Monday, July 4, 2022
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Terror on a night train

ALAS, the weird wind is blowing in the atmosphere. Sometimes, it blows unbearably cold. Other times, it blows intolerably hot. It is the weird wind of Nigeria that always barrels fiercely when God is about to do a new thing. Elections are around the bend. Around the bruising and beastly bend are many odd things bending the polity out of shape. When Nigeria’s boisterous wind blows five thousand miles away, far from where many Nigerians live; we feel it too in the diaspora.

On Monday night in Nigeria, some merchants of mayhem and hyaenas of hate, a band of trifling terrorists and dastard human cacodemons planted and detonated an IED on Nigeria’s beautifully redesigned train tracks spinning the beautiful coaches heading towards Kaduna from Abuja off track. The terrorist attack snuffed lives out of innocent Nigerian travellers. The exact numbers of the dead we cannot ascertain. No one can put numbers to those who were abducted. One of the questions we are asking now is: What is going on in Nigeria?

Terrorising bandits have historically had free reign in, and tenacious hold on, the northern part of Nigeria for quite a while. They have given retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime sleepless nights and goaded Nigerians to run helter-skelter for safety. And nobody in government is bold or responsible enough to shield hapless Nigerians from the daggers and swords of enemies within. Waters of afflictions have been unleashed on the Giant of Africa by the audacious and blatant hoodlums. The killers pull Nigeria by the leash down the precipitous road of ensnaring escarpment and battering barranca. Before our eyes, a beautiful country is in a free-fall into the Gehenna.

Last September, my wife and I were in Nigeria to feed the hungry, numbering about 500 people. Ahead of the trip, we received plenteous counsel on how to move and walk in a country where, once upon a time, young people in my age cohort could stroll around in the middle of the night hopping from one house party to the other with no shred of fear and no harm done to us. But today, even rich men and women in our midst are finding it hard to sleep with both eyes closed. A fine nation has been turned upside down by the lunacy some implanted in our midst and the cluelessness of a government we elected. What is going on in Nigeria?

In spite of the US’s removal of Nigeria from its list of the world’s worst persecutors, Nigeria remains the deadliest country in Africa recording over 29% of all organised, armed conflict-related fatalities with innumerable deaths largely caused by the insurgency in the North. No spot is safe in the Nigerian North. None is secure in Nigeria. With ease, and like a hot knife through a pack of cheese, terrorists sack thriving communities and hoist their flags therein as tokens of their conquest.

These killers force citizens to pay taxes to fund their fiend cause. They make Emirs abandon their palaces and their queens forced to become make-shift wives of terrorising strangers. Where are our decorated security noisemakers? Where are our lawmakers? Where are the sitting governors who are designated as state Chief Security Officers?  These depraved terrorist incidents are happening in a country with laws, and on the watch of a retired army general as Commander-in-Chief. Where is our Commander-in-Chief? What is going on in Nigeria?

Many Nigerians are shocked that with a man with a sumptuous military pedigree as President Buhari, a bold venturous and venturesome retired army general, who is a former platoon leader, former regional governor, former military head of state, the issue of insecurity is not dissipating but worsening. Are our military top brass just mere men with padded resumes and curriculum vitae? Are they really servile, recumbent, confused, benighted and directionless? Are they retreating because of the firepower of invincible and indomitable hoodlums or there is more to what we see and hear? Who would have predicted in 2015 that hoodlums will be invading army barracks, seizing and terrorising men who fight wars on our behalf? But here we are, terrorists are victors, Nigerians are the vanquished. What in the world do these terrorists want? And what in the world is our government doing about the scourge of terrorism and spate of insecurity that have enveloped Nigeria? Are Nigerians doing this to Nigerians or these are mere political hirelings doing a dirty job to earn a paycheck?

Without a doubt, this government has done a landmark job regarding the railway revolution. Within the last six years, Nigeria’s rail revolution became a success story. The 168-kilometre Abuja-Kaduna rail track was completed and put to use. The 157-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan track stretch was flagged off and worked wonders. Same story with the Warri–Ajaokuta rail line of 327 kilometres that was abandoned for more than three decades. Ask residents of Abuja, the 44.7-kilometre Abuja metro line begun by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is now a workhorse for commuting. But hoodlums who desire no good news for Nigeria are now bombing off the testaments and the government is not fighting hard enough to protect its legacies?

Nigerian roads are hazardous to travel. Kidnappers lay in wait for a kill and a ransom. The airspace is toxic to traverse. Aviation rules aren’t respected or obeyed by businessmen who know how to grease palms with a cumshaw to cut corners. A trip by rail has lately become Nigerians’ juiciest choice and the safest option. But now, a wrench is shuffled in the wheels of a beautiful testament and our backs are against the wall as a nation gasps for breath. If the government is unable to resolve this security debacle by itself, why can’t it seek collaboration with other nations that have walked this path in times past? This particular incident was preventable. Terrorists have tried to corral the train in the past and failed. According to Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, requests for funds to purchase the necessary security equipment have been stalled and interred in Nigeria’s corrupt bureaucracy. If some characters in high places are involved in this depravity; May God expose and dispose of them.

The definition of good governance is the ability of an elected official to both find and fix nagging problems in a system. If an elected official cannot resolve a problem, he must not compound it. An elected official is the Chief Troubleshooter in a given territory he oversees. If he can’t troubleshoot, he shouldn’t shoot out more troubles into the already disarranged and troubled arrangement. He must be a solver of problems, not a creator of more endless pain. The Nigerian political system has gone wacko, and leaders have gone wacky and pachydermatous to the challenges Nigeria face. Will this ever end?

Twitter: @Folaojotweet

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