Owning up to our stories

Not always do we see a prominent Nigerian telling our story as is.

Yesterday, I read two different stories about northeast Nigeria. One says life is back to normalcy in Maiduguri highlighting this with people jubilating at a wedding ceremony having fun and celebrating life. This is a great news to see that peace is returning at last.

Who doesn’t love good news? In a country like ours, there is something that I have found more comforting than short-term good news as I am aware there are some underline issues that must be dealt with strategically for sustainable improvement. This is why I found Aliko Dangote and Bono appeal right step forward.

The first twenty-two seconds of this video highlights a very important issue that is prevalent in the north; child marriage.

Bono expressed his surprise seeing a nine year old child bride and Alhaji Dangote also reminded him of a 15 year old girl who recently gave birth.

Even as a Nigerian, I still feel shocked whenever this comes up, maybe our men can live with this insanity but how on earth can a mother, a grandmother allow this cycle of abuse to continue is beyond my understanding.

How could we ever get out of this rot if Nigeria has two different rules regarding appropriate age limit for marriage – south is 18 years old and north? That one changes with the weather, some say it’s 12 but as we can see here it is nine.

Can one even call a union involving a nine year old girl marriage?

I believe that the northeast issue affects the whole of the country, I believe everyone is feeling the effect. For one, the number of beggars is increasing by the day in the south.

I also believe that this is a huge threat to the country and international communities if the displaced people did not receive needed help so they can ease in to normalcy of life before crime is the only way out.

However, this fundamental issue of child abuse aka child-bride that Nigeria has refused to deal with effectively needs our leaders’ attention, I mean women leaders. Stripping up childhood from people is human right abuse.

I hear people talk about high poverty rate in the north, this is unfortunate, however, how is that going to ever end when girls aren’t allowed to be children and be educated so they can at least make a decision on their own accord?

Random thoughts on Boko Haram

All this while Boko Haram has not stopped the killing rampage in the north. New people are being recruited daily as well as rising number of casualties.

Pictures of mutilated bodies are all over Nigeria Army social media, each time I see another person, be it Boko Haram, Nigeria Army or the civilians – it feels wrong, completely wrong that the ongoing insurgency has become almost normal.

There are cases of people joining Boko Haram because of monetary reward, only to discover the mission was to use them as suicide bombers. Those that escaped can tell the tale.

In the above case, there is no reference to religion as the incentive for killing fellow humans, it doesn’t matter who the point of reference was during prayers – these guys are willing to kill just about anyone as the cash reward is all that they were after.

Another example is the young woman who was captured in her northeast village over a year ago, she goes by Hauwa. She was among the three sucide bombers that killed 58 people on February 9th.

Hauwa is thought to be 17 or 18years old, she didn’t know her real age, despite this has married twice. She was asked to detonate bomb when she refused to marry the third husband at the BH camp.

It seems to me that the main reason Boko Haram were kidnapping girls was to have their own personal sex slaves and when they are done with one, exchange her amongst themselves with the expectations that the girl will always comply and if they sense any resentment, they send them on journey of no return – what a world we live in. And yet people can’t seem to see the damage child bride is doing to the psyche of these guys?

The guys are basically replicating the only thing they thought their girls are alive for.

On a more lighter note, $35M has been recovered from the corrupt public officials who diverted the money meant to fight Boko Haram into their personal accounts – more to be recovered.

I do hope that President Buhari will follow through with not just recovering the funds, but also to give appropriate punishment to all the perpetrators, otherwise how is anyone going to learn?

None but ourselves can free our minds

Reading about Aisha, a devout muslim university student in a fictional novel Boko Haram  was exciting because it just shows exactly what is going on in our society today.  It is becoming a lot harder to have set expectations of women that is based on nothing else but their gender.

Many women wanted to stay committed to the Islamic teachings or any religion for that matter but their head could not cope with the treatment they have to deal with, which by the way, they have seen countless of times, their mothers and women around them have had to deal with.

Here is TV host Rima Karaki making a simple request of sticking to the issue at hand and what she got in return:

 

 

Here is what I witnessed of another respected Islamist scholar bold enough to share his tale with the crowd.

