President Buhari And Our ‘Burning Train’

In the sociology of death and dying, only those around when death knocks can imagine the pain, the struggle and desire of the deceased to stay alive. “I’m in the train. I have been shot. Please pray for me” was the last public message by late Dr Chinelo Nwando, a distinguished medical doctor retained after her youth service in Kaduna State. She had hoped to join her family abroad to fulfill her dreams before governance loophole in her fatherland failed her and others in that terrorised passenger train where eight people were murdered, some injured while many are now in the den of extortive terrorists who have found a clement working environment in a state governed by a former unsparing opposition speaker, Governor Nasir El-Rufai.

Kaduna, a famous crocodile state with compliment of all ideological instruments of state oppression (army, navy, Police, DSS) seems to be unwilling or is being held down by compromised souls in the system. Fears of being killed and hopelessness grow in a nation being ruled by people moved only by their ambitions and not by altruism. In this piece, Nigeria is conceptualised as a ‘burning train’, set on fire by poisonous insiders who do not want the country to enjoy the needed peace, progress and development.

The Burning Train is an Indian train disaster movie released into the market on March 20, 1980, (few years before a coup enthroned Major General Muhammadu Buhari as Military President). It is metaphoric of Nigeria’s present situation and mirrors what transpired in the Kaduna-Abuja terror-attacked train and the fatalities associated with it. The movie was about three childhood friends: Ashok, Vinod and Randhir who had beautiful life goals like most Nigerians. Ashok was the son of a business tycoon while Vinod and Randhir were railway engineers. As friends, Ashok was a lover of fast cars while the dream of Vinod was to build the fastest passenger train.

The duo of Ashok and Vinod met their lovers, Shettal and Seema respectively. As fate would have it, the millionaire father of Ashok went bankrupt and committed suicide. As creditors took over everything including the car of Ashok, his engaged lady, Sheetal sent him a disengagement letter. She had to leave him because he had become poor. Everything crumbled before Ashok. However, on the other side, Vinod married Seema and had Raju as son but he was concentrated on his ambition of constructing India’s Super Express Passenger Train. He succeeded at work but the wife and kids were lonely.

All was set for the inauguration of India’s Super Express train and Vinod’s dream was about to be fulfilled but for his friend, Randhir who was envious of his success. Randhir alleged that Vinod snatched the girl of his dreams, Seema and married her. He had his plans. He made the inaugural passenger train trip an unforgettable historical event.

Like those who boarded the ill-fated Kaduna-Abuja passenger train had private plans about their lives, Indians purchased tickets to be part of history. There were those who wanted to spend their wedding anniversaries on board. There were newly-weds, and newly engaged.

Children who were going to see their grandparents, Hindus, Muslims and free thinkers were also on board. Hindus and Muslims were arguing about their supremacy like Christians and Muslims do in Nigeria instead of focusing on advancing humanity. But Randhir, the enemy within, had his evil plans well schemed. He said to Ashok: “Vinod snatched away my love, I didn’t say anything. He snatched away the super express train (glory).

I have removed the vacuum break from the (train) engine. This super express will never stop. And I have also kept a small-time bomb (which will soon explode)”. From that time, Ashok made effort to ensure that the bomb did not explode but he was late.

On the Burning Train, people were singing instructive song. The singers said “we are companions for a few moments. Dance as long as you are alive”. The next moment, the bomb exploded like in Kaduna train experience and everyone’s hoped the train would stop but, so long. The burning train without vacuum break becomes unstoppable, passes many stations and doesn’t stop.

Joy is replaced with sadness. As hope of stopping the train dims, many on board realise life is only meaningful to the living and that there is no need to compete over anything. Today we are facing death and I’ve realised that death has no religion”. A woman who is on board to celebrate her wedding resigns to fate. Her concern is about how people will recognise their remains. A pregnant lady on board goes into labour and concludes it will have been better the child is not born.

In the face of hopelessness, like Nigerians are experiencing, some school children on board go to their teacher and ask: “are we going to die?” The teacher steps out of her hopelessness and encourages the children to sing to God. The children ask for mercy from God to save them. But as they pray, the railway authorities make effort to send helicopter but the devil, Randhir goes on board and ensures it crashes. It takes the trio of Vinod himself, Ashok and one man who is on board to steal diamonds to stop the train eventually. Vinod said it is “my responsibility and all options must be tried”.

He didn’t mind if it costs him his life. He said the “lives of 500 Indians on board is my responsibility.” Whose responsibility is it to protect over 390 passengers on Abuja-Kaduna train and what is the worth of a Nigerian life to our leaders?

Welcome back to Nigeria’s burning train, a country under the leadership of a retired General who promised to lead from the front but seems to be found in the backseat. Under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, terrorists who had been pushed back to the fringes by past administration have become emboldened and rake millions of naira, rape and waste destinies in cities. Nigeria has no leader ready to take responsibility like Vinod, and halt the sharp descent into chaos. Who is our own Randhir at the local government, state, national, National Assembly and executive arms of government?

Who are the enemies of Nigeria in the army, police, DSS, Immigration, customs and NDLEA? We must have people like Vinod who take the people’s safety as his responsibility. The wicked traitor in the executive, legislature, army, police, and other agencies who are like Randhir must be exposed and silenced if we must have a headway. This administration must address the problems of the economy, make power/energy available for industries/entrepreneurs, and hold security chiefs accountable.

Dr Tade, a sociologist, sent this piece via


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