Nigeria is a multicultural state of many ethnicities and religions. It is part of Nigeria’s charm. Our diversity used not to be a problem. But there are other powerful elements that are turning this country into a mess. Nigeria has an authoritarian government ruled by a strong man propped up by the army. It also has a sect of religious fanatics that are attempting to impose their interpretations on everyone else —with a gun. And it has common people attempting to bring peaceful change to their country having to chart a course between Scylla and the Charybdis.
Last year a small delegation of prominent traditional rulers (local leaders) met to discuss the night of October 20, 2020, known locally and infamously as 20.10.20. That is the evening the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful youth who had rallied together to call for an end to the SARS menace at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State, Nigeria. Amnesty International reported that 17 protesters were killed —eyewitness accounts by local Nigerians state the number was much higher.
But the leader’s thoughts were on another grave issue.
Boko Haram, known locally as “bandits” officially aka Nigerian Taliban; Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad; Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad; People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad; Sunni Group for Preaching and Jihad. Designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on November 14, 2013, and led by Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram (BH) is a Nigeria-based group responsible for numerous attacks in northern and northeastern Nigeria that have killed thousands of people since its emergence in 2009. The group espouses a violent Sunni extremist ideology and at times has received assistance, including funds and training, from al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
In Nigeria murder by the Boko Haram is no longer surprising. Citizens are murdered daily by either security agents or by sophisticated armed bandits/heardsmen who cause nationwide atrocities.
Yesterday, Monday, April 26, the Boko Haram kidnapped two university students from Benue State University, killed eight police officers, and a DPO in Kebbi State. To finish their deadly deeds, they ambushed and slaughter 30 soldiers, including a commander, and spearheaded a communal clash with the Yoruba tribe in Lagos. Then on the way home, they murdered and beheaded a citizen of Igbariam, Anambra State.
Are you aghast? You should be. Just so you understand how common of an occurrence these atrocities are, on Friday, April 23, three Greenfield University students were murdered and their corpses dumped by the same Boko Haram armed bandits (terrorists) in the northern region of Nigeria.
The killings and kidnapping have been a steady escalation in mass terror across Northern Nigeria carried out by the Boko Haram.
We, the Nigerian People, have been terrorized since April 14, 2014. The #BringBackOurGirls movement sadly did not stop the kidnapping, the murders, and rapes.
As a reminder of what occurred on the fateful day in 2014, 276 mostly Christian girls, students aged from 16 to 18, from the Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria, were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram for reportedly immoral purposes. I do not want to disrespect their families by being graphic.
Armed bandits” “Bombings” “Murder” “Kidnappings” have become ordinary words in everyday conversation.
Hollywood action movies are fictional enjoyment for Western Audiences and 3D reality right in front of our eyes. A Nigerian Airforce Fighter Jet was shot down by “armed bandits,” and there is a nervous laugh about it as we discuss it over dinner, but nothing is funny.
In Nigeria, the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is being written in blood.
The Boko Haram Newspeak of “Reformed” and “Repentant” means fanatics shooting down fighter jets, abducting, kidnapping and immolating people to death because your religion differs from his.
And these intolerant fundamentalists may succeed, one day hold political posts.
The northern region of the country has systematically shifted Nigeria from the Colossus of Africa to an Ozymandian ruin. Meanwhile, the Southern, Western, and Eastern parts of Nigeria are not doing enough to justify their claims of being a separate Nation. Rituals killings, extortion, robbery, and corruption is the order of the day in those regions.
Consistency is the key. Besides overtaking India as the country with the most people living in extreme poverty, we have successfully unseated Congo as the country with lesser access to electricity.
Nigeria is sitting on a time bomb, and the citizens are helping it by dwelling in triviality and religious bigotry.
The wrong people, unfortunately, are quite ready to take advantage of this lack of focus.
Babatunde Babafemi is a 27-year-old poet and writer based in Nigeria. He is the co-founder of The Yellow House, a literary space and digital book lending library. His writing style is “cooking Politicians inside a macaque skull.” Follow him on Twitter @Bsquarebabs