Once again I need to do an army barracks reference. The man I am today is a collage of the morals and the points-of-view that my army barracks upbringing exposed me to. Anyone who desires should take a trip to the MRS Quarters of the army barracks (back then it was the bivouac of the 21st Infantry Battalion subordinate to the 1 Division at Kaduna) at Minna, Niger State, and that one should pause and contemplate how 48 soldier-families bunched up as mixed-tribal lots could survive living side-by-side whilst facing off in such close confine.

What should impress that observer is what sort of learning have been implanted in the minds of children who had their formative lives growing up in that environment. At the barracks in Warri back then (the former 20th Amphibious Battalion), the living quarters for other ranks were not so cramped but an army barracks was still a “barikin soja” like the Hausa would affectionately put it.

I got to know a lot about the peoples of Southern Kaduna (back then it was “Southern Zaria”) whilst growing up at the barracks in Warri and at Minna; a bloke of Southern Kaduna stock will not hurt a fly. I mean it. Weren’t our near-door neighbours at Warri the Musas (and in my childhood infatuation, wasn’t I very fond of Saratu Musa the sister of Sunday Musa? Do not mind that soldiers back then were in healthy competition to name their firstborns “Sunday”). If a people cannot “hurt a fly” then those blokes will not do tit-for-tat with respect to the killer settlers who have been menacing them for too long now. The people of Southern Kaduna desire peace and they project peace.

What is happening to them in their homestead can be best understood if one looks beyond the Southern Kaduna province to neighbouring Plateau State and the Christian-dominated parts of Nasarawa State. Look hard and you will see a pattern. There is a well-established 3C (command, control, communication) set-up of roving killers (let’s call them “contra-Army” because they are the terrorist counter-force that oppose our beloved regular Nigerian Army) that pillage and decimate hapless Christian communities in their paths. This is the observed pattern. This contra-Army has guts and balls because it is only fools who mess with the Nigerian Army of my father’s time, but the contra-Army is waxing and there are top honchos making excuses for them that they strike because they are miffed by “cycles of vengeance.” Effectively the peoples of Southern Kaduna have been demonised and condemned to death because of this “my hand no dey” position that the federal chief security officer (as told to us by Garba Shehu) and the state chief security officer (as we heard from Gov. Nasir El-Rufai’i) have assumed. Once again, didn’t one of the Ten Commandments admonish mankind not to kill? “Thou shall not kill!”

Sunday Adole Jonah,

Department of Physics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State