By Yemi Adebowale;Â email@example.com
The names above wonâ€™t ring any bell to many. Those who have not been following the story would be wondering who Mrs. Alice Loksha Ngaddah, Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Saifura Husseini Ahmed are. They are highly courageous humanitarian workers who braved all the risks to serve distressed Internally Displaced Persons in Borno State. While Ngaddah is a nurse, Liman and Ahmed are midwives, all working in the IDP camp in Rann. Ngaddah was working for UNICEF, while the two midwives were contract staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC. Unfortunately, they were abducted by the Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, during an attack on the military facility in Rann and the IDP camp in the same town onÂ March 1Â this year. ISWA is led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the son of the late Boko Haramâ€™s founder, Muhammed Yusuf.
Few days back, these humanitarian workers, who have remained in captivity for 73 days, managed to send out heart-wrenching handwritten notes, pleading with the government of Nigeria to come to their rescue. They are begging for freedom; the pain in the camp of the terrorists is piercing. Their mothers, fathers, husbands, children and other family members also need them at home. Ngaddahâ€™s two children have become weary, waiting for their mother; her mother also died in April as a result of the shock of her daughterâ€™s abduction.
A copy of the note reads: â€œWe are pleading and begging with heavy hearts to our humble President Muhammadu Buhari to hear our cry for mercy and look into our situation and vindicate us from this captivity. Our dear children, husbands, relations and the entire nation need us back home.Â To our able organisations, please hear our cry for mercy. We are really helpless and hopeless, please rescue us and vindicate us, our families need us back and the entire nation at large. To our Excellency Governor Kashim Shettima, the local government councils and the entire people of our dear nation to hear our cry and help us in anyway and get us out of here so that we can be reunite with our families.â€
My appeal today to Mr. President is very simple: Please, bring back Ngaddah, Liman, Ahmed using your â€œback channelâ€ knowledge of Boko Haram to end their trauma and that of their families. The way you used the â€œback Channelâ€ to secure the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls should be used to bring back these captives and thousands of other Nigerians still in Boko Haram captivity. Buhari and his cohorts have openly told Nigerians that they know the back door into the kingdom of Boko Haram leaders. They should end the Boko Haram lunacy immediately using the â€œback channel.â€ The pain persistently inflicted on the North-east in particular and the country in general by these terrorists is excruciating.
APCâ€™s Show of Shame
It was the first test of the ruling All Progressives Congressâ€™ internal democracy and the party failed woefully. I am talking about the crisis-ridden ward congresses held across the country last Saturday by the APC. The brigandage displayed in most of the states was legendary as factional leaders hired thugs to outwit each other. Expect a repeat performance today in the local government congresses. Only people living in foolsâ€™ paradise would have expected something decent from this party. I was not shocked by last Saturdayâ€™s outcome; I know the true colour of the majority of APC leaders. I am not sorry to say that there are only few decent people in the party. The APC is dominated by politicians masquerading as progressives. These pretenders play bread and butter politics. For these misfits, politics is all about what they can grab for themselves and their families and not service to the people.
Letâ€™s run through some of the shameful stories. Zamfara is one of the most pathetic APC states where comical Governor Abdulâ€™aziz Yari ensured that a sham election was conducted to strengthen his stranglehold on APCâ€™s structure in the state. Senator Kabiru Marafa vowed to give Yari a good fight over the charade. He declared: â€œContrary to the claim by Yari, no ward congress of the APC held in Zamfara last weekend. The governor wanted a congress by affirmation because he did not have enough support to go for election but the people objected. The guidelines said we either do consensus or election. There was no consensus. There was no election in Zamfara last Saturday. There was therefore no ward executive in the whole of Zamfara.â€
In Rivers State, supporters of Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe held each other by the jugular. The APC office in Port Harcourt was damaged in the process. A congress, described by Abe as a farce, was eventually conducted. In Imo State, the laughable Governor Rochas Okorocha and his deputy, Eze Madumere, turned the state into a war zone. Okorocha was desperate to hijack the Imo APC structure in order to install his son-in-law as governor. Surprisingly, Madumere outwitted him. The Imo APC office was eventually set ablaze.
Blood flowed in Anambra State, where the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Tony Nwoye turned the state into one big battle field. Ngige accused Nwoye of using swam of cultists, arsonists and deadly thugs to disrupt the process. The minister narrowly escaped being lynched. But Musa Yunusa, one of the congress officials from the partyâ€™s headquarters was not lucky. He had his head broken, dragged him in his pool of blood and stripped naked by thugs.
