If only for the range of perspectives and opinions, it has been most interesting since the attack on Charlie Hebdo, particularly in light of the situation in Nigeria.
The dedication of the French security forces in hunting down those responsible for the attacks has been reassuring even from thousands of miles away. One cannot help thinking of our 5-year tango with the terrorists waging war against Nigeria especially the recent massacre in Baga. As if we needed a reminder of how bad our situation is; we seem to be losing this war. Apart from the news about the repeated killings of Shekau one would be hard pressed to find anything in the main stream media about terrorists captured alive and who have been punished and/or held accountable for their crimes in Nigeria.
The case of the Federal Government against the alleged Nyanya bomber, Aminu Ogwuche was recently thrown out by a federal judge for ‘lack of diligent prosecution’. It would be a strong message, symbolic even, if we could prosecute and punish those guilty of crimes. Instead, what we have are innocent people rotting in jails and dungeons of security agencies on weak suspicion, flimsy evidence sometimes even at the behest of powerful third parties who want to punish actual or imagined adversaries.
Our usual identification with what is buzzing in international media is also striking. #JeSuisCharlie is the latest. The entire world (okayminus a few) feels like Charlie right now, for what the murders of the 12 symbolizes. And while it might be unfair to draw comparisons, one might wonder, in the face of the 1 million person unity rally in Paris – complete with world leaders, what would it take to move the world for Nigerian lives? Indeed what would it take to move Nigerians for our own lives? 2000 people were allegedly killed in Baga between January 3 – 7, bringing the total number of deaths attributed to the insurgents over the years to 30,000.
Maybe there are no hash tags saying “#NiNeBaga”, or “#EmiNiChibok” because there is still doubt about the occurrence of the massacre. There have been, as is sadly usual, denials and then attempts to reduce the tragedy as if that were possible. But our screens are dominated with images of the sea of humans in Paris, we hear even more about the perpetrators of the crimes than we have heard about the innocent mothers, brothers and daughters killed in and displaced from Baga…it is possible that this adds to the inertia and disconnect that many might feel. It seems unreal.
The majority of us are likely suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – after all we are collectively displaying some of the symptoms which include ‘not talking about it’, ‘avoidance’ and even amnesia. Who can remember even ten terrorists attacks over the last two years? Some stand out for their size and audacity – the UN Bombing, the October 1 bombing (which has become a presidential campaign issue, the Buni Yadi massacres and the abduction of the Chibok girls)- but thousands are gone, brutally murdered, some with no one left to mourn them and we are not even confident of the numbers.
Yes, a hash tag won’t bring back the dead and a rally will not stop the terrorists but it could result in catching the attention of those who are in a position to do something. It might prick the conscience of those charged with the responsibility of protecting us. We must resist the temptation to keep asking if those marching in France will carry signs saying #JeSuisBaga – the fact that many demanded #BringBackOurGirls, does not mean they owe us. They cannot and will not like us more than we like ourselves despite their understanding of enlightened self-interest. This philosophy has limits and because those who drive foreign policy are mindful of their re-election and the success of their party where re-election is no longer an option – there are no real long term visions for countries like ours and people like us.
We want messiahs, likely connected to our tight embrace of patriarchy. We see it with the way we campaign for elected officials – granting them almost super natural powers to change our lives and thus prepare them to rule over us instead of leading us.
There are no saviors. Just us. We are exhausted and trying to cope with the constant onslaught, but if we can’t be outraged for ourselves who will? We must work to save ourselves with the understanding that our lives are connected, bound like a circle and no amount of wishful thinking for the West to save us and no dedicated solidarity with ranking hash tags will protect us. #IAmNigerian
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