by Samuel Ogundipe
Complacency, empty rhetoric and lack of altruism might not be the reasons for Boko Haram’s unabated killings of Nigerians. But they’re most likely than not to be the reasons behind their intransigence. And the leadership of the country is no more guilty on this note than the followers.
The Agence France Presse, a French news-wire widely revered for its timely and accurate reportage, broke another news on the ongoing struggle against Boko Haram last Monday: The ruthless sect had clashed with the Joint Task Force, a consolidated force of numerous military departments tasked with fighting internal battles against the enemies within, earlier in the week. An entire fishing town, Baga in Borno State, has been razed down. Over 200 houses looted. The news-wire puts the figures of those displaced well north of 2000. And finally, and grievously, the publication, quoting rescue teams, reports that about 185 people have been killed. About two dozens of which were members of the barbaric sect and JTF personnel, the rest were harmless civilians.
The report painted an extremely lurid detail reminiscent of the 1999 massacre that took place in the town of Odi, Bayelsa in South-South Nigeria.
Soon as I was through perusing the article, I had a brief moment of soliloquy.
Then I saw some other articles pertaining to the attack, most of them were channelling the AFP reports in their own perspectives, the rest were absolute propaganda from Abuja: rebuttal of the numbers of those killed, and how.
Then I took to Twitter to see what my fellow compatriots are saying about the sour news and how I could add my voice. Unfortunately for Nigeria, there was little or no mention of the event. Instead, the time line of almost all Nigerian tweeters that evening was about a soccer match being played in far away Europe.
Another mass killing has taken place. The government has covered it up for days. An international publication breaks the news. The government is telling us for the first time that Boko Haram is now capable of launching sorties, etc. My generation that is supposed to be at the vanguard of questioning both the killings and its cover up by the government was busy talking about a soccer match that hardly affects them, if it even affects them at all. It was outrageous.
In mid-March, Nigerians and Kenyans began a Twitter war that attracted the attention of numerous international media establishments. Al-Jazeera’s “AJStream” observed it was “a war of words that trended worldwide.” The Nine Networks in far away Australia also reported the tweets. Saying Nigeria won the “war” may be a moot point, but there’s no denying that we out-tweeted the Kenyans in mentions.
Similarly, when the news broke that bombs had exploded at the final touch of a marathon event in the American city of Boston last week Monday, it didn’t take long before the attacks began trending in Lagos, and by extension Nigeria. The attack would top the torrent of information flowing out of Nigeria via Twitter for the next 22 hours, almost a day.
Nigerians streamed the news at the top again when it broke that two suspects of that attack in America had been identified. And also during the summary execution of one and arrest of the other following a widely publicised manhunt.
Nigerians also went atwitter when Channels Television broke the news about the dilapidated state of our police colleges.
So why are Nigerian tweeters quiet about Baga? Perhaps it’s because, unlike the news of police colleges and soccer war with Kenya, there’s little to joke about on the last weekend attacks. Yes, some Northerners have fretted that it was because the attacks happened in the North and the Twitter, and Nigerian webscape as a whole, is occupied largely by Southerners. Perhaps, but that is not a position I will readily identify with.
I can’t but agree with Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi who repeatedly said Nigerian youths are too lazy and unprepared to face, head on, the challenges the country is currently facing, and will be facing. Governor Amaechi also noted that there are more ego-driven and self-serving youths on Twitter than there are those who are really serious about the country’s progress.
The governor is right.
– Follow this writer: @SamuelOgundipe