“None but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley

Boko Haram, the novel

Boko Haram is a work of fiction by Yas Niger.

Boko HaramBoko Haram was set in the northern city of Nigeria. It started with a controversial mosque in the middle of the road. Apart from the obvious annoyance the structure has caused the growing population of this once peaceful city, also there is a serious concern about the haphazard manner in which mosque was constructed – thirty seven auto accidents up to date had been recorded, some of which were fatal. The reluctance to do something about the mosque remained heated debates among the local residents of multi faiths and the worshipers at the mosque.

Uma, a well-off Western educated Muslim who has undergone Jihadist training in Mali walked into the local Imam’s life as an innocent devout – he was trusted right away given his calm and respectful attitude. He gained the hearts of the local people and offered to sleep in the mosque to relief Imam of some of the religious duties.

Aisha represents the new generation of Nigerian Muslim women, a university student who found herself at home for a prolonged time due to the industrial strike action by the Nigerian university lecturers. She is a hijab wearing devout with strong belief in Islamic values and teachings, however, she believed herself to be a person that is capable of contributing to the society in equal measure as men.

Meeting Uma was like a godsend to Aisha, she was mesmerised by Uma’s intelligence and reasons. She loved a Muslim man with liberal views of the world – so she thought.

Uma, during his time in his adopted city lived mostly in disguise. Overtime, his extremist views became transpired especially during conversations with many educated folks around him. He has made it clear on many occasions to Samson, a PhD Egyptian whom he befriended that nothing in Islamic needed to be amended, that the 7th century rules must still be applied in all ways.

Uma in the end found himself extremely frustrated with everything and everyone, he could no longer stand anyone with a slightly different views from himself on social and religious issues. Anyone who disagrees with his extremist views deserved to be taking out and this included his crush – Aisha, because she has in one occasion said there are a few things that needed to be amended so Islamic could fit in well with modern time, here Aisha was referring to gender inequalities in Islam that presents women as subordinate – this was her offence and to Uma’s mind she deserved to die as she was not Muslim enough.

Boko Haram, though a very serious subject in Nigeria and indeed the world today, is an easy to ready book, entertaining and provides unbiased views of the state of religion influence in the life of Nigerians. It can be difficult reading Nigerian authors without feeling uncomfortable with religious imposition, Boko Haram is an exception to this as throughout, both Christians and Muslims were presented in objective manners leaving readers to read, enjoy and drawing their conclusions.

Available from OkadaBooks  and Amazon 

Using secular nature of Nigeria constitution as the weapon to fight Boko Haram

Prof. Soyinka is one of the very few Nigerians of his age around today that does not disappoint. He is not shy away from telling the simple truth just as is.

Inspiring to see an elder whose idea of a peaceful nation goes beyond regions knowing we are all in it together and we must collectively deal with the elephant in the room.

Hope those insisted this is northern Nigeria was can see WS points, especially in relation to the forth coming election.

Nigeria – 34:15 is where we come in

Has President Jonathan done enough to rescue the Chibok girls or curb insurgency in the northeast? While many Nigerians live in denial, many people both home and abroad can see clearly that Nigeria  government is reluctant to do all that is necessary to stop Boko Haram.

Too busy with election campaign, incompetence, ignorance, indifference, waiting for others to rescue us?  –  reasons best known to President Jonathan and his followers.

34:15 is about Nigeria Boko Haram and how we are doing so far from the outsiders point of view,  accurate assertion?

 

 

Speak up against injustice to be a ranter

This is an old event of January 8th 2011. It was circulated via email. Here is a few lines from the message.

“On Saturday, the 8th of January 2011, a Luxury bus departed Maiduguri en route to Lagos.  As the bus approached The City of Jos from Bauchi, the bus was stopped at roadblock.  Gunmen entered the bus and ordered all Muslims off the bus.  These gunmen proceeded to set the bus ablaze with all remaining passengers inside.  Most of the victims in the bus were from the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria, both The East and The West all heading south.”

I forwarded this message to a few close friends, I was terrified to say the least. Everyone felt the same horror that I felt and shared their thoughts.

