The state of insecurity, probably better labelled as the near-absence of security, in Nigeria is not news anymore. It hasn’t been for a long, long time. People are kidnapped for ransom just a handful of kilometres from where you lay your head but you might never even hear about it because you are so focussed on keeping your own head down. Besides, it’s a normal thing. But, every once in a while, a crime is committed which is so heinous and appalling that it captures the attention of the entire country, as well as most of the globe. And so, once again, Nigeria is in the headlines for nothing good.

On Saturday, 28th November 2020, somewhere between 43 and 110 (depending on which report you read) Nigerian citizens were brutally murdered in cold blood within artillery range of Maiduguri, Borno state. Reports seem to indicate that the murderers were able to take their time to bind dozens of these innocent farmers both hand and foot before systematically butchering them in cold blood before leaving the scene unchallenged.

‘I’m becoming predictable.’

The government response was as predictable as it was disappointing. First the presidential spokesman appeared to lay the blame at the feet of the victims for not “requesting permission” from military authorities to go to their farms, but quickly backtracked after leaders of the farmers’ association confirmed that no such permissions had ever been sought, or received, for any farming activity. The notion is, of course, ridiculous. The military, naturally, soon announced an aerial bombardment of the alleged perpetrators, once again falling into their default mode.

If a bomb falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

The Borno state governor, possibly overcome with grief and frustration, called for about a half dozen major changes to be made by the federal government, many of which make perfect sense, while some are a bit more difficult to implement legally, but I get where he’s coming from. His statements are taken as a denouncement of the current security arrangement, a vote of no confidence in the Commander-in-Chief. Not long afterward, the governor, while not swallowing his words, puts out a second statement which affirms support for the President, Maj-Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retired). The little green men who keep the party machine oiled heave a collective sigh of relief.

The Senate is conspicuously absent in terms of deeds, though I’m sure if I search hard enough I’ll be able to find a statement somewhere “condemning” the murders. Maybe one day when there’s time to indulge in frivolities. The House of Representatives went a bit further, with the opposition calling for the resignation of Maj-Gen. Buhari (retired, oh), as you would expect. The House leadership then determines that it needs to hear directly from the C-in-C and issues a letter/statement to that effect.

Now this is where it really gets interesting.

Can you spot the difference?

Initially the president’s spokesman says the retired general will “honour the invitation”, with Thursday 10th December 2020 being the expected date. The Nigerian people, myself included, waited expectantly like the bloody fools we are. Sometime on Wednesday, the innocent Nigerian citizens who were killed, their grieving friends and family members, including the entire population of Nigeria, were unceremoniously tossed aside and forgotten. This was the net effect (intended or otherwise) when the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, wrote some kind of legal opinion claiming the National Assembly does not have constitutional powers to “summon” a sitting president. In other words, the Attorney-General of the Federation, who is also the Minister of Justice, is of the opinion that a sitting president is only slightly beneath a deity since he can neither be indicted or charged, or even summoned by the people’s representatives. Literally, only God can judge him.

At around the same time, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (long retired) was squirrelled out of the Federal Capital Territory and whisked away to his hometown of Daura in Katsina state. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume it wasn’t by kidnappers.

Within hours of his arrival, Government Secondary School, Kankara, less than 3 hours’ drive away, was attacked by heaven knows how many bandits-cum-terrorists and hundreds of schoolboys appear to have been kidnapped in a scene eerily reminiscent of the 2014 Chibok girls kidnapping. Almost immediately, a Bring Back Our Boys group has vowed to protest indefinitely until all the schoolboys are rescued or returned safely. The military (you guessed it) have deployed every resource to track down the missing kids, the police (yes, they still exist) have also sent teams of crack detectives, etc.

And on that note, I present to you this ancient Mesopotamian tale that is more than just a cute little story…

An Appointment in Samarra

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions. In a little while this servant came back, white and trembling “Master”, he blurted out, “Just now when I was in the market place I was jostled from behind by someone in the crowd and when I turned around I saw that it was Death that jostled me. He looked menacingly at me and made a threatening gesture; now, please, I beg you, lend me your horse and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there, Death will not find me.” The merchant willingly consented. The servant dug his spurs into the horse’s flanks and went away as fast as the horse could gallop. Then the merchant, still short of provisions, went himself down to the market place. He also saw Death standing in the crowd. Unlike his servant, however, he was not afraid and approached Death to admonish him. Wagging his finger, he demanded “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?” “That was not a threatening gesture,” Death calmly replied, “It was merely a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad. You see, I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

NB – Since I usually end with a recommendation, here’s a super simple one – the President, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (still retired) is honour-bound to resign, same as his wife and cronies hounded former President Goodluck Jonathan to do in slightly less chaotic circumstance. Hell, he’s already halfway there, he wouldn’t even have to leave his beloved Daura. He won’t do it, of course, but that’s what needs to be done. I honestly have serious doubts that even this legislature which rubber-stamped ministerial appointments without even knowing where the pieces were to be fitted can continue to ignore impeachment calls for 3 more years. As an aside, the Minister of Propaganda Information, the aptly-named Mr Lai Mohammed, has referred to calls for Buhari’s resignation as “dirty politics.” Cool story, bro.