The figures can be anything: 2,000 or 150? It doesn’t matter what the figure is. The issue is we are shedding blood in this country and there is no hope understanding how to stop the bleeding. Baga is a remote town in NE Nigeria. It’s not a fancy place like Paris where two terrorists ran amuck and killed 12 people over a cartoon. Baga is a part of the Nigerian territory that marauding bandits led siege for days and slaughtered 2,000 people as reported by Amnesty International. No one’s carrying placards proclaiming “I am Baga” on behalf of the dead in Nigeria and you really can blame anyone, can you? The truth is, our country is laden with blood and death and anguish and our pulse is now numbed to shocks that would quake in other lands.
You know this is our life when the Nigerian President mourns terrorist attacks in beautiful Paris but keeps silent on the murder of legions in his domain. If only silence was the insult that came our way, maybe we would have persevered. But the gutter that oozes from the mouth of presidential aides over this incident is a reminder of what every Nigerian needs to do on February 14 to bring a change to how our safety and health is managed. Doyin Okupe, the President’s Special adviser on media, took to twitter not to condemn the attacks but to cast doubts on the veracity of the numbers dead. For Mr. Okupe, even one dead isn’t enough. It is not the first time that denial is the first knee jerk reaction to major incidents in the country. We saw it when Abuja was bombed in 2012 by Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and we saw it in Chibok almost a year ago when over 200 girls were kidnapped from their school boarding house. As we all know, denial is the immediate recourse for all drug addicts who would rather not deal with the pain of reality. In this case, denial is the basic recourse for incompetence.
The army spokesman says the numbers may not be up to 150 but is speaking at a time when the Nigerian army is still sorting operational plans to launch rescue operations for Baga. Between the Nigerian army and Amnesty International, there are over 2,000 dead people whose circumstances are up for debate. Knowing the propensity of the military authorities to lie on every conceivable issue, I would gladly stake my claims with amnesty international’s version.
So, we have as many as 2,000 people dead in one fell swoop in a part of this country at the hands of a marauding band of rapists, murderers and extremists and the leadership of this nation deems it not newsworthy enough to warrant any official response. It appears that for Goodluck Jonathan and his government, the quest for political survival supersedes the genuine concerns of a nation. This is unfortunate especially as the country has no greater need for selfless leadership than now.
I am almost certain that Buhari is not the man we need to return our country back to us. But his coming will give us a chance to put an end to this gross incompetence that has bedeviled our national security.