Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is God angry with Nigeria?

My mum used to watch all Nigerian football matches and in my weirdness, I never wanted her to be alone; I would sit with her through all the matches even if we didn’t know what tournament it was.

I remember someone asking at an event I attended if anyone could remember where they were when Samuel Okparaji died, my hand shut up proudly, I vividly remember where I was, I was watching him die on TV. I was sitting beside my mum as usual and she wore a stunned look which transformed to utter sadness as he was carried away on the stretcher, she asked me to look at how his hand dangled and said he was not going to make it.

When Nigeria roared from a 4-0 defeat to eventually level the scores with 4 goals in less than 30minutes and went on to beat USSR on penalties ( i.e. the Daman Miracle) in  1989,  I was with my mum listening to the car stereo so we could have a live experience of the match. This was before the days of live transmission of overseas matches, when TV sets in homes never woke up until 4p.m and returned to sleep at 12midnight.

I also recall another experience, this time with the whole family. We were watching a live Nigerian game (Tunisia 94) , and we were losing. During half time, my dad asked us to stand up, join our hands together and we prayed really hard for Nigeria to win the match. When the game returned, Nigeria gained the upper hand and played to a victorious win. Back at home, we were hysterically jubilant as was the whole street under us and my dad bought us a crate of minerals (soft drinks) to celebrate.

That seems to be the Nigeria of old. Luck always shined us, favour was never far off. This made Nigerian matches and progress in tournaments very dramatic. A current example is how we qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Today, our story seems to have changed. The hand over us seems to have turned. Our fatal fall off from the Africa Nations Cup qualifiers cannot be explained. Although we were refreshed with the Falcons towering over fellow African countries in South Africa, but when they met with their Goliaths in Germany, their Davidic weapon did not bring victory. And as if crashing out of the Olympics football game qualifications was not enough, we returned from the London Olympics without any medal of any colour whatsoever.

I no longer see the lucks and favours. Is God angry with Nigeria?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Can You See What I See?

At the onset of the Boko haram saga, most of the bombings were reported from Maiduguri, and then came news of a jail break in Yola, Adamawa. The United States sent a high ranking military official to Nigeria to offer their support and warn the country on the notoriety of the group. He was received by the Minister of State who maintained that Nigeria was not under threat, did not require military assistance from the U.S.A but will welcome training assistance.

The US emissary returned home but Boko Haram did not deter. They dared the Nigerian Police by launching an attack on their headquarters. The news went out that it was a suicide bomber, the police denied it but Boko haram released the picture of the suicide bomber to the press.

This marked their first suicide mission in Nigeria and from that point; I sensed in me that their action had taken a dangerous turn. I began pondering on the situation and wondered what they wanted. A careful look at the map of Nigeria and I was left aghast. Was I the only one seeing what I had just noticed and privy to their possible intent? Their first concentrated bombing attacks were in Maiduguri, then Yola and Bauchi. Could it be that they want to gain grounds in the country state after state?

As the attacks continued in north eastern part of the country, the police stood their ground on what they knew about Boko Haram – They are not affiliated to Al-qaeda. Then a bomb went off at the UN House killing 24 people. I think the bombing boomed –  Boko Haram is not a mere local struggle, we are  part of a global one.

Did the Police, Military and Nigerian Government get it at all?

The bombings didn’t cease. They launched in Yobe, did not hold back on Bauchi and Jos. Then, they dared Kaduna, and succeeded, Kano buckled at the knee at their command performance, security temperature of Niger and Gombe states were tested and was found wanting.

When I heard about the incident at Deeper Life Bible Church in Okene, Kogi state, this information sparked a light in my head as I tried to connect it with a previously reported shoot out between military forces and Boko Haram and a further connection to the discovery of a bomb factory in Kogi State. This prompted another quick dash to the map of Nigeria and my heart skipped a beat. Take a look at your map. Can you see what I saw? Try again.

I strongly hope the Boko Haram saga will not be likened to a household who found a cub in their backyard but refused to crush it. They even attempted to befriend it. The cub grew older and behaved true to type and had all the members of the household for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Dear leaders, the time to act was yesterday…. but we can still take the right steps and make the bold decisions.