#AidForTheNorthEast: The Nigerian government and the abandoned people of Chibok

“We are in pains here…we are suffering,” said Daniel three days ago, it was more like a groan actually. Daniel had suffered a fractured hand, leg and collarbone in the last Chibok blasts that reportedly claimed 16 lives and left over 50 injured, two weeks ago. When he spoke to Ventures Africa over the phone on Thursday January 28, a day after the attack, Daniel expressed hope that the government was on their way to visit survivors, that was what they (the survivors) were told. Two weeks after and the government is still on its way to Chibok.

Just three days after the Chibok attack, Boko Haram extremists launched an assault on Dalori town, Borno state, on Saturday the 30th of January, killing about 86 people and leaving over 60 injured. Dalori attack was the third and deadliest attack in north eastern Nigeria in a week. Boko Haram members went on a rampage firing at fleeing residents, detonating bombs and torching houses. It was carnage, yet the government was silent. Nigerians were enraged.

When President Buhari finally released a statement through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, it was mainly to tell Nigerians and the wounded people of the north east that his government was being embarrassed by defeated insurgents. “Having lost the war, they (the insurgents) are seeking ways and means to gradually find their way back into society…they are so desperate to embarrass the government and the people that they have no qualms attacking isolated communities and markets.”

How does a defeated group launch such deadly attacks? And how can the president appear to be more concerned about the image of the government, than the hundreds of Nigerians killed and maimed by these “defeated insurgents”?

In over two weeks, more people have died from the Chibok and Dalori attack, some in the hospital whilst receiving treatment (first aid) and others on their way to hospitals in neighbouring towns in search of medical help. Daniel disclosed that four injured survivors of the Chibok attack died last week; three at the General Hospital Chibok, “Three people died here this week,” he told me last Friday. And when I called back on Saturday morning to know how they fared, the situation was bleak. His friend had died too. He was being transported to Gombe for better medical attention but he did not make it there. “There are no medication(s) no doctors…even the nurses are yet to resume,” he lamented. This was at 9am.

In the course of his campaign, President Buhari promised to “rise to the occasion” of tackling the insurgency, stating that, “As a father, I feel the pain of the victims of insurgency, kidnapping and violence. Under my watch, no force, external or internal, will occupy even an inch of Nigerian soil…” As it is, Boko Haram is clearly at large despite efforts of the Nigerian military. But what happened to the humaneness professed by the president during his campaign? Has the seat of the presidency robbed him of that? He might be too busy to pay a visit, but isn’t that why he has a cabinet and a throng of delegates?

Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state is not quite the renowned figure one would have expected him to be, though he governs a state notorious for terrorist activities. Once, he was praised for his benevolence to the victims of insurgency in Borno state, but with the likes of Daniel being left to their fate, in a healthcare facility without a single doctor, ambulance, or adequate medication, not much can be said about his celebrated kindness.

However, the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian media is partly to blame for some of these issues. It’s awful how the media is quick to report a breaking news story with a focus on the number of casualties, without much thought about the welfare or wellbeing of the people hurt by the attacks. Perhaps, it is a lack of empathy and accountability on their part as well. In the wait for the government to respond to the Dalori attack, a Nigerian tweeted something profound, “Humanity is the first step to change. If we don’t build that, we will continue to struggle for development.” Are our leaders yet to realise and accept the gravity of the ongoing attacks in north eastern Nigeria, or they just do not care about the people they have sworn to serve and protect? #AidForChibok #AidForDalori #AidForTheNorthEast.

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