“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
These were the words of Martin Niemoller to complacent onlookers when Hitler’s Nazis unleashed terror and destruction upon the human race beginning from the Jews. Today, Northern Nigeria is in turmoil due to the gruesome activities of a diabolic sect. Bombs are going off, villages are being raided, humans are slaughtered with reckless abandon, women and girls are being abducted, forced into marriage and violated or sold as slaves or even brutally murdered while other children are rapidly being withdrawn from schools for fear of attack or abduction. Houses and places of worship have been leveled or burnt to ashes. Many have been maimed, some permanently disfigured. Many others have fled homes and communities. Village life has seized. Sleep has been murdered.
While these calamities befall a part of the country, the rest of us must not get drowned in the sinful silence that nurtures this inhuman monster called terrorism. It’s so easy to slip into complacency:
“It’s happening in Chibok in Borno, I am in far away Lagos”, or “My family is safe in Calabar”, or, “It’s an aboki problem. I am Igbo and I live and work in Abakaliki, my entire family is here. Why should I bother?” we may find ourselves saying or subconsciously thinking.
When it’s even closer, we might tell ourselves, “The wahala is in the North East – Bornu, Yobe, Adamawa and sometimes Bauchi. If it comes to the North-West occasionally, may be Sabongeri in Kano, that’s still far. My family and I live in Hadeija in Jigawa State. So, we are fine.”
Even when it’s just next door, we could say to ourselves, “Oh! The bombs are going off in Nyanya. I live in Asokoro, so I am secure” or, “My daughters school in Biu, Chibok is not so close by, so they are safe”.
When it all started, we might have sought to calm our fears by embracing the lie that the terrorists are targeting followers of a particular religion or members of a particular profession, “I am a Muslim, Christians and churches are their targets”, or, “I am a poor village farmer, their targets are the policemen.”
Some of us who hold the privilege of public office and the protection that comes with it might find solace in the “security” of our palatial mansions and strongholds, “I am an Emir, a devout Muslim. I am not their target, even if they do come, I am safe within the walls of my palace” or, “I am the Governor, they can’t even come near me. If they attempt it, my security details will finish them off”. Some of us in this class might have even tacitly or actively nurtured the beast that has become a Frankenstein Monster thinking that we would never be targets.
Shameful, though it might be to admit, some of us in that privileged class might momentarily forget the responsibility upon our shoulders as far as securing the nation is concerned. We might even tell ourselves, “I am the President” or “I am the Vice President”, or, “I am the first Lady” “and I am surrounded by the most impenetrable security apparatus in the country”, “My family and I are safe”. So, let’s approach this thing with caution. “Let’s stop every attempt by the opposition to politicize this problem”. Meanwhile some of us in the same class who are opposition party members, may, in our tightly secure homes and offices, make politically motivated statements aimed at blaming the ruling party, thus politicizing the destruction of Nigeria and of Nigerians.
Truth is, the devastation has affected every Nigerian one way or the other. The bomb blasts in Nyanya claimed the lives of Nigerians from different parts of the country. Food crops and other produce from the North are gradually dwindling because terrorist activities have stalled productivity. The number of displaced persons is mounting and Nigerians are becoming refugees in their own country and, with time, this will exert migration pressure on other parts of the country. Emirs have been attacked, Muslims have died in countless raids and bomb blasts. Mosques have been destroyed too. It is not “their” problem. It is “our” problem. By the way, who knows what the abducted Chibok girls could contribute to nation building if they were allowed to complete their education?
We deceive ourselves thinking that we are safe because it is happening “far away”. The enemy gets bolder because his evil machinations have not been halted. If we refuse to empathize with those who have become direct victims of this rampaging devil; if we refuse to speak when our brothers and sisters in other parts of the country are being killed, maimed, kidnapped, stoned to death or buried alive; if we don’t act now to stop the enemy dead in his track, we might wake up one day to find that he is right at our doorsteps.
The clock is ticking and the enemy seems to be waxing strong, backing his actions with a tool used by terrorists that came before, from Goliath to Hitler – WORDS – threatening words aimed at instilling fear in the listeners. PICTURES – videos showing his military prowess and his calamitous actions. Abubakar Shekau, as did Osama Bin Ladin, packages his lectures on FEAR AND INTIMIDATION in videos and has them broadcast to the world. In one of his videos, he insults the concept of patriotism and our shared humanity. In another, he shows his murderous nature by stoning and burying alive one of the Chibok girls. His aim is to intimidate and incapacitate and to leave hearts sorrowful and bleeding.
But, like David when he confronted Goliath, every Nigerian, and indeed, every citizen of the world, who has patriotic zeal and love for humanity, irrespective of religion, race or tribe, can answer back and spread faith and courage. Faith in the goodness of God, in the institution of state, in the value of family and in the virtue of kindness; courage to hope and to believe that those girls will be rescued alive and that terrorism will end in Nigeria and in the world; courage to love rather than hate even the enemy himself; courage to rise up in the defence of our fatherland and to destroy this monster, and this particularly for our soldiers who are in the line of fire.
IT’S TIME TO GET UP AND DO SOMETHING. IT’S TIME TO COME OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES. IT’S TIME TO COME OUT OF OUR HIDEOUTS. IT’S TIME TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST TERROR. SAY SOMETHING, MAKE A VIDEO, SING A SONG, WRITE SOMETHING, JOIN THE NEAREST PROTEST RALLY TO BRING BACK OUR GIRLS AND TO RESCUE OUR GIRLS ALIVE. PRESSURIZE THE GOVERNMENT TO ACT. GIVE INFORMATION AND BE VIGILANT. #SPEAKOUTAGAINSTTERROR.