On 2nd of August 2019, we woke up to news that Abubakar Idris popularly called Dadiyata was forcefully taken from his home in Barnawa, Kaduna State in the evening of the first of August 2019.
Dadiyata is a vocal government critic, a lecturer and a staunch follower and supporter of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a politician indigenes of Kano credit with giving many of them equal opportunities especially scholarship. Dadiyata was a recipient of one of these scholarships with no connection to any politician or senior govt official, he secured a scholarship to further his studies. abroad and swore to pay more attention to politics afterwards .
I got an insight into what motivated Dadiyata in our many conversations. He would say ‘Ndi, the north is poor and at the rate we are going things will end up much worse than this. Kwankwaso is the only one I know who reached down to bridge the class divide by providing equal opportunities I indebted to him.”
Sometimes, Dadiyata would leave his home in Kaduna and head to Abuja to support efforts geared towards changing the Muhammadu Buhari government; a government he had completely written off .He referred to the Buhari led administration as a disappointment and was doing his own part towards effecting change.
The political climate is a tricky one and many will not move an inch without being assured of a handsome payout or at least expecting one; Not Dadiyata. Dadiyata used his own funds to and fro Kaduna and Abuja to add his quota, he awakened and created an army of young, vocal people on and off social media ready to stand up against bad governance and support with their sweat, and no personal incentives, what they believed in.
During the Presidential campaign, Dadiyata would come to Abuja and have nowhere to sleep, he would work till evening and put up anywhere he could lay his head; he was that dedicated.
Lean, mild and unassuming, Dadiyata’s focus was better governance especially for the North. His furthered education was a result of a good policy, he wanted same for others like him.
The news of Dadiyata’s abduction sent shock waves through most of us. We have come to expect this but then no one would have thought Dadiyata was an immediate target and this is an even scarier realisation.
Prior to Dadiyata’s disappearance, Steven Kefason and indigene of Kaduna State and staunch critique of the Kaduna State Government was abducted from Port Harcourt on May 8th 2019, it took two days of hashtags and pressing the government for information to come out that he was taken by state actors. Steven has been locked up since May 8th; over 3 months with the court using refusal to grant bail to keep him locked up. At his last bail hearing, young people across Social Media trended hashtags and shared photos putting pressure on the court for his release, he was denied bail. Slowly, everyone is moving on as all arms of government have united in ridding him of his freedom and shutting down his voice.
Democracy as we know it in Nigeria, clocked 20 years old this year and for my generation, this is most of our lives. There is a huge difference between our generation and the generation of our parents. By the time my Mother discovered herself as a youth, she had witnessed a military coup, a counter coup, a civil war and Buhari’s first coming. Their youth and the exuberance thereof were cracked by brutal, military dictatorship and many stayed down and turned to the comfort of religion for answers. We were a little luckier than our parents. We got democracy or some semblance of it and the freedom of the internet and social media to soar and many of us have stood firm but the cost is getting increasingly steep.
A few months ago, Kaakaki Social, a popular program on African Independent Television (AIT), One of Nigeria’s foremost TV Stations came under fire for being too critical of the government. Ohimai Amaeze the anchor of the program built his platform on a simple concept; collect diverse opinions on socio political issues on social media and share through Kaakaki Social. Basically, none of the things said on Kaakaki Social were Ohimai’s personal opinions. The attack on Kaakaki Social started from young people in government. Then it moved off social media, Ohimai got threatening calls asking him to stop putting up content that showed public discontentment with the government and disillusionment with the system. Ohimai stood his ground saying he was only relaying what Nigerians were saying. The price of his perceived stubbornness was costly. The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission swung into action and right before our eyes, used the courts and the police force to lay siege on AIT’s premises. We followed the events in real time. The license of Daar Communications the parent company of AIT was suspended and the station taken off air. The unfortunate series of events led to protests before the National Assembly and the US Embassy where Ohimai Amaeze showed up in protest with his mouth plastered shut. These series of events in the glare of the public clouded the increased threats to Ohimai’s life. Ohimai Amaeze fled the country not too long after. This is Nigeria in 2019.
