by Markus Gamache
The report of the Nigerian government to the outside world is that Boko Haram have been defeated. But the government is still losing soldiers, losing billions of Naira for security, and also losing lives. The internal situation is clearly different from the government report.
The international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have their areas of operation in Nigeria, and the locals are happy with the food and non-food items being distributed. The NGOs have created job opportunity to thousands of youths.
Places where there is no communication, no electricity, no transport and no enough security, however, are still under attack. Killings, rape, kidnapings, and all sort of unbelievable things are going on.
Every week, the Madagali area is under attack and reports have never been captured that fact very well. The last three weeks, it looked like daily attacks. In Wunu, in the Madagali local government area, two people were killed, five injured, and more houses burnt. This village is on the border of Cameroon. The Mubi mosque bombing was not a surprise. Mubi and Michika have been the only safe places in the north region of Adamawa State.
The Biu market bombing came as a surprise to everyone. Biu has been secured from the attacks since 2014. Biu experienced what we call community dialogue, community cooperation, where the local security and government security worked together from the beginning of the few attacks.
Recently bomb attacks on Maiduguri are on the increase, which people think is because of politics coming closer.
The Fulani militants, as they are called, have claimed lives and properties in Numan and Demsa local government areas. These places have majority Christian populations and are very close to Yola--indeed within a 30-minute drive. The fight between the Fulanis and the Bachamas, the local people in Numan, has been going on for years, and there was a religious crisis between the indigenous people and the Hausas some years back.
Some of the weapons used in these recent attacks are highly sophisticated. There has been a rumor of Islamic militants regrouping, and going to Numan for more attacks. Christians are still vacating these areas and taking refuge in nearby villages. Some of the displaced people that we are caring for in Numan are stranded and losing hope. Some of the IDP (internally displaced people) camps that we are caring for are also fearing what will happen next.
The killings by the Fulanis have increased since Boko Haram started. We cannot see a physical connection between the two, but there are indications that may reveal their operations to be closely linked. In Jos Meyangu area, two separate attacks on Christian communities, and an attack in Ryom in less than two months, revealed more intent of the attackers to have their mission only against Christian communities.
In the Gurku Interfaith Camp for displaced people, during the harvesting period some families--including mine--lost maize and beans to Fulani cattle. We have agreed that we will not fight back, we will not draw the attention of the host community to avoid conflict between them and the Fulani herdsmen. The camp committee decided to go to the Fulani leaders for dialogue and understanding to prevent future events. Some of the displaced people at the camp appreciated the method and have indeed increased our neighborly relationship with the Fulanis.
To my own human understanding, it is most difficult to estimate or analyze the direction of this present situation. Villagers from all sorts of places are regrouping to take over their lands and burnt houses, but again, the security is not there. We have started building new churches and homes, but the security is not there. The body of Christ in Nigeria (the churches) are not united at any level. Many Nigerians today do not know what is happening in the north. The government itself is getting weaker and tired of the whole situation. Life is difficult not only for the displaced, but for every common person. The gap between the rich and poor is always on the increase. People are hungry, people are very desperate. Some of the young girls carrying out suicide bombing are sold by their own parents. Many children, both boys and girls, may not know their biological parents. It is easy to use such children as agents of violence.
Where is Nigeria heading? If this is truly a Christian persecution, then where are we running to? If it is an ethnic cleansing, we have more than 371 ethnic groups in Nigeria. Which one will cleanse which? The two faiths in Nigeria are both claiming to be the majority.
Humanly it is hopeless. People have waited too long for our savior to come. It is almost becoming unbearable, waiting on the Lord. Only His own power and His miracle can change the situation. God please come and save us before the wicked ones convert your dear children forcefully.
We have to prepare for more prayers and not lose hope. What kind of preparedness do I need, being part of the region? God have mercy.
-- Markus Gamache is staff liaison for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).