Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri The Northern Nigeria Writers are holding their national conference in Maiduguri, Borno State capital to elicit interest in the growth of literature and reading in the northern region. Chairman of the occasion and President, Nigerian Academic of Letters, Prof Olu Obafemi in his remarl said the Maiduguri conference was the 4th edition…
Two main issues are weighing heavily on my mind this week, the first is the deliberate, inhuman and ungodly killing of early morning worshippers at St Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra state. The second is the ongoing protest being championed by ‘’Area fadda’’, Charles Oputa popularly known as Charly Boy in Abuja, to compel President Buhari to either resume or resign, having gone from his duty post for more than 90 days.
The Ozubulu incident came as a shock considering that nothing filtered in on the social media that there was any war going on among Nigerians in South Africa, where the incident was said to have started, that would have led to such being brought home to Nigeria. Not only that, Ozubulu is so far off that even for Nigerians, you would have to look closely at your map to know its location, if it ever got a mention. It is a community that is so far off the grid. But all that changed within a few hours of madness. A lone gunman had stormed the church without any iota of reverence for the church as a spiritual enclave. Most of the worshipper had no inkling of what was to come, they had gone to the early morning mass to pray to God before beginning the day’s business. But the peace of the solemn assembly of worshippers and supplicants was shattered by the ungodly gunman. He started raining deadly bullets. He had a target, but the target, as it is usually the case, was not on hand to receive his comeuppance or what have you, because he couldn’t have been an innocent? He probably deserved the fate he escaped. He was probably a source of sorrow for some others before he became a target. But my angst against the gunman that he mowed down the innocent, who never knew what went down between him and his ‘’business partner’’ and he chose the solemn, spirituality of a cathedral to commit the sacrilege. What kind of person would embark on such without the fears of the wrath of the Almighty? By that action, he had brought a generational curse on his head. For, there cannot be atonement for that kind of action. I am looking beyond the Bible now to the Hammurabi laws. He could have taken his action, if he had to, outside the revered place of worship, irrespective of who donated the building. These are the people the society is birthing today. Young men without feelings, without humanity, without empathy, whose only God is money.
The question I kept asking myself and which most people have been asking is; why did the gunman decide to kill other people in such a brutal manner? He was there with a particular target in mind, but he never met his target, so why would he now take out his anger against innocent worshippers? Why should the worshippers be the target of his anger? They were not privy to the business transaction said to be the cause of his (gunman) anger and which had gone awry. I gathered that the father of the main target was one of the casualties, but that is beyond the issue. Would one now say he deserved his fate? I don’t want to think so. He should not have suffered for the sins committed by his son or are we going to say he deserved his fate as an accessory after the fact of his son’s intransigence. Proper family up bringing on my mind here.
But beyond that is the thinking that must have propelled the act that the situation had to be settled by recourse to violence. The perpetrators must have concluded that he had embarked on a journey of no return by his action. You cannot embark on such monumental scale of violence and believe you would get away. The society would fight you, the pressure would be on the law enforcement agents and the government to ensure justice was done, in all the ways, there would have been no escape for him, as he must have also concluded before the mission. So why the kamikaze mission?
But beyond bringing the gunman to justice to answer for his callous and brutal act, it is important that the government does a thorough investigation on the matter. What was the nature of the business? Some have said it was illicit drug- related one, it is thus important to go deeply into this, fallout like we witnessed in Ozubulun only simmer, it hardly ever completely disappear, thus by implication, there would be no end to the killings, it would continue, taken over by other members of the gang. To put a stop, all those involved must be interrogated and debriefed in order to put an end to the issue and stop the endless killing. Also, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) must be part of this investigation, if truly drugs were involved. The questions are; how does it affect the community, who are the people involved? Where do they source for the drugs, what are the routes? It is a great opportunity to rout the drug trade and sweep the entire Augean stable. Most importantly, the country must come to the realization that what has happened is a failure of the society. Enough is not being done to legitimately engage the youths. There is a worship of lucre irrespective of the source of it in the society. Our men of God are not exempted and encourage the use of wealth to advance the gospel, irrespective of the source of the wealth. It is why kidnapping is rampant, while ritualist are having a field day and why Badoo gang would brazenly storm households while the inhabitants were sleeping with murder in their mind and blood-soaked handkerchief in their hands, after their dark deed. Our humanity is diminishing on a daily basis.
That brings me to the ongoing protest in Abuja. As at the time of writing, the protesters have been on it for three days and they have vowed to continue until the President resumes or resigns. Whether they can keep this up is still debatable. Incidentally, someone has rustled up a group of pro –Buhari campaigners too to counter the Mumu-don –do group of Charly Boy. The issue of the president’s health has been described by some people as the case of the chicken coming home to roost. They pointed out that the president is getting a dose of his own medicine, when in 2010, he called for the removal of late President Musa Yar’ Adua who had been away from the country on account of ill health. In all these, my take is that Nigerians are looking at the issue of the president’s health and calling for his resignation because there is so much expectation that seems to have fallen flat on its face. People wanted gainful employment, end to hunger and other things that make life comfortable and they have not got it. If there is no hunger in the land there would not have been so much anger in the land. If Nigerians have been gainfully employed and people are not losing jobs daily, the issue of whether the president is around would not have become a subject of national discourse. It has always been said that Nigerians are the easiest people to rule, this still holds, but that is when they are given what they need to make life worth living. I still want to state here that President Buhari would have been Nigeria’s savior in bringing back our country from its precipice, unfortunately, ill-health has deprived Nigerians the opportunity of that. We pray he gets better. Still, all hopes are not lost, the acting President has shown that he could still mind the fort. He has shown that he could hold the country together. He has shown competence and displayed a skillful understanding of what is required of him. The down part is that he has not been ruffling feathers…quite understandable, he is only acting