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Bombing for joy?

Written by Kunle Oderemi on 23 June 2011.

This animal called man! That was exactly the phrase, which precisely came   to my mind following last Thursday’s bombing of the Nigeria Police Headquarters in the federal capital, Abuja allegedly by the Boko Haram sect. For a moment, I couldn’t in my imagination belief that some agents of darkness could become irrational as to contemplate throwing over Nigeria another blanket of sorrow and agonies so soon after the wild storm and mayhem that trailed the April elections in parts of the country.

Though I was about 1000km away from the scene of the tragedy, I could feel the deafening sound of the explosion, which shattered the tranquility of a city that is largely for the elite: the rich, the powerful and the influential. I could see mangled vehicles, charred bodies, pall of smokes billowing into the blue sky of a city that comes alive on Monday and literally goes to sleep between Friday and Sunday.

I recalled the serial bomb explosions, which rocked the Military Cantonment in Ikeja Lagos in 2002. I figured the stampede; cries of anguish by actual victims; the engendered climate of fear that perhaps, Armageddon was here live in Lagos, nay, Nigeria at last! A thousand souls were drowned in the perpetually still Oke-Afa Canal while they were trying to escape from the disaster, as the bombs exploded in an alarming rapidity. Mothers and their children got missing, as millions of residents bearing a few personal belongings on their heads, stumbled and fumbled in at all directions, as they scampered for safety following the Ikeja blasts. I remember the helplessness of the lame, the aged, the sick, the fragile and bed-ridden patients in many hospitals located around and some more than 40 km away, but who could feel the strong vibration of the blasts.  Call it a day of commotion!

That was on January 27, 2002. The scars of the tragedy are in the souls of those who lost their breadwinners and became widows and widowers in a jiffy. Many could not have overcome the havoc it wreaked on their psyche simply because of the ugly way we tend to manage the affairs of the country. If I may ask, if the Lagos disaster was blamable on negligence by the various authorities over the years, what should we attribute the bomb that ripped off what should be the control room of Nigeria’s internal security? An act of sabotage not necessarily on the part of the so-called members of the fanatical group called Boko Haram or a clear product of the culture of laissez-faire?

We cannot divorce the two factors from what happened last Thursday. It was a combination of those principal factors with others too obvious to start enumerating, as we are used to doing little while saying much on matters of very critical national importance. We are not the ‘do it’ people, who should be ready to fix a problem before it gets out of hands. Even when we make veiled moves to tackle a problem, we usually fail to demonstrate the capacity and will to exert sufficient efforts aimed at solving it convincingly, realistically and, if you like, permanently.

I empathize with the families of those innocent Nigerians, who lost their lives in the cause of their duties during the Abuja fiasco. Their names have further elongated the list of unsung heroes and heroines, whose lives are being avoidably sacrificed and wasted by a conscienceless few. I am of the opinion that Boko Haram is a product of our collective irresponsibility as a people. It emerged like other notorious organizations because of the pervert values that are immeasurably discernible in the quality  of leadership in the country over the years. The continuous limited access by majority of Nigerian children to formal education has compounded the problem of crass ignorance, surging army of youth employment, disorganized homes and consistent rise in social vices and heinous crimes. Those who had the privilege of going to school have ended up in the labour market, where they are exposed to all vagaries of the time. As such, we are currently reaping in geometric proportions, the fruits of a deliberate but callous and dehumanizing attitude of the state, which statutorily, should provide the basic needs of the citizens, notwithstanding the contrived nature of the Nigerian federation.

It is, however, sad that there is a growing recourse to other means rather than legal and legitimate ones by certain groups in seeking public attention and not relevance, no matter how irrationally their agitation. Or what do all right-thinking citizens make of the demands of the group? They are nothing short of the fantasies of an infantile brain. Be that as it may, we advise the group and whoever their sponsors are on the importance of civility and constructive engagement in resolving issues since there is no gain in bombing for joy.  What does it profit the Boko Haram adherent, or an Oodua Peoples Congress [OPC] member; the Movement for the Survival of States of Biafra [MASSOB] apostle or other similar organizations that had championed one form of agitation against the country to destroy public infrastructure and institutions that had cost so much to establish and ultimately unite Nigeria?

The bombing syndrome was pioneered by the Babangida regime in 1986 when life was snuffed out of Mr. Dele Giwa, a journalist, in his study through a parcel bomb. But the effrontery of current the bombers to export their deadly article to the police IGP doorstep represents a rapid systemic intelligence failure. It is a testimony of the sickening decay in our security network, dampening morale among police personnel, unbridled compromise at different levels and official lethargy towards security matters. If we are sincere at checking the current menace posed by bombers, we should go beyond the routine shake-up in the security network but strive to create an environment, conducive for self-actualisation; where every Nigerian will feel secured in terms of accessibility to socio-economic and educational needs.

Nigeria is a signatory to the UN anti-terrorism conventions and only recently, the anti-terrorism laws passed by the legislature came into effect, under which such crimes like oil bunkering, hostage taking and kidnapping will attract very stiff penalties. While we allow the law to take its course after the arrest of some suspects over the series of bombings, it should be noted that the ongoing savagery of some fundamentalists could only foster a climate of fear, as many people are already interpreting the Abuja barbarity as an indication that no place appears impregnable to these new but strange merchants of untimely death in our midst.


Oderemi,08023501874 (SMS only)

Thursday, 23 June 2011 Tribune


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