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“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human.” ~Helen Keller
We hear of and are horrified by beheadings carried out by ISIS. Well, a couple of years back, in 1995 to be exact, we all watched in horror, albeit passively, as an Igbo man was beheaded in the city of Kano, Northern Nigeria!
Gideon Akaluka, the victim was just one in a series thousands of Southerners (mostly of Igbo extraction) who were randomly and viciously killed by Muslim fundamentalists at the slightest, flimsiest, most spurious ‘provocation’. Who can forget the case of Ms Isioma, who did an article during the Miss World pageants?
Gideon Akaluka’s crime? He had allegedly desecrated the Koran. He was arrested after his wife allegedly used pages of the Koran as toilet paper for her baby. The story gets even more interesting and incredulous. After the police arrested and locked him up, a group of fundamentalists broke in, and beheaded Akaluka. And then went on to parade his cut off head around the streets of Kano.
Why do I bring up this story today? Well, when things like these happened in the past, there was the usual pattern of half-hearted outcry by the Igbos and the rest of Nigeria. A few demonstrations here and there. This generally died off in a few days or weeks, till the next incident. And soon, over the years, our Igbo brothers started migrating from the North back to safer shores- South East, South West, South-Southern states.
The fundamentalists rose in ranks and grew. They were funded by the Northern elite and used during elections to intimidate opponents. In fact, a former governor of Borno State was once questioned for corruption by the media and his response? He more or less told off the press that he didn’t give a rat ass (my words), because according to him, more than 90% of his ‘subjects’ couldn’t read! We did not understand the sinister and deeper meaning behind those words…..
“The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” ~Charles de Montesquieu
Fast forward to 2015 and we have a full-fledged, home-grown, terrorist group on our soil! In the after-math of 911 and then later when Boko Haram started like child’s play, we all believed that no Nigerian muslim would ever be a suicide bomber, after all ‘Nigerians loved life too much’, we loved to party, in fact we had been crowned the ‘happiest people’ in the world!’ (In the words of the great Fela, we are of course the poster children of ‘suffering and smiling’).
Anyway, back to my point, we all ignored the menace of this amorphous organization without a coherent ideology or identified target enemies. The one thing we know for sure is they are out to cause instability in the system and their gospel is HATE! Today, they attack both Christians and Muslims (I’d even guess there are more muslim casualties now).
I am not a fan of GEJ, he may be a good man and may have tried in certain areas of governance (sorry, I’m drawing a big blank trying to think of examples), however, I’m owning up to my biased opinion that he is not capable of delivering the leadership gains that we currently require as a matter of urgency.
The buck stops at his table but he’s so caught up in pointing fingers, that he’s neglecting to take decisive action against these terrorists and even to curb corruption! The presidency seems to be leading the cesspit of corruption. I also doubt if Buhari may be able to stem this tide of violence unless they address the underlying conditions that allow this to thrive.
Nevertheless, regardless of GEJ’s shortcoming a s a leader, I have asked and will continue to ask the Northern elite (IBB, Buhari, Sultan of Sokoto, Sanusi (now Emir of Kano), El Rufai, Abdusalami, Ribadu, all Northern Governors., moderate muslims…), the following questions:
Why the deafening silence? Why is there no united outcry against the acts of the extremists? Why is the North so behind in indices of education, healthcare,…?
Why are the corrupt few subjugating the citizens in their care to such a low standard of living while their children have access to the best schools/hospitals abroad?
Who are the faceless kingpins funding these terrorists? Why are there no strategic alliances and master-plan to deal with this menace? Why are they so apathetic?
The issue of terrorism in Nigeria is very complicated. The politicians and leaders seem to be indicted and the continuous acts of violence of the past years have desensitized us as a nation.
Now, even the army HQ debates our death toll: 20, 200, 2000? As if they speak of chickens or flies and not of sacred human lives. This concerns ALL of us. The moment we see this as a ‘Northern/Muslim’ problem, we fall into the trap of apathy.
Apathy is worse than hate. It robs us of our humanity. This was our response during Gideon’s beheading (then it was an ‘Igbo man’s problem’). Hmmmmnnn, and 20 years after, the ‘beheaders’ are now calling for our own heads! Anyone who teaches the religion/language of HATE (Christian or Muslim), is sublimely perpetuating the ideology of Boko Haram and all terrorists.
Boko Haram did not start today….this organization has built up its shaky base from the single beheadings of innocent men to large scale state-wide destruction. Their weapons are getting more sophisticated and their network of cells more complex, they are even co-opting and using children and women as suicide agents!
The biggest question for me is: Who is funding Boko Haram? Who is benefiting from this mayhem? Money leaves a trail. Perhaps our security agencies should follow the money pathways and fish out these Enemies of the State who sit at the other side of this sad equation.
This is not a North-Muslim versus South-Christian problem. This affects us all. May God save us from apathy! May God save Nigeria!
-Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, MBA
Poet | Master-Certified Leadership Coach-Trainer -Consultant|
~Take empowered ACTION towards a Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier YOU!~
The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Co-Founder and Executive Director at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is the author of the upcoming books: “UN-Locking Your HeArt of Leadership” and “Today, I Will Not Bow”. A self-described Life-Connoisseur, who loves life and the whole human experience, Juliet was nicknamed a ‘Reminderist’, [one who reminds us of that which we already know; that we are not fractured or broken and NOW is the perfect time to replace that fallacy with a new, beautiful truth: we are worthy, empowered, complete, whole creatures and our life journey is to return to wholeness]!
She is a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Leadership, Investment & Financial Literacy for women and youth (especially girls). Her mission is simply to engage, educate and empower women, regardless of their levels of income or background, to return to ‘wholeness’ and live Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier Lives using Faith-based, Scientific and Universal (Common-Sense) principles! Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc, @julietumeinc. Enjoy some of her portfolio of poems on her Floetry Blog and follow her daily reflective posts on Facebook.
Her message is simply: “To use the power of written-spoken-sung WORDS to connect, heal, empower, change and transform our inner and outer worlds. Words have power in the meaning and interpretation we choose to give them and all of life is synchronistic poetry in motion! Are you telling empowering stories about yourself and others?”