. Can’t see the problem, can’t solve the problem, but wants another go in the seat of power. His wife has actually dismissed the abduction of the girls of Chibok as a ruse to scuttle her husband’s campaign for reelection. I have no polite words to describe the press conference she gave on the matter two days ago. Suffice to say we have never had a first lady with her particular lack of qualifications. Never. She not only speaks for God she also speaks as Him.
Three weeks the girls of Chibok were abducted by the busloads. Three weeks ago the president and his wife were celebrating the marriage of their adopted daughter in Abuja. (there was some story, denied of course, about gold plated cell phones as gifts for guests) And just this week the Goodluck Jonathan finally felt he had to say something to the effect that he did not know where the girls are. Yes, you can say that the man was being honest, but there is no question that he has been ineffective on this matter. You may even wish to argue that he is no better or worse than any other Nigerian president, but na dat one we go chop? Terrorism in Nigeria is growing and we are just marking time, sharing a cake?
There was a massively launched road map to power as soon as Jonathan took the reins of power following the death of his predecessor, Yar’ adua. Where are we on that today?
A president was rendered brain dead on his way to seek medical treatment abroad. You would think his successor’s first task would be to build a word class hospital within reach of Aso Rock. No, his wife still travels overseas for undisclosed ailments, on the people’s money: no shame. The steady hum of generators still fills the nation: the long queues of vehicles outside petrol stations, still a regular occurrence. The chorus that was written for Obasanjo still plays for Jonathan. Same party, same nonsense.
There is a level of deterioration in the quality of our life as a nation that is just mind-boggling, whether or not we now have a sprinkling of Forbes rated billionaires. This is not because we are the only country faced with the problem of terrorism, but because we are so ill equipped to deal with it and this is principally because our governance and leadership is so totally addicted to graft, it cannot even give any thought to the matter of self –preservation for itself, let alone for others. So the principal issue remains: when are we going to realise that governance is not a matter of kalokalo and public relations stunts. If these girls of Chibok are not saved, who will be?
Amma Ogan is a former editor at The Guardian