Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa
July 6, 2006
There are many behavioral patterns that continue to amaze me. As life long professional student, I have always wanted to know more. Alas, the more we learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn and how little we know about one another. Many of us have given up on Nigerian leaders especially the hypocrites that shout at the top of their lungs only to change when in power. There are many Igbo leaders in position of power today who are bent on, and swear that they are going to change the status quo in Nigeria. They have proved skeptics wrong. In spite of the hate mongers, the new crop of Igbo leaders are as dedicated Nigerians as anyone can possibly be.
I know that some people will point to disgraced Senate leaders and some money prostitutes that dance to money bags. These are the type of relatives most Nigerians avoid when 419 is mentioned. Anambra does not paint a pretty picture either, but we have Anambra in every part of Nigeria. During some of the riots in the North, I have watched some of my Hausa brothers looking for places to hide their head, crying – not again! Please do not hide, speak out.
The Igbo leaders we see and hear about are the ones in Obasanjo’s cabinet and they are doing one hell of a job, except the only one I disagree with in policy. Indeed, she is the one everyone loves best, Okonjo-Iweala. Let us wait for her foreign policy. However, Charles Soludo has produced some result. Everyone of our leaders make promises, result is what we are interested in. By skillful management, Soludo liberalized the foreign exchange rule gradually, equaling official and parallel market rates to foreign currencies. Time will tell if this is sustainable. Do we need to dwell on the fear expressed when he replaced the Governor of Central bank? There are no sacred positions based on ethnicity or for only traditional bankers. Thank Obasanjo for that.
I must hastily point out that Igbo as Anyaoku or Akunyili are not the only new crops of leaders, there are Nuhu Ribadu, Dangote, Oshiomole, Adenuga, Randle, etc that most people know. There are others across the spectrum in the universities, press, commerce, in villages and towns all over our Country.
Ironic as it is, democracy does not always produce the best candidate. We are all happy that it works for Peter Obi but why do I still miss Ngige? This is a man who had no intention of becoming a Governor but was found by faith. As Anambra boils, I miss him. It is not that he could have performed miracle, he had his hands full too, but that we wished it was him that was there. Well, there must be something wrong with me. This is the same guy that Chris Uba anointed? Please bear with me; I hope this is not the case of someone who enjoys the infliction of pain. There has to be a way to get those guys we “feel” are competent into power. If you think I am looking forward to 2007 in Anambra, you are right. But guess what, I can not even vote in Anambra.
I am baffled by Ojukwu’s open criticism of his Governor, Peter Obi on one hand. On the other hand, it shows that Ojukwu is a leader not limited to only Anambra or if Obi might have rejected his counsel. In a difficult time like this, I expect Ojukwu to call all the various groups involved and squeeze out some solution that can be applied Nation wide. The economics involved in Onitsha is not limited to Anambra. If each vehicle pays 1,000.00 naira and another 500.00 for badges, that is a lot of money and I will not blame Peter Obi if he wants a piece of it to provide services for the people. His ban, shoot to kill order have infuriated Igbo as the Yoruba when Obasanjo gave the same order in Lagos.
There was an article I wrote about detained Ethnic militias in Militricians Taku. Some of those who never read the article wondered why I (me, an ant o) did not write about Uwazuruike. He is not the only crop of new Igbo leaders. As much as I disagree with his goal, I respect his cause. There are many leaders like him whose goals are different but do not get as much notice. Even he can be called upon for brain storming in crisis this deep. Some of us still remember Ray Njoku, Empire Kanu, “Indiana” Asiodu, Kenneth Iwugo, etc they must be somewhere leading in their own way. They are not in the fore front for the same reason nobody knows many of us.
MASSOB in all Eastern States, were not the only one banned in Anambra, we can not put all the blame on them. Usually workers form unions as protection from business Owners in a “master servant” relationship. The purpose of NARTO, the National Road Transport Owners may not be to protect themselves from greedy workers but to squeeze as much money as they can out of them. NURTW, the National Union of Road Transport Workers are happy that the excesses of the owners are curbed by the combined force of Army and Police who are in turn accused by MID, Movement for the Defense of Igbo, of mayhem.
If we have all these new crop of Igbo leaders, it is only fair to ask why they can’t solve the problem in Anambra instead of jumping on, and blaming others. We can ask the same of Nigeria as a whole. We should look at Anambra as a representative sample of Nigeria. If Anambra aches, Nigeria aches. If Anambra burns, Nigeria burns. If we solve the problem in Anambra, we have done Nigeria a big favor because the solution will be applied in the North and the South. Those who contribute to the problem in Onitsha, contribute to the problem of Nigeria. Some fingers are pointed to mischief makers in Abuja, those are, the supporters of Chris Uba and Alhaji Adedibu.
