By Akin Owolabi
Is freedom in sight for the more than 200 Chibok secondary school girls who were plucked like over-ripe apples some 35 days ago, enough time for their abductors to have consumed the captives’ flesh and crush their bones like hungry lions? Do we blame the giant West for just beginning to rise from its sedative nest, bracing up for a helluva rescue operation?. What if the devil’s advocate, Abubakar Shekau’s threat that his sanguine god commanded him to sell the girls as would chicks be cartoned and sold in multiples of 50s has been obeyed, would, most of those unfortunate girls not by now be househelps in Saudi, Libya and Egypt and the rest sex slaves in Italy?
Can we, in all honesty, blame the West for taking so long a time to rise and knowing that when it actually does, things are bound to happen big? However, the expected big things may not include the ultimate rescue of the Chibok girls. The Middle East has provided the ideological basis for levying religio-political war on Nigeria since the Boko Haram monster reared its ugly head and the West which culture is the bone of contention, is coming not for peace but for something else and only time will tell what that something will be. It will come in many names, but in the guise of a rescue operation. We can bet that only the gods can, for now, foretell what the end will be . Nigeria is thus caught in the crossfire of two desperate, vicious and clearly disparaging extremisms – religio-politics and politiconomics. One, with fiendish relish bombs, kills, maims for its god, the other with the best tradition of finesse accomplishes similar horrendous acts on grander scales.
Back home, the day Chibok debacles unfurled, Nigeria’s Number 1 Citizen cancelled a political trip to Ibadan, Oyo State but the following day he made the trip where he capered a lot ostensibly oblivious of the tragedy at hand. Some have pilloried President Goodluck Jonathan for not staying glued and gloomy at his desk in the Aso Rock Villa as if such was needed to bring the girls back. The tonnes of tears shed at home and abroad, the torrents of prayers poured forth, the anguish, opprobriums and curse and even security prancing have, so far, all lacked one thing – efficacy. The Chibok girls are still estranged in their captors’ den. People are free to cruise on the fast lane of emotion as if that was the much needed therapy to reverse the debacle. Reversal can never come on the wings of all these.
This does not exculpate or exonerate the president. It just goes to show how collectively we could be blinded by emotion. Logically, appeal to emotion is fallacious through and through and this is the plank on which President Jonathan stands hanged on the Chibok debacle. What a pity!
The international community, especially the West, including Israel, is converging on Nigeria. Its personnel will be buzzed with hair splitting manoeuvres to rescue the unfortunate captive girls. And the West, arrow-headed by the United States, is ‘suddenly’ ready to come to Nigeria’s aid. Let us welcome Uncle Sam with open arms but not with bated eyes. He has come to do a job what neither Nigeria nor he himself can do, to rescue the Chibok girls and possibly demolish Boko Haram Islamic sect thus attempting to accomplish what is outside mortal man’s realm of possibility and since we are incapable, underestimating Uncle Sam’s might may amount to hasty conclusion. Let the USA try but still not putting implicit trust in man but God.
But let it be vouchsafed that America will decidedly pry into other areas like funding terrorism in Nigeria and is already fingering Osama bin Laden whom its ruthless machinery had pounded into pulp, and his al-Qaeda organisation. No one should deny international connection to the Nigerian brand of terrorism. The local conduit pipe connectors are not hidden from the home network but the question has always remained:who bells the cat? 2015 political contest is a big barrier and the West with its welter of economic interests, may equally be handicapped. America will shy away from naming local names just as the home government would ever remain lily livered on the saga.
We are back at the starting block. The Yankees are coming. Yes, but to do what? Frankly, the coming appears belated and this is what international politics is all about – allowing things to get out of hand before wading in. Nigeria is at its wit’s end over the nagging terrorism in general and the Chibok affair in particular. Like a drowning man,, our country would clutch at any straw. The West’s straw is the most appropriate for now since Middle East is a player and the Far East, apathetic.
Denise Robins, my time’s queen of romance fiction, identifies pity as the worst possible foundations for marriage. Incidentally, the current US’ foray is based on the warped thesis of pity thus attesting to our miserable condition. The Nigerian brand of terrorism is politically motivated and dabbling headlong in it will put the Yankees on the spot. The West already knows this but how far it would go without messing up with Nigerian sovereignty is another ball game.
Contemporary history is not on the side of the Policeman of the World with respect to meddling in other people’s affairs. It appears easier to climb in while climbing out is always the more difficult thing. We can go on and on to cite overt USA meddling – Afghanistan, Panama, Iraq and the covert instances – Vietnam, Egypt, Libya – the list is much longer.
We need the Chibok girls, we desire the liquidation of Boko Haram but we must be very cautious in doing this. The story of an ancient emperor who consulted the oracle before going to war with a rival emperor is apt here. The oracle rhetorically told the war mongering emperor: “If you go into war with the rival emperor, you would have destroyed an empire.” Buoyed by the prediction the emperor went to war and was roundly worsted, losing his empire. Luckily, his life was spared. Seething with anger, he went back to the oracle man who retorted that the prediction was correct and that the empire destroyed was his. This came to be the classical fallacy of equivocation.
The West as a predator is as patient as the vulture that waits for its victim to die before feasting on its carcass. Nigeria is a big country with vast potential to become a medium power and an African China but lacks cohesion. Left alone it may weather many storms and take an enviable position in the comity of nations. Conversely, Nigeria appears ripe for the vultures. The West may be angling for its disintegration as it did with the Soviet Union. All it needs for a start is a foothold and Chibok is about providing just that. I pray let it be a passing fad. May it be.
*Owolabi, former editor, is based in Ota, Ogun State. He can be reached through (firstname.lastname@example.org)