Months ago some foreign governments including the USA and Britain alerted their citizens residing in our capital, Abuja, of danger. The USA is said to have even sent some Embassy staff home and shut down some services. They had been issuing alerts over the years. They declare named states in Nigeria unsafe and warn their citizens to be careful about travelling there. We accepted these warnings as what more advanced countries that care about their citizens should do. Also our government never complained about the advisories. We long suffering citizens just went about our daily activities unbothered.

But this time there was a highest level security meeting after which our government read a stern rebuttal on television. It said that these foreign governments were raising unwarranted false alarm and destabilizing Nigeria. It insisted that Abuja is safe. It asked citizens to go about their normal daily lives as the security situation is under control. These foreign governments should go and deal with the many problems in their own countries.

 We citizens do not know what the real situation is. But the average citizen may believe that these more advanced nations must have seen what Nigeria may not have seen. On the other hand others would ask where the evidence for the alarm is.

Later I watched retired General Ibrahim Haruna on television spitting fire and brimstone on the foreign countries. Obviously as a former army general he benefitted immensely from government. Also as a former minister he reaped more benefits. So he has a right to be fanatically more nationalistic than I am. He asked these foreign governments to go and attend to the problems in their own countries. In his view our security agencies are in control. He accused the foreign countries of many other bad things. But those do not concern this post. But he made and repeated an assertion. ‘We are not at war!’ Abuja is safe.

That assertion is why I am writing this post. And I say, ‘No, General – we are at war! Do you live in Nigeria with us?’ We Nigerians have, since 2009, been at war. It began when a policeman shot dead a sect leader called Yusuf who was under arrest. Yusuf’s sect transformed into Boko Haram and started a war in the North East. They began killing other citizens. Their name and doctrine is Boko Haram, ‘no, to western education!’ The stupidity of it is that everything they are using to persecute their war is a product of western education! These include the guns, vehicles, the petrol bombs, the watches on their wrists, even clothes. At one stage Boko Haram was in control of many local governments in Borno state. The whole world remembers the kidnapped Chibok girls and, later, the Dapchi girls and Leah Sharibu.

Following Boko Haram came the Islamic State for West Africa, ISWAP. They fought the Boko Haram and eventually killed their leader and have taken over their own territory. They too began operating in the north-east. And as the years have gone by both groups have spread their activities to the north-west and north-central. They control territories as far south as Niger state. They collect taxes from citizens in the areas they have taken over. A state governor admitted that he is no longer in control of parts of his state.

In the north-west bandits surfaced, kidnapping for ransom and killing people. They are now active in many parts of the country. The famous Abuja-Kaduna train passenger kidnap of several months ago remains vivid in citizens’ minds. Millions of naira was paid as ransom for those citizens that survived it. Another train kidnap has just happened in Edo state. The Owo church massacre happened in the west which is not spared. The Lagos-Ibadan expressway has witnessed many kidnappings.

In the south-east a formerly flag-waving Indigenous Peoples of Biafra declared Mondays sit-at-home. And that was a call for all sorts of bad people to crawl out of their holes. And IPOB cancelling the sit-at-home order became meaningless. The harm was already done. Some other characters jumped on the bandwagon to declare whatever days they wanted to be sit-at-home days. People remain at home on Mondays for fear of losing their lives. Criminals, the unknown gun men, shoot security agents and other citizens at will. And trigger happy security agents waste lives of young people and call them IPOB members. The south-east states had joined the war.

In Nigeria, life is cheap. The government and the politicians in power and the security agencies are supposed to be protecting us. But people die like flies. Terrorists and bandits force villagers to farm for them. The villagers get ordered to hand over their wives and daughters for sex to remain alive. Both bandits and terrorists collect taxes from villages they have taken over as governments within our government.

Each day you switch on the television or read a newspaper or watch the social media on your phone. You will be regaled with all the terrible happenings – kidnappings, ritual murders, cult wars, police brutality. Fulani bandits were brought in from the Sahel to help a political party win the 2015 elections. But they refused to leave even after having been paid for their services. Now the borders are open for more to come in to the killing fields of Nigeria. They, like animals, occupy our forests from where they commit crimes. Those citizens who have the opportunity are running away from Nigeria. Our best brains are leaving.

General, do you live in Nigeria with us? Okay, I understand! As a retired this and that you obviously live in your own castle. It is protected by the military and the police. If you venture out you go in a convoy. No, General, we are at war and it is getting fiercer by the day. Who will rescue us helpless citizens?