There is fire on the mountain
And nobody seems to be on the run
Oh, there is fire on the mountaintop
And no one is a-runnin’
I wake up in the mornin’
Tell you what I see on my TV screen
I see the blood of an innocent child
And everybody’s watchin’
… One day the river will overflow
And there’ll be nowhere for us to go
And we will run, run
Wishing we had put out the fire, oh.
These are the immortal lyrics of Bukola Elemide’s song, Fire on the Mountain, the fifth track on her inimitable album Aṣa. Bukola, the 39-year-old musician, professionally known as Aṣa, sang this song at the launch of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, penultimate Tuesday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Several high-ranking government officials, including President Muhammadu Buhari, were in attendance.
Dressed in a sombre all-black attire, Asa performed the song, a rebuke of African leaders and their apathetic disposition to the plight of the common man, looking directly into the eyes of the President.
The song captures, most graphically, the picture of the extant Nigerian society over which Buhari superintends: a society at the cusp of destroying itself and everyone in it, yet, no one seems to care.
Those who say President Buhari did not get Asa’s message may not be correct because sitting right there and listening to the song, I saw a frown on his face. His coterie of aides became agitated and uncomfortable and couldn’t wait for the ‘hawk’ to dismount the stage. Asa spoke truth to power. It was a patriotic call and she beautifully rose to the occasion.
Every day, Nigerians wake up seeing the blood of innocent children on their television screens and, yet, elect to do nothing. Some students of the Bethel Baptist College, Kaduna State, abducted from their hostel on July 5, 2021, are still with their abductors. Nobody cares.
Daily Trust newspaper reported on February 21, 2022, that eight months after the abduction of 80 students from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, on June 17, 2021, more than 10 of them were still being held captive, with no fewer than 13 of the female students married off to bandits.
While Nigerians are agonising that about 40 of the Abuja-Kaduna train bound victims abducted on March 28, 2022, are still being held by terrorists, many have forgotten that some of the over 200 students abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, in December 2020; 136 pupils abducted from Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, Niger State, on April 30, 2021, and many others are still with their abductors, abandoned and forgotten by a society that has become very unfeeling.
Most of the 276 mostly Christian female students abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, were never seen again, just as Leah Sharibu, a Christian, and one of the 110 girls taken from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018, has been abandoned to her tragic fate.
The Buhari government carries on as if nothing is amiss. Anyone who dares to tell the administration the truth is quickly reminded that before May 29, 2015, when Buhari assumed office in his second leadership incarnation, terrorists allegedly held Nigerian territory the size of Belgium. They shamelessly lied that terrorists have been technically defeated and their ranks decimated so much so that they can only attack “soft targets.”
They conveniently forgot that lies have expiry dates but the truth never expires. The many fibs of the Buhari government have expired. However, the truth, which will never expire, is that terrorists no longer control Nigerian territory the size of Belgium, they are now in effective control of 100 per cent of the geo-political space called Nigeria, including Abuja, the seat of Nigerian government, the symbol of its sovereign power.
As Asa poignantly told Buhari via the medium of her song, “One day the river will overflow and there’ll be nowhere for us to go. And we will run, run, wishing we had put out the fire.” That day has come upon us. The terrorists have announced their arrival. The country is now theirs.
And they announced their arrival in a most dramatic and audacious way. It was loud and clear. They first waylaid an advance convoy of Buhari in Dutsinma, about 152 kilometres from his hometown of Daura, Katsina State. Though Garba Shehu, the president’s media aide, claimed that only two persons in the convoy that included an advance team of security guards, protocol and media officers, suffered minor injuries, police spokesman in Katsina, Gambo Isah, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Aminu Umar and another officer were killed in a terrorist ambush in Dutsinma the same day.
ACP Umar and his team were on a “clearance operation” when they were ambushed by “terrorists numbering over 300 on motorcycles, shooting sporadically with AK 47 rifles and General Purpose Machine Guns,” Isah said.
Then, on Tuesday, July 5, terrorists invaded the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja. Using high explosives and guns, they breached the facility, setting free more than 450 prisoners, including at least 63 hardened terrorists. Kuje is about 35 kilimetres from Aso Rock Villa, where President Buhari resides.
An eyewitness told PREMIUM TIMES, “I slept under my bed, the military man that was on the road entered my house. He removed his uniform and hid the guns.”
A few days later, the terrorists released an 11-minute video clip where they were seen ruthlessly whipping victims of the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train. They not only announced gleefully that some of their colleagues released from Kuje prison have rejoined them in the forest, they vowed they would kidnap Buhari and other topflight politicians. They taunted Nigeria, a country that has been brought on its knees by an impotent leadership. Nigerians are aghast.
As if these were not enough humiliations, on Friday night, officers and men of the 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade, who answered a distress call from the Nigerian Law School in Bwari, Abuja, were ambushed by terrorists, who killed ten of them, including a Captain and Lieutenant.
On Monday, the government officially shut the Federal Government College, Kwali, Abuja, after terrorists attacked a community near the school. The Nigerian Law School quickly moved the venue of its Call to the Bar, which took place on Wednesday from Bwari to the Body of Benchers Secretariat, behind the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), along the Airport Road, Abuja.
Now, there is complete bedlam in the country. On Tuesday, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) said it had made an additional deployment of its officers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Frightened residents were not comforted. Some have started moving out of the Federal Capital Territory, a city that ought to be the most secured in the country.
Before then, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had placed all its state commands on alert following intelligence reports that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists have heightened plots to attack Abuja, Lagos, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Kogi states.
The leaked memo dated July 25 and signed by the Deputy Commandant General (DCG) Operations, Dauda Danladi Mungadi, which was addressed to all state commands of the NSCDC, said: “We have received credible intelligence that Boko-Haram and the ISWAP Terrorist groups have mobilised fighters and high calibre weapons particularly Rocket propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers, Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGS) which they intend to deploy for the offensive.”
On Wednesday, senators woke up from their lethargic slumber and served Buhari an impeachment notice. Meanwhile, Buhari, a president whose country is on fire, was bald-facedly chasing rodents in Monrovia, Liberia, in the name of being an African statesman.
Now, the Nigerian river has overflown and there is fire on the mountain. There is really nowhere in this country where anyone can run to and feel safe. The Aṣa album was released in 2007. How prophetic!
Today, many stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress, APC, are distancing themselves from the calamity that has befallen the country. They claim that Buhari, not APC, failed. How disingenuous. But is anyone really surprised? Isn’t it said that failure is an orphan?
When it served his purpose, Buhari actively embraced Boko Haram terrorists and warned that any attack on them is an attack on the North. Today, many of his acolytes, who can no longer go to their villages, men and women who have become refugees, literally, in Abuja, are wishing Buhari had put out the fire of terrorism before it became the monster it is today. But it is too late. The President may well hand over to ISWAP, Boko Haram or any of the allied terror groups in 2023.
My only prayer is this: May the likes of Muhammadu Buhari never happen to Nigeria again!
Ikechukwu Amaechi is Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of TheNiche on Sunday newspaper and former Editor of Daily Independent newspaper.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer.