Pardon my reconstruction of the english phrase: “He who pays the Piper, dictates the tune,” to, as I put it above: He who OWNS the Pipe, dictates the tune. I will explain that later.
First, let me join all well meaning Nigerians in condemning the unfortunate killing of Pastor Lawan Andimi, a Borno State indigene that was the local chapter chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Michika, an Adamawa town located merely a stone-throw away from Sambisa forest, the hotbed and long time base of the Boko Haram insurgents.
The Jihadist group find it convenient to camp in Sambisa, because it is the only place that has dense forest where its members can strike and return to base to hide. The area is scantily inhabited and the rough terrain makes it difficult to access even by the military. That is why even the government find its North-eastern tip after the town of Gwoza, very much ideal for drills and therefore located the permanent training camp for the elite Nigeria Mobile Police (MOPOL) over there.
For nearly 13 years, life and business in Borno, Yobe and Northern Adamawa have been disrupted. Thousands of people have been massacred by Boko Haram and millions were displaced. Of course, the bulk of those killed, over 98 percent if you like, are Muslims, but live is live, even one live lost is too many.
That is why when Pastor Andini was killed and the tragedy attracted headlines and primetime broadcast news slots all over the world, I doff my hat to the christian community. They know how to reach out to the world for sympathy and intervention, unlike the Muslims whose villages and towns will be raided, Emirs, chiefs, village heads, Imams, the old and the young and even pregnant women will be killed, but the tragedies hardly get mentioned even in the Nigerian media.
Where a mention is possible, it will just be reported as several PEOPLE were killed in a raid by Boko Haram. However, if it happens the other way as it unfortunately occasionally does, the headlines will read: three CHRISTIANS were killed or abducted, with emphasis on the victims faith to gain maximum impact.
As a diplomat covering four countries, I have at different times, had the cause to explain to three Presidents that the theatre of war of the Boko Haram is deeply inside almost all Muslims territory and that the bulk of the casualties are indeed Muslims. These leaders were highly concerened because as they put it, reports they have been recieving from the Cothlic Church indicated that Christians were being killed by Boko Haram. I also had to embark on sensitisation exercise in the media to explain the true situation of things; which is that Boko Haram does not discriminate in their operations – they kill both Muslims and Christians.
Also frequently, hundreds of married women and young girls get kidnapped by the Boko Haram insurgents whenever they raid villages and towns. The poor captives are turned into concubines or forcibly married off to the warlords.
It is unfortunate that Leah Shuaibu found herself in this terrible situation, but I am sure that she must have met hundreds of Muslim girls that were kidnapped from their villages and forcibly married off to Boko Haram fighters.
The world may not know the bigger and true picture of what is going on in the Northeast of Nigeria, because our own media only hype what news items that is of interest to them no matter how tragic. For example this morning, the Cable online news reported a bomb blast that destroyed a Mosque in Gwoza town and that a 12 year-old boy died and dozens of worshipers sustained injuries.
Eight hours later, and I have been monitoring the websites of our country’s leading newspapers and broadcasters, none, I repeat, none up to the time that I started writing this article bothered to feature the news of the Gwoza Mosque bomb blast on their web. Imagine if it were a church that was bombed! Not even the Daily Trust or Leadership, the North’s leading newspapers bothered to give it an early mention.
It is very sad that we have become insensitive to the plight of fellow citizens, because of religion. If Boko Haram kills muslims, it is no news, but if he or she is a Christian, a most valuable live is lost. How do we get here? I weep for my beloved country.