Opinion

Opinion: Life’s Worth & A Bomb Too Many

By M.B.O Owolowo

With sorrow etched on the faces of survivors, the flow of tears and blood was clearly visible, as mangled body parts littered the bomb cratered area. This calculated onslaught was a diabolic attack on humankind: a dastardly act unjustifiable by all causes. This was the April 14, 2014 mass murder of innocent Nigerians, killed trying to earn a living.

More depressing was the fact that I waited vainly for hours, hoping to see the news break on major news stations, with most stations broadcasting proceedings of some athlete’s murder trial. Though some of the news agencies did report the terror attack later, it seemed the trial was more important than a terrorist attack on the most populous nation on the African continent. Has Nigeria, Africa’s ‘biggest’ economy (rebasing gimmicks), largest oil producer on the continent, and a major oil exporter globally, become so insignificant amongst the comity of nations?

I wondered if our lives had become so worthless, or we’re suffering the consequences of a corruption-ridden government. A government more concerned about power elongation, than actual governance. We were still reeling from the incessant attacks on innocent students trying to get an education, then this latest bombing at Abuja’s Nyanya motor park happened.

Boko Haram has killed innocent people indiscriminately. From innocuous bystanders to impeccant school children. In total, there have been at least 60 terrorist attacks with dozens and hundreds of causalities, across Northern Nigeria, since December 2010. Particularly, there have been at least 20 bomb attacks across Northern Nigeria since May 2011. A series of bomb attacks have occurred in many states, including, Borno, Bauchi, Katsina, Adamawa, Kaduna, Yobe, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

I know the Nyanya motor park, having been there a couple of times in the past. It is a central location where commuters board vehicles to travel long distances, and to get to their places of work, or where family and friends come to drop off or pick up loved one’s. This attack was evil in it’s purest form, and it is the sort of evil those in North-Eastern Nigeria especially, have had to live with for some years.
Nigeria is struggling to curb this menace, irrespective of the deliberative rhetoric the government is spewing to the media.

The President has previously stated, Nigeria is having it’s own share of terrorist attacks, that the country is facing a treat other countries like the U.S and U.K have been confronted with. However, it is important to note that since major attacks occurred in these countries, their respective governments were spurred into action, by taking necessary security measures, and implementing adequate counter-terrorism strategies.

Following major terrorist attacks, many countries promulgate laws to tackle the menace decisively. For example, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States created the United States Patriot Act 2001, amended in 2006. This also lead to the creation of the DHS: Department of Homeland Security. A body with an authorized budget of $57 billion, as at 2012.
The United Kingdom is another good example, it has a Counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) it came up with in 2003, and has revised it regularly since it’s creation.

The United Kingdom came up with the Terrorism Act 2006, following the 52 people killed on London’s public transport network on July 7, 2005. A yearly average of about £3 billion has been budgeted for security services since the 2005 attacks. The United Kingdom’s military budget for 2012 was valued at £60.8 billion.

Evidently, terrorism is a global phenomenon and one of the world’s major contemporary challenges. Many countries are battling various forms of terrorism, irrespective of their forms of government. A country like Nigeria ought to take the issue of combating terrorism very seriously.

In 2011, it was reported Nigeria passed an anti-terrorism act, however, many Nigerians are yet to feel the impact. The passage of this anti-terrorism act has not surceased the spate of terror attacks on innocent civilians in any way.

Despite billions of U.S Dollars budgeted to fighting terrorism, there has been no significant improvements in securing the lives of citizens against these terror attacks. How many more lives need to be needlessly wasted before the government saddles up to it’s responsibility on security?

These budgeted expenditures ought to be thoroughly investigated by the legislative, rather than bicker over increases in their salaries, the legislators should do the needful!

I will not even overstate the suspended Central Bank of Nigeria Governor’s allegation of some missing $20 billion, or go into the semantics of the actual figure. What is certain is, money went missing, and what good use such money could have been put to, even if only combating terror and saving lives.

Can we blame the international community for indifference or not taking us seriously? Barely a day after dozens of innocent Nigerians died, our President deemed it appropriate to gallivant all the way to Kano State for politicking and electioneering pettifoggery.
As the President and his PDP cohorts gyrated on the corpses of those killed during the Nyanya bombing, patriotic Nigerians were donating blood to survivors. As the hilarity of this conscienceless bunch persisted, schoolgirls had been abducted in Borno State.

The message is very loud and clear, we the government don’t care much, actually, ‘don’t give a damn’, about the security situation in the country. The masses are on their own, abandoned to the consequences of a perilous fate.
Normally, one would expect some sombreness on their part: mourning of the dead , and respect for the grieving families, but it is politics as usual.

After all, the government already played politics with the lives of innocent Nigerians, by blaming the opposition for the attacks, how repugnantly idiotic!

The buck stops at the desk of the Commander-In-Chief, because he is the number one citizen, the one meant to take charge of the situation.
The Nigerian government cannot continually allow the wastage of innocent lives and future minds, it must act decisively to combat terror and save lives!
May the souls of all those who have died as a result of these terror attacks rest in peace.

Owolowo can be reached via [email protected]

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