What A Country!

By Casmir Igbokwe

Mr. Sunday Emenike left his base in Isuofia, Anambra State, for Taraba on a business trip. That was on July 17, 2019. Somewhere on Ukari-Zakibiam Road, armed robbers reportedly attacked the bus he was travelling in. The bandits allegedly brought him and one other passenger down from the bus and took them away. Till date, there is no information about him. His whereabouts remain unknown. His family is distraught.

No doubt, life in Nigeria has become what the Igbo call “agba ekpere chi,” (moving and praying to God). The number of those who speak in tongues has continued to multiply. Christians now plead blood of Jesus many times. Catholics have intensified their prayer for Nigeria in distress. Same thing goes for Muslims chanting Allahu Akbar! Prayer houses are booming. And the majority of the people have completely lost confidence and trust in their government.

True, insecurity is a global problem. In Europe, America and the Middle East, some demented souls sometimes turn their guns on innocent and defenceless citizens. My worry with Nigeria is the frequency of the attacks and the apparent helplessness of the people whose primary responsibility it is to protect life and property.

The situation is traumatic. The other day in Enugu State, gunmen said to be Fulani herdsmen gunned down a Catholic priest, Rev. Father Paul Offu, on Ihe-Agbudu Road. This prompted the priests in Enugu Diocese to embark on a peaceful protest. Last month, some killers also terminated the life of the daughter of Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, on the Benin-Ore Expressway.

Also, last month, a 16-year-old girl, Chinyere, left Lagos for Abia State University, Uturu, to write her post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. According to her story, some gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, stormed the Okada junction on Benin-Ore Expressway in Edo State about 6pm. They took her and some co-travellers away. For two days, there was nothing like food for them inside the bush. On top of that, the herdsmen tortured the men with sticks, guns and cutlasses. After five days, they regained their freedom after payment of different sums as ransom. The girl missed the exam she was going for and obviously missed her admission into the university this year.

Penultimate Sunday, a former Commissioner for Information in Abia State, Eze Chikamnayo, was reportedly travelling from Isuochi in Abia State to Enugu. About 5.30pm, after Awgu junction, on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, some gunmen emerged from the bush and started raining bullets on his vehicle. Miraculously, he escaped unhurt. When he parked later, he discovered over 20 bullet holes in the front fender of his car. The gunmen missed Chikamnayo but got the traditional ruler of Obom-Agbogugu in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Sunday Orji, and his wife. Luckily, the couple regained their freedom last Wednesday.

However, it is disturbing that Chikamnayo reportedly got to a military checkpoint about a kilometre from where the criminals were operating. He informed the soldiers there but they allegedly waved him on and did nothing.

The questions are, why didn’t the soldiers go after the criminals when they got wind of their operation? Was there no bullet in their guns? Were their own weapons inferior to that of the killers? Were they denied their salaries or allowances? Or were they sympathetic to the cause of the marauders? Many questions, few answers!

It was situations like these that pushed Omoyele Sowore to convene a protest last Monday. The Department of State Services (DSS) arrested and detained him even before the action took off. Security agents fired gunshots and teargas at protesters and even manhandled and arrested some journalists covering the protests.

Ironically, President Muhammadu Buhari and some All Progressives Congress stalwarts protested against insecurity in Nigeria in 2014. The then President Goodluck Jonathan did not send security agents to arrest them. Buhari also joined the leaders of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party in 2003 to hold a rally in Kano to protest the alleged rigging of that year’s general election.

The suppressed protests of last Monday, tagged #RevolutionNow, once again, brought out the complexities of the country called Nigeria. In Algeria, France, South Korea and many others, popular protests of this nature are the norm. As Algerians would say, the power of the people is greater than the people in power.

In Nigeria, the present people in power appear to be greater than the power of the people. They violate people’s rights with impunity. They refuse to release some citizens granted bail by the courts. Two years ago, agents of the state mowed down some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in what they called Operation Python Dance. And early this year, soldiers raided the premises of Daily Trust newspaper, carted away some office equipment and arrested some of its journalists. The crime of the newspaper was perceived unfavourable report on the war against the Boko Haram insurgency.

