One of the sorrowful details of the Jos crisis of 2008 that will never be forgotten is the death of four of our youth corpers. The brutal murder of these young patriots was a senseless waste of youthful energy in the service of our nation. They entered the stage of life not too many years ago and where cast to act out their roles on the Nigeria scene. On this mortal stage they played their parts very well, obedient to parents, diligent in study and loyal to country.
The curtain of their performance fell in Katako junction, City of Jos. They were hurried through the exit without a curtain call to seal the drama of their earthly life. Returned in haste to the eternity from which they came. Like butterflies whose beautiful wings were just unfolding from the ugly confines of the pupa, these youths, zealous and apolitical and unoffending were the victims of the most vicious and tragic of crimes perpetrated against humanity.
Yet their death does not have to be in vain for they were martyred in our national quest for true freedom and dignity. Without a shred of doubt the memory of their lives has a poignant message for every one of us.
In death they have something to say to every minister of the gospel that has remained silent behind the safe security of societal acceptance, they have something to say to every vitriolic cleric whose utterances continue to fuel the monsters of hatred and strife, they have something to say to every politician who have traded his conscience for financial advantage, they have something to say to every so called moderate who has traded courage for caution, they have something to say to every journalist whose pen has conceded defeat to cash, every civil servant whose vision is blinded by immoral dealings and every judge whose opinion extends the tenure of delay and denial. They have something to say to the masses of the nation whose fixation on daily bread has blocked the route to loftier ideals; they have something to say to every civil society agitator whose campaign lacks the bite of conviction, something to say to every citizen whose has stood by idly to watch values sink and lastly they have something to say to a flaccid presidency that is yet to embrace the ideals of true democracy.
They say to every one of us that another opportunity has arisen for us to stand up to be counted. They say that we should not be concerned merely about finding the murderers that killed them but the system, the way of life, the philosophy that produced them. They say we should stop quibbling about the legitimacy of white paper and the constitution of boards to admit that the global scourge of religious fundamentalist terror is now a Nigerian problem. They say that we should concentrate our national energies on blocking the gap that enabled hatred to power school children in Gombe state until they murdered their teacher Christiana Oluwasesan in cold blood. They say that we should root out the terrorist moles in government who worked behind the scene to cover up the murder of Catholic Reverend Father Gajere in Maiduguri sparked by the controversial Danish cartoons that were published in faraway Denmark.
Their voices say we should track the progress of the police bosses who neutralized the force from protecting Benjamin Magaji who watched his father’s murder in Kaduna and the justice system that would not prosecute the assailants of Gideon Akaluka who was beheaded in Kano. They say we should defrock the priests who colluded with the government to cover up the death of Sunday Nnachi the architecture student that was abducted and murdered in the mosque of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa university for sharing tracts on campus. They say we should not ignore the sheer volume of the blood crying out from the street of Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Zaria, Zango, Funtua, Maiduguri, Zamfara, Kastina, Sokoto, Ilorin, Jigawa, Kafanchan, Damaturu, Yola, Kazaure, Wase and many other locations that time and space will not permit.
They say we must factor the life of the Almajiri as important as any other citizen if goodness is to emerge from their tragedy. As we listen to the cries that come from beyond the grave, we must not harbor bitterness neither should we succumb to despair, we should not give room to revenge or the desire to retaliate with violence instead the north and south, east, west should stand up together to resist the excuses of the politician who believes that it is not politically expedient to unmask terrorism, the coward who ask whether it is a popular action and the laggards who want us to wait till it’s convenient.
Our nation should unmask terrorism now not because it is politic, expedient but because it is the right path to lasting peace for all. From the patterns observed the international community has made no secret of the fact that Nigeria has a terrorism problem. The links between Nigeria extremists and international terrorists is undeniable. The official report by the Government of the united state of America mentions Nigeria by name and reveals that Osama bin laden trained Nigerians for his cause. The examples of New York, Bali, Madrid, London and Mumbai were preceded by greater atrocities and larger casualty figures in Nigeria as more people died in Kano in the protest of the Gulf war than the rest of the world combined yet we seem to be blind folded by some inferiority complex that weight the life of a European as costlier than the Africans.
All said and done Nigeria is like a doctor that observes all the symptoms of a tropical fever but refuses to announce the diagnosis of malaria. Coming back to Jos it is amazing that the nation is not asking for the arrest of the person who carried corpses into the mosque to hold an international press conference barely a few hours after the conflict. This attempt to fool the world into believing that the central mosque was attacked is a pointer “intelligent terror”. Perhaps the rest of the nation is not aware that there has always been a government white paper after all the attacks in Northern Nigeria but the time frame, composition and final outcome of the compilations suggest the influence of “intelligent terror” within government circles.
None of the reports has ever fingered international terrorism as a suspect! If the pattern in Muslim dominated states is examined the role of the federal government could easily be tracked as the enquiries were entrust to Muslim governors but the Jos setting is somewhat different and Governor Jang seems to smell a rat. Anyone who thinks that Governor Jang is overly sensitive should remember that Ibrahim Babangida the former dictator was not considered to be overly religious signed Nigeria away in 1986 as a Muslim country to the OIC. Even though President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has made references to the 2004 emergency declared by President Obasanjo in the same state it would do him well to remember that it was occasioned by an ultimatum from the Emirs who threatened to render the country ungovernable.
Besides that OBJ was frequently photographed wearing turbans and worshipping in mosques, churches and who knows where else? No matter his falling, the Egba man called OBJ came across to many as a true federalist, a distinction that President Yar’Adua is yet to attain. The fact that he was the consenting Governor of Katsina state in 2002 when the Sharia court sentenced Amina Lawal to death is not comforting.
While no one can doubt his personal integrity his religious track record exhibits a bias. His aristocratic born-to-rule Fulani ancestry and inherited title as Mutwallen of the Katsina emirate could be a factor in his dealings. The teeming populations of non-Muslims in Nigeria still need assurances that we are not dealing with a closet terrorist. We may not be able to erase the woes of yesterday but we can with courage write a new script for a greater tomorrow for the children of Nigeria.
# This article written by Rev. Ladi Thompson was first published in Christian Benefits magazine in 2009, to reflect on the present state of the Nigerian state in 2021.