There comes a time when talking about the same kind of tragedy, or idiocy, over and over again becomes a futile act. Once is an aberration, twice is a trend. When it happens a third time, it has definitely settled into a most horrific pattern. I speak, of course, of the terrorist acts in Nigeria committed by a small radical Islamist group*, as well as the inability of the government to respond in a satisfactory way. It has almost become an annual Christmas idiocy.

In 2009, just around Christmas, the idiot from Katsina Abdul Mutallab got on a plane from London headed for Detroit, and almost took all the lives on an airplane. He put the country’s name on the world map for terrorism, and the outrage from citizens was unprecedented. “He doesn’t represent us”, we shouted, as the United States placed the country on a terror watch list. In December 2010, a bomb blast in Jos killed about 32 people and wounded dozens more (along with another one in October sponsored by the Movement of the Emancipation of Niger Delta, to mark the October independent celebrations). This year, bombs placed strategically in churches where faithfuls were celebrating the Christmas holiday has now claimed another number of innocent people.

However, beyond the deserved rage against the deranged people to whom violence is an acceptable way of making a point, and the gross ineptitude of a government unable to provide adequate security for the citizenry when they need it the most, I have realized that what should be most deplored is also the lack of fast and competent emergency response. A common sentence to all the news about the recent attacks is a variation of this: “Nigeria’s Emergency services acknowledged they didn’t have enough ambulances immediately on hand to cope with the wounded.” If the government entrusted with the security of the country could not provide that security, it should at least provide emergency help whenever crises happens. This one did not, and thus the tragedy. I am outraged.

NEMA should either be made efficient, or be disbanded and its funding money given to non-governmental organisations that will provide real emergency response whenever citizens need help. It is anyone’s guess how many lives would have been saved if there was prompt emergency response by capable people on the ground rather than finger-pointing and vain tough-talking rhetoric by an incompetent government. When I’m in an accident and dying on the street, I do not want my government on television saying “(this is) a dastardly act that must attract the rebuke of all peace-loving Nigerians… These acts of violence against innocent citizens are an unwarranted affront on our collective safety and freedom” as Mr. Jonathan did last week. I want a president that directs all emergency vans to my help as soon as possible. I don’t know about you, but I would appreciate that a whole lot more.

* The crises in the country are not caused only by radical Islamists. Other radical minorities like the said Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have also been credited with many acts of violence on innocent public structures, and killed countless innocent people. Then there are vehicular accidents, maternal mortality, and armed robbery. An undeniable fact is the decline of that country into chaos. A more heartbreaking one is the ineptitude of government response either in prevention, and in crises management.

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