by Yomi Kazeem
Whenever America or an American citizen is under threat or in danger, everyone looks to one place: The White House. This is because, in ensuring safety and security of a nation and its citizens, the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces is always the first line of defence. Now, this is not to undermine or undervalue the importance of intelligence, assault and confrontation but to amplify the wider function of a Commander In Chief to make his country and its people FEEL safe.
Within hours or minutes of a terrorist attack or incident affecting Americans, the President is on TV delivering soothing words, exuding empathy to aggrieved ones but most critically sternly stating that the perpetrators will be found and brought to justice. That last part – finding the perpetrators – is one which America does not f**k around with (pardon my French).
Days after the Boston marathon bombing, the two brothers behind the attack were apprehended. Sometimes, like in the case of Osama Bin Laden, it takes longer than days to find the terrorists but despite his famed elusiveness, Osama was shot. A bullet was put between his eyes and a promise made by one American president in 2001 was delivered by another years later. If after these two scenarios, an American president appears on TV promising safety and security, what do you do? You believe him.
In Nigeria, Borno and Yobe are under siege. Without disrespect to our men and women fighting the insurgency, it almost appears that the Boko Haram terrorists have a free reign. With many dead and even more left aggrieved, what has been the general reaction from the Presidency? Days of silence, easily perceived as indifference, cluelessness or callousness, followed by the standard party line: strong condemnation. Now, if the President comes on TV and strongly condemns, that is cool – as long as he means it. But sadly for Nigerians, it almost seems as though everything condemned by the Presidency goes on to enjoy undeterred growth. Corruption, election malpractice, financial fraud and terrorism are all examples.
One is not blind to the fact that the American law enforcement machinery is far more sophisticated than Nigeria’s but we cannot all be blind to the fact that ours is far less sophisticated than it should be. With Governors repeatedly claiming that the Boko Haram terrorists were better equipped than the soldiers in the state, it is clear to see that we do not take security and safety seriously.
The bigger problem is that corruption is so entrenched in our DNA, we have sabotaged the security and safety of lives. How many people are ready to wager a year’s pay that someone in the defence ministry did not intentionally buy inferior equipment only to pocket some cash made off the difference between the inferior equipment bought and the top-quality equipment promised?
Getting our combatants better equipped is a problem that needs immediate solving just like the President’s response(s) to terrible situations like this which are beginning to become daily events. When innocent students are killed in a region where 70% are out of school, we require the Presidency to spring into action. It is not enough to issue statements through ridiculously inept and utterly petty media officers. It is not enough to wait days only to deliver the ‘strong condemnation’ line followed by a truckload of nothing. It is not enough to constantly pay lip service to the loss of lives of citizenry neither is it okay to implicitly suggest that some lives are more valuable than others.
The Commander in Chief has to respond better and stronger and then follow that up with serious shows of competence else Nigerians will keep getting the unsaid message that the President does not care. However, they won’t be the only ones getting a message. For every terrorist event met with nonchalance and scripted nonsense, Boko Haram will also get a message: Kill more Nigerians, that is fine by us.
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