Of course we all play the blame game. We can point to certain people in Onitsha that are responsible, so can we point to others outside Anambra that are responsible. We have to ask one another the serious question of responsibilities as brothers’ keeper. People who are full of hate and mischief inflict it close to home before we notice it outside. At home we dress it up and call it pranks. Why is Anambra in every part of Nigeria?
There are people who are afraid to step into Lagos for fear of losing their lives. Many of us are familiar with horrible stories many years ago, 10 years ago, a year ago and only yesterday why you should not go back home. They asked – what good is a Country where you can not sleep well at night? There are hooligans, armed robbers, area boys and Ethnic militias. Yet, those who left many years ago, 10 years ago or yesterday said Nigeria is worse now than when they left. What about those of us who have no where else to go or hate being outside Nigeria!
Anyone who reads newspaper or watches television seeing the story of his home on fire and wants to jump on the next bus home must be a fireman or superman. That home could be Onitsha, Zaki Biam or Ife. Again, do we love each other? It is the starting point.
There are some Countries helplessly burning fueled by indoctrination - arms aid, religion, communism, democracy, or if those do not work as accelerators, direct intervention. This is not what we want in any part of Nigeria. If Anambra hurts, we all are hurting.
People are complaining that their husbands are disappearing in the hands of soldiers, children are afraid to go to school anticipating bombs and many others deserting their towns. How do we explain to people in Onitsha, Kaduna, Erin-Ile that there is no more war. A grown man like me still dream about atrocities of war, though the closest I ever came to one at Ore was when I was in Ondo in the late sixties scared to death of what will happen to us or those we were hiding from the soldiers. But then, I was so proud of myself when a soldier pointed a gun at me asking me un-Nigerian question. I was more disgusted at him even as a boy than the fear of death, before he was ordered away. Today, our children are caught in crossfire because of twenty naira during shake down on roads.
As a solution, many have asked for State police. Some of us have asked for both State and Federal police as we used to during the time of special constable and local police. Times have changed since then. Unconfirmed and unknown to so many of us is the use of different Ethnic police and soldiers in trouble spots all over the Country. Accusations have been made in the past that some of the police and soldiers sent to troubled spots have taken sides with their kinsmen. Yoruba made that accusation against Hausa soldiers called in to rescue victims in Idi Araba. That type of problem would not materialize if we use our God given Ethnic diversity that is more than three groups in Nigeria. This God’s blessing gives us the privilege to pick and chose which Ethnic force to send to rioters.
As much sense as this makes, there are few disadvantages. If Hausa police are sent to Anambra, will that back fire on poor Hausa traders there? If Igbo police are sent to Ife and Modakeke, will they take revenge on Igbo traders? As people become aware that the law enforcers are not their Ethnic group, we have to sensitize Nigerians to the fact that the alternative will be United Nation Peace keeping force. The last time I brought this up, I was challenged. It was not the objection that surprised me, it was the fact that people do not realize it is being done already in some selected cases.
We have to discuss this by educating the public that if we start mischief, our kin in the force will not side with us. We still have to deal with who has substantive authority to order these men around. We do not want to get into a situation where the Governor’s police force may be shooting at the President police as that almost happened at Ado Ekiti sometime ago when Fayose sent police to the house of the former Governor of the old Western Region, Adebayo, for hosting Tinubu and co. former AD Governors. It is this lack of understanding that compelled some of the Governors to hire or maintain private force as Ngige did with Anambra Vigilante Service when his security was withdrawn.
The bottom line is that oppressors have come to realize that there are more money to be made from traders and transporters. They have to devise creative ways to shake them as money trees while the more powerful and connected go for the treasury. It is passed on to the common man and woman by paying more for transport, products and inadequate services. Call them Agbero, Omo Onile, Area Boys, NARTO, NURTW, etc they change from private to official forces. These days even robbers find their way into official forces.
No matter which camp, we are the casualties in collateral damages, the horror we see is the horror of the dead that chills blood of the living. The root cause of most of their problem is economic distribution and who has control over it. Our leaders can reform and regulate them, but as their personal guardian devils, will not. After all, Adedibu boasted that he is not known for anything else apart from trouble. Let us join hands in Onitsha and watch the fear on the faces of thugs all