(By George Olalekan Jimoh)
“Whether we choose to acknowledge the truth staring at us in the face or continue ignoring it even with the mounting facts and evidence that assail our eyes and ears on a daily basis, the ominous is on us and we have to find a lasting solution to these incessant attacks and devastating loss of lives and properties before it’s too late and a genocide stares at us right back in the face; it was once upon a time in April that the Rwanda Genocide occurred and took everyone’s breath away.”
IT started suddenly in April of 1994 in the beautiful city of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. The day took off like every other and families woke up without any premonition of what the day would bring. Children prepared for school and parents for work all oblivious of how the day would turn out. The sun was bright and the day was full of promises but no-one was to know the day would turn into night and before it was over more than one million Hutus were dead.
The world, especially the United Nations, had turned a deaf ear to the cries and pleas from these people when they needed help most and urgently. The day lay wasted with bodies thrown everywhere as the perpetuators marched on the streets chanting war songs and brandishing dangerous weapons. They went, entering homes forcibly pulling people out onto the streets and killing them simultaneously. The earth experienced a “river flow” of blood unlike any other in living memory, indeed in the history of the world.
Here in Nigeria, extremists called “Boko Haram” which means “Western Education is sinful” came into the country under the disguise of fighting to overthrow the State, establish an Islamic State and firmly introduce “Sharia law” as the only instrument to govern the state. In fact, they hosted flags at a point. They came like a mist and suddenly became powerful, yet invincible that people till this day think they are a myth. They have overtaken the North Eastern part of the country comprising Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, unleashing terror and mayhem on communities in that part of the country. Communities across lay in waste and in ruin across these states as they terrorise, maim and kill innocent civilians who may be unfortunate to be on their path of terror and violent destruction. Women and children in most cases are the victims of these wanton destruction of lives and properties with little regard for the children and the psychological effect this experience would have on them and on their future.
At this point, it is pertinent to say that considering the facts on the ground that Nigerian is actually heading for genocide like in Rwanda. Villages and communities in these three states have been sacked and its former occupants and inhabitants hiding out in other communities. Despite the state of emergency in these states, violent and coordinated attacks on innocent citizens persist almost on a daily basis and one is left to wonder at this riddle. These men display such fine prowess using sophisticated weapons and machinery at their disposal, and they seem to be highly trained for combat and to survive the jungle and harsh weather conditions adapting so perfectly it’s like they are “ghosts” but the trail of wanton destruction of lives and properties is a rude wake-up call.
The international community like in the case of Rwanda is silent on the intense and rapid spate of killings in Northern Nigeria. They have decided to turn a deaf ear to the killings and maiming going on in these states except to issue occasional lame diplomatic statements. Their citizens have been asked to be mindful of the security situation if they choose to come to Nigeria. Although, we don’t have an accurate record of the actual number of death because of our popular “Nigerian factor”, people have been able to give a fair number of casualties that can be to an extent relied upon and even at that the number is alarming. Are they going to fold their hands and watch another Rwanda happen right under their noses and under their watch? That has been the case in Nigeria with the Boko Haram insurgency which operate freely and triumphantly right under the noses of the Military and Security Agencies and who at that seem powerless to bring them to book and end their reign of terror and destruction despite all the assurances.
The battle between Fulani herdsman and farmers at first started in Benue State with growing casualty and then it spread to Kaduna and Nasarawa States with severe and often violent clashes and attendant loss of lives and properties and yet no lasting solution has been proffered from either the Federal Government or the stakeholders and everyone is watching as this is becoming a “Horror Movie” right in our faces. The dust is yet to settle down and again the storm blows and this time it’s Taraba State and in each clash “Death walks away with its victims who are speechless not realising that they have a new home now” and the casualty keeps rising as more and more villages are attacked and innocent lives lost.
Whether we choose to acknowledge the truth staring at us in the face or continue ignoring it even with the mounting facts and evidence that assail our eyes and ears on a daily basis, the ominous is on us and we have to find a lasting solution to these incessant attacks and devastating loss of lives and properties before it’s too late and a genocide stares at us right back in the face; it was once upon a time in April that the Rwanda Genocide occurred and took everyone’s breath away.
As Africa and indeed the world reminisce and marks the 20th Anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide, there is urgent need for us to reflect on the lessons from the April 1994 massacre, in order to re-evaluate Nigeria’s security challenge.
• Jimoh (PPI) wrote from Ilorin.
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