Plateau: That Human Bodies Do Not Become Mere Statistics

Killings are still ongoing in Plateau State and state governments have begun the evacuation of their indigenes. It is scary that the gory old days of ethnic and religious tensions have returned to Plateau and it just tells how violence can be so close if critical steps and actions are not always taken.

In a state like Plateau, which has a very sensitive geographical positioning with its people diverse in culture, style and faith, there’s always a reason to press the right buttons and ensure situations remain non-flammable.

Deaths are recorded daily in Nigeria and there’s an alarmingly growing disinterest in that type of news. Headlines carry lots of statistics that don’t even come close to revealing the true state of things. Many Nigerians have grown dismissive of such reports as they come very regularly and leave citizens distraught. In addition to the state of the economy, it’s a burden too heavy to bear. Sadly, human lives, wrapped in clothes, waiting to be buried have become mere statistics. Fathers of little children, nursing mothers of helpless babies, breadwinners, security operatives and many more have become numbers, numbers that tell where we are, yet, not getting reduced by the day.

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In Plateau and Benue State in the past few weeks, more than 100 people have been killed in religious and ethnic tensions that leave one wondering what security means to the Nigerian government. Reprisals have become the order of the day and locals have begun fleeing their homes. Last week, the Kaduna state government evacuated its indigenes from Plateau and one wonders what the actual cost of a Nigerians life is. Running from ethnic tension in Plateau to banditry and kidnapping in Kaduna shows that the country is on a cliffhanger. 

At the 3rd quarter meeting of the Intra-religious Council, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar said killings in Sokoto State don’t make the news. In one day, they buried 76 persons and another 48 on another day. 

“In eastern Sokoto alone, there was a day we buried 76 people who were killed in cold blood by criminals who came from nowhere, people don’t hear about that one. There was another day we buried 48 people in the same Sokoto, but you didn’t hear about it,” Abubakar told the council. 

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“How can people, who do these things, be unknown? Where are our intelligence agencies? Don’t we have a proactive intelligence agency that will preempt the bandits?

“All the people committing such atrocities must be identified. The security agencies must up their game, find them and take action on this kind of carnage. If we start doing so, all this carnage we see in this country will stop.”

That killings in Sokoto are not reported shows there are so many others not receiving the required attention in the country and there’s the danger of the fatigue that has followed the reportage of deaths, yet not reporting seems even more dangerous. Reporting stories across Africa, particularly those in the Sahel and Ethiopia, since November gives one an inkling of how easily human bodies can become ordinary numbers. When read on the pages of newspapers, on-the-go on social media pages, the actual impacts of these losses don’t sink. These are human bodies becoming mere prints. 

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Intelligence gathering and actions must go on side-by-side and when a top security architecture like the Nigerian Defence Academy is broken down as effortlessly as it was, there’s just little hope that ordinary Nigerians are safe. The biggest danger however, lies in the reaction of the Nigerian government and African governments in general to the numbers of casualties of different attacks.

These bodies can’t be left to be mere numbers, or everyone will become a victim of numerical analyses. It’s high time we plugged all loopholes, and valued human lives.

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