The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban ki Moon, was in Nigeria last Sunday and Monday, triggering sad memories of the dastardly 2011 bombing of the UN building in Abuja, which claimed the lives of 23 workers of the agency. Tomorrow, August 27, it will be exactly four years after the Boko Haram terrorists shattered the peace at the UN House, and left sorrow, blood and tears in their wake.
Ban ki Moon, on Monday, laid a wreath in honour of the victims at the bombed building, and urged UN workers in NIgeria not to allow the incident to dampen their morale. He also reaffirmed the commitment of the UN to keeping faith with the families of the victims, even as he met with some of those who suffered injuries in the incident. He thanked the Federal Government for its commitment to rebuild the bombed structure and urged the workers of the agency to honour their fallen colleagues by working together to build a better future for Nigeria and the world. He also demanded the release of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and expressed support for the ongoing war against graft in the country.
For me, the visit of Ban Ki Moon was touching, not only because of the memories of the UN workers that were killed, but because the problem of Boko Haram and its dastardly attacks is still very much with us, four long years after the bombing. The continuing engagement of Boko Haram in this dastardly war it has launched against the Nigeria should be a cause for serious concern in the country.
Although Nigeria appears now to be enjoying a few days of respite from the Boko Haram attacks, it is quite glaring that we are yet to get a handle to the problem. This may not so much be for want of efforts by the Federal Government, but because of the ubiquitous nature of the guerilla warfare that the sect has launched against the country.
It is disheartening that between the August 27, 2011 bombing in Abuja and today, there have been so many other bombings that are just too numerous to mention, with thousands of lives lost. Among the Boko Haram attacks that have claimed many lives in Nigeria at one time or the other are the bombings at the Catholic Church in Madalla, near Abuja; the incidents at numerous bus stations in Abuja and other cities; the attacks on the Nigeria Police headquarters in Abuja; several police stations, and a number of schools. These incidents have brought much anguish to Nigerians, and all promises to totally rout Boko Haram from the country are yet to be fulfilled.
Ban Ki Moon’s visit and the fourth anniversary of the bombing of the UN building should, therefore, be another reminder of the need to surmount Boko Haram and restore peace throughout Nigeria. The government of former president, Goodluck Jonathan, apparently did what it could about this problem and passed the baton on to President Muhammadu Buhari. The buck now stops on Buhari’s table. So far, his steps towards ending this insurgency have been commendable, but our military needs to do much more to put this problem behind the country.
Obviously, one of the reasons why terrorism has continued to fester in Nigeria is that few or none of its perpetrators have been brought to account.. Indeed, it would appear as if those who have been responsible for the killings have been ghosts, who simply drop from the skies to perpetrate their evil activities and thereafter disappear into thin air. There have been really no public trials, indictments or judgements pronounced on terrorists to serve as a deterrent to them. Instead, people have continued to lose their lives and loved ones to the sect’s activities .
A lot is expected from the new Buhari government to put an end the onslaught of terrorists in Nigeria because there is little that can be achieved in an atmosphere of war. Apart from those who have lost their lives and loved ones to this insurgency, thousands of Nigerians are now refugees both within and outside the country. The Internally Displaced Persons camps are filled to the brim and the country simply cannot afford to have this type of humanitarian crisis at this time. The IDPs outside the country are living at the mercy of neighbouring country, which is very very bad for Nigeria’s image as a leading country in Africa. It is therefore necessary to rev up the war against this insurgency and bring it to an end.
One other issue that the country must address is that of the promise to rebuild the bombed UN building. It is not good enough that four years after the incident, the rebuilding is yet to be completed. Now that Ban Ki Moon has come to the country and expressed the appreciation of his agency for Nigeria’s promise to reconstruct the building, it is necessary to speed up work on it.
The Federal Government has promised that the work will be completed in six months. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, Engr. Obinna Chukwu, affirmed that the contractors had earlier promised to complete the work between five and eight months but would now be made to do so in six months. This is one promise that Nigeria must not renege on. It is the least that we can do for the unfortunate victims of the bombing, as we strengthen efforts to end the insurgency.