By Ati Kenneth Kengkeng and Ukan Kurugh
Childrens day 27th May every year is always a delight to many. This year however is different as reasons abound for a sober celebration or better still,no celebration at all. No matter how myopic and insensitive one can be to “not see reason” for such,the missing school girls in Chibok is more than obvious. To this end, Benue Non Governmental Organisations Network (BENGONET) and Civil Society Organisation took the bull by the horn to drive home the message through a peaceful protest walk round Makurdi city to the State House of Assembly.
In the build up to the event,certain personalities were expected to be in attendance to add colour and increase the pressure towards the achievement of the benefits of this onerous task. Notable among them are the Benue Queens. Hitherto,one would say,the Benue Queens are passionate,loving,caring and considerate about the plight of children and less priviledged in Benue State. This is true. We don’t think there is any doubt about it. However,there is an expected touch or an expression of consistency in pattern of character that needs to accompany passionate activities that confirm their authenticity,hence,differenciating them from one-off attempts by folks who only want to stay afloat in the scheme of things and massage their ego through momentary philantropic activities. This is the reason why some of us have been taken aback by the total absence,gross negligence,monumental indolence and adamant postulation that greeted the Childrens day by the Benue Queens. Having shown a consistent pattern with their public and private show of love for children,one is left to wonder in oblivion why they were nowhere to be found on the one-single day dedicated to children;In the schools,the orphanages,at IBB Square,on the peaceful protest walk and maybe not even in their homes. What have these little kids done to deserve this treatment from the queens on their day? For avoidance of doubt, pageantry and the quest for the shinning things of life has taken over Benue. The following are domiciled in Benue;Miss Benue,Miss Akata,Most Beautiful Girl in Benue,Miss Benue Culture Tourism, Miss Benue Carnival, Kumashe U Tiv, Miss Idoma, Face of Idoma,Miss Middle-Belt,All the Miss’ in the Local Governments…and worst of all in this regard is the winner of and Queen Ambassador for Children in Nigeria Miss Ngunan Patience Iorun. This young lady is from Benue State and resides in Makurdi.
On behalf of the children,we humbly ask:”Where were y’all?” To our greatest amazement and the embarrassment of the pageantry industry and the Benue Queens,the peaceful protest was led by winner of Little Miss Benue,the lovely,young and agile Benedicta. She weathered the storm,walked for kilometres and ended at the doorstep of Benue State House of Assembly. She didn’t sit,stagger or slumber. The first time we saw a drink in her hand all through the walk was when the Speaker of the House offerred her one. In her,we see the fighting spirit of the Chibok girls. We doff our hats for this princess.
We’ve decided to take a swipe and a massive pound of flesh from the Benue Queens,but worst on this scale of infamous cowardice is YOU,that reader who only laments on social media and remains gutless when the time for action comes calling. As proud participants in the peaceful protest to BNHA,we expected a mammoth crowd far over and above what we had especially in comparism with the volume of displeasure gushing uncontrollably from our respective timelimes on social media. The guts of a few was displayed on our streets and the cowardice of many will be seen on social media as they lament. Now we know better how to appropriate our minds to submissions by certain personalities on social media. Indeed,lamenting on social media is now a new form of cowardice referred to as “Slacktivism”. As far as we are concerned,whatsoever it is,that restrains you from participating in an activity as such-on such a special day,for a specific class of special people(children),in an ugly and trying time of our nations history as this-is a factor of slacktivism. Sitting in the comfort of our homes does not bring about the desired change the system requires. Calls were put across to supposed like-minded folks whom we often flock together in lamentation on social media and excuses were given to succintly cater for abscondment or absenteeism. These are the people we refer to as “slacktivists”. As one fellow opined,Benue State has the highest level of tolerance for bad governance nationwide and world over. Not necessarily because the government is bad but because the people have done nothing about it.
To demonstrate our doggedness,in the course of the peaceful walk,certain uncultured,unscrupulous,uneducated elements who drove over in their flashy cars financed by the ill-gotten wealth of their pay masters attempted to stop the protest alleging that certain placards were offensive to their principal. Thuggery is obviously and undoubtedly a fledging,thriving and largely successful industry in Benue when placed side-by-side with Taraku Mills,Otukpo Burnt Bricks and Tomato Processing Plant in Wannune,a direct reflection of the ills we attempt to combat. To their detriment,officers of the State Security Services were on hand to contain their excesses. Even more soothing is the fact that their principal seeks to occupy an office lesser in influence,authority and capacity in comparism with that which he occupies now. We forsee a near-natural death of these Asari Dokubo wanabe’s.
Be those anomalies as they may,we remain confident in the entrenchment of democratic ethics in our State and will continue to exert positive pressure to stimulate progress at specific quaters of government and the society. We among others will continue to seek repentance from the overwhelming number of slacktivists,hoping that they will change for the better. We are faced with an election year in the horizon and now is the time to buckle up on all fronts and quit the cheap talk and lamentation for action. Our voices remain one and unwavering: