Opinion

Conversation Nigeriana (8)

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha 

Obukohwo: All the victims, innocent travellers between Abuja and Kaduna, kidnapped by the vagabond train terrorists have been set free at last!

Dupe: Praise the Lord!

Bankole: Released or set free after payment of ransoms?

Dupe: Whatever! I just praise God that they have been reunited with their families! No one is sure that ransom was paid!

Obukohwo: Sadly, three days after they were set free, one of the victims was killed by another set of bandits while on his way home to Kebbi! To add insult to injury, one of his relations who had travelled to rejoice with him was kidnapped!

Dupe: Wickedness in high places. Was this a coincidence or it was arranged by the same morons who kidnapped him before?

Obukohwo: No one knows the truth. What is happening in Nigeria is pregnant and nursing a baby at the same time. Now they will ask for a ransom!

Bulama: By paying ransoms to criminals, this government has made abductions a profitable venture. Some security officials have joined in the kidnapping business. For example, it was reported that the DSS once arrested an unnamed soldier for hiring guns to kidnappers for N300,000! We cannot correctly estimate how much has been paid to kidnappers by governments and private citizens! It must be in billions!

Obukohwo: That’s why they can purchase arms and ammunition to threaten the seat of government and the governor of Kaduna State!

Bulama: I won’t lose any sleep if the diminutive fellow of Kaduna State and his wild son are abducted by the terrorists whom they created. Their utterances are usually filthy and arrogant, unbecoming of people of stature!

Obukohwo: Stature? What stature? Please spare me…Fela called such people VIPs!

Dupe: It’s not enough to wish them evil please. To be kidnapped is a nightmarish experience. I’m still seeing a clinical psychologist two years after my kidnap!

Obukohwo: Serious?

Dupe: Yes oo! That’s subject for another day!

Emeka: Paying ransoms is bad enough. But the word is out that they federal government did a swap with the terrorists!

Obukohwo: What do you mean?

Emeka: So, there were some terrorists arrested in the past who were in different jails, both in Abuja and Lagos. To secure the release of the last twenty-three abductees, the government released all the terrorists who had been detained for criminal activities!

Bulama: Nooooo!

Emeka: Yeeees! We are in trouble in this country. A civil rights advocacy organisation HURIWA issued a press release in which they asserted that ‘the latest antics of the regime of President Buhari in the reported release of over 100 Boko Haram terrorists from the Kirikiri Prison shows the total absence of transparency and accountability in the fight on terror’.

Dupe: We knew when Sheikh Gumi’s aide Tukur Mamu was negotiating with the terrorists and securing the release of abductees in batches.

Bankole: Yes, indeed, Gumi himself started the negotiations and started uttering rubbish words from his mouth which showed sympathy for the terrorists. Indeed, in February 2021 after visiting some bandits in Gummi and Shinkafi Local Government areas in Zamfara State, Gumi called on the government to negotiate with terrorists to ‘bring an end to banditry and kidnappings in the country! Later he got angry and said he would not negotiate with the terrorists anymore! Some people do not understand the concept of the modern State. then his aide Mamu took over. Mamu was arrested in Egypt after a request by DSS, brought back to Nigeria and detained indefinitely. Apparently, he was doing nefarious business with the bandits. The official statement is that he must ‘answer critical questions on ongoing investigations relating to some security matters in parts of the country’.

Emeka: Can you imagine a citizen going into the forests to meet with criminals and then coming back to urge the government to negotiate with thieves!

Obukohwo: The thought of it galls me!

Bankole: If it had been an Igbo man that went to negotiate with IPOB the world would have crashed on him! See the speed with which he outlawed IPOB and went after Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu. But his herder brothers roam the country with AK47s attached to their body!

Obukohwo: it is sad that Buhari who campaigned on a national platform and got a broad mandate in 2015 is leaving office as a clannish president. What an antithesis!

Bulama: Our rulers do not care about legacies!

Bankole: They have no sense of history. Perhaps in their subconscious minds the country will not endure and so there is no need to create national legacies! So, this accounts for the absence of national heroes. We do not have them anymore. Murtala Mohammed tried. Even IBB created a national image for himself.

Bulama: Yes, the era of heroes is over; they civil war created heroes both on the Nigerian and Biafran sides.

Emeka: True, when Wole Soyinka went to the Southeast in 1967 to hold a meeting with Biafran leader Emeka Ojukwu to try dissuading him from the war, General Gowon arrested him upon his return and kept the man in detention, solitary confinement, for two years and some months. Soyinka became an instant world celebrity. Prisoner of Conscience he was called, and his pictures were all over the world.

Bankole: Even Ojukwu was a hero too. Heroic villainy. But if he had fought Nigeria to a standstill the way little Ukraine has contained the almighty Russia, he would have been a hero forever!

Obukohwo: But at the end of the war, Gowon said there was no victor, no vanquished!

Emeka: On paper yes! The Igbo were vanquished. They were punished and are still being punished decades after the war. How much were they given in exchange for their monies? Some powerbrokers keep using the war to argue against an Igbo President!

Bulama: There are too many unsettled issues about Nigeria!

Dupe: We need to redefine Nigeria, interrogate it, and agree on how we want to live together. The presidency must be rotated between north and south for example.

Emeka: We must restructure the country and make the central government less powerful. No president should sit in Abuja and call the shots in my local government area in the Niger Delta; no federal government should try to control water resources because it wants to make the water in my village available to herders from all over Africa.

Bulama: No one will try that fa! But let us discuss the bandits and unknown gunmen operating freely and brutally in the southeast. Who are those scoundrels? What do they want? Why are they killing their kith and kin like fowl?

Emeka: My brother, it is a serious matter. There is breakdown of law and order in Anambra and Imo States. We no longer hold elaborate burial ceremonies without settling the gunmen!

Bankole: You mean they are not anonymous?

Emeka: I don’t know what to say anymore. Sometimes, people in the villages will advise you to part with some money before you organise a ceremony. I don’t know where the money goes. But most of the perpetrators are local boys. Why they turn on their own, their successful brothers and sisters who have no dealings with government baffles me.

Bulama: It is the same in the north. The bandits kill people of all faiths. That is the reason we keep stressing that bandits are criminals. There is nothing Islamic about Boko Haram or ISWAP. They are bloody criminals using Islam as a front.

Bankole: The federal government does not have the will to deal ruthlessly with the criminals for reasons I don’t know. Buhari has been a big disappointment to all, including his faithful APC supporters though they will not say this in public.

Dupe: It is no secret. Each time the Tinubu people campaign and make promises to improve security, they indirectly indict Buhari and his people in government.

Emeka: The country must go back to factory reset!

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