Mist gathered in my eyes, as I looked at the photograph of Obinna Okpkiri, a picture presumably taken in London. I looked at the life and face of a cute, promising, and bubbling young man cut in the morning of his life.
I am seriously pained to read about this brutal and barbaric murder of this young man and his other NYSC colleagues in Bauchi, in the Sharia north. Ostensibly, as a result of the mayhem that has greeted the just-concluded free and fair presidential election in the country. What a flimsy excuse; what a country!
Please see the publication at the NigeriaVillageSquare of April 21, in case you missed it:
It is a fact that no matter what we do, we human beings can never achieve perfection in life. Consequently, by all standards, the last presidential elections have been recognized as the best that Nigeria has ever had. The elections have marked a watershed in the country’s history, with over 73 million registered voters. As a result, Nigeria has not only proved to be the biggest democracy on the African continent, but has given others an example to learn from.
While reporting about the fairness of last Saturday’s presidential election in Nigeria, here are some examples of the assessment by the Western media. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) confirmed that “International observers have said the election was reasonably free and fair” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/world-africa-13123280
The Associated Press/Yahoo News also said that “Observers largely said Saturday's presidential election appeared to be fair, with fewer cases of ballot box thefts than previous polls.”
It is however heartbreaking that while these praises are being showered on the country, the Moslem/Sharia North has been busy showering the land with turmoil. In order to know the magnitude of the problem at hand, it has been widely reported that, for fear of reprisal attack, the Nigerian government is withholding information on the exact number of people that have been killed so far in the Sharia North. While the BBC has managed to confirm more than 50 casualties, the Cable News Network (CNN) has put the number at over 85 people dead, and still counting. This is outside more than 400 seriously wounded, and tens of thousands displaced, homes, churches, markets and private businesses of Southerners destroyed and set ablaze.
Also read: “Charred corpses line road after Nigeria vote riots” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110419/ap_on_re_af/af_nigeria_election_47
So, we are not dealing here with the death of only one man. President-elect Jonathan, can´t you see that the house is on fire while your government is busy chasing around little mice? What I mean is, by only talking and talking and treating this matter with kid cloves.
Regrettably, one of the greatest problems plaguing the land is the absence of truth among our so-called elite, politicians and leaders. This is aptly captured in the song entitled “Truth Don Die” by Femi Kuti, the oldest son of that late Afro-beat king, Fela Kuti. I shake my head in disbelief seeing how some people even in the South see Muhammadu Buhari as being honest, as a man of integrity, incorruptible and things like that.
Though, I also have respect for Buhari for his age, unfortunately, the truth is that he is not what some people think of him, since he has no conscience. I say this because of the following few reasons:
For Buhari, there is nothing wrong in carrying out a coup to overthrow a democratically elected government, and in killing Southern drug peddlers with a retroactive decree. There is nothing wrong in supporting Sani Abacha, whom he said did nothing wrong. Buhari sees nothing wrong in his party, the CPC, fielding Mohammed Abacha, that is, Sani Abacha´s son, to contest the governorship election in Kano. Please see: http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/guest-articles/before-mohammed-abacha-becomes-kano-governor.html
Also, Buhari did not see anything wrong in spending 80% of PTF resources all over Sharia North, while he gave out only 20% for the rest the country. Thus, Buhari would see people doing wrong and will look the other way. In order words, maintain congenital blindness when he and the very people he shares the same tribe and same Moslem faith are concerned.
Even as last Saturday’s presidential election was being judged both locally and internally as free and fair, Buhari again was the first person who started spewing lies and hate, by leveling accusations of election rigging, indirectly heralding a battle cry for the havoc that is currently ravaging the Sharia North. This is exactly the trouble he had promised Southerners and moderate Northerners, in case he lost. A few weeks ago, during the campaign and at a rally in the North, speaking in Hausa language, Buhari issued to his thousands of Moslem zealots a ´Fatwa` to kill and destroy if they perceived any malpractices in the elections; in clearer words, if voting or the results didn’t suit or favor them.
As the honest man, man of integrity, and venerable elder statesman some people erroneously think he is, he should not have raised such false alarm about election rigging, knowing very well the implication of such an action in a volatile nation like Nigeria. Rather, he should have been sincere enough to be the first person to congratulate his opponent and wish him a successful tenure and offer to render his support or advice whenever needed, to make sure that Nigeria moved ahead. That is, instead of instigating mayhem in the Sharia North; at least the BBC confirmed it. Also read: “Nigeria unrest 'recalls lead-up to 1967 Biafra war” - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13156508
Whatever Buhari might saying now to calm the situation can only be seen as “window-dressing” and useless. It can best be described as “medicine after death.” He has already achieved his aim of making the Obinnas ‘pay’ for the pains he is going through, if that could help him live with the defeat.
