Today, a suicide bomber pretending to be a student blew herself up during an assembly at Science Secondary School in Potiskum, Yobe State, killing over 47 people, most of them students and teachers. It was another in a long list of killings that have remained unabated and unaccounted for.
The picture of President Goodluck Jonathan released today by his media adviser was that of the president smiling in a meeting with an ambassador from Burundi.
The picture says the same thing most of the president’s supporters are saying: if people in the North East decide to kill themselves, how is that the problem of the president of Nigeria? In a sane society, delusional thinking like this deserves no answer. But Nigeria is not a sane society so…
The president is the chief security officer of the country. He is at the head of a security team that spends trillions of naira, our money, with an understanding that he will protect the lives and properties of the people of Nigeria.
He is not the president of Otuoke. He is not the president of Abuja. He is not the president of Nigeria minus the North East. He is the president of Nigeria as a whole. If for any reason whatsoever the president cannot provide that security, he has the option of modifying the same letter his wife signed resigning as a permanent secretary in Bayelsa State. It should not be that difficult.
In recent days, administration officials have pushed the argument that insurgencies like this are difficult to tackle. They have made references to Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, but especially Pakistan. They prop up Pakistan as an example of a country battling with insurgency for decades. In a subtle way, they are preparing our minds that these killings will continue to happen for a very long time.
But guess what, Nigeria is not Pakistan. Nigeria does not have the same history as Pakistan, and neither is Nigeria destined to be like Pakistan. It would only default to Pakistan if we leave the nation in the hands of those who have decreed such a Pakistani fate on a country so different in every way from Pakistan.
The other argument made by the president and his supporters is that those who do not like the president are orchestrating these killings. Their solution to it all is to demand the president’s re-election as a way to frustrate those who think they can run him out of power. They go on to argue that anything else will be a victory for Boko Haram and “those who do not like Jonathan’s face.”
What a creative solution to a serious problem. So we should mortgage the lives of our children to satisfy the ego of one man? What about the option of acknowledging that they have tried but have run out of ideas (and balls) and should give way for someone else to try? Following their logic of staying put to disappoint those who want to frustrate them, how has that worked in Pakistan? How did that work with Al Qaeda and President Bush?
The matter of our school children being killed right at a school assembly is a matter that deserves our complete halt. Not long ago, I was a kid at a school assembly. I'm sure you were too. These events and places must be made safe for our children. We must not let them get away with this. We must hold them accountable, every one of them.
If they get away with this, they will get away with anything. A nation that moves on, unconcerned, while its children die will end up vanquished from east to west, north to south.
We don't need one more death of another child before we start holding people accountable. It should start today. We need to ask a lot of people a whole lot of questions. Defense Minister, Gen. Aliyu Gusau, how do you sleep at night? National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, how do you sleep at night? What are you two still doing there?
Despite all the billions we have been spending fighting the Boko Haram insurgence, where is the result? It's about time some state and federal officials start refunding the billions of naira they collect each month as security vote and it’s about time we send them home, and in some cases, to jail for the lives of the innocent children lost while they squandered that money.
What will we tell the children of the North East years from now? What will we say we did when they needed us most? What kind of calamity will make everyone charged with the security of lives in this country stop everything else they're doing and focus on the most important task assigned to them? What will it take to stop the shedding of blood of innocent children in Nigeria? Definitely not an election! Definitely not the same president!
So tomorrow the president will stand up and declare that he's running for reelection. Or what did they say he would do tomorrow? Remind me again, please. Will he stand in the pool of these children's blood?
Boko Haram may be an orphan no one wants to claim. But the children are Nigeria’s children, our children. Who is looking out for these children?
It's not when we are in the ground that we are dead; we are dead when we no longer feel the horror of our fellow humans' death.