By Gabriel Onoja
June is not a good month for the United States. Some of its number crunching mandarins confronted the country with the reality of the war on its doorsteps to which it has consistently feigned oblivion, playing the ostrich, with the head immersed not in the sand but in other nations’ affairs in one final futile effort to engage in destructive denial. The journal Pediatrics put the average number of children that die from gun violence in that country at 1,300 each year, counting from 2012 to 2014. The same report indicate an average of 19 children get killed or injured on daily basis and sadly, the shooters are as young – sometimes as young as two to five years old.
Had this report pertained to another country, especially a developing one or a state designated for destabilization, the global media would have been prepped and induced to run non-stop clips and commentaries that will further cause deterioration in whatever the conditions are in that nation. Paid talking heads branded as experts would have taken to the airwaves to canvass why the government should be sanctioned for not stopping parents and guardians from making firearms available and accessible to toddlers. The country would have been indicted for birthing children that are inquisitive to the point of exploring the firearms they found littering their country.
Reporting the American kids’ death epidemic from gun violence the way another country would have been reported would have conflicted with the norm so an alternate reality has to be created. That alternate reality was to release another report called the United States 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, which was an omnibus title for an array of lies that could be told against the targeted countries. The report, in addition to suggesting that Nigeria is a source for supplying flesh to the prostitution rings in other parts of the world, accused the Nigerian authorities of using child soldiers. Other countries were also accused of an array crimes.
The timing of the release of that report served the purpose the US. Attention was taken off its own crisis where more children die from mindless gun violence than terrorists kill in northeastern Nigeria, where it accused the country of using child soldiers. If the innuendo is correct then the Nigerian child has more value than the American child and must not be exposed to toting guns, which are for adults, in hostile environments since the average US home is a war front with enough small arms lying around for kids to kill themselves with.
Yet the United States did not issue its jaundiced report because of some dubious love for the beleaguered child fighters, who were in countless instances forced into adulthood before they were of age because it might just have been the only way to stay alive. While the US stance on gun control placed the killer weapons in American homes, its nosiness similarly put the weapons in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists from whom children are then compelled to save themselves. Its tardiness in designating Boko Haram a terror organization facilitated the evil group’s rise to notoriety. America’s meanness in refusing to sell weapons to Nigeria to fight the terrorists is well documented just like its irresponsible blockade of sales by other countries.
A combination of all these intrusions made it necessary for citizens to pitch in to save themselves from Boko Hordes rampaging with western weapons and the Civilian JTF became a veritable umbrella under which villages defended themselves. They mostly did this with the crudest of weapons as far modern crisis and warfare go. It is not unusual to see members of Civilian JTF brandishing cudgels, bows and arrows, machetes., Dane guns and the shotguns and occasional automatic assault rifles – often proceeds of successful operations against western-armed terrorists. They do not have the kind of sophisticated weapons that are supplied to “moderate rebels” in Syria because there is no record that the Nigerian government or Army gave such to them.
Perhaps, the US would have preferred that population of northeast Nigeria play the victim and be caught helpless between a rock and a hard place. ISIS fanatics caught the Yazidis in vice like grips, leaving them trapped in some mountains and the it definitely provided some needed propaganda to quip about “humanitarian crisis” and declaration of how it was “a sore on the conscience of the world”. The Civilian JTF avoided that fate for their people in large part and the loss of the chance to grandstand is definitely one that the US is not taking kindly to. The claim of deployment of child soldiers therefore takes on a different meaning when viewed in this light.
When seen from this perspective, one begins to wonder what the gives the American kids the liberty to handle firearms as toys with which they ultimately maim or kill their siblings or neighbors. But the poor victim of Boko Haram’s barbarism in northeast Nigeria is not allowed to take up the same bit of dangerous equipment for use in a last desperate bid to stay alive. Even this rudimentary human reaction of self preservation is blamed on a government institution, the same one that the accuser had attempted to render systematically unable to defend the so called child fighter.
The US must rouse from this game of ostrich, there is a limit to which it can engage in the manipulation of reality and ignoring its own raging war of kids’ deaths from lax gun ownership to meddle in how people use self help to stay alive in the face of sponsored terrorism is about the extent to which self delusion should reach.
Onoja, a security expert writes from Jos, Plateau State.