Recently the EU coast guard dug up from beneath the Mediterranean Sea several hundreds of bodies of young Africans drown in a desperate attempt to cross to Europe. The desperation tells another sordid story. Young Africans full of life have been short changed by a myriad of misfortunes in their native homes.
In two separate newspapers articles published in 2006 and 2009 in the New Sentinel and Sunday Trust, and credited to one of us, the manner Boko Haram’s total disregard for civil values was the point of discourse. The report in question warned that government’s disregard of this rebellious inclination of the group would amount a calculated catastrophe to society. The authorities ignored this at society’s general peril.
If you had to choose the fate of Lake Chad, which would you prefer: an oil and gas rich region or a rich eco-diversity driving prosperity through agribusiness? President-elect, Muhammad Buhari has dropped the hint that his administration would re-open oil prospecting in the Lake Chad Basin. On a face value, this sounds wise and reassuring to the political elites from the north of the country who not only treasure the allure of petro-wealth but love the idea that oil bragging right could also be theirs.
Boko Haram, as they are known, seem to have had a long disagreement within the Jihadi movements in Africa about Abubakar Shekau’s depth of knowledge. Many of the Jihadis, especially students of late Mohammed Yusuf, Shekau’s precursor, were reported to have opted out of the movement on account of his hastiness. Some of these erstwhile members of the sect are reported to be currently fighting alongside with the Islamic State (IS) in Libya, or in other turfs — in their new obsession of dying as martyrs instead of co-existing in a multicultural society.
In February 2015 the African Union authorized the mobilization of a multinational force drawn from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to tackle Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and northern Cameroon.
When tit for tat and targeted killings of Easterners forced Emeka Ojukwu, a Colonel in the Nigerian Army and military administrator of Eastern Nigeria, to unilaterally declare the independent Republic of Biafra Nigeria advanced to the precipice. What followed was a 30-month barrage of killing fields concentrated in Igbo territories.
I was not born during the years of the Nigeria-Biafra war but I am not sure that the Nigerian society had ever been more divided, distressed and disillusioned as it is today. The only visible strings connecting the strands of our social being are those of hostility, repudiation and violence.
Branded the ‘home of peace’ due to its hospitality and its people’s unique communal interactions, has now become a monster devoted to consuming its own.
This ugly descent to an almost unimaginable level of savagery was set off by the terror sect, known as Boko Haram. With its vicious display of bloodletting since 2009, the sect has ensured that the values that held society together have been brutally severed. The values, as they were, that exhorted the sacredness of life; of being your brother’s keeper; of patience; of love and tolerance and of the dignity of labour, have all been thrown to the dogs.
Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, a third in a succession of non-soldier elected Presidents since 1965, seems overly optimistic about the fire power of his troops. The military had offered a full combatant response to the lingering terror activities by the Boko Haram, a position approved by the President, now bugged down by outright war against the terrorist band.
His last message to me came on April 1, 2013. I wish it were, but it was not an April fool’s message. Dear Mr Yawe, he wrote:
“After years of seeking ways and alternatives to working professionally and remaining with my family in Nigeria, I am afraid to report that I came recently to the conclusion that I have to flee. After my most recent expose on the scandal going in respect of purported ceasefire negotiated between government and Boko Haram, the danger to my life has escalated to new heights. I have had to go severely underground for several weeks leading to my final decision to flee Nigeria.”