Human rights and democracy activist, Hafsat Abiola who is also the daughter of late Business man/Politician, MKO Abiola and founder of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), in an open letter to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the President’s silence over the Baga Massacre in Nigeria while he was quick to send consolatory messages to France over the Charles Hebdo attack. With this, Abiola joins others such as South African Youth Leader, Julius Malema who recently criticized the President’s silence as well, and Madonna who had to bring worldwide attention to this sad incident in Baga which she felt had not received worldwide coverage like the Charles Hebdo one using social media.
The full text of the letter is provided below:
“Dear president Jonathan,
As young global leaders we would like to express our deep concern about the recent events in Nigeria.
The massacre in Baga has been Boko Haram’s deadliest so far, despite reports of your brief visit to Maiduguri, you’ve publicly said nothing. More disturbing still is the fact that you would send a message to France condemning the killings there, yet seem unable to address the Nigerian people who look to you for leadership.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time you’ve met calamity with insouciance. On 10 November 2014 a suicide bomber killed 47 people and injured 79 others. The following day, with barely a mention of this horrific incident targeting children, you launched your re-election campaign.
Despite the ease with which you move on, even you will remember the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok in April last year. It was 40 days before you addressed the country on that occasion. Nigerians waited, perplexed, as your government debated whether or not the abductions had even taken place. As a result, of all the girls captured, only 52 have secured their freedom – escaping on their own. The rest are still in captivity, still waiting to be rescued, months after being taken from their friends, family and community.
Could it be that your government also doubts that the Baga attacks happened? Amnesty International’s satellite images confirm that indeed a massacre took place, and as many as 2,000 people are dead. Yet your army wastes time contesting the numbers.
Whether 150 or 2,000, we’d like to hear from you on your government’s plans to secure the region and to bear witness to the loss of lives in Baga. We have seen a clear incompetency in handling matters of national interest. In the context of existing ethnic and religious fault lines, silence only says that Nigeria’s government does not care about the victims and is not dealing with the insurgency.
True, the global community has also failed to maintain pressure on a government that seems ambivalent about fulfilling its constitutional role to secure the lives and properties of its citizens.
With more than 150,000 people who have fled their homes, swelling camps within Nigeria and overwhelming border communities, it seems the only hope to see you act is international outrage. It was this that finally forced you to address the nation and the world after the Chibok abductions. It was only then that you reached out to other countries and, with their help, agreed a plan for a regional security force to secure the porous borders between Nigeria, Niger and Chad where Boko Haram roams undeterred.
Perhaps, had international pressure been sustained last year, a multi-regional force would have been based in Baga as planned. Perhaps it would have been strong enough to repel Boko Haram when the militants attacked on 3 January. Perhaps 2,000 lives could have been saved.
But Isis struck and the world moved on, leaving a small national military unit to stand between hundreds of armed militants and a town of 10,000 people. We now know what happened. The world has seen pictures of bodies still strewn around the forest and river where they died.
If these deaths do not generate the attention, outcry and action that they ought to, we can only prepare the ground for more bodies because Boko Haram shows no sign of relenting. The insurgents can be defeated but first you must decide if the lives of Nigerians are worth it.
Break the silence, President. Call for global attention and support to prevent further loss of life – and it must be said – silence those who think that African leaders care nothing for their people.
Be the voice for the thousands of innocent people who have died and the millions who yearn for peace. They have the right to rebuild their communities and claim their place in the unfolding.
Other signatories to this letter are:
Arnaud Ventura, France
Bjarte Reve, Norway
Binta Niambi Brown, US
Erik Charas, Mozambique
Georgie Bernadette, US
Jacqueline Musiitwa, Zambia
Loulwa Bakr, Saudi Arabia
Leo Shlesinger, Chile
Marieme Jamme, Senegal
Mark Turrell, Germany
Rossana Figuera, US
Salim Amin, Kenya
Soulaima Gourani, Denmark
Susan Mashibe, Tanzania