Last time when I wrote on the caption: ‘Maiduguri on Fire’, many people, in spite of the very limited publicity it got, called and sent messages verifying the veracity of the contents of the piece. That was not unexpected. I know full well, as I’ve equally not forgotten to make confession on that very piece under reference that only few will believe with the content because of its wild strangeness. It is even more unbelievable because none of the media houses carried the story; the story that by any means deserves a front page headline space in all the national dailies. The respondents of the piece besides the deliberate silence of the media were baffled where I mentioned that the state government turned a blind eye against all I mentioned. And now they should lend a listening ear here: the state government has gone far beyond that.
The tragic incident that occurred in Gwange Sabon Layi two weeks ago which was covered in the previous piece had no doubt put the entire people of Maiduguri into mourning. And just about when the people who were made homeless, jobless, and son(s)-less by the JTF are beginning to find solace from the distress and sorrow that had encapsulated them; and about getting back to helplessly settle in their burnt houses—and wait for another strike; a fresh turn erupted this week too, though not wholly unexpected. And this time it promises to be even worse!
A bomb—this time around—was said to have exploded on Monday the 8th of October, for the second time in a week, along Lagos street; the sound of which I have heard while deep in sleep. The bomb, according to the JTF and all their supporters, was targeted at their patrol Van and exploded in a way, according to their own side of the story, very mysterious not to mistake as some ancient fairy tales. And in reprisal, the JTF razed down as many houses and shops as they found pleasing; killed more than 30 passersby, according to what was approved for the Associated Press by the state to put across to the gullible public; burnt many cars and robbed houses of people who could not pay bribes. And the deputy governor of Borno state, Zanna Umar, surprisingly, did not see any house or shop burnt; did not see any dead body on the streets, but people sleeping under sun and he wants us to believe that it’s the truth. We expect him to correct himself sooner than later and state further that the darkening on the walls as a result of the fire flames was a repainting. Although, on the overall, one may ask him if he was at all well that day!
Then at the midst, came Col. Sagir Isa, the JTF spokesman, who though said they burnt no house, and killed no one, admitted seeing burnt houses and dead bodies disposed on the streets as against the deputy governor. And did the Col. know that it is a counter statement to the deputy governor’s—the one of their own?
On his part, however, the Col. said that all the houses, shops and cars contacted the blaze because some chemicals used for making bombs were hid in the houses and shops, as a result of the explosion nearby. Figuratively, he meant that Maiduguri is a bomb-making factory such that every house keeps chemicals for making bombs. The people too, he said were killed by some hoodlums who he did not mention their names. Here, unfortunately he is right, because the men of the JTF were those who did it and they are no less than irresponsible hoodlums.
The Borno state government did not fail to amaze us once more again. Besides its usual denial of the massacre JTF carry out against the people of Maiduguri, it intends to insult our intelligence this time around and it is unfortunate that the deputy governor could be such shameless. What the deputy governor said, the world should know, is a blatant LIE, and we must all call it by its name, without fear.
One thing stands however: doctors need to update us on these new breed of people whose sleep could endure all the sound produced by an explosive inches away at the tip of their ears; sound of protracted gunshots right on top of their heads; endure 30 degree sun heat; and stand all these together from 7:00 to 17:00 (10hrs) without interrupting their sleep! And if they need only a deputy governor to wake them up! After that, we will tell BG’s father to go and unearth his son on the grave and take him to the government house, so that the deputy governor, a specialist on this kind of sleep, will wake him up.
It is quite unfortunate that nobody in the entirety of Maiduguri could summon the courage to tell him the truth. Actually this piece should have come much earlier, but because I thought someone more fitting would take to the challenge and tell him boldly, I delayed a little. Now it seems nobody commands such courage, and certainly this LIE must not be left to pass without calling it by its name!
I often hear people saying that we do not have government in Borno but have always held some reservations and now the jinx has been broken, so I can’t help but agree. This is the same government which we voted into office hoping that it will provide us with at least security but now connives with security officers to kill us and burn our houses. If not for the collective patience and stoical mien of the people of Maiduguri, all to the credit of our late father and shehu, our venerable Alhaji Mustapha Umar El-Kanemi of blessed memory, to which we have no regrets, this is enough to provoke protests and demonstration capable of ousting the government out of office. How could a frustrated politician who has rallied almost every political party present to finally come into office at the back of our votes deny such a gross crime against us?
I was writing this piece yesterday while a friend who visited me was seated right beside me, rubbing shoulders on a three-seater sofa. He was able to read what I was typing from his viewpoint. And he cautioned that I should soften the manner in which I was writing, to the extent that I should scrap some points, because he was afraid the government and the JTF may come after me.
I told him that it was deliberate that I did not intend any iota of decorum, courteousness or politeness to feature in the piece. If a government can back the killing of more than 30 innocent lives, I asked him, what does a single life worth? I have always told people who give similar advice that much as our lives are very precious, it will be very unfortunate if we all keep quiet at a time when some self-serving politicians impose hardships we do not deserve upon us because of fear, when we still call our society democratic. It will be unfortunate, for instance, if for fear nobody amongst us could boldly call the lie told by the government a LIE especially when it denies the killings of innocent people from among us.
We must resurrect the truth the government wanted to as well kill. The JTF have whether Mr. Zanna wants it or not, killed, not only 30people, but more than, and burnt houses not less than 50 on that particular incident alone. They have, in the case of shops, to be appropriate, killed small scale business in Maiduguri. And the government who denies all these wants us to believe that its foreign trips every now and then were to woo in investors to revamp our economy, to alleviate poverty and etc. What I normally do when I hear such lies in the BRTV, I just make efforts to reach to the TV set’s switch and hit it off!
BRTV, Wetin Be Your Problem?
Alhaji Usman Ali Chiroma, the BRTV general manager, who I have always admired and held with great respect, should go and bury his head in shame! He has blatantly and indefensibly shown to us that he and his BRTV are only concerned with or working for the interest of the governor and his wife. I was glued to my TV set, tuned on BRTV; on the day the incident occurred in Gwange, a little over two weeks now believing full well that it would form the centrepoint or headline of their local news at 6:45. They, however, did not only refuse to cover it as the headline but did not find the minutest space to feature it, and it was the NTA that I refused to watch because I didn’t expect from them any such thing that did it! Mal. Usman may wish to now know that his BRTV already rests in our, or at least my contaminated trash bin.
And this government that wants us to start eating goats from Indian sub continent from now on, because we’re “under-proteined”, should repent and stop telling LIES. Because the more it does, the more we will give it its appropriate name, until we are dead.
Abdulhamid Al-Gazali, Borno Writers Forum.