In Oyo State, Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu, danced naked in public over the control of APC structure in the state. As at press time, policemen were still guiding the APC office in Asaba, to prevent it from being destroyed by aggrieved party members. In Kaduna, Governor Nasir el-rufai dubiously succeeded in flattening senators Suleiman Hunkuyi, Shehu Sani and Danjuma Laar. Hunkuyi wonâ€™t accept this â€œnonsense.â€ He declared: â€œDemocracy was raped in the stateÂ on Saturday. The exercise was not transparent enough. We join all APC members and supporters in mourning the death of democracy and its burial in Kaduna State, where its resurrection may be an impossible task.â€
Fighting was also ferocious in Anambra, Ebonyi, Ondo, Kano, Abia, Kogi, Plateau, Cross River and Bauchi states. Indeed, APC leaders and members sustained the dance of shame in virtually all the states during the ward elections. By now, those still in doubt about the true colour of this party should have a clear picture. Our ruling party is evidently dominated by pretenders; desperate bread and butter politicians who roam with political thugs. The few decent people in the APC canâ€™t effect the desired change. Nigerians must rise and save this country from these spongers.
Ilhan Omar on the Real Meaning of Patriotism
President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s legion of sycophants has been redefining the word â€œpatriotism.â€ They claim they want Buhari to continue because they are patriots. Patriotism is not hero-worshipping a countryâ€™s leader as they are doing at present. Loyalty does not mean believing (blindly) in a leader or administration despite all its failings. A country where this happens hardly develops. Real patriots must place the interest of the country above that of any individual. Today, I have decided to publish a thought-provoking piece by a Somali-American called Ilhan Omar on the true meaning of patriotism. Omar, a Minnesota State Representative came to the United States as a young Muslim refugee and is the first Somali-American elected to public office in the US.
Omar remarks: â€œThis is what Patriotism looks like: It is really important for people to stay vigilant and understand that patriotism isnâ€™t fully believing in a particular administration. True patriotism is about fighting for your country and its dignity and making sure that the citizens and the Constitution of the country is protected and uplifted. Once we believe and protect a particular head of a country, then we lose sight of everything and that is the biggest of trouble to come.Â And so, my fear right now and my biggest worry is when I see people who say, â€˜You canâ€™t say anything about the president.â€™ Because in a democracy, in a country that lives by a Constitution that protects the right to free speech, you should be able to criticize your president. You should be able to hold your president accountable. You should be able to expect more without fear, without being looked at as someone who isnâ€™t patriotic. And so, I hope this particular confusion that a lot of Americans are having about where their allegiance should be will end; they need to remember that their allegiance is to the Constitution; their allegiance is to their country. Their allegiance is to its society. And it isnâ€™t about the particular person that is the head of the country.â€
This is food for thought for Nigerians today
The Ruins of Gwaska Village
By the time I was penning this piece yesterday afternoon, 69 dead bodies had been picked and buried by traumatised residents of Gwaska village in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State. More bodies will certainly emerge from the bush. Bandits invaded the village last Sunday, killing and maiming, unhindered for hours. Hundreds of houses were also burnt, with over 2000 people displaced, leaving Gwaska in ruins. This is the same Birnin-Gwari the police claimed it had posted a mobile force few weeks back, yet, the criminals operated unrestrained for hours, moving from house to house. But for the brave vigilantes and volunteers in Gwaska, the bandits would have stayed longer. Soldiers and policemen were nowhere to be seen while the operation of the criminals lasted. Gwaska is just about seven kilometres from Dansadau in Zamfara where the bandits have also been a torn in the flesh of hapless Nigerians. The tactics of the Gwaska attack is similar to the one carried out a few weeks back in Kabaro and Danmani villages of Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State. No fewer than 30 persons were killed in Kabaro and Danmani. So, why are these criminals still roaming unhindered in this part of the North-west? The answer is very simple: It is because our security agents have compromised.
Governor Nasir el-rufai was in GwaskaÂ on Monday, chanting the same ugly rhetoric: â€œI came here to share the pains and anguish of our people, the predicament of innocent citizens whose lives were cut short due to terrorism of bandits and criminals who have been tormenting us. I want to say again, that we are not sleeping and by the grace of God, we will overcome this evil act and terrorism being unleashed on our people.â€
So, el-rufai, what next to prevent a repeat? As usual, nothing! Will our lethargic security agents apprehend the criminals? As usual, it wonâ€™t happen. Just watch out, in few days, you will see the bandits again attacking communities in these North-west villages. This is a government that canâ€™t protect lives and property of its citizens, yet, wants to continue in office. What a country! Failure to protect lives and property is failure of government. Buhari obstinately fails Nigerians.