New Telegraph

Kaduna Bomb Mishap, Ethnic Warlords and Issues That Matter

Going by the flood of reactions by state officials and political interest groups on the recent miscalculation by the military community in Kaduna State, you may run into the assumption that this is one incident that will make the government learn its lessons and avoid a recurrence. Let us do a recap on the incident. The Army had on Sunday night, Decem- ber 3, mistakenly bombed Tudun Biri village of Igabi council area, Kaduna State, while Muslims gathered to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Different figures were posted on the casualties. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) claimed, during the week, that “85 dead bodies have so far been buried while search is still ongoing”. On the other hand, Amnesty International’s Nigeria office said 120 people were killed in the attack, citing reports of its workers and volunteers in the area. Locals swore that the number was higher.

Very few incidents in recent time had seen Nigerians united in grief and passion as the error bombing. President Bola Tinubu, in a commendable move that marked a radical departure from the lifeless disposition of his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, asked the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, to visit Kaduna and the affected community. Tinubu further directed a thorough and full-fledged investigation into the incident and called for calm while the authorities looked diligently into the mishap, according to a release by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale. Following suit, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Chris Musa, Chief of Army Staff, General Taoreed Lagbaja and other military chieftains, have reached out to the relations of the victims. Political actors, like the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate in the February election, Peter Obi, have also called in to show empathy to the grieving villagers.

These are salutary reactions and demonstrate our concern to the plight of our fellow beings at moments of stress. But are there lessons to be learned from the incident? That is a question that cannot be readily answered in the affirmative. If previous experiences are to serve as guide, nothing much may come out of the mishap in Kaduna. The diligent investigation promised by the President, may never unearth much. And if it does, Nigerians may never know what may have happened. That is, if they even bother to know. There is, in fact, something in us that seems to suggest that nothing moves us as a people, no matter how gruesome. The best we do in moments of tension and pain, is to shrug off things, move on, and if further pushed, utter, “how for do”? That was the point made by the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, at TheNiche Annual Lecture on October 26, 2023.

Amaechi who spoke on the topic, “Why We Stride and Slip: Leadership, Nationalism, and the Nigerian Condition,” noted that, nothing moves Nigerians, even in the face of extreme provocations. “Nigerians choose who to believe and who not to believe… Even if you come to a Nigerian man’s house and kill his mother, the father will continue his life. Nothing bothers you, nothing”, he said. That summarises the extent of docility in the country. We seem to be wired to absorb the immediate shock, move ahead and wait for the next. On that ground, those that have lost their lives in the Kaduna fiasco, could as well, be said to have died and have gone; and pain- fully, forgotten by the authorities. May the good Lord grant their souls eternal rest! This is not the first time the nation would find itself in this tight corner.

Reports from Aljazeera, a leading international news agency, indicated that between February 2014, when a Nigerian military aircraft dropped a bomb on Daglun in Borno State killing 20 civilians, and September 2022, there were at least 14 documented incidences of such bombings in residential areas. On each occasion, it was usually a matter of condemnations and deluge of concern without the law taking its course. There may not be any difference in the present episode. Aside those killed in accidental circumstances, there are reports of Nigerians dying in tens and hundreds in the hands of terrorists while the government carries on as if all is well.

Shortly before the military miscalculation in Kaduna, precisely on Sunday, November 5, bandits and Boko Haram had unleashed mayhem in Borno and Kat- sina states, leaving many dead and scores wounded. At least 15 rice farmers were reportedly killed, with some beheaded in Bornu and many feared abducted when the insurgents attacked three villages of Ko- shebe, Karkut, and Bulabulin in the Mafa local government of the state. In Katsina, bandits launched a deadly at- tack in Kusa, Musawa Local Government Area, killing at least 20 and kidnapping many individuals. The assailants were said to have descended on the natives during a Muslim celebration and opened fire on them.

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