There was something very untidy about the latest video by "The Khalifah", one of the insurgent groups in the northeast, holding some aid workers hostage. Not that I think it was farcical, rather that it seems it was hastily put up, and the script was badly written, or maybe for fear, the female hostage who read, or presented the message, jumbled her words together, making it difficult to understand whether the message was to the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN or to the Nigerian government. Also, in referring to the other five hostages (all males) as Muslims, without asking for the heads or groups of Muslim Ummah to come to their aid, made it appear like she was suggesting that somehow those ones could be freed without much hassles, or would be treated better, compared to her, a female and a Christian? In the video, Grace Taku alluded to the fact that Leah Sharibu has been killed, even though that hasn't been verified, except the group holding her (which is different from the ones through which this message has come) intended for news about Leah's passing to be passed across via this means. However, it appears she wanted to use that piece of information to express how grave her situation is. Unfortunately, nothing in the body language of the government or the security agents, suggests that her case, as well as that of her fellow hostages, including many others in their condition, will receive any action different from the below par, uninspiring response that we seem to have gotten used to in Nigeria, since this government declared that it had technically defeated Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria's northeast, even when events, including the overrunning of a military base, and subsequent attack on an IDP camp in Dalori, close to Maiduguri (where the insurgents carted away food and other relief materials, leaving two dead in their wake) two days ago suggests. The release of the video coincided with the period most Nigerians were engrossed with the screening of ministerial nominees by the Nigerian Senate, and its purpose seemed to remind Nigerians that they still have security issues to resolve, even if for the time being such has been relegated to the background on the minds of most Nigerians. The fallout from that video, especially as regards Leah Sharibu trended just for a few hours, and by the time the next eloquent ministerial nominee addressed the Senate, it became all that mattered, before once again the reality show Big Brother Naija, took back it's coveted spot on Twitter. The carnage in the northeast has become second nature to many a Nigerian, news of death and destruction, of abductions and rape of women and girls is now something to live by, except when it concerns a celebrity and a celebrity pastor. Even the capture and killing of military officers, of commanding officers of Colonels and Brigadier-General cadre no less, hardly makes headlines these days, because new theatre of wars have opened up elsewhere, with so called bandits in the northwest and middle belt regions, to the madness happening along federal roads in the southwest, to other acts of criminality allover Nigeria, such that the whole country has become a huge killing field, with the police contributing their own quota of blood shedding through extrajudicial killing of innocent young Nigerians for wearing tattoos, dreadlocks and possessing expensive gadgets, especially in the South. In all these, President Muhammadu Buhari has not deemed it fit to consider tweaking the heads of Nigeria's security apparati, who are considered by many to have run out of ideas as to how to combat the worsening security challenges in the country. Not a few Nigerians think that the war in the northeast is unnecessarily prolonged because some people at the top are benefiting from it, and think the President may still be keeping the Defence Chiefs to embarrass them, seeing as those at the top have outlived their service years already, and the latter have also contrived to do nothing out of the ordinary to remedy the situation as well, as a form of protest for their continued retention, a situation they find untenable. No matter how you see what is playing out, it is very embarrassing to say the least. In that latest video, the background in front of which the hostages delivered their message, was a UNHCR canopy, and when you watch some of the propaganda videos of the insurgent groups operating in the northeast, you'd find that their arms and ammunition, amongst other military soft and hardware, have the Nigerian military's labels and insignia on them. It seems the Nigerian military acts as store houses for them, besides procuring these weapons for them seemingly. Sooner had the announcement of purchase of new equipment made, even shown on TV, than will a military base be struck and attacked, and equipment made away with by the insurgents. It would appear like the intelligence arms of Nigeria's security agencies need to learn a thing or two from their counterparts in the adversary camp, because it is clear of the two camps which is more adept at intelligence gathering, apparent by the tactics of which appear to be yielding fruit. Another thing that seem to be playing out in the northeast is religion. Yes, I know you'd say that it's always been religion, seeing as groups such as Boko Haram and ISWAP want an Islamic State in that part of Nigeria, but this angle I want to open your eyes to isn't one that's generally gained traction even amongst observant Nigerians, including me until a little while ago. After government and governance collapsed in the northeast, especially in Borno State, aid agencies moved in to fill the void, and as with such incursions, most of the aid workers would have to be sourced and recruited amongst the locals. Now in places like Borno and other parts of the northeast and northwest, the type of education one gets in the main depends on the religion of the person (and/or that of the parents, and their level of exposure) for the most part. Most Muslims prefer Islamic education or the likes around that, including of jurisprudence, like Nigeria's current Chief Justice (Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed), while Christians opt for western education, and will most likely be able to converse in fluent English. Therefore, it means that most of the staff of these aid agencies and NGOs filling the void, created by the absence of government and governance in the northeast include the minority Christians of such localities and southerners who could either be Christians or Muslims with western education, only with a sprinkling of Muslims from the locality, who can speak English, especially for areas where they might encounter resistance amongst Muslim residents, in the course of their work. Sometimes, some of the drivers (who are Muslims) of the vehicles owned by the aid agencies, also find themselves working as interpreters, and diplomats between aid workers who aren't familiar with the territory and ways of the people. The scenario I just painted above is a dilemma for the elite (religious, political and sociocultural) of the northeast, who are mostly Muslims, whose work you can see allover Maiduguri and and towns and cities, in the shape of magnificent mosques dotting the landscape, as if in appeasement to the fanatics and fundamentalists who may think that they have lost their faith and religion, in their pursuit of wealth and comfort. The discomfort in finding Christian organizations, or NGOs (local and international) with mainly Christian staff can be felt in how they relate with these organizations, and they only tolerate the latter because they cannot or are not interested in engaging themselves in the kind of humanitarian activities these ones are willing to commit themselves to doing, even at the risk of their lives. At some point, the Nigerian Army had to even ban humanitarian agencies from working in Borno, on the premise that they were acting as spies for the insurgent groups, before they reversed themselves, as that action was beyond their mandate. This frosty relationship between aid agencies and the military authorities, cum what's left of government in the northeast, is why some staff of such aid agencies trudge through uncharted parts of the insurgent infested region of the northeast, without as much as police escort, talk more military escort leaving them prone to attacks, in which some are killed on the spot, while many are taken into captivity, from where they are never heard from. What many of those Christian aid workers are accused of mainly is indoctrination of the helpless, and it's why there's just little sympathy for them, even amongst the internally displaced persons they serve, when they find themselves in unfortunate situations in the line of duty. Now, it is very important that I explain what this so called "indoctrination" is. It is not the proselytizing that many are familiar with, rather it is mainly with mannerisms and symbols, from the "cross" in the Red Cross, to dressing, especially of female Christian aid workers from Nigeria's south, to exclaiming "Jesus" as a figure of speech, just to name a few. Also, just the fact that there are few Muslims amongst the crew of aid workers is just enough for those not close to the site of their activities to simply conclude that they indoctrinate the IDPs when they go to work in their midst. So, one of the things you see when a Christian female aid worker is abducted, and paraded on screen by the terrorists is having her clad in full hijab, or Muslim body covering for females, as an example of how a female should be dressed in that part of Nigeria, and in the caliphate they expect to set up in the future, just as with Grace Taku in that video. It is with the background of what aid workers, especially Christian female aid workers pass through, of which she's aware, that she is seen, or made to call on the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and then the government, hoping that the former can put pressure on the latter to do the needful by her, and by implication her fellow hostages, and other captives of Islamic Fundamentalist groups operating in Nigeria's northeast. 'kovich OF CHRISTIAN AID WORKERS IN NIGERIA'S NORTHEAST

Published by m'khail madukovich