The nation was once again thrown into mourning when terrorists struck, yet again in Kano, last Monday, killing scores of Nigerians. It was another gory incident in the orgy of violence that has taken over the land since the insurgence of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram began some three years ago.
This time, the target was a Lagos-bound luxurious bus, which had just finished loading at the New Road Luxury Motor Terminal at the Sabon Gari area of the city.
The figures of both the dead and the injured victims remain unknown, just as many statistics in Nigeria, because officials that should know, are still hedging on them. But they are put at between 25 and 50.
As usual, President Goodluck Jonathan, in what seems to have become an official template, responded to the carnage, by pledging to win the war against the terrorists and assuring Nigerians that all is well.
Several other incidents have also taken place in quick successions since then, including the killing of a female Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in the same city, and the assassination of one soldier in Maiduguri.
In Jos, the Plateau State capital, another volatile city, which has witnessed a lot of bloodshed in recent years following a bitter schism between the natives and Hausa-Fulani settlers, has also erupted, with close to 60 people reportedly killed between Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
Yet, Nigeria is not at war. The killings are simply being done by individuals in the society, who seem to have a field day because of lack of a workable means of checkmating them. Yet, there is a government in place. How saddening!
But if the ease with which these agents of death succeed in their cruel operations is disturbing, what about government response to it?
The answer can be located in President Goodluck Jonathan’s comments last week over the fate of the seven foreign construction workers kidnapped by the Ansaru fundamentalist group on February 7 this year.
Before his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Sleiman, the President had stated that some of the kidnappers could still be alive, contrary to claims by the group that they had all been killed and the confirmation of same by the victims’ individual home countries.
It is understandable for the President to try and sound nice to his guest, but what about the larger picture? Suppose in the end, it is found out that all the captives have been killed, how would the President look in the eyes of the people he is trying to give hope and in the eyes of the world in general?
Incidentally, as it appeared, the President did not give an extra reason beyond what Minister of Internal Affairs, Abba Moro, had said a few days earlier. Even though still not right even Moro to have made the statement, it is completely out of place for the President to re-echo it in public, without any tangible evidence, except that the picture in which the terrorists displayed the bodies of the victims did not contain all the hostages.
Even if the President is sure of his information, what is the use of saying so publicly, when such could lead to a mind-game that could blackmail their captors into killing the remaining hostages, if only to prove a point? Surely, there ought to be some level of circumspection in the manner certain security issues are handled, which, we daresay, has been largely absent since the security crisis exacerbated in recent years.
Instead of guesswork, false hope and generally beating about the bush, as the President depicted in that encounter, there ought to be a concerted response to this sad story, which Nigeria has become all of a sudden. Not only do we have the financial resources, we have allowed them to be deployed towards this. Don’t forget that a large chunk of the 2012 budget was devoted to this fight and we were given reasons why we should accept it.
Yet, as if there is now a template in which the President’s spokesmen simply remove the names and places and fill their spaces with new ones on each occasion another incident occurs, Nigerians have waited for the assurance of being on top of the security situation to manifest in real terms without any sign of reprieve.
The question that needs be answered and which we ask most stridently, is what else does it take for the government to achieve manifest results that will give Nigerians the confidence apart from throwing money at the problem?
Yes, it will be foolhardy to buy into the argument that Nigerians must stop trusting government and take their destinies in their hands individually, as this will create complete anarchy, but from the loud rumbling that are now being heard in unlikely quarters, that option is gradually looking very appealing to the people already.
If that becomes the case, who do we blame? That is why the government must create a new template for combating this menace. It is even becoming more compelling now that foreigners are becoming victims and the prospect of drones flying through our airspaces is becoming more real by the day.
Nigerians are tired of promises and empty assurances.