Northeast: A glimpse of the other side.
For most Nigerians, especially those living in a chaos free part of the country, the Northeast is gradually being relegated to the oblivious part of the mind.
On a typical Monday morning, a student in Anambra state should be rising early into the morning, say some prayers of thanksgiving (for the mindful ones), brush his or her teeth, proceed to have their bath, move on to breakfast and eventually dress up for school. As soon as all is set, the school ready student ventures outside the house to wait for the school bus or hops into a seat of daddy's or mommy's car or boards a public vehicle to school or less fortunate, walks the far distance to school. However the mode of transit, the child successfully arrives school, begins the day's lessons with minimum worry of the school suddenly blowing up from an I.E.D (Improvised Explosive Device) explosion, probably left there in the earlier hours of dawn before the temporal inhabitants arrived the venue.
Parents and guardians on the other hand are conducting their own business somewhere else with minimal worry over their children's and ward's security. The thought that some groups of heavily armed men transiting in multiple Toyota Hilux vans mounted with MMGs (Multi-purpose machine guns), a plethora of motor-cycles that have riders armed with AK-47s and pillion riders armed with RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades), reaching the school and announcing themselves with a staccato of gunfire, does not cross their mind at all because such event could never occur in their present area. So, they bask in the thought of assured safety of their children and wards and more likely, their safe arrival from school.
On a typical Monday morning, for a student residing in a northeastern state as Borno state, the story may not all be that savoury. Going to school is a task carried out with the cunning and guile of a snake. Eyes open for inconspicuous packages that may be innocuously placed on road sides and that may contain ready to explode I.E.D.s, ears sharp to pick up any slight sound of exchange of gunfire between soldiers and terrorists, obdurate show of neglect to greet suspicious looking strangers and quick legs to hit the gas in the case the shooting should start around your position at the moment. Having arrived school without any of the afore-mentioned events miraculously occurring, staying in school till dismissal time is yet another 'operation keep your senses alert'. Every sound of a motorcycle rushing nearby is a potential signal to scamper for safety. You only resume your seat and lessons when you are fully convinced it was just a commercial motorcycle dropping off a classmate of yours. The lessons are soon over for the day and you decide (playing on the safety orientation accorded you guys by a unit of the 'OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE' maintaining the peace in your town) to take an entirely different route home perfecting the usual survival tactics you employed while coming to school in the morning.
Once home, you offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the violence free day and wait for Tuesday to arrive. However, you wake up on Tuesday morning to discover that your school was bombed in the middle of the night by the BokoHaram insurgent group and also that they were currently exchanging gunfire with soldiers in an area close to your house. For your parents, this was either a call to temporarily leave your home for safety elsewhere or to sit out the clash while praying it does not near your home. For you, it was just one of those days where education was halted till order returns.
What I have penned down here as regards to the conundrum befalling students and citizens who reside in the northeastern part of Nigeria was not meant to serve as entertainment but as a constant reminder to the gains of peace and political stability. This work is meant to serve as a clarion call to all and sundry to speak out against terrorism wherever it may manifest or being manifested and also to tackle political backup of crime, corruption, unrest and religious crises. Nigerians have a colossal role to play in enhancing their destinies and are virtually the ones to make the choice on how the nation's future is to trail. So, utilize the internet, the social media, the mass media, the street close-ups, market meetings, neighbourhood relationships, etc to create awareness on the dire effects of terrorism and the need for adequate vigilance and security.