By Adua Bitrus
The state of emergency in northern Nigeria has made remote regions almost inaccessible [C. Arnaud/UNHCR]
The author of this piece, Adua Bitrus, lost his father in the year 2000 in the Kaduna religious riots. As a Christian child, he was taken in by VOICE OF THE CHRISTIAN MATYRS (VCM) located in Ogun State capital, Abeokuta, sponsored through basic school, all the way to tertiary level.
He now studies in Olabisi Onabanjo University and is deeply concerned about the negligence been displayed by ‘non-northerners’ to the plight of northerners.
Furthermore, while VCM only accepts Christian children, the largest percentage of displaced children in the north are Muslims. There is little or no help coming their way; they are left to the mercy of the streets to fend for themselves and are unfortunately exposed to dangerous and extreme ideologies.
This is not a cry for self-recognition; it is an urgent appeal to Nigerians, and indeed the world to sit up, take note and take urgent steps to take displaced children off the streets, so that we do not continue to supply raw materials to the extremist sect, Boko Haram.
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by, “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in” – Mother Theresa.
It is with utmost sadness that I write this piece to bring to the attention of the general public the suffering and poverty that fellow Nigerians from Northern Nigeria have had to battle with since the beginning of Boko Haram’s campaign of terror and death; and indeed since the beginning of insurgency, religious killings and hate-inspired violence.
For years, Nigeria has been trying to fight the menace of insecurity and curb the excesses of the monstrous extremists, Boko Haram, which has taken a deadly toll on the Northern part of Nigeria. Several policies and committees have been set up to proffer possible solutions to the insurgency; so much fund (as we were made to believe) has been pumped into the security sector to restore a peaceful Nigeria, but to no avail.
For how long then are we going to sit and watch a generation wasted? For how long are we going to fold our hands and stare at the tragedy that’s befalling our brothers and sisters in the North without lifting a finger to help? For how long are we going to turn deaf ears and blindfolded faces to the plight of this section of our country? For how long are we going to keep partying while a part of us is already going down the drain? For how long? For how long?
While we keep waiting for government to launch its long awaited solutions that we are not really sure of, why not make a difference? At each strike of these extremists (Boko Haram), several lives are wasted; women are turned to widows overnight; little children are turned to orphans in the twinkle of an eye, a whole family is razed down, houses burnt and several are rendered homeless and hopeless.
Are we to keep watching until the whole region is totally wiped out of existence and the inhumanity is extended to other parts? For long have we waited on government for a positive outcome. It’s quite disheartening that the longer we wait the more lives are been wasted. After all, what help has the government rendered to poor widows and homeless children who are suffering the heat of the menace?
I am from the North; Kaduna state precisely. I feel disheartened seeing young and bright folks living without hope of what tomorrow holds. Little children who have lost both parents live in the slums of the society and of course one begins to wonder what the elites in the society have done to help the situation. It shouldn’t be surprising in the society we are in, where the poor suffers the actions and inactions of the elites.
Amidst all these, I see only but few NGO’s like The Voice of the Christian Martyrs (V.C.M), who have always done their best in giving hope to some of the victims in which I am proud to say, I am a product. I write with a troubled heart, because my late father died as a result of this same insurgency.
Thousands of others like me are out there hoping against hope that help will come amidst the hopelessness. The ruling elites are not helping; they have politicized the situations and even pretend not to know what the North is suffering.
Believe me; praying alone won’t save a child still on the street begging for alms to survive. Praying alone won’t save a poor widow who begs to sustain herself and the kids. Praying alone won’t save the Northern part of Nigeria from its distress, but a lot of actions I believe will.
I want to use this medium to call on well meaning Nigerians, to come to the aid of these victims. Help as many as you can; every penny can put a child through school and it can as well change the mindset of a child positively.
Every kindness shown can put a smile on the face of that child who has not smiled for decades; a little food can save a child from starving; a little roof over a child’s head can save from sleeping in the slums and suffering the dangers therein.
I am not asking for a penny for myself; we still have thousands of them roaming the streets and are prone to dangers of death and exposure to dangerous ideology. Help them, love them, protect them and show them the love you will show your own kids.
Nigeria, this is a clarion call. Save a child, save a life and save a generation. This is an appeal from the North; do not let them suffer alone.
Bitrus Adua Jock is a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State
Follow him on twitter: @Jhaybheestar; Email: email@example.com
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