I write this short letter from my bed, with no heavy heart, because Nigeria is getting worse from what I used to know. Can you imagine living in fear in your so-called ‘home’? Imagine living in fear when a Nigerian policeman stands beside you? You feel he’s going to rob you. Many Nigerian policemen are more toxic than terrorists. They terrorise you in the morning, afternoon and night. You don’t have to be yourself in Nigeria, because someone is sitting at a corner, waiting to judge you. Some policeman is giving you that scary look because you have dreadlocks. He tells the taxi man, ‘Park well!’ Then you park well and he tells you to identify yourself. If you are smart enough, you speak Igbo or Yoruba or Hausa and he says, ‘Anything your boys, rasta man?’ How can we be safe in the hands of such security agents? How can we be sure that these security agents haven’t sold out? Who has supplied weapons to the terrorists to terrorise us? Who lied to us that the Chibok girls had been released? Who should we trust?
Last month, I was in Monrovia to meet with Liberian government officials over a project I’m taking to Liberia and I saw, everywhere, on the streets of Monrovia, men who speak Igbo mostly, wielding long guns and standing like statues and mannequins. They are Nigerian soldiers. They would say they are part of the United Nations envoy. Please, cut it and send these soldiers home. Liberia is at peace. Nigeria is at war. Please, send these soldiers back to Nigeria; they are supposed to be serving their nation when needs arise. Now, dear Nigerians, let’s demand that all the Nigerian soldiers in Liberia return to Nigeria. I know they won’t like this, because they are feeding well in Monrovia, but they have duties to perform in their home. Let them return. Now.
The kidnapped children, no matter how we have started imagining them now, must be going through hell. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to any man. Poverty is. That is why, when you kidnap the rich, negotiation happens immediately and a release is made. In this case, these are children from poor homes. It is even difficult to identify their parents and relatives. Some of us, have constantly Tweeted and Facebooked and quickly gone to clubs and danced to Mavins’ Dorobucci. And Davido was partying hard in Lagos with South Africa’s Mafikizolo and Instagraming #BringBackOurGirls. You would say, should they die? No. I don’t expect them to die. I want them to shut up. I am angry that I can not go and find those girls, that is why I have decided not to help ‘raise awareness.’ If a man wants food, don’t go screaming, ‘Can someone give this man food?’ I have learnt that you don’t trivialize issues. If a man is in need, help him and if you can’t help, lock up!
We are cocky people. We are jokers. We have called God to come and save the children he created and is supposedly watching over. We have let these children down. Our President is confused, because old, haggard wicked touts who have sent their children abroad where they can never be kidnapped surround him. But, we all believe in Karma and believe that whatever a man sows, he shall reap. The same thing, which has befallen these kids, would befall everyone who is in power to save them and refused to help. We are not compassionate, but when one shows his disdain for #BringBackOurGirls trending on Twitter, they call him the devil.
Do we really want to #BringBackOurGirls? Do we? Or we just dey talk, make people no talk say we dey quiet?
Onyeka Nwelue is currently Visiting Lecturer at Hong Kong University’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures. He is a founding member of The Trent Voices lives and he lives in Paris, where he runs La Cave Musik, a record label, specialising in quality music from Africa and the Caribbean.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.