Bayelsa air crash and other matters


BY Rasheed Olokode

Death of fellow humans in any society is typically a saddening occurrence that usually killed enmity and hostility. Men and women are basically human, owing not only to their rationality but also, essentially, due to their emotional nature.

Even, misfortunes lesser than death in tragedy are known to evoke sympathy or even empathy in my people, just like humans of all races, to such an extent that die-hard foes of victims, many a time, transform into benefactors who bail such rivals out of their helplessness. It is also not uncommon for erstwhile enemies of dispatched victims of tragic accidents to immediately metamorphose into solace for dependants of such victims.

Definitely, there can’t be smoke without fire. Thus, while I grieve with the nation over this monumental tragedy, I could not resist the urge to rack my brain on the aberration that played itself out in the bus. More confused I became on getting correct details about a tragedy that reared its ugly head on a day when we, as Nigerians, ought to be happy, excited and expectant of divine blessings, being the day after the Friday that our President, Dr. Jonathan, humbled His Excellency-self in a public kneeling-down before the widely-revered man of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), and thus received divine blessing and healing on behalf of the sick Nation he presently presides over.

Thus, the voice of one of that dark-complexioned man who had attributed the present tragedy and listless others to the wrath of God on, particularly, Nigerian leaders kept intruding my entire physiology all through Sunday, the day after. Is God truly angry? If He is, against whom? Is it just our leaders that have fetched the divine annoyance, as espoused by my co-passenger, or Nigerians in general?

The man’s divine wrath theory garnered more plausibility as I reasoned that the mostly affected by the latest avoidable tragedy are the first and second Nigerians – General Azazi was not just President Jonathan’s kinsman but his Man Friday whom he only reluctantly relieved of his prime job as the National Security Adviser, in response to political public pressure and had still positioned for an ambassadorial appointment next January before the Grim Reaper’s hammer; Governor Yakowa was Vice President Sambo’s anointed with whom he was well pleased in defiance of a cross-section of his fellow Muslim Kaduna indigenes who perceived and treated his facilitation of the enthronement of Yakowa, a Christian, as Governor of Kaduna, their supposedly ‘Muslim State’ as a sacrilege.

Still, I got more helpless and resigned to fate, as I struggled to shirk off the wrath-of-God theory that seemed to overpower my long-standing immunity to excessive-spiritualism which I believe has made multitude of Nigerians to pray, pray and pray treating hardwork with disdain as manifest in the commonplace crafty habit of many in escaping from their workplaces to attend prayer programmes during work hours – an ironic case of committing atrocities to serve God.

For God sake, it seems true that our leaders need to watch it, as I can’t recall any past administration that has recorded as many official tragedies as the present one. Whether Governor Sulivan Chime of Enugu State is still alive or dead remains unknown. What the unknown ‘State Security Service’ men that held Ozioma Ubabukoh, an Enugu State correspondent of The Punch, hostage, on Saturday, December 15 2012, succeeded in letting out of the bag, in their bid to preventing the reporter from filing a story on the rumoured death of the Governor, is that something mysterious is fishy.

Another tragic posting is the fate of His Excellency, Danbaba Suntai, the Governor of Taraba State, who is currently lying in a German hospital with reported brain-damage due to the crash of a plane he was personally piloting. Other victims of this mishap were also government officials, being aides of the Governor. Actually, the harvest of tragedies at official quarters can be explained away as mere co-incidences, particularly in view of the fact that government officials are mere mortals subject to the vicissitudes of life and nature.

But, I doubt if anyone can easily explain away joyful reactions of human beings to the tragic fate of fellow humans. Or are Nigerian masses now terrorists? It is only terrorists that are known with a mentality that paste smiles on their cheeks at the sight of massive loss of lives of their brothers and sisters.

The reported abominable celebration in some parts of Kaduna State over the death of the departed Governor is yet another poser for our national conscience. Although dissimilar in perspectives, the reactions of ordinary Nigerians, as represented by my bus experience, and the street carnivals by Kaduna religious bigots are a meaningful reality that Nigeria, as a nation, particularly its leadership class must never sweep under the carpet. President Jonathan actually hit the nail on the head three days after the tragedy, during the Armed Forces Emblem Launch when he canvassed for national cohesion and the cultivation of love amongst the citizens in spite of the ethnic and religious differences that polarize us.

Here lies the point, true love is missing between the leaders and the led, between the various ethnic constituents and between the various religious groups. Never mind the beautiful rhetoric in our imposed constitution through which some select few expressed, on behalf of millions of Nigerians, our resolve to make these principles the bases of our co-existence.

Our present shepherds need realize that whatever punitive tragedy they now suffer, as opined by their flock, is not necessarily because they are the architects of our present woes, but because the pan-Nigerian mandate they wield is the first-ever opportunity for a change in the Nigerian leadership character, a change that would have significantly rescued the citizenry from the brink of frustration and growing national hate psychology, even within two years.

The truth is that Nigerians have been shocked to the marrows by a government they had hinged so much hope on but which is daily emerging as first among equals in financial profligacy and socio-political and economic blindness. Olokode writes from Lagos via m [email protected]

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