For the rest of us, i.e. Nigerians, the Boko Haram experience is ‘over there in the North’. Everyday, something gets blown away, many lives get lost, a lot of dreams are cut short and we keep losing the battle against insurgency. I am speaking for myself. I don’t know about other people. Regardless of these things, life must go on. I do have to say that I wasn’t aware of the Baga incident until much later. In subsequent paragraphs, I will reveal my state of mind until the incident and my reaction after I found out. I am not trying to justify my position; I am just trying to do some self evaluation here. That’s all.
Denial: Yeah, Denial. It all started with the Chibok girls. I was shocked when the official reaction of the Presidency was to question the veracity of the kidnappings. The official statement was that the girls were really not missing. It took international intervention to make the Federal Government really sit up. As if that was not enough, the President needed Malala’s visit as a catalyst to finally visit Chibok. As if that was not enough, the protesters were maltreated. Then, the mutiny of the Nigerian soldiers and the court martials and the death sentences. It was just unbelievable. I just couldn’t understand how matters so major could be handled trivially. I decided to block it out. If I saw anything about bombs or terrorism, or Boko Haram, I just moved on to the next page. I didn’t read such headlines. I gradually began to phase it out of my mind. If I heard about it, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Shifting the Blame: Truth is, nobody is blaming me for the insurgency. Yet, when denial is not enough, this is the next thing. If only the soldiers were properly motivated. If only our leaders do not play politics with religion. If only the state governments of most northern states are not plagued by crippling ineptitude. If only the President showed something more than cluelessness. Blame the government; blame the non – patriotic soldiers. Blame everybody else. After all, if we had a working government, things would not have escalated. See the French Government’s response to the Paris shootings. I just didn’t see how my being in or out of denial has any impact on the whole outcome.
Shame: That I could be so nonchalant, so ignorant and utterly disrespectful of the value of life. Every life lost to the insurgency is a light gone out of this world. How could I just move on like it wasn’t a big deal? I mean, life goes on ultimately, but at what cost? It could be any of us tomorrow.
The poem had me thinking. I don’t want to live in denial. And I don’t want to condemn anymore. I am tired of just saying ‘rest in peace’, ‘my heart goes out to the people of so and so’, ‘may God help us’. Surely, God’s mercy has been keeping us, and sometimes I wonder if those in the North are a recipient of it. Right now, we keep praying and hoping that God will help us make Nigeria a land flowing with milk and honey. The question I ask as I conclude is ‘What can I do to make this country a better place?’ And if I finally get the answer, ‘Will I put my hand on the plough and not look back?’ God help us. God bless Nigeria.