US and Nigeria’s Special Shame, By Lasisi Olagunju


Where there is no shame, there is no honour. An American was abducted in Niger Republic on October 26. He was recovered on Saturday, 31st October by US special forces in Northern Nigeria. Someone said the kidnappers kept their captive in Nigeria because they felt safe here. How did my ‘compatriots’ in the North feel when the country of recovery was described by the international press as ‘Northern Nigeria’? Is it not said that whoever births a demon must suckle it? Where I come from, we say theft is not the only crime that shames a man. This incident is one of such. We do not know yet the identities of the kidnappers. We may never know. But what we know is that the rescue was carried out in Northern Nigeria. That is bad enough for all of us who answer Nigerian. It is bad enough and tragic for our president who is from that north that has become a nest for sad, criminal occurrences. It isn’t as bad as this in Hamlet yet Shakespeare cries “O shame, where is thy blush?”

Buhari’s ‘carefully chosen’ security chiefs whose ancestral homes are in that axis, how did they receive that news? In Yorubaland, chief hunters in whose compound stolen items are found historically excused themselves; they committed suicide. They might not be the thieves but their ineffectual buffoonery at preventing (and detecting) the crime rendered them culpable in the act. The northern elite and their street backers would not see this as a reason to shed tears. I have not heard the shrill howling of shame from them and all the powers in their warehouse. Buhari contested one, two, three, four times for the presidency of Nigeria because he said he wanted to secure the nation. He, indeed, wept at his third failure. Five years down the road of his presidency, everywhere is terror-infested, even his corner of the country is no longer accessible to decent men and women. Wild dogs who eat kids, flesh and bones, have blocked the road to his home. So, why does he still call himself a lion? He reclines in his easy chair in Abuja, picks his teeth while his troubled people sob daily at home with no one to console them. Power, says Jonathan Swift, is no blessing in itself except it is used to protect the innocent.

What is our president’s own definition of power? Let us ask him. Let us ask his North too why power for the sake of greed and pleasure is all they seek. I see the elite in that wolf-infested desert as social butterflies, they are forever in love with frivolous pleasure. They will never rise and chant O to gee (enough is enough) to killings and kidnapping of the poor at their backyard. They would rather speak ill of modest southern efforts at stopping local strains of violent crimes, official lethargy and bad governance.I listened to Usman Yusuf, a professor of Haematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, on Arise TV on Saturday. You remember him? He is that former executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) who had some bad noise around his tenure two, three years ago. He is not a quiet man. He speaks loud and clear without being servile, like every political elite from the North. I respect them for that.

On Arise TV, Yusuf complained about the EndSARS protest and queried the swiftness with which his kinsman, Muhammadu Buhari attended to the demands of the protesters. He described the protesters as ‘kids’ being remote-controlled by politicians who wanted the presidency of Nigeria. Hear him: “We’ve seen the sponsorship they got. They got sumptuous meal well cooked with drinks, some with the logo of a national bank; we’ve seen ambulances following them, we’ve seen drones, we’ve seen international funding by Twitter and we’ve seen them outreach to foreign governments and organizations.” Yusuf then asked: “So all these kids who did these are leaderless?”

He said the ‘sponsors’ of the protests “planned to make the country ungovernable to make room for an undemocratic regime change or cause total anarchy in the land leading to the breakup of the country.” I nodded as he made his points. So, to these people, everything is about power and privileges? The South may cry about SARS and police brutality, those are not the North’s headache. He said the problem of the North are terrorism and banditry. If those were your headaches, why not cry as high too so that your addled kinsman in the Villa would give it the same swift treatment he gave the EndSARS demands?

Yusuf blasted the Buhari government for quickly attending to the protesters: “Nigerians will attest to the fact that the rapid sequence of events is the fastest that this government has responded to any pressing national issue bedevilling this country.” He described the pace of the response as “rapid-fire” and well-coordinated by the executive and legislative arms of government which “may not be unconnected with the fact that #ENDSARS protesters have powerful advocates in the corridors of power of this government.” That connection “in the corridors of power,” Yusuf stressed, is not available to “thousands of victims of the ongoing carnage of banditry and Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria.”I had so much going on in my mind as I listened to him.

The executive and the legislature that he spoke about, who ‘owns’ them? The bandits and terrorists killing the North, whose ‘kids’ are they? Whoever births a demon must be ready to feed it with whatever it eats. If the North has invested so much in Buhari and his presidency and the president has failed them tragically, how is that the problem of others who want to live in safety down South? I thought of his complaint that the EndSARS people railed against SARS and its atrocities. What sort of person cries murder because his sick neighbour calls in a doctor? I knew the professor was not just professing blankly; he was delivering a ‘coordinated’ message of the inheritors of Nigeria. He was the voice of ‘sponsors’ who were scared that the protesters threatened their pot of soup.It is odious and detestable to reduce every reform demand to the South fighting the North. Each time they do this, they shrink existence in Nigeria to a voyage to nowhere.

If these people devote to securing their North as much energy they put into taming the South, the shame of an American being rescued by foreign forces on our soil won’t have happened. Even they (the overfed northern elite) won’t be on exile from their ancestral homes. Or how many of those who are daily on overdrive on Abuja TV stations and on the internet still go to their villages? Why should it bother anyone that victims of police brutality rallied against their tormentors? There are more than one name for beings who leave their debilitating leprosy untreated but march against their neighbours’ guinea worm treatment protocol. Let’s track back to the US rescue operation in the ‘inviolable’ territory of Nigeria.

How much of local content was in that operation? A foreign country gleefully announced that its forces had stormed another nation to rescue someone. What that means is that that host country is a baby in diapers, a proper shithole – extremely unpleasant and useless in doing clean jobs. It is sad. Indeed, when an elephant becomes an ant, a coconut shell full of water becomes a sea. Spotting and rescuing a man from a ragtag band of marauders has become an impossible task for the giant of Africa. The borders are forever closed, yet murderous bandits dash in and dash out with human loots without hindrance. Forget the fact that crime leaves a trail like a water beetle; forget that like a snail, it leaves its silver track; Nigeria has long lost all sense of smell and sight. It won’t see crimes and criminals it doesn’t want to track. The Americans had to come in their almightiness into our country to perform that surgery. Shame.

When Americans shout ‘God bless America.’ This is one of the reasons. The rescue operation was described as high risk – and it was. But an elephant does not limp when walking on thorns. Because of a 27-year-old somebody with no name recognition, the best of US special forces were dispatched to Africa to risk death. Why would God not bless that country? Why would that citizen, his little daughter and wife, not love that nation till death do them part? About the same time the Americans were rescuing their compatriot, bandits were kidnapping and murdering villagers in President Buhari’s Katsina State. Reports said gunmen killed two villagers and abducted six others in Faskari Local Government area between October 24 and 25. Seventeen people were kidnapped about the same time while praying in a mosque in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. They have not been found.

They may be lost forever. It is a daily occurrence that attracts daily silence from our own leaders. If we have special forces anywhere, they won’t be available to fight criminals and rescue the abducted. They are available solely to break protests and secure power for the privileged..

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