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Monday, April 15, 2024

The deafening silence of double standards: A reminder of Nigeria’s forgotten tragedies

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By Abdulrauf Aliyu

In the annals of Nigeria’s recent history, certain events stand out as stark reminders of the nation’s resilience in the face of adversity and, conversely, of its tendency to forget the struggles of its people when political winds shift. The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 was one such event, a national tragedy that united the country in outrage and grief. Yet, as time passed and political tides changed, the voices that once clamored for justice and accountability grew silent, revealing a troubling pattern of double standards and selective empathy.

During the height of the Chibok abduction saga, the airwaves reverberated with cries for action. Nigerians from all walks of life, regardless of political affiliation, joined hands in solidarity with the distraught families of the kidnapped girls. Conspiracy theories abounded, fingers were pointed, and demands for accountability echoed through the chambers of power. The opposition, fueled by a desire to unseat the incumbent administration, seized upon the tragedy as a rallying cry, decrying the government’s perceived incompetence and failure to protect its citizens.

Dame Patience Jonathan, the then-First Lady, became a target of ridicule and scorn; her impassioned pleas for assistance were dismissed as the ramblings of a clueless administration. Memes and jokes circulated on social media, mocking her accent and mannerisms, while the plight of the abducted girls took center stage in the national discourse. It was a time of righteous indignation and moral clarity, when the lines between right and wrong seemed unambiguous and justice appeared within reach.

Fast forward to the present day, and the echoes of that fervent outcry have faded into the background, drowned out by the deafening silence of indifference. The Kuriga incident in Kaduna and the Gada incident in Sokoto, tragic episodes in their own right, barely registered a blip on the collective consciousness of the nation. The same voices that once thundered with righteous anger now murmur softly, if at all, as if reluctant to disturb the delicate equilibrium of political expediency.

What happened to the outrage, the demands for justice, and the impassioned calls for action? Have we, as a society, become so desensitized to tragedy that we no longer feel compelled to speak out in the face of injustice? Or is it simply a case of selective empathy, where the suffering of some is deemed more worthy of attention than others, depending on their proximity to power or the prevailing political winds?

It is a bitter irony that some of the very individuals who led the charge for the return of the Chibok girls, who marched in the streets and cried out for accountability, now find themselves in positions of authority within the government. Members of the Bring Back Our Girls movement, once fierce critics of the establishment, now occupy key government positions, their voices muted by the weight of political expediency.

But let us not be swayed by the allure of power or the seductive whispers of political opportunism. Let us remember that the true measure of a society’s character lies not in the words of its leaders but in the collective actions of its people. Let us hold ourselves accountable for the injustices that persist within our midst, regardless of who holds the reins of power.

The plight of the abducted students of Federal Government College, Yauri, serves as a sobering reminder of our collective failure to protect the most vulnerable among us. As parents anxiously await the safe return of their children, we must ask ourselves: Have we learned nothing from the tragedies of the past? Will we once again allow political expediency to trump moral integrity, or will we rise above the cacophony of partisan bickering and unite in our common humanity?

It is time to break the silence, to speak truth to power, and to demand accountability from those entrusted with the stewardship of our nation. The lives of innocent children hang in the balance, their futures uncertain, and their dreams deferred by the specter of violence and impunity. We owe it to them and to ourselves to ensure that their voices are heard, their suffering acknowledged, and their hopes restored.

In the end, it is not enough to simply remember the tragedies of the past; we must also learn from them and strive to build a future where such horrors are but distant memories. Only then can we truly honor the memory of the Chibok girls and all those whose lives have been forever altered by the scourge of violence and injustice.

Let us heed the lessons of history, and let us not be silent in the face of double standards and hypocrisy. The time for action is now, before yet another tragedy fades into obscurity and the voices of the forgotten are silenced once more.

Abdulrauf aliyu
An economist and public policy analyst
Can be reached on aliyuabdulrauf@gmail.com

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