I was going through my FB wall some few days ago when I had a first glimpse of the wreckage that was left after the FGC Buni Yadi carnage, in Yobe state. An old teacher of mine uploaded some of the gory pictures. Hell was let loose and the buildings that were torched told part of the mournful story. I had initially refrained from looking at the pictures when they started making the rounds on social media. But someone used one of them as a display picture on blackberry and I saw kids murdered in cold blood lying on the floor. Blood splattered on the floor while some bodies were wrapped in white sheets already.
Right there, my heart skipped and I was lost in thought for a moment. I couldn’t do anything but remind myself that that could have been I and a few other colleagues some few years ago in FGC Kano. You see, it is easy to live in the southern part of Nigeria and assume that some wanton daylight killing done by modern day wild savages will not reach you. But hold on, did you get the true picture? This act, after the numerous other ones (which are in no way less malevolent than the current one) are actually targetted at innocent children, the adults and glory of the future of the nation. Are we even mindful of the fact that if some kids were lucky enough to escape after seeing this, they will live with the trauma for a long time. It is saddening again to note that while selected few were celebrating the centenary program, souls were languishing and ruing the loss of their loved ones.
FGC Buni Yadi . Photo Courtesy of Mallam Mohammed Ibrahim
Time and again when these gory tales come to the limelight and incidents like this that expose how weak our religious and ethnic seams are, I struggle to have a firm grasp of how the minds of such callous individuals are wired . I wonder how deprave the human mind must be to think that human lives that are supposed to be sacrosanct can be wasted without second thought, all in the name of making religious statements.
Photo Courtesy (Mallam Mohammed Ibrahim)
When General Gowon decided to increase the number of Unity Schools in Nigeria from four states to all the twelve states, he said he was inspired by the level of unity among students from different religious leanings and ethnic backgrounds he saw when he visited FGC Sokoto. Thereafter, he ensured that the schools were created in the remaining other states. He had lofty dreams and the idea looked great that a child that grew up in the north could live in harmony with a child that was born in the eastern part of the country. The young girl that was born in Lagos could also fraternize with colleagues from Port Harcourt . Through such ways they could cultivate cultural tolerance and understanding which will ensure that future adult Nigerians could cultivate healthy interaction among themselves. It is sad to note that Gowon is still alive to see that his brainchild to foster national unity has now turned ‘war zone’ for militants whose human feelings have long gone into extinction.
The anarchy is saddening. The chaos is pain inducing. The gloomy situation leaves one with utter amazement as to how these elements still clutch onto their own lives and summarily dismiss innocent children into the great beyond. I looked at the pictures and realized the entrance road looks exactly like the one of FGC Kano. That could have been us about a little over a decade ago. We could have been heading to the school mosque or the chapel. We probably would have been heading to class area probably for evening prep classes. I could have been in the company of others strolling around the school premises after washing our day wear and waiting for it to dry. It could have been anybody’s children. Unity Colleges have always been melting point for students from various parts of the country. In our days , we had Ikechukwu from Ajegunle in Lagos, there was Emeka from Okomaiko in Lagos, we had Madodo from Shiroro in Niger State, We also had Sani Charanchi from Katsina. There was Yusifari from Yobe as clearly indicated by his name and a whole lot others from various parts of the country.
The bond such school creates goes far beyond the four walls of the school. I remember meeting old students in my alma mater that were sets ahead of me in the old student association meeting in London. They made my settling down for my programme in the UK easy in no small way. London felt like a home away from home. Help was a phone call away , thanks to the FGCK UK branch. That is what the bond is intended to be. You probably do not know that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s friendship with Bukola Saraki started wayback from the King’s College days where they were contemporaries.
Uncle Tunde Fagbenle in his Punch Column advocated that since the government has realized that its fire might is now incomparable to that of the militants that now rule the areas by default . It should adopt the approach in the Niger Delta areas where powerful militants were given lucrative contracts to guide pipelines they were once vandalising. Hear what his friend said while they were exchanging jokes :
“Recognising (and admitting) that our military forces, navy et al, were ill-equipped and incapable of protecting our oil, our president conjured up the magnificent idea of putting the area under the protection of the militant warlords over and above the amnesty already granted all the militants who had been making the steady flow of oil uneasy for the country.”
He concluded with this submission,
“ And so, seeing how inferiorly equipped our armed forces are to the Boko Haram terrorists, a point already made by the fleeing soldiers in Adamawa, I propose that the government identify the Boko Haram warlords and cede the security of the “war” zone to them “with immediate effect and automatic alacrity. ”
Here is my worry; Yesterday it was Niger Delta ,today it is the north-eastern part of the country, tomorrow it will be somewhere else. So one wonders, if an area becomes a flashpoint and we begin to cede security to warlords, how long will it take to cede the entire country to gun toting , mean looking and fiery militants? How long exactly are we planning to exist as a nation before submiting the whole entity parts by parts to regional warlords? Where is the role of federal might in this? Is “One Nigeria” not just a cliche we hardly believe or live up to? How come peace eludes us so much despite being a self claimed deeply religious nation? How come we end up doing terrible things in God’s name?
I was discussing this wanton killings and gruesome massacre when someone from the southern part of the country voiced out, “Shebi na their North ? Make them continue to kill themselves na. When dem tire dem go stop.” I shook my head at such heartlessness and total disregard for human lives. We are first humans before being Nigerians. Thereafter, we can talk about being a northerner or someone who hails from the eastern part of the country. Killing in the name of religion in whatever guise must stop and everybody must speak against it . If all you can do is speak against it, please do. If you can blog against, by all means do it with all your might. If you keep quiet for too long, it may be Yobe Today, it was Maiduguri Yesterday. It could be somewhere down south or the eastern part of the country anytime soon.
That nonchalant attitude about lost lives and innocent souls reminds me of a popular quote by Martin Niemoller, a prominent Pastor who was outspoken against Adolf Hitler;
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
If you think you shouldn’t worry about all the bombings in the north because you hail from Lagos and you work in the Port Harcout peacefully then I have a Yoruba Proverb for you: “Oye ti o kan ara iwo , o nbo wa kan ara Ede”. It simply means that whatever fate befalls the Iwo folks will soon be knocking on the doors of the denizens of Ede. The Northeast is on fire as we speak but some of us will rather “See the silver lining in the dark clouds’’ by celebrating centenary existence? Centenary of what exactly? Peaceful existence? Mutual harmony? Serene cohesion? Admirable progress as a nation? Enviable signs of nationhood or industrialization? Total respect for law and order? I do not think so. The elders say when a woman is frying beancake and a drop of hot oil spills on her and the baby, she will first tend to her hurt before remembering the baby. Blood is thicker than water, they say. Those who lost children and loved ones in the mayhem surely knows what it means to grieve. Centenary existence means nothing to the mourning ones right now.
May the souls of the FGC Buni Yadi Students rest in peace. May their blood cry out and avenge their deaths. May those who hurriedly sent them to the great beyond know hell right for here on earth.
It is good to rain curses and believe that somehow karma will catch up with these evil perpetrators. But it goes beyond that. Nigeria must arise and do something for those who are vulnerable and cant defend themselves. It was John Dalberg-Acton that made that popular quote, “The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer also said : “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. “
If we really cannot protect our children and our weakest, what exactly are we celebrating? My heart is craving for answers.