Somehow I do not really feel like writing today, or maybe all I want to do is write, I’m not too sure what my feelings are at this time. I feel like I am in some form of limbo, a lethargic state where you know all is not as it should be but somehow your brain is unable to process the information staring you in the face.
Three days ago my husband and I were almost blown to smithereens in the latest bomb blast in my city. Bomb blasts seem to have emerged as the latest reality in a bizarre series of events that have overtaken our nation. For the past few weeks I have been reflecting on the old Abuja that I used to know; I came to live in this city as a very young and naïve newspaper reporter almost twenty-four years ago. For Abuja and I it was love at first sight and the love has never diminished. This morning I was studying my Bible and I came across an interesting story that seemed to illustrate perfectly the thoughts that have been running through my head about the Abuja that I knew and fell in love with versus the one I live in now. The story found in the Old Testament book of Judges, tells of a people who lived in utopia; everything was perfect in their city. Everyone was wealthy and had no need of help. The city was isolated and it set itself up as a model of perfection; they did not look for trouble and expected none to come to them. But alas! Life is not always as simple as that. Trouble did come looking for them and because they had left themselves exposed in their comfort, they became easy prey for the attackers and they were taken. The name of that city was Laish and it is in Judges Chapter eighteen. As I read the story I began to think of the old Abuja. Everything was near perfect, there was electricity, the roads were the best in Nigeria, and there was tap water everywhere. Traffic congestion was unheard of, and in fact if there were ten cars at the traffic lights for three minutes it was referred to as “hold up”. Security was so good that people frequently left their vehicles unlocked at night. If you went for a late night party you had no fears of getting home safely regardless of time of night. It was as close to a utopian society as you could get. Life, as they say, was good. The people of Abuja became like the people of Laish, they had no need of anybody because they had everything they needed. Troubles were happening in the Niger Delta, in the South-West and in several Northern states. Other places were experiencing various types of unrests and dealing with issues of insecurity and poor infrastructure but Abuja seemed immune. It became a city of refuge for the rich and corrupt who needed a place to enjoy their filthy lucre when they were in the country. Politicians and their courtiers quickly realized the advantages of having homes in Abuja; Hideouts where they could keep mistresses and indulge in orgies at will. This was Abuja, like in the days of the old Roman Empire, the rulers played fiddle while the city, in this case the country, was burning.
Not anymore; the Bible says that while men slept the enemy came and sowed tares, and so is the case with Abuja. Our leaders slept. They were comfortable and complacent and before you knew it, the enemy was at the door and Abuja is now under attack. It did not have to come to this; when the UN building was bombed, and the Police Ministry was bombed, we should have been smart enough to put permanent measures in place to fight terrorism at this level. Unfortunately, the only visible thing that was done was to block off Military and Government offices.
As a rule I try not to comment on things I do not have competency to speak on but right now the situation in Abuja and indeed the whole country has gone beyond silence. Over 200 hundred girls kidnapped from school and everyone is going about their normal lives as if nothing is wrong. I am a mother of daughters and I’m wondering why the NUT, NLC, NUPENG, TUC and all other labour unions have not gone on strike. It is pointless to ask the Minister of Education to resign but why would it take two weeks before the government sets up a committee of non-essential human beings to look for the missing girls? What is the rationale behind the composition of that committee? I refrained from saying anything negative about my President for a long while but please someone explain to me: a bomb goes off and kills scores of people and the following day the President goes off to Kano for a political rally, two weeks later a private citizen driving his own car is involved in an accident all by himself on his way to his own job and the President pronounces it a sad day for the nation and then calls off a Federal Executive Council meeting! This was where he got me and a lot of people all riled up. They should have observed a minute’s silence for the guy at the FEC meeting and sent a delegation to Kaduna to commiserate with the VP rather than cancel such an important event. But that is not what this is all about; it is about how we all collectively sat down in our comfort zones falsely believing that Abuja was impregnable until terror happened on us all.
A few days ago I escaped the bomb blast by the proverbial skin on my teeth and the experience was not funny at all. As I was writing this article a truck carrying a load of sand somewhere in my neighbourhood burst a tire and the sound had people screaming and scampering to safety. But I ask where is safety? What can we do right now to get out of this mess? I hear the international community is offering some form of help with the situation, please let us accept whatever help is offered graciously and speedily so that we can bring this wave of terror to an end and restore our city, nay, our nation back to what it used to be or better still, catapult it forward to what it ought to be!
PS: this article was written on Saturday May 3, 2014