Until Monday, when United States President Donald Trump reminded President Muhammadu Buhari to stop herdsmen killing Christians for sport, we were already forgetting the mauling down of those two Catholic priests and 17 congregants in Benue State, and moving on to other atrocities. I had forgotten the nationwide protests by churches barely 24 hours earlier. The condemnation of the attack by even the Pope had been packed to one corner of the brain, where we put all the condemnations, “in very strong terms,” by President Buhari himself.
I am amazed at the speed with which we easily forget things in this country. And move on almost immediately. As bad as it might sound, I’m convinced this our national short attention span is the major reason our country has not imploded.
In ‘saner’ climes, four instance, by now, we would still be discussing the Senate’s stolen mace, its curious recovery and what to do with Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who, for your information, did not bring the thugs to the Red Chamber.
We would still be mounting a manhunt for unmasked and unhooded hoodlums, who, despite being caught on CCTV, national television and all manner of hand-held devices, were still said to be at large. We would still be asking the police how it is so much easier to lock out lawmakers (the lawful occupants of the National Assembly complex) and stop them from electing leaders of their choice, than to keep out hoodlums, who ordinarily have no business in the complex, much less inside the chambers.
We would still be discussing the traffic jam that has blighted the movement of our budget from Villa to NASS and back. We could even be asking why the Second Niger Bridge is all talk and no action. We’d be digging up on internal democracy in the parties, the anti-corruption war, etc. But all those are irrelevancies, at least, until they begin to threaten 2019.
For now, therefore, the police would rather send a platoon to lay siege to Dino Melaye’s home, and another battalion to drive him to a cell in Kogi, where some of the privileges he’d enjoy would include an impromptu visit from a certain GYB.
One rumour monger told me that it was actually the fear (and humiliation) of that likely visit that made a whole ‘distinguished’ recall his Molue jumping skills. But I’ll come back to that later.
While we were still querying the culpability of the police and why all the security agencies at the National Assembly chose to take their eyes off the ball on the same day, and at the same time, too, Sen. Dino Melaye jumped off a moving police truck, without breaking his legs. And after engaging in a shouting match with the security operatives for several minutes, the senator’s condition suddenly became “critical, but stable,” as diagnosed by one politician doctor (or was it doctor politician).
And, as if Dino was determined to hog the limelight for more than his ‘constitutional’ 15 minutes of fame, INEC soon reminded us about his planned recall from the Senate on April 28. Yes, Dino’s constituents, constituted largely of some 18,000 living voters and over 100,000 others who signed the petition for his recall from the land of the dead, were finally going to have their final laugh.
Riding on the egg-shell ego of Governor Yahaya Bello (the man who said he would jump into the fire if Buhari asked him to do so, and who is believed to be the face behind the mask of the Dino recall), they had manufactured evidence, concocted facts, and blackmailed the system into the recall misadventure. They were determined to get rid of the pest called Dino.
But as it dawned on them by the dusk of that fateful Saturday, Dino was no ordinary pest. He has become a pestilence for which there is no immediate antidote. And to add insult to injury, the same man who was asthmatic and in critical but stable condition at the National Hospital, Abuja, went to the social media gloating and tweeting away, a few minutes after INEC announced the outcome of his recall bid. Only 5.4 per cent of the expected 50 per cent + 1 voter turned up. The Kogi State government had either failed to translate its army of ghost workers into ghost voters or the governor did not mobilise the ghosts generously enough.
Now, don’t ask me if ghosts take bribe o! Because this is Kogi State, where masquerades (from the spirit world) are given cash and car gifts.
But Dino, who, incidentally, is not one of my favourite senators, must continue to sleep with one eye open, though. If he escaped Yahaya Bello, he has yet to escape the police and, of course, his own past.
It was against the backdrop of all these poorly interred corpses that PMB went to America to discuss agriculture (where all Trump wanted was to sell us American produce and machinery), thank Trump for agreeing to sell us helicopters, and, most importantly, shore up his image ahead of 2019.
But while Trump was probably focusing on Christian lives lost in Benue, the killers were busy giving the Christian leaders more things to protest about: the ubiquitous gunmen had mowed down another 23, a few hours after the church massacre. They had gone to make up the numbers (of the slaughtered) in Zamfara, which is now running neck and neck with Benue for the prize of the Biggest Killing Field.
And just in case the people in Kaduna were wrongly thinking they now have some breathing space, the angels of death visited a mining site and mowed down miners at work.
Sometimes, I don’t even know what to believe any longer. At one point, the Muslim versus Christian narrative looks so compelling, but a few hours later it all comes crumbling down. Then we settle for the Fulani domination theory. But it soon becomes clear that the ‘herdsmen’s’ bullets do not discriminate against the Fulani, and then you begin to toy with the North versus South analogy. But even that soon collapses like a house of cards.
It then dawns on you that it’s our collective humanity that is at stake. Unfortunately, there’s not a great deal we can do. For those who we have collectively ceded our monopoly of violence to, are now using it against us, instead of using it for us. That is why so many respected voices are pointing to a trail of conspiratorial silence and acquiescing inaction from the highest offices in the land.
Now, add all of that to hunger and unemployment and social media, and you get the mental picture of a delinquent blindly racing towards gunpowder with a lighted match.
And as if all of this does not matter, our leaders are blindly engrossed in 2019. PDP politicians who lost in the leadership tussle are decamping to APC. An APC governor, who should be more interested in battling Boko Haram in his state, is sending delegations to Abuja to stop another ex-governor from returning to the party. Instead of Rivers State politicians joining hand to address the soot that is instalmentally killing the people, they are busy freezing accounts and stockpiling money for 2019 and upcoming local government elections.
It just never seems to occur to any of them, north, south or middle belt, that at the rate we’re going, we might not have a country by 2019. God forbid!
It was, therefore, heart-warming to hear Trump bring us back to our senses, and remind us of the things that really matter. What Trump did not know, however, is that Christians, Muslims, traditionalists and all are under attack, even though one of them smugly believes it is enjoying the upper hand in the killings.
Our nation has since become one ceaselessly streaming movie of the atrocious. Every new day, we are greeted with a new atrocity – many of them of the magnitude that would make the Devil himself shudder in shock. Or, as the Benin people would say, the kind of evil that would make Satan turn his back. But we have since outgrown shock. In fact, as I write this piece today (Tuesday), rescue efforts are still on in Mubi, Adamawa State, gathering the pieces of mangles bodies and shredded human beef, victims of yet another twin suicide bomb attack.
Casualty figures were still not in at this moment, but a conservative estimate initially put it at 20 dead. Of course, we no longer count the living dead – those permanently maimed and disfigured by shrapnel.
May God help us.