Northern Nigeria: Perishing in silence


-By Sani Abdulrazak

It is now as clear as day, Northern Nigeria has sunk steeply into the abyss of despair. The fright is glaring like a pray staring at a hungry lion. The palpable fear is unquantifiable, never before in the history of once peaceful Northern Nigeria have the people been in this calamitous catastrophe.

On a daily basis, they bury their loved ones with eyes full of sorrowful tears and gnashing of teeth. Or with waning patience, they negotiate with their enemies and part ways with their life savings to free their loved ones and then come back to nurse their women serially raped in captivity with bursting hearts. Add this to the biting economic hardship inter alia rising inflation, lack of basic healthcare and illiteracy. This is the reality of life in our villages today, and who will come to their rescue?

Insurgents, bandits and kidnap kingpins are taking over our villages at an alarming rate, they are so emboldened that they kill at will, the ones that survive have to pay them a substantial amount of money in order to have access to their farmlands. Our roads are anything but safe, our markets are deserted due to incessant attacks leaving behind a scorching trail of rancour and sorrow of unimaginable proportion to millions in the region.

And if you happen to survive or evade the attackers, then you have our deplorable roads that have become death traps to deal with. Our homes are no longer safe and now our tertiary institutions, The fortress and marketplace of ideas polishing our best minds are under attack by this army of hexed evil force. Where do we go from here? With no efforts, actions or even consoling words from our leaders. If this is not a failure of leadership, what is?

It is apropos to note with grief that amid all these, there is a graveyard silence in the region. Most of our leaders for reasons best known to them are silent with the condition deteriorating by the day. Maybe they prefer to remain so in order not to tarnish their perceived political careers or someone else´s.

our traditional rulers are back to their shells and the very few voicing out and calling on the government to do more are being ignored. Our religious leaders who dictate, amplify and sometimes heat the polity during elections are nowhere to be found.

What is more baffling is that only a few among them are leading special prayers like they usually do in the past against the egregious condition we find ourselves in. Our civil society organizations are so engrossed in far trivial matters that they seem out of touch with reality.

The worst culprits in this crime of silence amid the worsening security situation in our history is the media. It is only a story worth reporting if the number of casualties is substantial or it involves prominent personalities or their close associates. Others are run down the drain without even mention.

Our media voices are now split into two; the ‘Keep our cards to our chest’ group that believes we must not voice out even if it means we should all perish due to reasons best known to them, they view constructive criticism as a distraction to the government’s efforts at addressing the insecurity challenges bedeviling the region. They are intellectuals, highly exposed but blind; They are blind to the plight of their own people when it matters the most, and also the fact that the region is sitting on an edge.

They have willingly turned themselves into intellectual slaves, enticed with their own fantasies to sing praises sometimes they don’t believe in. unfortunately, these voices are heard loud and clear in the region. And then there is the ‘Speak out’ group, the ones who refuse to be silent in the face of all these, they seem unrelenting in their pursuit of improved security and a better life for the common man.

They are the noisemakers, they consistently call out the authorities to do more to secure the lives and properties of the people they swore an oath to protect. They believe posterity will judge them harshly if they remain silent at this exigent point in our history.

Asking the government to wake up to its responsibility of securing the lives and properties of their citizens is not out of place provided it is done within the ambit of the law and with respect. The demand for better security of lives and properties from their leaders is a right and not a privilege. This is the fundamental responsibility they swore an oath to protect. The region is perishing in silence and I choose to speak out.

At the moment, there are thick darkening clouds around Northern Nigeria, our collective existence is under threat and the Government must do more to restore confidence and secure the region because right now, their efforts are not enough. This is not too much to ask from a Government that promises to prioritize security in Northern Nigeria. There is no better time to walk the talk than now.

Sani Abdulrazak is a writer and a technologist with Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, and can be reached via:

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