One friend who is a university lecturer has this to say ” your last email had me investigating the content. It is not true to Nigeria. Things are happening here but not on the scale of the picture that you sent. That’s a relief to know. Maybe it is an attempt at making Nigeria look bad… The story about the killing in the bus is also doubted. It is not documented anywhere

 IMAGEThis morning when I woke to read words being thrown back and forth between Nigeria Director of Defence Information Gen. Chris Olukolade and Mrs Oby Ezekwesili on Fart Thoughts aka twitter, the whole argument reminded me of the terrible event of 2011 when Boko Haram attacks was getting off the ground, attacks were persistent in the northeast, however, for the most part Nigerians were in denial about it all.

Mrs Ezekwesili and her team have been very vocal against abduction of Chibok girls from start without a fail reminding Nigerians about the abducted girls almost daily, this action is unprecedented in Nigeria, we forget things, anything – easily, we are quick to move on hoping for miracles.

I am not entirely surprised General Chris Olukolade took to twitter earlier on today to attack the lady and expecting private discussions with Mrs Ezekwesili because after six months naturally we would have moved on to another agenda.

 11h11 hours ago – Madam, A privileged citizen like you knows how to to reach us best, if u’ve a genuine report. : We are on top that & fighting! .

I will not even attempt to comment on Gen. Olukolade’s tweet given Mr Jantard Jonathan is there pretending all is well, now that election is around the corner, all that he cared for is to be re-elected to the same position he has failed woefully.

Was our government sympathy towards Charlie Hebdo victims genuine when thousands of our people were being slaughtered for the same offence, Baga being the latest?

Information dissemination is different now, thanks to social media, private citizens are passing information around to alert family and friends. It is up to Nigerians to use this opportunity to our advantage and for once acknowledge the event in the northeast could have been anywhere in the country. Hopefully, we can unitedly focus on Boko Haram rather than individual doing humanitarian work.

What happened to the powerful weapons in circulation after the war

War is horrible so is devastating news of losing innocent lives, but in reality victims of war sometimes go beyond those that have left us during the course of protecting the masses. Where there is no foresight, then the good guys, the courageous ones who survived the war soon became terror for the lack of better things to do.

Terrifying to think about the way Boko Haram is spreading and the way my government failed to see the bigger picture of it. One would think we have learnt a thing or two from the Somali child soldiers stories.

Actually, we don’t have to go that far to learn of the aftermath horror of war – we have our very own examples at home, on a smaller scale, I must add.

Many courageous people died in both Modakeke and Ife crisis but the other sad reality was the aftermath of the war – when courageous people with powerful weapons turned to each other.

During the 1997 – 2000 crisis, tens if not hundreds of youths mostly under forty were hired by the Ifes, this is no surprise because there were plenty of money that could have been better spent on education and infrastructure but guns and bullets took priority.

Some of these guys were in police uniforms so initially Modakekes trusted them as they were mistaken to be from the state/federal government to maintain peace in the area.

Well, that trust was tossed after Mr Tanimowo, the old man in his 80s and the first principal of Modakeke High School was killed at his Iraye area house. The old man returned to his house because he had trusted police officers in the area for his safety – Oh, well.

Tens of other guys hired by the Ife’s had proper guns, automatic ones, the ones you can only get your hands on if you were in the police or the army.

More guns in circulation in a society where the gap between haves and have-nots is at the opposite ends equals disaster.

For fathers, uncles, brothers or husbands that had habits of hanging in motor parks especially in our big cities that would jump into opportunities of being paid for causing street troubles that went missing around this time – I am not in any sense elated to say this but the following might provide a bit of closure.

These guys had no idea where they were, they were given  as little as ₦3000 (17 USD ) and automatic guns and of course plenty of hard drugs and mountain of food but what they failed to ask was the map to enlighten of the borders, which literally was a thin stream, easy to miss even for the locals.

They wandered right to the middle of the town a mile or so in the land of the people they were supposed to attack, asking the very same people ‘where are we?’ They lived just enough to tell their stories, where they came from and contract details – very sad.

