Our Silent and Unsung Heroes

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. In the era of new media and youtube videos though, one could well say a video clip is worth a thousand photo albums, a few seconds of which could tell a compelling story better than any book, verbal explanation or detailed written analysis. This is very evident in the recent video clip that has gone viral in social networks and Nigerian online communities, of Sergeant Sunday Badang, the young police officer in Kaduna, Nigeria who is blown to bits in a roadside bomb explosion set by the dreaded Boko Haram group. The video is very graphic and disturbing, viewer discretion is advised.

At first glance, one might regard the young policeman’s fatal action as reckless at best and utterly foolish at worst. The video captures the scene of an earlier bomb blast but a suspicious bag is seen at the roadside which in all probability seems to be packaged explosives. Everyone steers clear of the area, but Badang walks gallantly with a confident stride towards the suspicious package perhaps acting on the command of his superiors. As you watch the video, dreading what you think might and would happen in the next few seconds, you wonder and might even utter it out loud “what on God’s earth is this guy thinking”? He is without a bomb suit, body pad, body armour or any bomb detonation device. He is neither wearing a common bullet proof vest, nor a pair of gloves at the very least!! Incredulously, he is armed with only a metal detector to detonate an explosive device. As he approaches the bag and opens it, the dreaded happens, there is a powerful explosion and the rest is history. You are saddened, you are horrified, you are appalled, your stomach turns and when these feelings abate after a few minutes, you wonder how anyone could be so foolhardy.

Upon deeper reflection though, you may begin to realize that the entire two minutes and twenty four seconds long video clip aptly sums up Nigeria’s key problems especially those bedevilling the security apparatuses and their medieval approach towards tackling grave security challenges. With all the confusion and activity around the scene in the aftermath of the first explosion which had gone off earlier, the police didn’t think it wise to cordon-off the area from the public and comb it thoroughly. The late police officer who, attempted to denote an explosive device with his bare hands was, believe it or not, a member of the anti-bomb personnel as the Kaduna state police commissioner confirmed. This proves beyond reasonable doubt, how poorly trained and ill-equipped our police force and other security apparatuses are to handle present security challenges in the country. Their training is usually based on archaic techniques derived from colonial edicts and military decrees with few revisions here and there. It is easy to dismiss our much loathed police officers as a corrupt, incompetent and inefficient bunch whose specialty hardly goes beyond perfecting the art of harassment, extortion and brutalization of innocent Nigerians, as corroborated by police chief Mohammed Abubakar.

Looking at the bigger picture though, it becomes obvious that Sergeant Sunday Badang, his superior who (probably) gave him the orders and the numerous much loathed police officers are not the culprits themselves, but like everyone else, they are victims of a broken and decaying system that urgently needs to be overhauled. In our hurry to condemn, we fail to realize that officers like Badang receive poor pay, remuneration and incentives to work in treacherously perilous situations they are extremely ill-equipped and incapable of handling, yet we expect them to compete with Scotland Yard in discharging their duties. The tragic fate that befell Badang is by no means an isolated incident, only that it was captured on video. Hundreds of Badang’s ilk have fallen victim to Boko Haram’s deadly ambush of police stations and military bases in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Bauchi and Kaduna; police officers and even immigration officers have been out-gunned and ruthlessly murdered in the recent attacks in Kano and in other parts of the country, police officers have fallen prey to the killing weapons of not only Boko Haram, but kidnappers and armed robbers as well. They risk their lives in such perilous circumstances and when they fall in the line of duty, their valiant efforts are hardly acknowledged; widows, bereaved families and scores of dependants are left devastated from the loss of the only bread winner perhaps with little government compensation.

Now that the crippling deficiencies of our security agencies have come to the fore, at least the government has a better idea where it could judiciously channel the  N922 billion ($5.8 billion) slated for security in the 2012 budget to train and equip our police officers on handling present day challenges. And for everyone else whom this video struck a tender nerve, we could be a bit more appreciative and understanding of what our police and security officers go through. Overall as a nation, perhaps we could imbibe a culture of celebrating everyday heroes like Sergeant Sunday Badang who fell in the line of duty, not just as a victim of Boko Haram, but as a victim of a broken system.

8 thoughts on “Our Silent and Unsung Heroes

  1. So true zainab! We are so quick to criticise but fail to commend for instance the anti bomb sqaud that detonated+recovered many bh bombs in kano. We shall remember the fallen victim for his heroism. Inalillahi wa inna ilaihir rajiun

  2. The guy is no hero my dear! What the man did was utter stupidity inn its most purest form! Inn a country so badly governed, I finally realized dat dying for Nigeria will be a waste of life! Go nd ask the widowers of all those fallen Nigerian police nd soldiers thru from 2009 to date nd hear the mixed stories! I pity the mumu guy buh na hin fault wo!

  3. These visual images and the reality it conveys are the reasons why nigerians are known to be notoriously unpatriotic. A state is loved to the extent it gives value to the existence of it’s inhabitants. It is ingrained within the human collective unconscious, the desire for protection, the desire for immortality. These are not just products of our collective ancestral vicissitudes as they roam about the earth in prehistory. They are ingrained as part of our DNA.
    It is this same reason that so called ethnic nationalities are clamoring to break away.
    As one living in the BH ground zero, I have witnessed first hand these acts of utter disregard for the citizens by the state. My young teenage cousin, Haruna, a constable in the Nigerian police force and others were buried in mass graves!
    No memorial stands any where for the victims of this conflict. No any comprehensive list of victims ……
    My sister, I understand your emotions, I have felt them before. This is why we must be committed to a total change in the present crop of leadership. They are all collectively cluless, they are a pedestrian rabble, disagreeable, akin to pus emerging from infected sores….. They are not deserving of any iota of respect…. Annoying!!

  4. I’m sorry, but there’s no way Badang’s superiors would have asked him to go and pick at a likely bomb without proper protection. And even if they did, the Sergeant was super stupid to follow that order will the carelessness he exhibited. This is Africa, after all, where we have superstitions. A small child would most probably pick a money found on the street with his left hand, after stepping on it a few time, for the fear of not turning into a tuber of yam. If Sergeant Badang had probed the explosive with a long stick, he must probably would still have died from the blast and we’ll just blame the lack of equipment for his demise. No, he tested the depth of the lake with both feet (hands) and was swept away (blow to shreds.) I wrote an article detailing how much the police is hapless and dying (daddyat27.wordpress.com). But nothing can excuse the sheer stupidity late Sergeant Badang demonstrated. Again, I’m sorry, but the man died a damn fool.

  5. Its a rotten system which he happens to fall prey to. The NPF is one of the most corrupt organization in the world, Dr (or it Proff now) Paul Izah of Political science department ABU, Zaria said as of 2003 the NPF “toll” points raise a minimum of N10bn DAILY! Funds meant for equipments and training abroad are siphoned or shortchanged by the “oga’s” at Louise Edet House.

    Unortunately, the healthcare sector is the worst, people die daily due to lack of basic diagnosis, or wrong diagnosis in many cases. But it goes unnoticed, why? Because those that can make the changes don’t even go to this hospitals..

    May God deliver Nigeria

  6. People calling the late police officer stupid are not been fair to the deceased. The gory graphic goes to buttress how ill-equipped the force is and further confirms why the activities of BH have gone on unabated. This is one of the many ills of corruption and it sadly tells us there is no change in the horizon!

  7. Nigeria is shit. Everything about us is ugly. This is the most stupid episode i have watched. How could he……how could his superiors allowed him to undertake a very dangerous assignment without any form of protection? how could they have done that?

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