Symbolism with Simbo Olorunfemi
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @simboolorunfemi
“Too often, we pretend to be what we are not and run away from what we are” –Burney.
The greatest danger we face as a nation might yet be that our yesterday was forcefully taken away by political buccaneers, who traded away today to the exigencies of power calculations, such that tomorrow is now being framed by incompetent conspiracy theorists and revisionists. When you sit on the throne not on account of the triumph of ideas canvassed, but by a mix of luck, manipulation of the system and a primitive resort to the elemental instincts of a deprived and mis-directed mass, it comes as no surprise when your dreams are of the stuff where people are constantly chasing you. Even when there are no enemies, you are compelled to manufacture them. But where it gets really worrisome is when on account of a marathon run of sleepless nights, days now begin to resemble nights and the distinction between friends and enemies is now completely blurred. The discourse has taken on a dangerous bend when we now require Transformation Ambassadors to frame it around those who are for him being more than those who are against him.
It is only in the context of a siege mentality that you can understand the tragedy that presently unfolds before us. It is the only reason that can be adduced for the 100 days of shame we have endured as a nation and the advertisement of incompetence we have beamed to the world. To put this into perspective, we must first remind ourselves that the primary responsibility of the state is to guarantee the security and lives of its people. The government, in which the power of statehood now resides, has it all. It might not be able to guarantee that no crime is committed, but where there is a breach, it has a responsibility to ensure that it is addressed. Where any man’s right is breached it has a responsibility, through its institutions, that such is restored. That the government is vested with maximum powers – including that of life and death, is for a reason.
The essence of the enormous powers given to government is to ensure that no harm comes the way of young girls who might elect to pursue their dreams in the forgotten backyard of Chibok. It is to inspire in them the audacity to dream, on the wings of a trust reposed in the institutions of government. The Chibok girls did not know anything about the complexities of Nigerian federalism that has forced down on the nation a unitary police force, with the State Governors being Chief Security Officers in name only. The Chibok girls could not have known about the power play between the government at the centre and the one in Maiduguri. They needed not be reminded of the failure of governance all around them. All they needed was hope. All they had were dreams.
How would they have known we will deny them even the little right to simply dream? They must have had hope in their bellies, as the mad men drove them into the chambers of the Sambisa forest. They must have been confident that help will soon come. But what did we give them in return for their hope? Some of our friends were busy spinning conspiracy theories and making light of the situation. They tagged the abduction of over 200 young girls an attempt to embarrass Mr President. What the Chibok girls could not have believed was that days after their abduction, Abuja would still be in a coma of denial. How would they have known that crawling out of the coma, what will be set up is a committee? The girls could never have guessed that months in captivity, foot soldiers of those paid to protect them will be marketing their ordeal as a hoax, accusing the people of Chibok and sympathisers of selling a scam. The girls could not have foreseen ‘na only you waka come’ playing out the way it did, while they remained in the womb of Sambisa Forest.
The Chibok girls did not know about that tendency in us, here christened as the ‘Malala syndrome,’ to despise our own and celebrate the outsider. They would not have known that Nigerians seeking to meet with their President would be turned back, while the red carpet will be rolled out to receive a Pakistani girl with the same message. They would not have known that they will need an Ambassador to get through to their President.
But what did the Chibok girls know? They probably heard about the Transformation Ambassadors before they were forcefully taken away. They would definitely have heard about their beloved President Goodluck Jonathan. What will they think about the fact that months after their abduction, the President has not been able to visit the community from which they were abducted. What will they make of the fact that it took the visit by President Malala, the 17-year old girl from Pakistan to make President Jonathan meet with the teenagers from Chibok who were able to escape from the hands of their abductors? What will they make of the fact that it took all of 99 days after they were taken away for the President to meet with their parents?
The Chibok girls might not know many things now, but when they return, they will surely get to know about the #BringBackOurgirls campaign which made the world rise as one to demand for their release from captivity. The Chibok girls will be told about one Obiageli Ezekwezili. They will get to hear about Emmanuel Shehu. They will learn of the heroic roles played by the strong men and women of Chibok like Pogu Bitrus, Allen Manasseh and many others, who stood their ground against an onslaught of misinformation and desire to bury the truth.The Chibok girls will get to know about Nima ElBalgir who came into Nigeria, put her life on the line to make it to Chibok, while even the world had turned its back on that community. They will get to read about CNN’s Isha Sesay who refused to be gagged, insisting on putting our gods on their toes, in the early heady days. The Chibok girls will one day get to know about the thousands of Nigerians who have kept the fire burning, in spite of intimidation, bigotry and blackmail.Soon, the Chibok girls will come out. They will ask our friends who are today marooned in the Sambisa forest of hatred for fellow Nigerians – what did you really do when we were away?