Op ed

NIGERIA: Mamodo killings, President’s swear-words and other matters…

Exactly a week ago, some cowardly gun men attacked a secondary school in Mamodo, a village 8 kilometres to Potiskum in Yobe state killing some 30 students while they were sleeping. The gruesome incident has been linked to the Boko Haram sect.
To be sure, the sect may well have undertaken this heinous escapade, after all its violent campaign, succinctly captured by its name-Boko Haram- is a repudiation of formal education. Therefore striking at a school and killing scores of innocent kids may just as well be in line with the sect’s sworn intent, which again calls for a redoubling of effort by the Joint Task Force (JTF) in its anti- insurgency campaign against the sect.
But having said that it is also appropriate to warn that it has become imperative to widen the anti- insurgency campaign to hitherto unsuspected groups or individuals out to exploit our fixation with the horrible deeds of the Boko Haram sect to undertake their own agendas—in form of personal vendettas, settling scores or undertaking horrid acts to achieve some sick and macabre ends. And judging by the fact that the way politics are being played has taken a vicious and despicable turn, it may not be far -fetched to attribute the Mamodo incident to the handiwork of some sick and desperate politician out to discredit some political foe.  
 Targeting of students in secondary schools should be cause for worry to all, particular in Yobe State which has been contending with the twin issue of dwindling number of enrolment of students in schools and poor grades posted annually in both the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) and the National Examination Council (NECO).  The Mamodo attack would sorely test the resolve of parents who, in the first place, had been reluctant to send their children and wards to school, to now be told to allow them to go back with the possibility of being made easy target for some deranged, trigger- happy psychopaths bent on expressing their anger against society through snuffing out lives of innocent children on issues that are beyond them to understand.
Thus, even though the social cost of the Mamodo attack is yet to be undertaken, it surely has taken the good work Yobe State has been doing in educating its youth several years back. The fear of marauding attacks could force parents to insist on keeping their sons and daughters at home rather than sending back to school, or send them over to safer states, less prone to blood cuddling attacks as was witnessed last week in Mamodo. So, spare a thought for Yobe State in this auspicious Ramadan month and say a prayer for quick return to normalcy for it to be able to grapple with the issues of educating its youth and general pestilence that is threatening the future of its school children.
Goodluck Jonathan’s imprecations
President Goodluck Jonathan was so overcome by emotions when the news about the killing of 30 students in Yobe State reached him. So shaken and helpless was he that he chose to launch his own counter -attack through imprecations and curses, in addition to JTF’s rapid response to the incident. The exact words would not be repeated in this column. 
At first, my reaction was ‘’serve the murderers right’’ for callously terminating the lives of a whole 30 students whose promising lives have now been ground into dust in their prime. For that they deserved all the maledictions in the president’s vocabulary, he could even invoke the patron –saint of Hades to seek the perpetrators out, one by one, and wreak vengeance on behalf of the nation. Yet something kept gnawing at my sensibility, urging me to breathe deeply and think through my support for the president.  What the president felt was blind anger. Yes, blind but also righteous anger which being a parent with children of his own, he was entitled to feel. But being president he was not entitled to express his dark thoughts outwardly in form of blatant curses and swear- words. I am saying this not because I do not know that Goodluck Jonathan is a devout Christian who is well versed in the many injunctions in the good book about the import of the words one utters even in the face of bitter anguish which the killings in Mamodo must have evoked in him and many of us. But my concern is that soon the dark expletives uttered by the president could take on a life of its own and gain currency to become the standard way of interpersonal communication. 
The argument being— if it could come from the president then it is correct and permissible—underscoring the fact that the president is a figure that is being looked up to, not only in leadership but virtually in all aspects of life. He is the president and therefore he can seldom be wrong both in his actions and utterances, ideally that is. All this implies that the president must be an exemplar from whom everyone takes his cue; an archetypal figure that is almost infallible. That being the case, giving vent to his inner, dark impulses outwardly, in form of imprecations, maledictions and swear words amounts to not measuring up to the high standard required of the office in etiquette, utterances and actions. The nation which he embodies is a force for good and  that must always be maintained even in the face of utterly senselesss provocation.
Guns for sale
It was reported in the July 5 edition of the Daily Trust that Nigeria’s border areas are awash with guns put up for sale to whoever want them. According to the report an AK-47 sold for N10000. 
The report contains nothing new that is not already in the public domain but to the extent that it focuses the readers’ attention to the present danger of a country awash with dangerous weapons, it served its purpose. The ever escalating incidence of violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings and other sundry felonies is owed to easy accessibility to weapons that enable them to carry out these acts. The preponderance of weapons is well known but why the problem has continued to defy solution is a moot point.
Like crude oil, weapons bring in quick money. So it is a lucrative business for those who couldn’t care a hoot what fate befalls Nigeria, as long as they rake in millions of Naira and smile all the way to the bank always. These people include the high and mighty in government and business who wear a responsible and respectable facade but underneath this veneer is the ugly demeanour of the criminal. They are the ones whose luggages are likely to evade being checked at the custom posts.
Elsewhere outside Nigeria, there can be no opportunity of displaying these guns for sale because the customs depart and other security outfits would do their duty of apprehending anyone peddling weapons openly. Their Nigerian equivalent would look the other way if the correct price can be paid. 

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