They became the victims of a lawless society where future of tomorrow were being wasted for next to nothing.

Their weapons lead to further horror for months after the war ended. Another gangs formed – the untouchables. This time not to grab farmlands.

Ajitebi from Akarabata nicknamed Double was a victim of this. He fought wholeheartedly to protect Urban Day area and Akarabata, survived the war but lost its life from the aftermath. Sunday Igboho was a good guy too a very dependable son, still alive but not in town.

I wish my president could read, maybe he would take Boko Haram issue more seriously than with kids gloves

Before being made Emir – Lamido Sanusi on Nigeria vested interest

I first listened to this TEDx talk in January when no one knew Lamido Sanusi would be crowned this year. One need to listen to it to draw conclusion, however I knew that in order to understand how deep-rooted Nigeria issues were, one will need to be part of a certain group – what common people like me see is like the tip of the iceberg. Needless to say, this speech made me realise how important it is that we all as Nigerians must contribute whatever we can/able to lift us all from the rot.

You can imagine my joy when he was crowned as the new Emir of Kano on the 8th of June this year. Nigeria needs not just a patriotic traditional Obas, but intelligent ones across the whole country. Those that will use their experience and position of power entrusted in them to effect positive change in people. Those that understood that freedom for one child should really be translated to freedom for all children.

I know our Obas are friends, to a large extent, they do meet and socialise. Although Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II is way up north and me in the south – eyes are on him and we do hope to draw positive examples from him.

 

1987 – School interhouse sports cancelled for the king

Our Lady’s Girls High was a purpose-built school by the Catholic missionaries. The school has all the department and facilities required of a decent school. It started as a boarding school and housed many girls from all around the country – a pride of the surrounding communities. OLGHS Modakeke has it brother school at Ile Ife – St John’s school for boys. Both schools, a couple of miles apart must have been put in these locations when peace existed in the region and a strategic move to foster more and better relationship between the two communities.

After the independence, a lot changed in Nigeria as a whole, part of which was the government taking over of missionary schools. However, the teachers in charge of Our Lady’s (as locally called) and St John’s did the hand overs gradually to ensure continuity in the culture of education they worked hard to build. One of the things that happened to Our Lady’s was making it a day school so as to accommodate more students. All seems to be gone well with this change.

Oba Okunade Sijuade assumed his throne in late 1980s. It should be a thing of joy in the region however, him being the king  affected everyone and everything around the two communities and education was not important enough to be spared of the new king resentment towards his neighbours.

By 1987, we had a new principal at Our Lady’s. I don’t remember her name but she was a delight. She saw every child in the school as capable and talented individuals, spoke so softly that you can barely see her lips moving but yet her words echoed in our ears. She once made the whole school brought our chairs into the assembly ground so she could teach us how to sit properly, we initially thought she was crazy but everyone was grateful for the lesson learnt that day. She was a complete opposite of Mrs Cruella – a new principal that I will have to live with a few months down the line.

Mrs *Iwarere was determined to bring the lost glory of the school back, so she wanted the school to do Interhouse Sports. Our sports  head, Mrs Sheba was fantastic. She was happy to put her skills to good use, she had a team of about five teachers at the time, all worked so hard training us. Ruth eleja in my class was the fastest on tracks ever – just like the wind. She had competed and won lots of medals from schools around us. I have never been in any competition but not too bad with volleyball – I was in a Yellow House and really proud of myself and looking forward to the event. It will be the first time in my life to play competitive sports against kids from other schools. The spirit was high, everyone put lots of efforts into doing their very best.

Two weeks to the big day, all of our hopes was dashed right in front of our eyes. We are a few hundred children in my school, age between 12 and eighteen years old – we just wanted to have fun and to show off our skills to our families and friends – Oba Sijuade crushed our hopes with no remorse.

When children’s happiness meant nothing to the king – well not his children.

My school was situated in the heart of Modakeke. On all occasions my school was addressed as OLGHS Modakeke, Ile Ife. This was completely fine with Oba Aderemi however, Oba Okunade would have none of that, he was determined to cause argument where none expected/existed. He insisted he did not want the name Modakeke appeared at all on all the programs for the event. There were lots of going back and forth on this and eventually he ordered the event not to take place at all. Lots of outcry about this however, maintaining peace in the region is important as the safety of the students could no longer be guaranteed – so my Interhouse Sport was cancelled to make the king happy.

