Chibok: Our Shame is Full

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Chibok ladies arriving State House. Credit: voanews.com

Chibok has since gone far from being just a troubled community, it has become the metaphor for who we are, the gleaming crest on our earth-brown cloak as a nation. Chibok is not the small village left defenseless on the fringes that Borno was thought to be, a barbecued goat left as a freewill offering at the village square for maddened gods, who return too often with the aplomb of blind bombs and uncaring swords. There is little left on the grill but we are sure the gods have unfettered access, Chibok is Bama, Damboa, Kawo, Maiduguri and every other part of this nation that has been turned into a killing field, specimen grounds to test the potency of Boko Haram’s murder pills. Rising piles of rubbles and billowing smoke, no help in sight, Chibok is Nigeria.
We presently have beyond missing girls to think of, we must now begin to consider the presence of bigger threats in the absence of proactive measures, empathy, honesty and pragmatic discourse where security is concerned. Chibok is a red flag waving above our heads but our heads seem to be taken in by its deceptively soothing breeze, either unable to decipher the symbolism of this flag or choosing to ignore the import of it.

Hundred days in captivity, over two hundred girls may be adjusting to the stark reality that redemption may not come anytime soon even though for the first time in a long while, there has been a sustained call for the right thing to be done, all that is necessary to bring back the girls. Perhaps equally grieving are the many other sad tales surrounding Chibok, from the delayed empathy of a Presidency to the depleting numbers of heartbroken parents. It saddens me daily also to read of gallant soldiers being ambushed, pounded and out-gunned by Boko Haram insurgents ostensibly armed with prior information of an impending raid. Here is betrayal on so many levels, thick and pungent enough to choke us all to numbness if we stop to smell.
An Army does not fail without its leaders failing first. In the last three years, we have an unprecedented budgetary allocation to security yet more deaths caused by largely home-grown insurgents amidst allegations of financial mismanagement among the top brass of the military and conniving civilian overseers. This is sad. This is heartbreaking. This is infuriating. An otherwise virile force has been rendered impotent from being fed incomplete doses and toxic prescriptions by a bumbling coterie of fatigued doctors, feeding fat on the misfortune of Nigeria’s security illness.

We do not know who to call upon, what and who to believe, or what to expect anymore. Chibok has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram since the abduction of the girls, leaving loads of dead bodies and burning huts behind. Chibok perhaps ought to have more security assurance by now but strangely, the terrorists are having a field day there and surrounding villages, carting more women and food supplies. Boko Haram is making a joke of our security arrangements, a joke that needs to stop immediately not only because it is expensive but is also not funny.

The Presidency especially as portrayed by its media aides, has turned a necessary call for the rightful rescue of the girls to a battle for political mileage, leaving the epilepsy of issues and treating rashes by hiring publicity launderers. We need a more equipped military and responsible administrators at the concerned ministries, not those who see their jobs as stepping stones to governorship ambitions in their states. There may be no states to govern in the South-West if this scourge in the North-East is not genuinely treated. Wearing smart caps and shiny embroidery over a leprous skin is no cure.

I have tried but still, I have found no sufficient defence for the President’s refusal to visit Chibok or meet with affected families until after ninety-nine (99) gloomy days of hopelessness despite knowing the importance of such as his position commands. His television adverts making comparisons with great leaders who have inspired hope in their people cannot be surpassed in hypocrisy. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth to see grieving parents and brave girls lucky to escape from Boko Haram being left to their buffet of despair for so long only to be herded like cows to Aso Rock when the Presidency finally deems it convenient. No apologies or roadmap communicated thereafter, just images of heavily decorated halls that mock the grief that ought to attend to the meeting. His media aides were also quick to capture the poor girls and parents arriving Aso Rock with their camera lens and upload on social media, a veiled attempt to add to their expensive image laundering job. Nothing can be more uncharitable and indecent than that, a second kidnap of some sorts.

Our helplessness in the face of a growing flame that is threatening to consume us all, high and low in an expected inferno, is shameful, and that is what Chibok has become a vivid metaphor for. Nigeria with so much resources being daily frittered away is now seeking another one billion dollar loan to combat Boko Haram having not duly accounted for all that has been spent, having not explained why more brave soldiers are being fed to demented elements daily, having not told itself and the world why there is an endless funeral across our states despite rising expenditure. At this rate, we may all have to be forcefully drafted into the Army if the ‘Chibok-ing’ of our nation is left unaddressed by those entrusted with our collective wealth.

The political class irrespective of their party distributions have failed us, lying in our faces and constantly seeking to score cheap points with rising casualty index. They must now wear their garments of shame for once and deal with themselves and the terrorists before shame officially replaces the name of our nation in geographical texts. I know they can and I hope they will, starting from the government of the day which is in the best position to exercise the enormous power and resources at its disposal to deal with this threat once and for all. May Nigeria survive this shame.

I am @tobisammyjay on Twitter.

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