By Ireneaus Chongwain Chia
Despicable as it is, the terrorist attack on the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper, the targeted killing of journalists, police officers, and innocent civilians and the ensuing unity and solidarity march that mobilised political and religious leaders and thousands of people from across the world in a scale never seen before, has also helped to highlight; to an even frightful level, political and decision makers’ hypocrisy and double standards. Seventeen people are gunned down in France and the world, including even some African leaders reputed for remaining mute on the carnage from terrorists inside their own countries, react, and when an estimated 2000 people are chopped down in Baga, Northeastern Nigeria, the same world leaders, so concerned with human rights, simply look the other way.
As in previous conflicts in Africa, international humanitarian and human rights organisations are instead competing to outsmart each other by simply outlining the mind buckling carnage details and refugee statistics and making projections that the worst is yet to come. But are these projections not the bases on which swift action and decisive action should be anchored? It is projected that Boko Haram has killed close to 15, 000 people and close to 10, 000 in 2014 alone, in Nigeria since the group launched its insurgency in 2009. How many Nigerians and Cameroonians should the group kill to finally shock world leaders’ lethargic and selective consciences? Has the global indifference to the Boko Haram carnage not only sharpened and whetted the group’s appetite for human life? And have these leaders not committed an even greater crime through the sin of omission and indifference?
A recent bombing in Maiduguri that involved a suspected 10-year old suicide bomber provoked this comment from one of the above-mentioned western news outlets. “Why the slaughter of 17 innocents in France receives more attention than the death of roughly the same number of Nigerians is the kind of question that can result in accusations of indifference, racism, and media bias. But the contrast between the attacks in Paris and the suicide bombing in Maiduguri actually reveals something far more sinister: the ravages of state failure.” It concludes, “The main difference between France and Nigeria isn't that the public and the media care about one and not the other. It is, rather, that one country has an effective government and the other does not.” But are these western countries still not reputed for interfering and perpetrating corrupt and puppet regimes in Africa to better protect western interests? The paradox of the theory of “state failure” and “black people’s inability to govern themselves” is that these are western-induced because Africans have to fail for western countries to take control.
Against this backdrop and speaking to the BBC, the Archbishop of Jos in central Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama, has called for the same international support to tackle Boko Haram as France has received since it was hit by Islamist attacks. "We need that spirit to be spread around, not just when it happens in Europe, (but) when it happens in Nigeria, in Niger, Cameroon and many poor countries, that we mobilise our international resources to confront the people who bring such sadness to many families."
Let the international community prove wrong the present thinking of African Neglect by appropriately responding to and tackling the problem to halt and eliminate the present Boko Haram carnage as human life in France is no more valuable than a human life in Cameroon or Nigeria, however poor these countries are.