Can’t we get serious?

SIR:  What challenge is more challenging than the challenges that have been bedeviling our progress in Nigeria, ravaging our country, threatening the fabric of our social structure as a people?

In a country where corruption is becoming our norm, insecurity is becoming pervasive, nepotism is becoming our blood, inequality is being normalized, the poor masses have all forgotten, rather busy dominating social media content, posting light-hearted banters in the name smile challenge, friendship challenge, partner challenge, love challenge, and all sort of challenges that are not of importance.

Are we really serious?

A couple of months ago there was “book challenge”, whereby a person would be challenged to post the cover page of his/her seven favourite books, without review, within a week. That challenge, which I considered worthwhile, revived my confidence that the reading culture that has diminished would resurface, mainly because the books being posted made easy circulation. I imagined that those who love reading would use that opportunity to further deepen their reading culture and that those who read less would begin to take avid interest in the sweet arena of reading. I believed that, even those who do not read at all, could possibly give it a trial. Compared with the earlier-mentioned challenges, the book challenge which I found timely and promising lifted my mood particularly when it dominated the social media. Alas, the euphoria was short-lived just like the trend did.

My assumption was these light-hearted “challenges” was just for fun and so would fade after few days. Unfortunately, it is not only trending in the social media space, it has become big business.

Have we as a people forgotten that some people are being massacred in Borno almost on a daily basis?  That innocent Nigerians are being ambushed and kidnapped in Kaduna?  Some innocent lives are routinely displaced in Zamfara and Katsina?  Why don’t we, instead of being serious about something that is not worth the time, challenge the government to, as a matter of urgency, do anything possible to protect these lives?

Have we forgotten that the ASUU has been on strike since March this year?  Do we take stock of the future of our education?  Why don’t we challenge the government about our existing challenges on ground?

I’m sure the amount of social media content on the smile challenge alone, if tailored towards our real challenges, would suffice to compel the government to swing into action with a view to addressing them.

Until we think long and deep, our challenges will hardly can be surmounted. I’m not condemning being light-hearted in a-times.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.