“The man dies in him who keeps silence in the face of tyranny”…….Wole Soyinka
Nigeria, the once peaceful and economically buoyant country with united and happy people is steadily heading to disintegration courtesy of bad governance and nonchalant attitudes of the citizenry coupled with unabated corrupt practices and mal-functional system piloted by half-illiterates and poorly exposed politicians with low morals.
Looking back into past security challenges, the blood thirsty squad that invaded Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe state on February 25, 2014, comprised adolescent boys. Moving in deathly herds, they invaded the high school like a storm cloud split by snaky thunderbolts. They stabbed through the night with a huge spear of mayhem and pumped hot lead into the defenseless innocent students, while asleep and murdered 59 of the boys.
Eyewitness account said they threw explosives into dormitories as they sprayed the rooms with gunfire. Some of the students who tried to escape through the tiny windows landed straight before the terrorists, who slit their throats. Save a few survivors, the rest were burnt to early death.
There was no outrage in the wake of the massacre. Just silence. It was convenient disconcerting quiet as characteristic of our governing style.
Two months later, on April 14-15 to be precise, another batch of terrorists stormed Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State and abducted 276 female students aged 16-18. And all hell was let loose as women’s rights activists, international and local non-governmental Organizations launched an intensive campaign to ginger government to free the girls unharmed. The movement gained global appeal as prominent figures identified with hash-tags in the interest of the girls.
Through the hubbub, nobody paid a serious mind to a curious development concerning both attacks other than the usual media statements, and several other terrorist attacks afterward: the majority of the perpetrators were small boys at the cusp of adolescence. Some of the survivors of the attacks attested to this fact.
Ibrahim Al-Hajjar, a Boko Haram Commander that I once interviewed in line of duty at the fringes of Sambisa forest in 2011 then as Ad-hoc Consultant in the Office of the National Security Adviser, revealed that he was leading at least 150 teenagers and underage children domiciled in his camp in Sambisa as an Ameer.
Al-Hajjar also forcibly married two of the abducted Chibok school girls: Faridah, formerly known as Precious and Amina formerly known as Elizabeth. It is a typical case of a dangerous storm brewing fast with no reasonable and responsible solution at sight as those expected to provide solution had since gone to bed and still sleeping and snoring while the country burns.
The boys usually ignored or enslaved have learnt the ropes of savage being yet nobody gives a hoot. At least, we would worry what becomes of us when they set our neighborhood on fire in a manic search for the warmth and attention we denied them.
In some quarters, there is an advanced argument that those boys are results of polygamy-gone wrong in the Islamic North; self-styled intellectuals and critics are quick to point out that Islamic polygamy is a problem that afflicts the North with hordes of almajiri, who are oft recruited as cannon fodder for ethno-religious crisis and terrorism.
They recommend monogamy as a better alternative. This is a cheeky and self-serving argument based on ignorance of the tenets of polygamy in Islam and the essence of almajiranci in tsangaya schools.
It is not only Islam that encourages or accommodates polygamy. There are several Pagan tribes and Christians that subscribe to polygamy. In fact, in some African countries, practice of polygamy has become a law for the good of the country.
Islam and its percepts of polygamy cannot be blamed for the protracted violence in the North. The violence was borne of extreme politics and accumulated governance failure and should be blamed on politicians, groups and individuals who are abusing the system in pursuit of selfish political, ethno-religious, coital, emotional lusts.
How do we explain the thousands of children birthed outside wedlock in the Southern parts of the country? Many of them are products of broken marriages, prostitution, Baby factories and serial monogamy. There are several cases in which children are sired by a parent across successive monogamous marriages and informal cohabitation; one marriage breaks down, and the parent moves on to another partner, and so on. Lest we forget the ubiquitous ‘love-child’ and of course the products of the high school teen lust.
Children sired via such arrangements are often sent to live with their grannies in villages or forced to live as house helps in the homes of close and distant relatives or the rich. Where they stay with an apathetic or extremely busy parent or guardian, they are condemned to the gruesome life of a latchkey child.
Amid the sullied wave of awareness blowing through the country, these children learn assertiveness the way of the streets; some eventually flee the cold comfort of their parents or guardians’ abode-such children are called ‘abandoned’. They constitute the rippling muscles of teen gangs and cult groups haunting several cities and localities in the South-west. While their peers in the Northeast and Northwest and North central are forcibly recruited into banditry, armed robbery, insurgency, ethnic militia and ISWAP death squads, they assume a different kind of terror to families, neighborhoods, and states in the Southern part of the country.
