Car thieves, Representathieves and other thieves

Casmir Igbokwe

A NUMBER of things distracted me from discussing with you on this page last week. I had planned to write about our ouster from the World Cup; the kung fu show at the House of Representatives and some other interesting Nigerian shows. But as we say in this part of the world, man proposes, God disposes.

Penultimate Thursday, I came back from work about 10.30 pm. As I entered my compound, I saw that my wife had parked her Honda Accord where I thought was safe. By Friday morning when I came out of the house, I noticed that the Honda was no more where I saw it the previous night.

I looked round the vicinity. I even scanned through the gutters thinking there might have been an overnight landslide that sank the car. But there was no sight of it anywhere. This was a mystery to me because my street in Ikeja is like a close with two security gates.

When nobody could give any clue as to what happened, I immediately informed the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba. When I went to the Ikeja Police Station to report, some of the officers on duty exclaimed, ”Again!” This is to say that they might have recorded many cases of this type of theft in recent times.

The police later came with me to the scene of the crime and asked if I was suspecting anybody so that they could effect some arrests. I answered in the negative. They eventually left, telling me they were going to radio the information. So far, I have not seen the outcome of the radio.

This is not limited to Lagos. I have heard of similar cases in places like Enugu and Onitsha. You can park your car to attend a function. By the time you come out to go, the car will have developed wings and disappeared.

Recovering such cars is usually very difficult. In my own case, sympathisers keep telling me that God will still find the car. Some say God knows why it was stolen and would provide a better one. I laugh.

What has God got to do with someone losing his car? Was it God that asked the bandits to do what they did? I‘m almost sure the people who stole that car would have prayed and beckoned on God to give them divine protection.

We are wont to mention God in all our affairs, yet we are not godly. Our Super Eagles who crashed out of the World Cup without winning a match always circle round to call on God before any match as if their well-prepared opponents are devil‘s children.

Just as I was putting this piece together, I got an email message from a certain Prophet Timothy Ibe. He attached two press releases. One of the releases entitled, ‘Eagles 2010 W/Cup disgraceful outing: Reward for mocking God (Part 1)‘, noted that Nigeria lost two of its three matches because the country disobeyed God‘s command through his prophet, Ibe.

In the 7,305-word article, Ibe said Nigeria would have won the World Cup if the Nigeria Football Federation had engaged Clemens Westerhof as he advised. Even Sani Kaita‘s kung fu, which earned him a red card in our game with Greece, Ibe added, was the anger of God at play. I didn‘t bother to open the second release entitled, ‘Why God cursed Super Eagles‘, which contains 3, 477 words.

Somehow, this insincere resort to God in every little thing we do indicates that we have completely lost hope in human authorities. Some may ask, which authorities? Is it the legislature that has converted its chambers to a boxing ring? The House of Representatives has become the House of Representathieves. If they are not bickering over a multibillion naira car contract, they are fighting over juicy committees. If they are not agitating for an increase in their bloated allowances, they are pursuing Federal Government contracts here and there. Shame!

While people in high places steal the nation dry, some of those in low places are doing their own in a bloody and traumatic way. A few weeks ago, armed robbers terrorised the citizens of Aba in Abia State. For some days, banks and other businesses closed shop in the city. In Okigwe, Imo State, bank workers went on a five-day warning strike over attacks by robbers. A few days ago, bandits wrote to notify bankers of their intention to visit them in Nsukka, Enugu State. The bankers panicked and reportedly shut down operations. In different parts of the country, it is the same story.

Yet the Federal Government appears to lack direction on what to do. So far, what we have seen are foreign tours to push up the country‘s image. Internally, much of what we hear these days is whether Jonathan should contest for the presidency in 2011 or not.

We continue to play scrabble while the nation goes down the precipice. A new report released last month by the Fund for Peace ranked Nigeria 14th in its 2010 Failed States Index. In 2008, we occupied the 19th position. In 2009, we were 15th in the table. We performed woefully in every index used in measuring development. The report summed up our fate thus, ”Nearly 70 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line, while many government officials have become wealthy by taking bribes and embezzling funds.”

We need to take our destinies in our hands. Penultimate week, Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, sued the Federal Government for the poor state of Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Benin Expressways. He wants the court to compel the Minister of Works to repair and maintain the roads, and the Federal Road Safety Commission to remove all obstructions on the highway.

Falana has done his part. We should all do our part if we cherish our lives and property. For instance, if you park your car in church premises, on the street or anywhere at all, endeavour to lock your pedals or steering. You may think your ignition key is coded, but with these sophisticated thieves, anything can happen. If possible, also insure your car so that in case of any theft, the insurance company will mitigate the loss.

We can also take a cue from the Oba of Benin and his traditional worshippers. Some three weeks ago, they invoked the spirit of their gods and placed curses on armed robbers and kidnappers in their kingdom. So far, this seems to be working as some of the robbers have reportedly gone to some Bini chiefs to plead for forgiveness.

Although my bishop, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, warned us to be mindful of the way we invoke the Holy Ghost fire, I want to crave his indulgence to invoke it on those who stole my car. They should bring it back immediately. Otherwise, Holy Ghooost…!

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