Mrs Iwarere reportedly was a returnee Diasporan, a beneficiary of a great education my school once offered hence her passion to put school children and their education first. She was very sad after this unfortunate event and left my school shortly after – we all missed her dearly.

Oba Okunade Sijuade was 57 in 1987, now twenty-seven years later, not much has changed in his mission of subduing everything and everyone in Modakeke. See here and here

I am a yesterday child just like Boko Haram today’s children. I am blessed that I no longer feel shaken up with anger when I think of these events, not everyone is like this today – something for our elders, kings and leaders to think about.

*Name I give to my nice school principal

GEJ – My favourite Nigeria president of recent years

I’ve got to give it to our sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan. He is the best president that I have ever had in recent times. He has never failed to consistently keep Nigerians interested in their country welfare. Who in the recent year has maintained such a high tempo, all in disastrous way like GEJ? No one, I’d say.

GEJ hunchback, dull look – that earned him a ‘clueless’ president ever, mumbling when talking about very important issues or making unexpected decisions that is worse than the previous – GEJ was not faking it, that is him in all his entirely.

A ko le gbin cocoa ka ka bara lori re – You can not plant cocoa and expect to harvest melon from the same tree.

This year alone –

– GEJ said he has always treated Boko Haram issue with kid’s glove – his words not mine. It takes GEJ 2 weeks to make a statement after over 200 students were abducted life from their dormitory. A couple of weeks later, GEJ had elaborate wedding for his adopted daughter, the minister at the wedding was one of the Nigerians sensational pastors aka GO of Redeemed Church. Has anything changed, No. Chibok girls still missing.

– Nigerians were outraged early in the year by the Centenary ceremony, people did not think we have anything to show for the 100 years after 1914 amalgamation. Those that were honoured included all Nigerians criminals both dead and alive. Professor Soyinka rejected the insult and sent a letter – a letter I believe GEJ could never comprehend because he is on the other side of reality.

Just as Nigerians were catching up on the breaths, GEJ announced the plan for a National Conference (Confab) Another wahala as more than half of the delegates did not represent the population age we have today. Within three months that Confab lasted, 8 people died – some due to underline medical conditions, some old age and others combination of the two.

– GEJ during an interview stated that stealing is not corruption – people pitied him that he should not be talking as everything he says came out wrong, oh well, if you are a president you have to talk sometimes. And what he says is how he sees it.

– Nigerians loved to be seen as religious. So earlier on in the year, GEJ promised his gullible followers that he’d worship in different church every week for the rest of the year. He took several photos at Redeemed church. He played well to Nigerians ignorance, well he is the king of that.

– TB Joshua, another Nigeria glorified councillor cum reverend last week killed at least 80 people at his church, not with a  gun. His church buildings in Lagos was originally two storeys. He raised the building to five using the same foundation without additional structural walls to support the heavy loads. This is a commercial building where thousand of people trudge weekly. The building collapsed, killed scores of people. This happened last week and yet no government officials sees any reason to arrest the prophet yet and definitely not deemed important enough to close the church for proper forensic test.

– A few days ago an aircraft belonging to the president of Christian Association of Nigeria, Mr Oritsejafor was caught in South Africa with $10million cash in the aircraft, the cash was said to be for buying weapons. The Israelis in the aircraft claimed to have rented the plane from Mr Oritsejafor. Well, Mr Oritsejafor’s body guards that he paraded on the streets were Israelis and this is a pastor whom Millions of Nigerians listened to. He is also close friend of GEJ so the case is likely go down same way as others.

– GEJ plays dumb to everything that is important and yet as a president he did not know where Boko Haram is located the Borno area. Yet pays a Washington-based PR firm $1.5 million to damage-repair him to Nigerians. And same GEJ only two weeks ago mocked Chibok girls by using hashtag #Bringbackourgoodluck to promote his 2015 reelection.

