Fellow Nigerians, the problem is not who attacked the Kaduna-Abuja bound train.
But the tragedy of the fact that the last resort of the common man who must need to make that hitherto hour and 15 minutes trip from one adjoining state to another, has been rudely snatched from them by the spectre of a country run wild and governing itself as it wishes.
These are the issues.
When I first saw the picture of the attacked Kaduna-Abuja train with glasses littering the seats; and read the accounts of one of the travellers who had been in the train; I caught my breath for a very long moment, and then slowly exhaled.
These issues that we are talking about, there are many.
These trains have been touted as “bullet proof”, when in actual fact all that they were, were 2-ply glasses. Would it be okay to ask for a review of the budget and eventual expenditure as it relates to those trains? Imagine being sold a bullet-proof vest only to get home and find it was just a “khaki” overall; stuffed full of cotton wool? That is how I feel everyone who has ever had a ride on that train would feel.
The routes these train tracks ply, I have had cause to drive alongside those tracks while commuting to and from work, when I lived in Abuja. The aim was to beat rush hour traffic. Even back then, we were wary of taking that route during the day. Therefore, we always braved traffic at night because quite frankly; no one wanted to test the safety of these routes during an unexpected but almost ominous attack.
So, this leads one to wonder – aside from “leaving it in the hands of God”; which has always been the first, next and last resort of the average Nigerian; what other plans are made for the safety of the citizens who must ply that route as a part of their daily activities? Even the ones who travel weekly? Or the politicians who rushed to hijack this route when the main one had been rendered almost unusable through their maladministration.
But I over-reach myself.
If I am not mistaken, this is not the first attempt on the Kaduna-Abuja trains. It will not be the last. So, why are proper measures not being taken to ensure that some form of assurance can be given to users of the train route? Some form of safety? Why should there only be assurance when there is VIP movement through the trains; since those ones would come with a heavy security detail and presence?
And then the most pressing issue of all?
First, these “hoodlums” or “bandits” or “international herdsmen” or “misguided brethren”, took over the highways. Initially, we were regaled with tales of how the security forces have just “searched out their hideout and cleared them out”; yet more people kept getting kidnapped amidst rapid gunfire along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway so much so that pretty soon; it was almost like playing Russian Roulette with your life to attempt a trip along the highways.
Most average Nigerians tried to trail along behind high-profile convoys because of the added security of knowing that there would at least be a gun battle, if nothing else. Those who must travel, took to the train route.
This continued for a while until even the security detail became an ineffective match against the firepower of the bandits – or hoodlums; or whatever other euphemism the Nigerian government is addressing them by these days. Even the big men began to look towards the poor man option – traveling by trains.
Now everyone’s attention has shifted to the trains; even that of the ones who created this situation in the first place.
How is the common man going to cope? The average Nigerian who would need to travel from point A to point B (and vice versa); in order to either conduct business or carry out other important activities?
One is not too worried about the big men. They will devise another way. One almost expects that very soon, the Kaduna-Abuja space would be busy with helicopters and private jets criss-crossing the airways. They will sort themselves out. Of that much, we can claim to be a hundred percent confident in.
But you, o common man, how will you cope?
What strategies are there next?
In a country where women are being praised for contributing money to buy a car to carry pregnant women back and forth hospitals: translation – the government and healthcare system has failed them and they are now governing themselves.
Will Nigerian citizens gather together to rent mercenaries from outside the country to come and provide security along those routes and on the trains?
If yes, should we get ready to celebrate their success where the government and security agencies have failed them?
Who will tell the President what these issues are?
Is he aware yet?