The Evangelist News Edition June 2, 2023. By Adaze Ojukwu
My dear Nwannem,
I am seriously missing you, my lovely sister. I really long to see you. For 10 years, I have not seen you. None of our family members has seen you.
We all long to see you, dearest Nwannem. We miss your pranks, smiles and jokes. Above all, we miss your faith.
You always encouraged us to have hope and be patient. We still remember your comforting refrain: “Bad times don’t last.” Yes, that’s what the Holy Bible says too.
But alas, my lovely Nwannem, ezigbo oyi oma, an abomination has overtaken our land. What we see every day are killings, massacres, mass graves, burnt corpses, hungry people scavenging dustbins, mad people, ambulances and security vehicles. There is no peace. Neither is their justice from our unjust judges. Our activist, labour leaders and fearless journalists have all been silenced with money from kleptomaniac politicians. Fear has retired some. Media owners have also been bought by the greedy political elite. The police kill innocent citizens, for a paltry N50 or less. Do you blame them? Their salary is shameful. Their barracks are like animal pens. Their tattered uniforms smell, badly. Oh my beloved sister, our land stinks. Blood is flowing every where.
When you left the country, you assured us that you will soon be back. You were confident that the country will be better than it was before your journey. Alas, Nwannem, the country is now worse than before.
Many in our land have died. Hunger killed some, while others were murdered by armed robbers, bandits, herdsmen and of course the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.
Do you know the latest news? Boko Haram has even joined the dreaded Islamic State of the West African Province(ISWAP). Successive governments failed to wipe out the dangerous insurgents, despite the huge funds allocated to security forces to eradicate the Islamic fighters.
When you relocated to South Orange County, in New Jersey in faraway America, our family members thought, that you will soon come back. But my dear sister you dare not come back now. The land is trembling with trepidation and apprehension. Price of fuel has escalated, beyond the reach of the common man. Fuel now sells officially for N500 or more. How can the 133 million citizens cope with this new price. The crises was caused by the newly installed president, who announced the removal of subsidy, during his inauguration. What a folly? Nigeria, is indeed reminiscent of, Animal Farm, a satirical allegorical novel, written and published by George Orwell, in England, in 1945.
Just as captured in the classical literature, all animals were meant to be equal, but some became more equal than others, and established an oppressive government. This is the story of the new Nigeria. Several governments come and go, promising all and delivering none. The politicians only come to loot our common heritage. Their eyes are just on oil money. They fritter aware the scarce resources and leave the masses gasping for air, food, water and shelter. Suicide is now common. Some die in their sleep or while queing for fuel, pension or public transport. Others just slum, while trekking long distances, after work to their homes
I have been weeping for days. The invaders have attacked our village again. This is the third time the herders from the north have raided our communities, destroying our farms and killing our young men.
The women were not spared too. Some were abducted, while others were raped and burnt. I have never seen nor heard of such evil. This is certainly, what the United Nations(UN) will consider as crimes against humanity. The whole town is deserted. Everybody is living in fear. The markets are bare. Children hardly go to school or attend choir practices. Many church pews are empty. Parishioners are disenchanted and lack money for offering, tithes and levies. What a pity?
Vigilante groups that use to parade our villages, have abandoned their duty posts, because valiant young men were butchered like dogs. Our land is brimming, with the blood of eminent men and women. Even the children are not spared from these fiery guns. Our streams and rivers are polluted with the bodies of our people.
Who will save us from this nightmare? The cow merchants are on rampage. Their mission is to find fodder for their flock. Their animals eat up our crops, particularly cassava, corns, beans, yams and vegetables. They storm our highways, like Colossus, killing, kidnapping and raping at will. They collect ransom from desperate families of abducted relatives and travellers. Our people are really suffering. The faith of most people is gone. There is no peace. There is no joy. Where then is the hope for the future?
Ezigbo Nwannem, the genocide is nationwide. The slaughter started with Boko Haram terrorists in the North East.
Another set of self-styled home-grown terrorists overran the North West. Government called them “bandits.” The conflict was reportedly between the indigenous Hausa communities, who were over powered by Islamic warriors, led by the Usman Dan Fodio in 1804. The six-year war, according to historical records, was to revive Islam, and enforce the practice of orthodox Islam in conquered territories.
Then came the arm-wielding pastoralists, who spared none in their massacre. With their brother, as the head of state then, they became quite brutal and brazen. Many villages in Plateau and Benue, as well as Southern Kaduna were destroyed. Thousands were butchered. Others were evacuated to Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) camps.
Next was the South West. Several churches and schools were attacked. Countless numbers of farms and farming communities were set ablaze. The herders turned the sacred forests of the region into their operational base. They sent some indigenes of Ogun state to Benin Republic, as refugees.
They turned to the South East with vengeance. Farmers in Enugu, Anambra and Imo were brutalized. Villages near Benue state were frequently raided. Then the marauders turned to South South. Residents got a fiery portion of the slayers’ venom. Indigenes of Delta and Bayelsa States cried out for help. But none came.
The fate of the South East is still terrible. Memories of the horrible Operation Python Dance military operation, still haunt the land and its people. The state descended on members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The group and its separatist movement furthered angered the general and his team. They showed no mercy to the ‘one dot’ region.
The leader of the group became a fugitive and remains in custody till date. The palace of the father of the IPOB leader, who was the king of the town was attacked. He and his Lolo died, during the onslaught.
Then the unknown gun men appeared, after the Supreme Court installed an unpopular candidate, as governor in a South East state. An unprecedented killing spree commenced. Police men were killed and their buildings were razed down. Many noble residents were murdered. The region, which is yet to fully recover from the ravages of the 1967 genocide, became a theatre of war.
As you know, the region was a clear enemy of the ruling government, because the ruling party got a paltry five percent of its votes in 2015. The former general fumed with rage. He excluded top notch experts of Igbo extraction from the security hierarchy and other top positions. He unleashed punitive policies in his vengeance mission to hurt the zone. But our people survived. But the general exited as the worst leader in the nation’s history. What a disgrace he has become, even to his people that once worshipped him as an idol.
If he had not ruled, many would described him as the best president that Nigeria had.
Our only consolation is in God because government has failed us.
My sister, do you know that the South East, is the only region in Nigeria that has only five states. Yet, it contributes, significantly to the nation’s economy, with its oil and gas resources. By divine grace, the zone parades some of the best brains and experts in science, education, business, transport, aviation and manufacturing. Many young Igbo men and women have brought tremendous fame and glory to the country. Dividends from Nollywood remain huge. Just like you my wonderful sister, many our kith and kin in Diaspora remit large funds to the country. Their businesses and properties are visible in many parts of the country.
Apart from the second Niger bridge, which was hurriedly packaged and commissioned, few days before the exit of the former general, the South East did not receive any significant federal project. Meanwhile, he allocated funds to build railways to Niger Republic. The South East was given none.
The worst legacy is the shambolic presidential elections, which were widely criticized by international and national monitoring organizations, for not meeting the threshold of expectations of most Nigerians. The national exercise was marred by violence, voter suppression and fraud, particularly in Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Adamawa and Imo states.
Nwannem, I have to stop here for now. It is getting dark. We have not had electricity, because the national grid collapsed.
k’emesia. Bye Bye
From your sweet sister, ezigbo,