We can’t look away now
For many Nigerians still caught up in the euphoria of the relatively new President Muhammadu Buhari Government, either as allies or opposition it is safe to assume an overwhelming majority of this demographic, those who are Politically active anyway are focused firmly on the Government and all the perceived actions and inactions taken in the last few months rightly or wrongly. Amongst these people, the overriding priority which has been occupying the news and public consciousness seems to be the economy, and corruption which garnered a lot of prominence even during the campaigns due to the President's avowed stance regarding it.
In the midst of this convoluted Socio Political jousting however, a potent and crucial issue which has been overlooked and allowed to fester unabated by previous Governments and the present at least thus far is the incidence of perpetual and mounting violence between the Hausa Fulani and Minority middle belt in North central Nigeria. For this piece i will not be delving into the exegesis of the crisis, neither will i be introducing a Political context or indeed who is right or wrong for the following reasons, first because i still do not know enough of all the surrounding issues to categorically comment and second in order not to detract from the humanity and significance surrounding it.
Before i continue i must also admit at this point that i own a share of the collective moral complacency regarding this issue because i simply did not know a lot about the crisis prior to now,and even when i came across some random information regarding it in the past i only paid scant regard to it, that was until a few days ago when i was confronted with truly traumatic images of child victims, heads and bodies hacked haphazardly with several machete cuts, some with the whites of their brain matter mixed with the crimson red of blood oozing out of gaping head wounds lumped over each other, dehumanised even in the absolute finality of death.
I was particularly touched by the image of a soot covered little child her corn row hairstyle still adorning her head as she lay lifeless amidst the ruins of a burnt out house her intestines spilling out of her side, she was burnt to a crisp her hands still upraised as though appealing for mercy from her tormentors.
I was confronted by images of hundreds if not thousands of dead bodies women, men and children lumped together in shallow graves, some bloated beyond recognition and others obviously fresh. In my quest to learn more about these truly appalling bloodletting i was sent a website run by a group of activists called minorityreport.org depicting a more savage and distressing history of the victims, their locations and even more images amidst their own accounts of what they went through all covering several years.
It took the stark image of a 3 year old Syrian Aylan and his 5 year old brother drowned in the Mediterranean sea to galvanise the world into compassion and subsequent action, however i have seen worse images of not two but several 3 year old Nigerian Aylans unsung and unrequited not by non Nigerians, but by us Nigerians.
Many have remarked that the best these victims can hope for is a temporary and transient peak of interest and then mounting dis interest as we move on to other issues.
However call me naive and idealistic but i still harbour implicit faith in the inborn and ingrained sense of compassion of an average Nigerian especially when confronted with vulnerable people who need help. We have collectively been confronted by and healed from a civil war, amidst several internal crises including religious without lingering bitterness.
I have implicit faith in the inherent sense of compassion we were brought up with to care for the vulnerable and less privileged even when we have to resort to self inconvenience. We Nigerians display this admirable trait with foreigners who come into our midst, we display it in our various abodes outside Nigeria,so we have the strength of conviction to deploy it as regards our brothers and sisters in the North central.
Let us share these gory and macabre pictures of the victims with all and sundry, the innocent children who have been brutally cut down before achieving their potentials, the unarmed women and men statistics of collateral damage,then afterwards run with that white naked sense of collective outrage and demand action from our political leaders.
We are not a people who look or shy away from such insidious acts or vulnerable people in need of help, hence we owe it to the countless victims of this unnecessary and totally avoidable crisis to speak up and compel our leaders into proactive action. We owe it to the tenuous thread of Insecurity we are currently grappling with in the guise of Boko Haram insurgency, an emerging sectional Biafra agitation and other minor crisis to agitate for an immediate end of this internal genocide being perpetuated under our noses without let.
Most importantly we owe it to our country, to posterity and to the children who had nothing to do with the issues but are bearing the brunt as victims. If we ignore or appear complacent in the face of terrible carnage being visited upon this region, how much removed are we from the deranged perpetuators of these heinous crimes.
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