Hundreds of children are dumped in refuse, school, and public latrines; and subsequently condemned to shady orphanages and remand homes. If they are female, they become easy marks for sex traffickers and drug barons. If male, they end up as political thugs, drug mules, armed robbers, bandits, assassins, kidnappers, street hooligans and gangbangers.
For instance, recently, in State of Osun, teenagers and young adults fleeing EFCC arrest reassembled to practice internet fraud. They rioted against frequent arrests and investigation by the police and the EFCC. Many shamelessly identified themselves as ‘Game boys’ (internet fraudsters or yahoo boys).
Cut to Lagos, the epicenter of turf battles and teenage gang wars. The city grapples with the menace of teen cults; Awawa Boys, One Million Boys, Fadeyi Boys, Eroko Boys, Akala Boys, Ijesha Boys, Awala Boys, Shitta Boys, Nokia Boys, No Salary Boys, One Hour Boys, Oshodi Boys, No Mercy Boys, Aguda Boys, Night Cadet, Black Scorpion, Red Scorpion, Akamo Boys, Omo Kasari Confraternity, Para-Gang Confraternity (mainly teenage girls), Japa Boys and Koko Boys, among several others. Such ugly situations may soon rear their heads in virtually all settlements in the country courtesy of illiterate and empty politicians in possession of stolen public funds that cannot comfort them but to recruit boys into thuggery against opponents during campaigns and elections.
Sadly, in some cases, renowned ‘professional’ hypocrites and thugs that have excelled in their beastly ‘professions’ are offered political positions such as Personal Assistants (PAs), Special Assistants (SAs), Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) and Senior Legislative Aides (SLAs), Liaison Officer (LOs) and even Special Advisers or Chief of Staff, primarily for dirty jobs and defense of criminality. The junior ones in crime are left roaming the streets at the receiving end shouting and pretending to be loyalists just to heard and possibly considered for any material benefit.
What started innocently as a group of abandoned and frustrated impoverished minors begging for alms and food on the streets has eventually metamorphosed into a gang of fearsome underage and teen cultists, armed robbers, rapists, bandits and kidnappers.
More worrisome is how these boys operate in rag-tag squads bearing deadly arms to ‘improve’ their art of destruction. For large deadly missions, they operate as flash mobs of 100 – 150.
Members of the cult are drug dependent. They binge on psychotropic substances such as cannabis, codeine, rohypnol, tramadol, pamilerin and even gutter mud (poto-poto) just to remain intoxicated for their deadly crimes. They usually nurse morbid fascination for raping older women and the young ones for fun.
These are the monsters created from bad governance and corrupt practices in government business now threatening our peaceful existence and shaking the foundation of our progress. The main political class is controlled by primitive illiterates, silent crooks, rogues and self-appointed community leaders that fancy ostentatious living styles from slash funds, forgetting the ultimate survival of the poor and the maxim that says, “If the poor, cannot sleep because they are hungry, the rich cannot equally sleep because the poor are awake”. That is a confirmation of a typical case of Do me, I do you, God no go vex. You slap me and I slap you back or Money for hand, back for ground!
When these children were growing up, all they needed were exemplary masculine role models to emulate but what governments and the society offered them was an ethos of manhood that they could dumb down to.
Nigerian leaders and the society treat the boy-child as an affliction to society and females, in particular; the boy-child is cast as inconsequential in the scheme of things. In truth, he is.
This particular period he is marching as a terrorist or armed bandit, to abduct, to rape, and kill perhaps, the daughters we frantically empower and protect as jewels in our homes.
This is the country our leaders built; a cosmos of ‘strong women’ reliant on Atlas’ strength, yet imperiled by shrug that we should stand and fight.
Some of us not in leadership or government seem more committed to the security of the nation than those opportunists in government that accessed power through dubious means without qualifying for it but supported to remain by our weak and corrupt judicial system, compromised security operatives and the electoral umpire.
The educated ones in government are the stabilizing factors for dirty deals guising as civil servants but in reality are crooks garbed in civil service robes. To get out of the mess, a revolution through the ballot box in 2023 is the most ideal option or else…………
As those beastly and murderous bandits have stationed themselves in parts of Wase local government area forests of Plateau State ransacking, rustling, maiming and murdering innocent hapless citizens, it is the duty of all to wake up and confront the lingering challenges with dexterity and courage. It is not a matter of relying on government for solution. It is a matter of taking the war to the doors of the beasts in their temporal habitats. The people should join hands with government to overcome the challenges or else, there may soon be no individual breathing in the area going by the operational style of the murderers. God forbid!
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues