✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

The Kaduna Disaster: Sacrificing The Poor

‘Once is a mistake, twice is a choice’ – English Proverb Earlier this week, my daughter was revising for her social studies exams. One of…

Once is a mistake, twice is a choice’ – English Proverb

Earlier this week, my daughter was revising for her social studies exams. One of the topics was natural and man-made disasters. I listened to her as she read out aloud the definition and various examples of natural disasters- hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, wildfires, and drought. For each example, I tried to show her a pictorial image that she could relate to; the terrible wildfires in the amazon forest in Brazil, the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and the deadly tsunami that happened off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean in 2004. The young girl was enthralled by the images that seemed so far-fetched in her mind. The atmosphere however changed when we started to discuss man-made disasters. In her notebook were written examples- building collapse, airplane crashes, road traffic accidents, and bomb blasts. As I attempted to show her images on my phone, my 8-year-old looked up at the TV screen which was muted and exclaimed: ‘Mummy look! The Kaduna bomb blast! It’s an example of a man-made disaster’.

Yes, my child, that is an apt example of a man-made disaster.

It is no more news that an air strike intended to flush out terrorists had on Sunday night accidentally hit civilians during a religious celebration at Tudun Biri in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The religious celebration was of Maulud Nabiy, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), where Muslims gather usually at night to recite the quran and blessings on the holy prophet. So far, Amnesty International has reported that the death toll from the incident as more than 120, while NEMA has pegged the number of people buried as 85.

Senate panel asks FG to stop tax waivers, concessions 

FG to complete Bodo-Bonny road

Sulaiman Umar, a sixty-year-old recounted how he was eating when he heard the blast. His words: “Many people died. We could hardly identify our children; some with their intestines out. I ran into a deep forest where I slept till daybreak. We covered the dead with leaves. We separated the males from the females and covered them with leaves.”

A statement from the presidency read “President Bola Tinubu sympathizes with the families of victims, the people and government of Kaduna State over the bombing mishap.” The Nigerian president “describes the incident as very unfortunate, disturbing, and painful, expressing indignation and grief over the tragic loss of Nigerian lives.”  And of course, a “full-fledged” investigation has been called for.

Reading the statement left a bad taste in my mouth. I am not sure ‘mishap’ is the right word to use. It sounds a bit a bit too mild, too watered-down, does it not? But what do I know? English is not my mother tongue.

The great tragedy here, however, is not the presidential statement or the apologies tendered by the Nigerian government, it is the fact that, in this particular case, the people were bombed twice!

Once is a mistake, but a second bombing almost ten minutes later, is certainly not a mistake.

Another survivor, forty-five-year-old Saudatu Alamagani whose four family members were killed, claimed that the community was bombed twice. She stated that while members of the community went in search of motorcycle operators to convey the critically injured to the nearest medical facilities for treatment, the military bombed the community again.

On Channels TV, we watched as many others corroborated her story: “The first one killed many people and within a few minutes we came back to direct people looking for the victims and then the airplane came back and threw the bomb again.”

How do I explain to my daughter that a man-made disaster of the same type, occurred twice in the same place, just minutes apart? What could be their reason?

More than 300 people have been killed in 14 separate reported strikes carried out by the Nigerian air force between January 2017 and January 2023, according to a count by SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based intelligence company. The drone strike on Sunday was carried out by an aviation wing of the army, rather than the air force. This incident has raised concerns across the country about what many see as a worrying history of military and intelligence failures by armed forces as they combat a variety of security crises and a growing network of armed groups known popularly as “gun-men” or “bandits.”

Truth is, the Nigerian military, with international help, has turned to air power as the solution for a problem caused by poor governance, corruption and marginalization. And all at a cost to human life; especially that of the poor.

Yes, I said it. Why is it only the poor that have to be sacrificed? Has there ever been a time when a cruise ship or private jet was accidently mistaken for terrorists having a meeting? Have we not heard stories of aeroplanes landing in forests occupied by Boko Haram? Why haven’t the Nigerian military attempted to bomb all those aircrafts delivering food, drugs and ammunition to terrorists in villages? ‘Mishap’ indeed.

The apologies of the Nigerian Army reminded me of the popular story of the Lion and the goat.

Once upon a time, there was a severe scarcity of fodder in the forest. The lion said to the goat that sacrifice should be made during this difficult time; the goat would eat fodder once and give milk three times a day. As the fable goes, the goat said to the lion — the king, of course — that there was no point putting all the burden on the weak animals, and that this time the strong should also sacrifice to come out from this difficult time. To this suggestion, the lion said: “You do not know that sacrifice is accepted only when it is fair and just, and we, the strong, are all criminals.” That surely left the poor goat speechless!

Disasters happen everywhere. The death of citizens all over the world by accident is an everyday occurrence. Turning the daily newspaper to the city pages inevitably brings news of deaths from accidents of various kinds – a stray bike rider here, a lone bicyclist there, a bus falling into a gorge or catching fire, a train smashing into another, and on occasion, a boat overturning. Other forms of accidents – bridge or building collapses, stampedes, fires and such – are rarer, but still feature multiple times a year. Every so often, reports of accidents that have a higher count of casualties make it to the front pages, sometimes as the lead story. A familiar story usually emerges after the accident.

Rumours going round is that the Nigerian government has promised to pay compensation. While it seems hardly credible, it would serve as succour to the families involved and show the commitment of the government to its citizens. Compensation for disaster victims isn’t a ‘Favour’. It is a duty of the government that is legal binding and not merely a moral obligation!

May the souls of the departed rest in peace, ameen. And may the people behind this disaster be brought to book. Double Ameen!

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.