Who is Standing With the Fallen Nigerian?

Last Saturday, London was attacked. What happened in London cannot be ignored; it was inhuman as it was heart-breaking. London will recover, it always does, but the incident raises a disturbing question: if London could be attacked successfully,what about other parts of the world where people don’t have access to the cutting-edge security systems that London enjoys. I’m talking about people whose only security depends on self-help, because of the failure of their government to provide the minimum of security services.

According to reports in Nigeria, on the same day that London was attacked, 21 people were killed in two separate Boko Haram attacks in villages near Chibok in Borno State, northeast Nigeria. The responses of the UK and Nigerian governments to the similar incidents were so different they were like comparing day and night. While the UK government responded in a decisive manner, the Nigerian government couldn’t care less; while the UK government tried to rally its people to respond in unity to the barbaric attack by terrorists, their Nigerian counterpart was not even aware that its citizens were attacked, or killed.

The response of the Nigerian government, sadly, was not surprising in the least — the government, or gang, has become a byword for ineptitude and cluelessness. The surprising part, though, was the response of the Nigerian media to Borno killings, and all such similar incidents around Nigeria. The international media is focused on the London attacks, and that is understandable. They will report on things that are important to them, and London, being an international centre for business, is important to them.

What I don’t understand is the way the Nigerian media were falling over themselves to report the London attack, and how our government and politicians were competing to be the first to “stand with” London, while at the same time neglecting the Borno incidents. The same people who look the other way when Nigerians are massacred by terrorist and criminal groups are now “standing” with London because that seems to be the “in” thing at the moment. Their focus is on the “trending news,” not the people. While trying to appear internationally savvy, they have ignored their primary assignment.

Which begs question: who is standing with the Nigerian? Who is standing with terrorist-ravaged Chibok? Who is standing with Agatu and Southern Kaduna decimated by marauding herdsmen? Who is standing with the IDPs bombed by the Nigerian Air force? Who is standing with Otodo Gbame whose homes were leveled by the Lagos state government? Who is standing with members of the Shia sect murdered by the Nigerian Army? Who is standing with the IPOB members massacred by the military?Don’t their lives matter too?

I don’t care whether the world loves us or not; indeed, they cannot love us more than we love ourselves. But when we don’t love ourselves, what can be worse than that? When we cannot stand with ourselves, who will stand with us? We complain that the international community does not care about us, but do we care? We are usually quick to stand in solidarity with grieving foreigners.That is not wrong.In fact, it portrays our humanity; we mourn with those that mourn. However, when the same people who are so quick to commiserate with foreigners become numb to what is happening to their fellow countrymen and women, all is not right.

It appears that Nigerians identify more with what they see on television than with what is going on in Nigeria. It’s why they can stand with Paris, or London, or any other foreign land, but cannot stand with Maiduguri or Southern Kaduna. The Nigerian media are partly to blame for this. They focus only on what is happening in Lagos, and treat other parts of the country like they do not matter. But for social media, most of what happens outside Lagos would have gone unreported. And even their focus in Lagos is mostly on gossips and celebrity gist. That is wrong!

The media plays an important role in a democracy; in fact, it is the backbone. The media is the watchdog of the society. They have a duty to make Nigerians aware of social, political and economic happenings around the country. Without such information, our leaders cannot be held accountable. Unfortunately, there seem to be collusion between the media and politicians in Nigeria. How else does one explain the ignoring of killings around the country? Why is the Nigerian media so silent on a lot of national issues? When did they become so cowardly?

Nigerians die in secret every day, not only because we have a self-serving government that caters only to the elite, but also because those tasked with the responsibility of exposing such deaths have lost their sense of duty.

A democracy without an effective media is like a horse with three legs. The Nigerian media must wake up to their duty as the watchdog of the society, and stop this obsession with gossips and reality shows; life is not all about entertainment.

Besides, a robust media is in the best interest of every Nigerian. If the media fails to report the Borno killings today, and you think it is none of your business, tomorrow it could be you. And then, nobody would know about it.

So, to the 21 who were killed by Boko Haram last Saturday, and all the others across Nigeria who die unreported,due to terrorist, criminal, herdsmen, police, or military attacks, may their souls rest in peace.


Image credit: naij.com


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