Unfortunately, there is no unanimity of purpose among the people of Nigeria. For instance, some northern elements saw RevolutionNow as a protest against their interests. They vowed never to be part of it. Some southeasterners viewed the protests with suspicion. To them, Sowore was a lackey playing a self-interest game.

Recall that musician, Charles Oputa (Charley Boy), once organised a protest march in Abuja. He tagged it “Our Mumu don do.” Oputa narrowly escaped being lynched by some characters who saw his actions as anti-North and anti-Buhari.

The first coup in Nigeria led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu in 1966 had similar colouration. Some northern soldiers who saw it as an Igbo coup staged a counter-coup. They not only killed the then Head of State, Aguiyi Ironsi, but also precipitated in a pogrom against the Igbo in the North, which eventually led to a 30-month civil war, with the attendant catastrophes. Since then, we have been forced to remain as one country without any sincere efforts to heal wounds and renegotiate the terms of our union.

As it is, the only revolution that will succeed in Nigeria today will be a localised one. Communities should hold their leaders to account. People should question chairmen of their local governments on their stewardships. Same goes for state governors who are not doing well.

The governors should initiate watertight security measures in their respective states to curb banditry. They should organise and equip local vigilance groups to complement the efforts of the federal police. The planned joint security initiative by the governors from the South-West region is commendable.

Governors of other regions should map out their own strategies. Nigeria’s federal structure as presently constituted is not working. The British colonial master brought divergent groups together and forced them to live as one. No doubt, diversity is a great asset. But when the divergent groups find it extremely difficult to agree on many issues, there is every need to sit down and discuss.

You do not force marriage on an unwilling couple. If they are not compatible, the marriage will collapse. Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan organised a marriage course for Nigeria called National Conference in 2014. He could not implement any outcome of the course before he left office in 2015.

President Buhari is rigid about renegotiating the terms of our corporate existence as a nation. Perhaps, restructuring does not serve his interest. But for how long are we going to cage ourselves in this manner?

Re: Efi Igbo, SMEs and the Heritage example

I thank God for your shift too from the Nigeria’s unending problems to inspiring situations that can lift souls. Your outing last week was revealing as well as encouraging. Not many people are aware that Heritage Bank exists, not to talk of encouraging youth with business interests. It is through your writing that I had a recall to numerous Ehi Igbo in my childhood days. They used to be very smooth, fat with shiny black colours or spotted with white. There are several other areas of life one can venture into to make life interesting and more suiting. I thank you once again for a beautiful shift.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibekuta-Ibeku, Okwuato, Aboh-Mbaise, Imo State, 08036174573

You have reinvigorated the minds of Igbo nation towards the rearing of muturu cattle breed, otherwise called Efi Igbo, Ehi Igbo or Eshi Igbo, so that we can tell the heartless and rampaging Fulani herdsmen that we can do without their zebu or ndama breed, otherwise called Efi Hausa. I have stopped patronising butchers dealing in Efi Hausa and substituted it with chicken, fresh fish and ice fish, pending the supply of muturu breed to cattle market. Some people can even substitute zebu and ndama breed with pork meat, snail and bush meat. Throughout the civil war we did not taste zebu.

– Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno JP, 08063730644

My brother, your column of last Monday was insightful and timely, if only Igbos will think inward and learn their lesson from Nigeria/Biafra civil war and think home because Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun-powder, waiting for a time to explode. They have sent their lackey again, Sowore, who knows the next person?

– Smart, Abakaliki, +2348160638941

Despite years of delay, Golden Guinea Brewery coming back to life with the help of financial institutions, which Abia state government could not do for years, is a welcome development. There are so many organisations established by Dr. M.l. Okpara and Dr. Ibiam that went under that need to be revamped to create jobs for unemployed Nigerians, especially in the South-East region.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 12, 2019
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