If you attended primary schools in Nigeria, you must have been taught Social Studies and would have learnt about these European characters: Mungo Park, Walter Oudney, Hugh Clapperton, Richard Lemon Lander and John Lander, all of whom were early European explorers to Africa.
Most significant of them was Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer who undertook expedition to Africa around 1776. During the course of his travels, he met some Negroes bathing on the shores of a magnificent river. Without giving credit to the Negroes, he claimed that he discovered a new negro river which he named River Niger. So, we are taught that Mungo Park discovered Upper River Niger, while the lower Niger was discovered by the duo of Richard Lander and John Lander, also known as the Lander Brothers.
This opinion is not about the Scottish Mungo Park but about Nigeria’s Mungo Parks who are bent on teaching us nonsense. At the early stage of the insurgency crisis, those that cared knew these were Islamists and Jihadists with the single agenda to establish a puritanical Islamic State in some parts of Nigeria. I see no problem with this. After all, our constitution guarantees freedom of thought and of religion. They called themselves ‘Jama ‘at Ahl as Sunnah lid-Da’wa’ Jihad’ meaning ‘Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad’. Against the protestation of the group, Mungo Park christened them ‘Boko Haram’, and the name stuck. While their real identity is forgotten, their mission remain the same- Preach Islam and wage Jihad.
As far back as 2013, a certain Mungo Park instructed us that the killing of these terrorists must stop, that the military offensive against them is anti-Islam and anti- North. In 2018, the Guardian of November 20, reported an interview with a South African mercenary detailing how they were stopped from fighting the insurgents by Mungo Park.
Some years later, another Mungo Park, this time a bearded cleric and former soldier was caught on hot mic telling the bandits that the soldiers killing them are Christians in army uniform. Before now, we have heard stories of how Christian soldiers were sent to the war front only to be betrayed by their commanders. We have heard of how military operations that would have wiped out the insurgents were suddenly aborted. Since the cleric of a Mungo Park allegedly made that slip, I have expected him to walk back the statement and for the military or Presidency to condemn him so as not to engender ill will in our military, but mum is the word.
When the insurgents broke into splinters, moved down South and committing the same deplorable crimes they are known for, Mungo Park, rather than treat them as insurgents which they are, conveniently rechristened them criminals, bandits, militia and herdsmen without Fulani as a prefix. Pray, what’s the difference between insurgents and bandits? What’s the difference between bandits and criminals?
Just when we thought we have heard a full ear of misinformation and disinformation, Mungo Park lectured us not to call bandits criminals. We were instructed that if we call them criminals, they would not give up their arms and their evil ways. Sadly, Mungo Park didn’t leave us with any alternative names to call them? Behold, they kill, rape, kidnap, loot, destroy and commit all kinds of shocking crimes, yet we dare not call a spade by its name. We are in a terrible mess.
When we felt we’ve had enough and rose with one voice to demand the eviction of the privileged but dangerous criminals from our forest, our government refused to stand with us. They took sides with the bandits. Mungo Park declared citizens could live wherever they like. Mungo Park is right, but only law-abiding citizens can claim rights to live anywhere they wish. Criminals should live in gallows. Another Mungo Park without moral justification used the platform of the Nigerian Union of Journalists to lecture us that every forest in Nigeria belongs to the herdsmen. Really? He further taught us that herdsmen have a right to bear AK 47 rifles and submachine guns to protect themselves, but we the law-abiding citizens have no right to own hunting rifles. How can we be one Nigeria when there are two set of laws – one set of laws to keep Southerners in check and another set of laws for the privileged North to remain unhinged?
Mungo Park wants to force us to accept what we wouldn’t accept. He wants us to unseen violence we have seen with the bandits. He told us that the guns we saw with our naked eyes were photo-shopped. The Mungo Park now turned self-appointed negotiator knew where and how to locate the bandits in the forest but the military are clueless. Why have an air force and train parachutes when you will declare the hideouts of the bandits a ‘No Fly Zone?’ The governors negotiate and pay bandits huge amounts of money without financial instruments and without NIN verifications, yet EFCC never came after them. Big, big shame!
The bandits knew our leaders are weak simpletons. They are emboldened because we easily cave in, hence it’s one killing and kidnap after the other. When we were getting closer to unmasking the bandits, another Mungo Park resurfaced to tell us how these bandits are foreigners. What a new discovery? We have always known that people capable of mass rape, mass murder, mass kidnaping and the mass destruction we’ve seen may not be Nigerians because despite our differences, we really don’t hate ourselves that much. This does not mean the accomplices are not locals. They are.
Rumours have been rife that the insurgents were fighters imported from Niger, Mali and Sudan to help some politicians win elections in 2015. After victory, they were abandoned to fate. Feeling cheated, they took to crime for survival, thus making life harsh and miserable for the rest of us. We are now taught that banditry is their form of protest against the society that didn’t care about them. We are reminded that in the forest, there is no water, no hospital, no electricity and no school.
Living in the forest and away from civilization is a question of choice. We that live in the city pay for electricity we didn’t consume, we pay for education that end up in strikes, and we pay for hospitals that are mere consulting clinics. We have begged the bandits masquerading as herders to leave our forest because they have abused their stay and overstayed their welcome, yet they refused, insisting that they belong to the forest and the forest belongs to them.
Assuming these bandits are foreigners; why is Mungo Park anxious to grant amnesty to foreigners who kill Nigerians? Why is Mungo Park on the side of bandits? Why is Mungo Park who cannot afford to pay workers’ salaries eager to pay foreign terrorists? Why is it that in 2017, when the Igbo were served quit notice to leave the North by some elements, Mungo Park never condemned that breach of the constitution?
Treason is the most grievous crime anyone can commit. Treason is when a citizen makes him or her-self a foreign asset; in other words, treason is when one betrays one’s own country or people by aiding, abetting or protecting a foreign interest who has levied war or taken up arms against one’s country and her citizens.
I am inclined to believe that the Mungo Parks who are aiding and encouraging both the local and foreign bandits under whatever misguided notion are committing treason. I hope, some day, they get to be tried and convicted for betraying the nation and letting us down. Mungo Park indeed is a foolish man!