Yes, Buhari should have immediately congratulated his opponent and called upon his supporters to respect the result and praise Nigerians and Professor Atahiru Jega´s Independent Electoral Commision (INEC) for a job well done. For example, Barrack Obama´s conservative opponent in the US elections 2008, John McCain, did this even before voting ended. This is how you really know people who really love, and are genuinely sincere about the progress and unity of their country. And not the so-called elder statesmen in Nigeria who only pay lip service to the country. No, not these people who prefer to hide comfortably in their mansions built with ill-gotten money, keeping sealed lips, while the country burns. The worst of them are just some in the academia, who prefer not to touch the issue, and even when they decide to write, just scratch the surface of the matter, thus playing to the gallery, while impunity lasts. They consider themselves ´too-fine,’ too modernized or Europeanized and too intellectual to be candid in their views. They wouldn’t want to be accused of being sentimental, sectional, biased, or myopic. They are certainly encumbered because of their selfish interests, since they desire to have their names in the list of VIPs. May I remind them that “Nigerians get two ears for head and them get two eyes, too.”
Now, back to the case of Obinna and his NYSC colleagues (Chinelo and her brother, Ukeoma etc.), like most of us, I personally know that it costs a fortune to do post graduate studies. One has to reckon with the cost of living, etc, in the UK, or generally in the West. Thus, by sending Obinna for post graduate studies in England, obliviously, Obinna Okpokiri´s parents must have spent their life savings or sold some important family property, including plots of lands, to actualize their dream. A dream of their son acquiring quality education, with the hope of him helping the family and the younger once afterwards. Obinna’s parents are at least well-to-do and could have opted to bribe their son out of the service or sort a friendlier environment for him to serve. Yet, they didn’t do any of that.
If any of Buhari´s children had done his or her youth service (I am sure never did) in the South and been cut down, how would Buhari have felt?
Bearing this in mind, our President-elect, Jonathan Goodluck, must not sweep this matter under the carpet like the government did with previous ones, as it is sad to note that there is no more space “under the carpet,” if I may borrow the words of Patrick Okenne.
With the death of Obinna (and his colleagues), the dream of a family, a village, a town, and indeed a country has been utterly destroyed. The death of this Nigerian Youth Service Corp member and others, if not investigated and the instigators and killers punished, will deal a blow to the new dawn the President has promised in his post-election speech.
From the President-elect’s speech of a “new dawn,” the nation has deduced that this is a new government, and that it will not be business as usual. It therefore follows that the perpetrators of these problems in the Sharia North must be smoked out of their holes and brought to book, once and for all. This can be done by using the military’s intelligence outfit and other security agents to carry out operations like face recognition and gathering of information; in effect, obtaining vital evidence with which to prosecute the perpetrators of these terrorist acts. And, while this is going on, I also suggest that ‘special forces’ should be deployed to march force with force.
May I also suggest that the corpses of Obinna and his NYSC colleagues, if already hurriedly buried in unmarked or mass grave as is usually the case, be exhumed. The government should use forensic; DNA and other sophisticated medical technologies to establish their true identities and then give them state burials with posthumous national honors. Their families must be adequately compensated and rehabilitated. This is especially because these brave and innocent young Nigerians died in the service of their father land. They are the true heroes of the new dawn. Unfortunately, some people that have been so honored in the past were or are ex-government officials, who stole and stashed the country´s money overseas for the benefit of their families and their generations unborn.
As aforementioned, this is no time for soft and lame speeches on national television or national appeals that have no effect; or trying to embark on “make-believe-posturing” like former leaders did, in order not to be seen to be taking sides or not to be accused of being high-handed. Which is being insensitive to the fragility of the unity of Nigeria.
Mr. President-elect, remember you have been accused of being clueless, weak and to be running an inept government. I therefore strongly suggest that you use this particular case now to show an example in this country. Do remember that nothing short of justice for Obinna and his NYSC colleagues, who have to die in this horrendous way while serving their father land, will be acceptable. Now the Nigerian people are looking up to you as they have given you a fresh mandate, you are no longer a left-over of the late president Yar Adua administration. Nigerians are yearning for the benefits of the sunrise of democracy in the land. This should be the new dawn you have mentioned in your election victory speech. Please hasten up and remember that justice delayed is the same thing as justice denied. We are anxiously waiting. Yes, enough is enough.
Written by, Sakhos Silas Ejiofoh, Wiesbaden Hessen Germany. [email protected]