Picture this. It’s the first Friday of the month and, as usual, there’s mad traffic across Lagos. Humans stream out of BRTs at Ikorodu Bus Park, as pews get filled by religious faithfuls in camps from Berger to Mowe. Colleagues chill  in clubs, waiting out traffic as their office assistants and tea girls snack on Gala and La Casera in danfos from Third Mainland to Ajah Roundabout. A bag is left on a BRT, a bearded guy slides into a crowded pew, a Toyota Pencil-light drives into waterside bar, a lady fiddles under her burka – what we call hijab – in the danfo and cries “Allahu Akbar!” before unleashing devastation.

I am ready to move (on the enemy), is anyone coming with me?

Lagos has 20 million people, Boko Haram has killed at least 2.5% of that in Northern Nigeria since 2011, while we collectively watch. It’s not like there’s anything we can do, or is there? I guess we’ll know if the scenario I painted above ever reaches execution. Still, I can also say with some measure of certainty that Boko Haram will cease to exist in our minds within a month of such an incident happening, that is once we’ve first had our 2 weeks of mourning and public holidays.

Pray, stay alert and stay alive. If someone must die, let it be me.

I’m rather despondent as I write this. Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Abu Ali, Sergeant Mu’azu Ibrahim, Sergeant Hussani Jafaru, Sergeant Bassey Okon, Corporal Chukwu Simon, Able Seaman Patrick Paul and Private Salisu Lawal are being laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery in Abuja. So, the above scenario is likely never going to happen because of these men, especially Lt. Col. Abu Ali. In fact, just so we all know and are clear about it – we are all alive and continue to live because of soldiers like Sarkin Yaki. Please have no doubts of this whatsoever.  

Gentlemen, just follow me behind and do only 5%, I will do the 95%.

Lt. Col Abu Ali was born into royalty. His father is the Etsu Bassa Nge in Kogi State and was the military head of Bauchi State from ’90 – ’92. In ‘80, he went to Command Secondary School Jos, was in NDA from ’98 – ‘03 as a member of the 50th Regular Course and was doubly promoted to Lieutenant Colonel last year. It was estimated he would be Chief of Army Staff in another 15 years. Lt. Col Abu Ali was the Commanding Officer of 272 Task Force Tank Battalion, and retook Monguno, Baga, Bama, parts of Sambisa etc. He was killed in a Boko Haram ambush at night on his way to provide reinforcements to the 119 Battalion being attacked at Mallam Fatori.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life…

I wept, man. Buratai too, apparently. I’ve lost people – family and friends who were civilians and soldiers to Boko Harm. My best friend in primary school currently provides air support to our ground troops, another got shot in the back when Boko Haram decided to pay his school a surprise visit. My tears, asides Lt. Col Abu Ali’s death, were also because of the hopeless situation (which has now obviously worsened) that is currently the North East. See, our troops fight a monster of our politicians’ making with the worst equipment. Shout out to Dasuki & co. Imagine whole battalions with one or no night-vision goggles, the Chibok girls, women in IDP camps getting raped in exchange for food lest their children join those who have died of starvation. The whole thing is one massive clusterfuck.    

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

Sarkin Yaki didn’t have to die, man. Boko Haram didn’t have to happen, yet here we are. I will always remember these men, the families they left behind and forever hold them in my heart. If you can, say a prayer for the people in the North East and for the soldiers fighting to give them back their homes, it’s the least you can do. Our fallen heroes will not go gently into the night and their labours will not be in vain. Old soldiers never die. Lt. Col Abu Ali and every soldier didn’t, they just faded into glory.

Responses

  1. Adeyinka
    There are men who teach us to find heaven by making our lives hell and there are these few good ones who give everything so here becomes the heaven that we seek.
    One day soon, the day will break and cockroaches will find no night shade to shield them from the sweeping typhoon that comes.

    Lt. Col Abu Ali and his comrades didn’t die; HOPE never dies!!!

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  2. Joko
    Thank you Anonymous Aboki (can I call you AA?) for reminding me personally about this.

    I have a friend who has a soldier family member in the NE. Forget all you hear in the news and dailies. This dude gave us first class account of happenings during the wars with Boko Haram. Thinking about it now, I never for once told him to thank his brother and the rest of the soldiers on the battle field for keeping awake while majority of us go about out businesses during the day and snore away while we are asleep at night.

    May the life of Lt. Col Abu Ali and all fallen soldiers continue to rest because they laid down their lifes that majority of us continue to live.

    All the while, I hadn’t given them the standing ovation and the one-minute silence I thought they all deserved. From the corner in my little office space, I just did both.

    Thank you, AA.

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