“The 16/6 bomb attack, which the police hastily attributed to a suicide bomber, is exactly what we need to remind ourselves that we are not safe in this country” – Simon Kolawole, THISDAY
I spent the evening of Father's day, June 19, at the new album launch of folk singer Segun Akinlolu a.k.a Beautiful Nubia. Sun no dey sleep is the eighth studio album from the musician who inspired me while in final year with Jangbalajugbu his third album. Seven Lives and Small People's Anthem were my favourite tracks back then. I remember that my classmate Gbenga Olorunsiwa and I used to sing the Small People's Anthem at our Fajuyi Hall hostel, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife while boiling beans. It served to alleviate our stress and made us to look to the future with great hope.
Ever since I’ve come to love Nubia's unique folksy sound and told him as much during our first meeting last year. To attend his concert is a different affair from just taking in the messages contained in his songs. Beautiful Nubia's shows are a communal affair. It's akin to the old village square meetings where the wise storyteller dishes out nuggets of wisdom to the whole community. And frothy, milky-white palm wine is passed around in calabash cups.
My Father's Day evening was spent in that Bohemian atmosphere and it enabled me to reflect on a couple of things. My father is one of the most important people in my life. Growing up, I looked up to him even though he was not always around. His work as a policeman in the service of the government took him away from home most of the time.
However, those nuggets he gave me while he was around at home have always helped me to remain rooted. One of the most important lessons he gave me was this; respect people, fear no one. And I must say that I have tried to live with that all through my young life. Show respect but no fear. I have gotten into fights on basketball courts and football fields where I have given and gotten black eyes; I have worked in offices where I could have been intimidated but I have always given as much as I got. I have always respected my bosses but I do not fear them.
And that's why I find it amusing when the man leading our nation of 150 million people goes on television to show fear after last week's terror attack in Abuja. Hear President Goodluck Jonathan; "the terrorist act should not be viewed as an attack on the police, but on the entire nation; everybody is a target when it comes to terrorist attacks. Terrorists will aim at the top if they can bomb the President, they will do it.”
That statement from GEJ does not inspire strength and courage. What it does is to show our president as a man who does not know how to handle hot issues. Like one famous philosopher who said he could not think on his feet, our president should have, for lack of a better thing to say on the spur of the moment, promised to address a press conference after consulting with his policy and security analysts. For now, our leader has sneezed and we have all begun to live in fear. If with the entire power posse around him, Jonathan says he's not safe, then who is for Christ’s sake?
A child, like a country, needs a father who is not afraid of the neighbour. Even when a father is afraid he does not show it in the presence of his child. He goes outside with the door shut and negotiates if need be. He never shows weakness. GEJ's show of weakness will cost us dearly. It will embolden the Boko Haram to test us further. For as our president has said, no one is safe, not even him! So what to do? Call in the Boko Haram and hand them the reins of government since you cannot ensure our safety. While you do that, I'll comfort myself with Beautiful Nubia's lyrics: "Few people take all the wealth, poor people bear all the pain, small people look to the skies, when will it be our turn?"