Yesterday, I read a collection of stories from a certain author on Facebook. His real names were not and cannot be revealed because I was made to understand that the stories broke some code of conduct or Ethics something in the army. Basically, they’re not supposed to expose whatever they went through, while on their missions and all that.
It was a story about his posting to Borno, way back when the insurgency thing started. The author joined the military simply because of money and met a lot like him – only children, only sons, men with wives and kids at home. He documented their travails, being lack of weapons, food, and the wherewithal to fight off the terrorists. When they couldn’t fight anymore and were ordered to retreat, they were court martialed and a huge number of them executed by illegal firing squad.
I have a friend who joined the military a few years back and the excitement in his voice when he called to tell me he had been accepted made me swallow the 1001 reasons I had prepared to give him, on why he shouldn’t. The last time we spoke, he said he missed my collection of songs because that was one of the things we had in common. I am an unapologetic music collector and he used to collect songs from me.
Reading the story on Facebook made me wonder if one day I would no longer hear the voice that liked to collect songs from me, or the excitement in his voice everytime he called to update me on his progress in the military, how he was going for field training and all that. A part of my heart sinks just to think about this.
The last time the army was in the news for anything major was during the Dasuki Scandal, where funds meant for equipment was diverted to line the pockets of pot bellied men and their families while soldiers were sent out in droves with little or no weapons – a March to death!
I think this was news for a while and then it died down, like everything dies down in these parts. The thing is, we like to be sympathetic for the time the story is trending and as soon as Davido gets Chioma a Porsche, we forget in a flash.
I have met a lot of people who do not know a bit of what is happening in the North East and how it’s slowly creeping into the middle belt and towards us in the south. A lot of people have a blank expression on their face when you mention something that happened in Burma or even Benue. When I wrote Hotel Nigeria, soon after the Benue massacre, a lot of people told me they were just hearing about it for the first time.
It’s sad but it’s true, that a lot of people do not read the news, more don’t even know that the price of foodstuffs has tripled in the market because of the incessant attacks on the food basket of the nation – how many even know which state is the food basket?
I want to dedicate today to the soldiers, living and dead, serving and dismissed, who sacrificed their today for our tomorrow. I hope and really wish we spare a minute everyday to pray for them as they plough through the cold Rocky mountains of the sambisa with no food or water, most times no back up or sophisticated equipment.
I know most times, the military are in the news for all the wrong reasons, especially when they’re oppressing civilians. I am totally against oppression of any kind but I honestly hope we look beyond the few bad eggs and not use them to taint the efforts of the few good ones.
I hope we pray for them and the post traumatic disorder they will have from watching their brothers in arms felled by the guns of the miscreants our government defeated only on social media.
I hope we pray for the families they left behind and promised they would return, the mothers who had heart attacks and died on hearing that their only children were killed in battle. For the girlfriends who couldn’t wait and had to marry someone else.
I hope we pray especially for the ones who were so badly injured and were dismissed unceremoniously from the army with the benefits accruing to them, unpaid.
I hope we pray for our vets who have been rendered homeless because they have nothing to come back to, and have to do meagre jobs to survive.
I hope people begin to talk about the discrepancies in the hierarchy of government and all that bureaucracy. Left to me, I don’t see why someone should choose to die for a country that doesn’t care about them. However, the country is hard and I understand that people are joining the army to survive.
I hope we always keep them in our hearts, and never forget, the people that matter!