Maybe he wasn’t playing dumb afterall.

 

Effects of war on Nigeria yesterday children

When time is not enough to heal wounds – War Wounds.

If time can indeed heal all wounds, I would not remember the case of Amina each time I think of Boko Haram especially the effects of mindless killings on children and the youths when tomorrow gets here. Today is my tomorrow and the wounds are still raw because no justice has been served and perpetual killing/injustice is still going on. Their tomorrow will come fast and perhaps may react differently. Those who have been killed, were gone. Those who faced daily torture especially the abducted girls of Chibok whether sold out as child-bride or (finger-crossed) released to their family members, will have the rest of their lives to tell the tales.

In a country like mine, human lives were the cheapest, sad but that is the truth. With the resent twist about the news of powerful Nigerians being the main sponsors of BH – No surprises.

Most of the people involved in BH were youths, they are young and for the reasons best known to them, they allowed “big” people to manipulate them into killing their own kins, friends, neighbours and school mates.

I know that GEJ, my president is somewhere still handling Boko Haram case with kid’s glove – he said this himself a few months back.

Amina and I attended the same secondary school, she was very outgoing with lots of friends. Both of her parents were from *Ile Ife but they decided to build their mansion in Modakeke. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong in people having a home where they liked especially when they have paid all their dues. One problem here was that Modakeke and Ile-Ife were like Omo iya *awusa. (loosely means siblings that passionately hated each other). Amina’s parents made this decision in the late 1970s when everyone in the area thought life will forever be peaceful. Their house was one of the few beautiful ones in town at the time, even today several decades later, Amina’s house still stands out.

By December 1,  1980, everything changed. A new king installed in Ile Ife.

This is where Amina’s story came in. For me I already knew I was in hot soup since I was about seven years old. I knew how terrible it was to have both parents being native of the same town – no where to run, we were doomed and just lived by the mercy of the new Ife king – whose only mission in life was to see the end of every living soul that belonged to Modakeke or if that failed, to take away all their farmlands so as to keep them as servants forever – this is real. As it turned out it was not that easy to wipe out everyone in a group but easier to take over their livelihoods forcefully. This is where the torments begins.

As terrible as this sounds, I was a bit happy and felt safe as I was among a group of people whose lives were filled with daily paralysing despair – we had similar fate.

Amina’s story was different. Her family lived in the middle of Modakeke. She and her siblings knew no other place since they were born. They of course could have run as it will only take just about 20minutes power-walk to be in safe haven of Ile Ife – but they did not.

Since December 1980, there has always been one thing or the other that leads to displacement of people usually chasing them out of their farmlands in broad day lights and when resistance of any kind is perceived, the attackers will come around first thing in the morning usually around 5am and just hack/gun them all – the aim was to take away their farmlands anyways, either dead or alive means nothing to the perpetrators.

Amina’s story was in early 1990’s. Here is the dilemma for Amina who was only sixteen years old at the time and her brother 14 years old:

– They needed to protect their house, if they run away their mansion is likely to be razed to the ground as they may be seen as enemy within.

Alternatively,

– They could run to Ile Ife where their extended families were, but really have no place to live there, they will be leaving their home and livelihood behind.

Amina’s father was away on business. Amina and Tajudeen though children were forced to make decision – they chose to stay and defend their home and support the people whom they have known all their lives.

Why am I relating Boko Haram with Modakeke and Ife crisis?

-Both heavily involved youths as casualties and as fighters

– In both cases youths are brainwashed to kill their own kind

– In both cases Elders/royals that were meant to protect/educate/enlighten were the monsters, keeping their own children away and wasting other people lives

– Both started as nursed hatred/revenge then get political therefore government fold their hands and pretended all is well.

 

 

*Awusa = Walnut. Nigeria walnut is different from western walnut. When broken, there is a thin layer of cover between two halves that prevent one from touching the other.

*Ife and Modakeke belonged to the same ethnic group, spoke the same language albeit slightly different accents.

Proximity of Modakeke and Ile Ife – Imagine London and Kent or Seattle and Belleveu in WA – so no defines boundaries.