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September 20, 2015

By Chinedu Ezigbo

Ndigbo own the adage above. It is actually an unfinished statement followed by a question and it is usually left to the addressee to complete the question part and honestly answer the question for him or herself.

For the benefit of those who are not Igbo it roughly translates to: IF YOU KILL THE VILLAGE WARRIOR IN A FAMILY FEUD…

I still think that the RTD. General Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration was one of the worst that Nigeria has ever had. It was ‘hallmarked’ with brazen egotism, witch hunting of perceived political enemies, high-level corruption that birthed the concept of Ghana-must-go-politicians, political killings, the appropriation and bankrolling of political thuggism, disregard for the Nigerian. And a million other inanities.

I do however agree that Obasanjo pioneered the appointment of technocrats into key public offices. A trend that was sustained in substantive governments. This trend I believe was adopted to tackle Nigerias’ international relationship especially with the west. The administration however took it a notch higher by seeking the good face it wanted with the world powers and financial institutions, amongst its citizens.

Everyone remembers the campaign championed by Late Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili: NIGERIA: GOOD PEOPLE, GREAT NATION. It loomed over traffic laden Heathrow airport; piled up on the streets of major cities in Nigeria on billboards. While some may argue that it was calculated to launder the image of a bad government, I dare say that it nonetheless gained the nation some respect even if it was short lived.

I remember making fun of the particular billboards that had the face of General Obasanjo with the message: DO NOT BAD MOUTH NIGERIA. It was a paradox of sort that a president who at the time said that “university education is not for everyone” or “if Nigerians can buy a bottle of beer for 150 naira, why are they complaining of buying petrol for 100 naira” (not sure of the new cost of petrol at the time but it was less than the cost of a bottle of beer), however factual that may be will turn around and ask the same people not to bad mouth Nigeria.

I may have been angry about utterances like that and many other bad situations that lined his administration that my senses was beclouded from the wisdom of that campaign. Today I see it. General Obasanjo and his team must have realized that the nation will die to the world if it kills itself in the home feud.

As an Igbo man I understand how important wealth creation is to Ndigbo just as much as I do how power is to Arewa. In the pursuit of these it is imperative that our collective beingness – the nationhood must not be compromised. It is unfortunate that this is already not the case.

The Nigerian nation was killed in a feud of internal politicking. Citizens either joined in or stood aside to watch as the only land that yields their harvest was desecrated. Nigerians slayed their nation – their warrior all in the name of politics. While this is not a blame streak on political party adherence or loyalty to persons, it is a subtle and nudging reminder to the fact that we have had Robert Mugabe conduct elections democratically and yet imposed himself on Zimbabweans without killing Zimbabwe; Paul Bia is a name I’ve known for very long but does not slay Cameroun before the comity of other nations. South Africa has its challenges but is not at war with South Africa; America with its many internal travails stay strong together and preach their suma greatness to a world that listens.

The world watched as Nigeria experienced the loss of its territories – lands and people to a terrorist sect. It was a landslide defeat and we all knew that; what we however did not know was that we all were defeated. The north was not conquered, the Nigerian Army was not embarrassed, 300 girls were not taken, school children were not shot to death in their dormitory, NO. None of these really happened. What happened was that we all (Nigerians) were conquered, we all (Nigerians) were embarrassed, we (Nigerians) were all taken, we were shot to death while we slept. The defeat was ours.

It is troubling that at that time (and maybe even now) of all things to do we chose to be politicians, each and every one of us. Truth was no longer universal and became relative when we no longer were able to separate it from facts.

We vilified a national military which at the time was the real hero out of our tribulations, with or without weaponry. We disparaged a teenaged democratic system which was seeing little but tremendous successes in its practice from the time of Olusegun Obasanjo’s second coming. (Even though we all know that one bad democracy is better than a million dictatorships). We refused to count the labours of our past heroes and the dreams of a few and rare assiduous leaders of the past 16 years. Instead we murdered our country by conjuring euthanasia and the world watched and maybe supervised.

Time and time again in those days just before may 29, I cried out and called out the terrible turn that the practice of journalism was taking in Nigeria. For I realized that the freedom of speech we have was not being enjoyed with responsibility. Not because I am a seasoned journalist but rather because I understood the importance of WORD, said or written. I was often quick to warn that not only was journalism being killed but it will however be buried with our dying nation.

How an Army that was at the verge of annihilating Boko Haram and reclaiming our subdued territory has turned around to become a joke beats me. How our option begins to veer towards negotiating with a faceless group that was near surrendering nails the coffin of confusion. How after tons of the terrorist members were killed, whatever is left of them suddenly become so strong again that our ammunition and weaponry lay prostate is absurd.

Let us hope that we understand that internal politicking has come and gone. Let us pray that we know that one life is as important as the other. Let us know that the greatest strength always comes from within. I hope we do, if not now in another future.

Today I read Dr. Uhuru Kenyetta’s post on his Facebook page and I think it is worth emulating by every Nigerian. The President of Kenya said regarding Kenyas’ war on terrorism and how the American news media presented it, that:

“Today I held a meeting with CNN’s Global Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Tony Maddox, who called on me at State House, Nairobi. He personally delivered an apology on behalf of CNN International and expressed deep regret after portraying Kenya as a ‘hotbed of terror’ ahead of a visit to Nairobi by President Barack Obama last month. He admitted that the description of Kenya as a “hotbed of terror” was both ill fitting and undeserved. I expressed my deep disappointment at the story not only on behalf of the government, but also because it angered the people of Kenya. I reiterated that the war on terror was a global threat, not exclusive to Kenya, and that Kenya’s troops and her people have made great sacrifices and still do, to keep Kenya and the region safe. In one stroke, CNN’s description of Kenya as a ‘hotbed of terror’ undermined the sacrifices made by our Kenyan troops, and the value of hundreds of lives lost, and relegated them to nothing. That’s why Kenyans, as expressed by those on Twitter, were so angry. Kenya is nothing like the countries that have real war. There was no reason to portray Kenya in that way”

Chinedu Ezigbo writes from Abatete, Nigeria.

From → General, Politics

  1. Max Alexander permalink

    Well done bro, sky is your limit. …..lux Fiat.

  2. Refreshing perspective and sober reading. I pray we will not kill our country using politics as an excuse. Great write up.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Thought provoking. Great. Well done

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