Friends. Compatriots. Citizens. Allow me to paint a little scenario for you:
You are driving along a busy expressway. Let us say Lagos-Epe. Or Abuja-Lafia. Or Lagos-Ibadan. And you suddenly run into crowds of people fleeing from the opposite direction. Cars and trailers are also turning back. Pademonium everywhere. It is broad daylight. You manage to stop a man hurrying past, clutching some clothes wrapped into a tight ball. You ask: ‘Oga what is it?’ He turns and points and gasps: ‘They are coming! Boko Haram!!’ You look in the distance and see smoke. You hear sporadic gunfire. Your two children are in a boarding school further down that road. Your world dissolves that very second… Who are you going to call? Who will come to your rescue? What will you do?
In the past five years, we have seen the terror attacks in the Northern part of our country on Nigerian citizens grow in intensity and seriousness. The Federal Capital Territory has not been spared as we have seen with bomb attacks on targets such as the army barracks, the United Nations and public motor parks and a mall. We heard about the twin bombings in Jos this year. Abductions of young boys and young girls, the most famous of these being the abduction of over 200 girls from Chibok, continue. More recently, the bombing of children in Potiskum this week as they were at school assembly and yesterday’s attack on the Federal College of Education Kontagora.
For those of you who refuse to believe that there are girls missing please contact me so you can talk to relatives of the missing girls living right here in Lagos. (I promise you they are NOT members of the All Peoples’ Congress). And if you are in doubt about Chibok and other places where children and women have been abducted, I urge you to take a flight to Yola or ask your Pastor what sister churches in Bauchi, Borno, Yobe and other affected states are reporting about what is happening to people of the Christian faith. If you are a Muslim, ask your Imam what is happening to Muslims up North. You will then know whether girls, boys, women from their congregations are missing, and continue to be abducted, as we speak, or not.
‘‘It is not our portion in Jesus’ name’’ did you say? This sort of arrogant, presumptuous wishful thinking about what your portion is, is likely going to get you killed by Boko Haram or have your children and wife (or wives if you are a polygamist) conscripted into Haramistan (thanks to Cheta Nwanze from whom I first heard this term for BH-conquered territory) or abducted by Boko Haram. Even Abraham, who God spoke to directly and promised amazing things, did not leave his family’s safety to ‘it is not my portion’ prayers – he had 318 trained men born in his household who ACTIVELY went after Kedorlaomer and the 3 kings allied with him who had carried off his nephew, Lot and all of Lot’s possession. He and his 318 men saved not only Lot but others from 5 kingdoms. (For y’all not up to speed on Bible stories, you can find this story in Genesis 14).
Did you know that Nigeria’s very own National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA for you acronym lovers) and another entity I did not know existed until recently called the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRMI) are reported as estimating that as at October 2013, over 3.3million people were internally displaced in Nigeria as a result of violent conflict? (according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Global Overview 2014 Report). If these estimates are anything to go by, you can expect that a year later, what with Chibok, Mubi and other areas now under Haramistan plus populations in Taraba, Nassarawa and Benue displaced by herdsman-farmer clashes, that number can be expected to have hit the near 5 million mark by now. As it stands, 3.3million is roughly the entire population of Costa Rica, Singapore or the United Arab Emirates. That should give you the magnitude of the current problem on our hands and the future trouble we are fomenting for ourselves if we do not all rise up and deal with the insurgency and the internally displaced persons’ issue decisively.
And if you live in Lagos and other parts of the Southwest and think you do not have an internally displaced persons’ issue on your doorstep, think again. If you live in Lekki, what do you think has fed the re-emergence of okada riders? And all those little girls going around selling things when they should be in school or the groups of obviously Northern women moving around the area. Where do you think they sprang up from? Oh! You thought they were on vacation?
Dealing with the insurgency and our internal displacement problem did you say? Decisively did you say? And who is we? So we are talking about defeating Boko Haram right? How can? What can you and I do seeing as we are not Mr. President or Mr. Chief of Defense Staff?
FIRST: We MUST acknowledge and agree that we have a problem on our hands. Let us not play the ostrich and PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Enough of this ‘It shall not happen in Jesus’ name’ business. Did it not just happen in Kontagora yesterday? OBVIOUSLY, Jesus has a different plan. And until He reveals it, we should move with the assumption that these guys are coming and we had better prepare ourselves.
How? Hold on. I need some water to quench my thirst. All these depressing figures are making me thirsty.
Ah ha. Before I sign off for today, let me give all the church- and mosque-going folk an assignment. Please call your Pastor and Imam (or whoever leads your religious group) and ask them what the plight of your sister congregations is up North and how you can help.