Saturday, 29 March 2014

Is a Nigerian Life Worth a Chicken?

Is a Nigerian Life Worth a Chicken?
For a little over a week now, I decided not to read the newspapers. The much of them I get to know is when, while driving past or in traffic hold-ups, I see headlines as vendors brandish them or when I hear highlights of them on radio. The reason why I took that decision is simply because of the depressing stories that keep coming out from different corners of Nigeria of people being mindlessly killed by some others who have decided to throw away their humanness to the dogs, hence view others humans only as game. It is either the Boko Haram insurgents or the herdsmen. Even this morning as I set out, I was besieged with another such now pestilent monster of headlines about seventy or so persons who have been killed between Benue and Borno. Because I did not read the story, I do not know if that number is just for the day/night before; but it might just be and I am not in the least surprised. But I will never cease to be alarmed. I will never get used to the madness and evil.
During a live radio program on one of the stations in Kaduna some a little over a week ago, the guest, a famer and a public commentator by the name of Shadrach Madlion, while making a passing comment on the insecurity in the country made an interesting analogy. He said if any ordinary poultry farmer with a thousand birds in his pen loses thirty of them by any means, such a farmer would panic and would run from pillar to post until he gets to the root of the problem and solves it before he would rest. One therefore asks the question: is a Nigerian life worth a chicken?!
People are killed every day and they end up only constituting mere numbers; as if they do not have any identity. Every human person has a right to an identity and, whatever the circumstance, such a person must never be divested of his or her identity. If one goes to the Federal government of Nigeria today and decides that they should be furnished with the list of persons that were murdered in Katsina state or the southern part of Kaduna state almost a fortnight ago, one is certain that no such records exist. Even the affected Local Government Councils cannot be confidently said to possess such records. But it is little things like this that form the kernel of any serious minded government and society. It is such efforts that give people a sense that their government knows about them and cares about what is going on with them. On every 11th day of September, one sees how the United States government reads out the names of the slain victims of the terrorist attacks on that day in 2001, with a firm determination never to let a repeat of that dastardly act, and one feels a kind of longing to belong to such a society. Little wonder, most Americans, of whatever extraction, are ready to lay down their lives for their country.
With the manner in which the Nigerian reality is handled by the Nigerian government, one wonders if the government infact appreciates the problem at hand. Indeed a friend, only last week, was sharing with me his worries having just come back from the Maiduguri axis on an academic field trip in the earlier week. He lamented the situation on ground and doubted if the Nigerian government really sees it for what it is. Upon hearing that, I, in turn, wondered that if there is doubt as to the State’s appreciation of the Boko Haram insurgency, then is there any hope that it sees the raging storm of the herdsmen for what it really is? From Katsina to Kaduna, Zamfara to Tarraba, Kebbi to Benue and all over the place, communities under this onslaught have all seemed to have been left to their fate. What that simply means is “to your tents O Israel”!
No matter what the FG believes it is doing, people, as in Katsina, were unabatedly killed in their numbers in broad daylight; people, as in Southern Kaduna where the military have molested locals in the name of security, are being slaughtered continually: some of the operation lasting through the whole night without intervention from the same military. These peoples do not see the government’s efforts on the ground, not even the least, being the mention of their slain loved ones.
The problem is that it will take a man with a gun to defend himself from another with a gun. Is that what the Nigerian state wants of her citizens?

(Published on BLUEPRINT, Thur Mar 27, 2014, Page 7)

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