Recent developments in Nigeria have cast the relationship between government and independent journalists as well as public commentators in a disturbing veil of growing anxiety and tension. No fewer than five current governors have thrown journalists and public commentators into detention in the past few months over their comments and reports regarding public policies initiated by these government agencies. Weeks ago, Ahmad Salkida, an independent journalist whose consistency in reporting objectively on the human crisis situation in the Northeast raised the alarm, following a report he published on the released 82 Chibok girls, that his life was under renewed threat. Continue reading
The Water Wars in Northeast Nigeria
Amsatu is in her mid – 20’s and has just gone into labour for her fourth child. News has begun to go round in the village in Yunusari Local Government Area. Amsatu’s husband was seen walking breathlessly to the scene of the delivery in the house with the prominent traditional birth attendant in the village. On hearing the arrival of newborn, the women began to take their empty water cans to embark on a walk to the neighbouring village to fetch water. Water would be the most precious article in Amsatu’s home and the women would trek the 11 kilometre distance to fetch water.
The biographer of “Muhammadu Buhari: The challenge of leadership in Nigeria,” Professor John Paden, revealed that the leadership of Boko Haram demanded 5 billion Euros as ransom for the release of the abducted girls, based on today’s exchange rate this comes to about 1.7 trillion Naira. Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information took it further in a recent press briefing. According to him, “on 4th August, 2015, the persons who were to be part of the swap arrangements and all others involved in the operation were transported to Maiduguri, Borno State. This team, with the lead facilitator, continued the contact with the group holding the Chibok girls… All things were in place for the swap, which was mutually agreed. Expectations were high. Unfortunately, after more than two weeks of negotiation and bargains, the group, just at the dying moments, issued new set of demands, never bargained for or discussed by the group before the movement to Maiduguri.”
Almost everyone agrees that the problems in Nigeria or failure to address problems is a consequence of the country’s failing institutions. Others argue that there are no institutions at all; if there are, they do not just function. The current band of lawmakers responsible for enacting laws cannot do away with ambiguities to strengthen institutions; if they do, many of them will have no role in government, going by their antecedents.
It is easier to get into a conflict than to come out of it, and every war has its consequences, whether for the aggressors or the victims. Certainly, nearly everyone that survives a war lives with painful memories of its devastation.
It is far-fetched for anyone to think that Nigeria will just wake up one day to become like Singapore, one of the world’s most successful societies since human history began or even to frog jump to the level of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, a country that has achieved mastery over natural barriers to emerge as a model of social cohesion, creative innovation and a cultural melting pot to the rest of the world. Both societies by sheer planning and commitment to process have within a generation scaled over the basic needs of human existence, such as food, shelter, healthcare, education and employment. Each of these countries functioning well under carefully foundated template. And so, the leaders now have set their eyes on the future.
Nigeria has been known with a rather disturbing attitude of placing a deplorable value on the lives of her citizens. It seems to run in the veins of successive administrations. And none has been more disturbing than the inclination to celebrate the much hyped technical defeat of Boko Haram over and above the continual massacre of defenceless citizens in the war ravaged North East Nigeria as well as in camps holding numerous distressed internally displaced persons, IDPs.
For many in Nigeria, living abroad is synonymous with wealth and affluence. But just like the coin, there is always the other side of dwelling abroad. Hardly do people talk of the other side. That other side is indeed what paints the real picture. The side most talked about is more of the facade.
If the president wants to have video evidence of all Boko Haram captives he can receive it today, that’s if he hasn’t already. If the president wants the captors of innocent Nigerian citizens and school girls to put them on the phone with their parents, he can have it done, except if he doesn’t want to. He has the might as the president, so why is he saying he has no clue about the state of the girls?
Have you ever been asked in a foreign land ‘why are Nigerians so loud on their mobile phones?’ Have you ever wondered yourself or, have you been embarrassed when fellow Nigerians talk on the pinnacle of their voices in the train, bus, shopping malls or at any other public places while away, overseas? But, wait, is it only Nigerians that love to swagger and yell, whenever they use their mobile phones, or is this an unfair generalization?