Recently, the world watched Thailand with great admiration as she battled to rescue 12 boys trapped in a cave in Chaing Rai province on June 23, 2018, during a football expedition that went wrong. The Wild Boars Academy boys, ages ranging from 11 to 16, were on expedition that included initiation rites planned to last less than an hour with their 25-year old coach.
At that time Nigeria would have mocked them as young cultists that met their deserved waterloo, Thailand deployed all human and material resources; retaining best foreign services and equipment just to bring her citizens to safety. They were not deterred by the death of one of the diver-rescuers. After two weeks operation, all the boys were rescued, given best medical and psychological attentions and presented to the nation as heroes.
The incident was a moving drama of how much value a country attaches to her citizen. It was a remarkable story of love, solidarity, friendship, endurance and the length which man can go to save someone else’s child. What stops those kids from giving their best to a country that loves them? Nothing!
The fact is simple. Patriotism is not forced on people; it is earned. A country that cannot die for her citizens cannot expect her citizens to die for her. Nigeria looks like a mother deserted by her children because she is a she-wolf that eats her own children.
Think about the soldier-victims of Boko Haram insurgency, the victims of Lagos oil-trunk fire inferno, victims of brutal Fulani militia in different parts of the country, the trafficked Nigerians in Libya and even Nigerians abandoned in Russia after the soccer mundial. It has been sad examples of how not to treat countrymen.
In the late summer of 2017, Nigeria deployed her full military might in Operation Egwu Eke II to arrest a harmless ‘rabble-rouser’ for demanding a referendum to determine the fate of his people. In a military siege and consequent invasions of the home of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu and his parents disappeared in strange circumstance as scores of his supporters were massacred.
The entire military exercise left the world with gory videos of harmless citizens whipped and hacked to death. Our memory still bleeds recalling citizens buried in mud with army boots and cudgels falling repeatedly on them while they died slowly. Our memory will be ever hunted by the rivers of blood, cries of kids and women whose only crime was being Nigerians during jihadist regime.
The enthusiasm of the soldiers in unleashing maximum damage; the cowardice and connivance of the Igbo leaders to sell their citizens for political gains; the lies of government that hurried to give ‘terrorist’ label to the group, and the mockery of anti-IPOB sympathizers are collective abomination which must be expiated if Nigeria will ever know inner peace.
It is now a year and the government’s narrative on the Kanus’ whereabouts is not adding up. If they are hidden by their supporters as the military claims, does it suggest that feeble-looking Kanu and his aged-parents could elude ethnic army armed to their teeth on avenging mission? How could they elude military radar for a year in their hideout? Supposing they are rebels, they are also Nigerian citizens carrying our corporate identity.
The needful is a release of either their corpses or intelligence report on their whereabouts like America did all through in bin Laden’s case. Remanding innocent mothers in prisons for demanding their whereabouts is another human right infringement by a country whose military image already is at its lowest ebbs.
Severally, the Nigerian army has killed the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, on the pages of newspapers but Shekau has always resurfaced in new videos. But ever since America claimed to have killed Jihadist John of ISIS in air-strikes, we have never sighted John beheading journalists or aid workers afterwards.
Nigeria’s history is tainted with innocent blood- Biafrans, Dele Giwa, Saro Wiwa and Ogoni compatriots, Abiola and uncountable victims of political ritual killings, police and military rascality. We should not be a nation of blood and regrets but of love, respect to lives and freedom. This very reason birthed the IPOB and alive or dead, the boy Kanu has won moral war against Nigeria. That’s the true story a year after Egwu Eke II.