On Friday, 22nd February 2019, Usman Austin Okai, a vocal opposition voice and government critic in Kogi State was picked up by DSS. He was released 21 days later. This abduction was not Austin’s first since the inception of this government and he has had to report alleged threats made to his life by government officials.
In 2017, Audu Maikori was invited to the police station to write a statement. Instead, he was bundled to Kaduna from Lagos in Gestapo style. The young man who is a mentor and role model to many young Nigerians left the country after his ordeal.
For every big conversation of enforced disappearances on the national level, there are several more at the state and local level who do not have the privilege of social media to speak for them.
This trend of enforced disappearances in a government democratically elected in its first term signifies a major downturn for young Nigerians whose lives were headed towards freedom so different from the experience of previous generations. It is a new reality for most of us that is as fearful as it is dawning.
Opposition, Civil Society, Freedom of speech and democracy have experienced increased attacks in recent years; a far cry from the dividends of the growing democracy Nigerians signed up for.
Nigeria is a heterogeneous nation of over 250 tribes, it is delicate. Any system that tilts away from freedom upsets this balance and chaos ensues. Nigeria has barely made it to midlife, patched and pushed despite a history of brutality and dictatorship and for a new generation, this unearths conversations about the reality of Nigeria, what being Nigerian means and the future of this country. Hidden historical truths are being unearthed; voices are getting louder and young people more daring despite government’s increased brutality.
On the 3rd of August 2019, Omoyele Sowore a journalist, activist and owner of Sahara Reporters, a frontline online news blog known for its no holds barred approach to reporting news was taken from Lagos. Sowore managed to send an incomplete “DSS invades Sowore’s” before being bundled away. When he was taken, the DSS did not release a statement immediately and his friends and allies had to depend on informants in the DSS for his information on his whereabouts. Prior to his abduction, Sowore had started a movement tagged “Revolution Now” with the orange beret as a symbol and urged Nigerians to take to the streets.
Dadiyata has been gone for 11 days. There is still no news of his whereabouts. Armed men took Abubakar Idris Dadiyata and he has vanished into thin air. What remains most frightening for citizens is the reality that the mode of abduction for state and non state actors is the same in a country where security has deteriorated rapidly in recent years. While the whole nation asks “Where is Dadiyata?”, no response has come forward from the government; not in form of an official statement on his whereabouts or what they are doing to track him as a person of interest. At the point of abduction, the gunmen pointed their gun at his terrified young wife before bundling him into his vehicle and taking off.
This is our new reality. As more government officials seize the opportunity on public platforms to speak on the need to clamp down on social media and silence civil society, the battle of a new generation seeking a better country kicks into full gear.
Even more traumatic is the decentralized nature of the brutality in this government. Anyone can arrange for you to be taken using the machinery of the state. There is a complete absence of leadership at the centre and a junior government official or even a child of a person in government can use the apparatus of state to hound key voices and civil society. Nigeria has deteriorated to this point and as a quote on a social media post stated after the abduction of Yele Sowore “Everything will happen and nothing will happen.”
The first casualties are already being recorded and for some of us, it has become a matter of when not if. We have had to train our children, family and friends on steps to take when we are taken. The new reality and the process of teaching young children what to do when Mummy or Daddy is gone is nerve wrecking but we are at that point in history.
This article was written for country and for my friends. They are not distant names, I KNOW THESE PEOPLE. I am using medium to humanize them. They are not strange stories from a faraway land; I’M A YOUNG WOMAN IN NIGERIA AND SEVERAL OF MY FRIENDS HAVE BEEN TAKEN IN ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES IN A DEMOCRACY THAT IS QUICKLY COMING TO A HALT.
FREE STEVEN KEFASON
FREE ABUBAKAR IDRIS DADIYATA
FREE OMOYELE SOWORE
FREE JONES ABIRI
(Ndi Kato is the deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Middle Belt Forum)
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