WHEN OIL SUBSIDY WENT TO COTONOU
President Goodluck Jonathan
A regular reader of Femi Adesina from Onitsha reacted to one of my writings last week. In the beginning, I thought he had called to praise me. I did not know he called to praise Femi. 'Oga,' he began. 'I just finished reading your work. You are a good writer, but I wish you can write about Igbo issues as passionate as Femi does.
When he talks of MASSOB, you'd think, he is an Igbo man. When he talks about Buhari, you'd think, he is a Hausa man and when talks about the issues say from Akure in Ondo State, you would not know he is a Yoruba man. Femi is dispassionate. Femi is good. I am a regular reader of The Sun because of Femi Adesina. I have a collection of The Sun for the past five years. Femi says it the way it is.
Tell Femi, that by the order of his millions of readers, especially his non-Igbo fans scattered all over the planet earth, to please get back to the drawing board. He should go do us a detailed article; detailing the exact tolls of that Madalla and other massacres of the Igbo in the north in Nigeria, not on Nigeria since, as all knows and according to him, Nigeria has long ceased to exist.'
Let me come back to Femi later.
During his primary school days, Osondu Offoaro was an impressionistic scatterbrain. He was a chatterbox and a precocious pica-ninny personified. So much so that one day, his teacher out of exasperation posed a question she least expected a thunderbolt for an answer. 'Osondu, why do you talk too much,' his worn out teacher asked resignedly and somewhat frustrated at her inability to control a restless, talkative lad. 'Because I have a lot to say,' came the response that further compounded the teacher's frustration.
Today, I, Godson, the father of Osondu, like son like father, have a lot to say. I want to talk of the perennial Igbo massacre in northern Nigeria, which has now become an enthralling sport. I want to talk about it not because Femi's fan wanted me to talk. I want to talk about the Boko Haram - our own variant of Al-Qaida, which has issued ultimatum to non-northerners to leave their land. Leave to where? Did they not remember that sometime ago, in 1967, the Igbo in particular opted out of this country only to be forcibly brought back into the union?
Before then, the talkative I, had wanted to talk about many other pressing national issues. I had wanted to talk of Bianca Onoh-Ojukwu. I had wanted to talk about the hastiness in the removal of petroleum subsidy; the reactions of the masses and that of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC); the lack of adequate infrastructure to ease off the pains inherent in subsidy removal. The lack of adequate transportation network, including the absence of good motorable roads to move people in mass transit format; the absence of a livable wage to augment the everyday needs of life; I wanted to talk about life in Nigeria. Its brutishness and nastiness! The lack of employment, especially for university graduates. And I wished the editors could be as generous to give me a lot of space to say it all. Journalism is a talkative industry. In this industry, space is a highly priced commodity.
A week before the Madalla madness, I had wanted to write about Queen Bianca Onoh-Ojukwu, the world class beauty, the ambassador extraordinaire and plenipotentiary designate, the Amazon, and the Eze Nwanyi Igbo gburugburu; heir pretender/apparent to the vacant stool of Ezeigbo gburugburu. As is with every writer, I had finished composing the story in my mind, before Madalla happened. And it was, indeed, a long gist. Because I do not want to spoil that gist, I must now resist the temptation of spilling the bean. Let Bianca Ojukwu be for now. I will tackle her subject before Dim goes home.
It's a promise. But The Sun Newspapers, must every day beginning from today, until Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu is laid to rest, republish those front page pix of hers with Dame Patience Jonathan, when the latter went to Casabianca lodge Enugu to pay a condolence visit. Oh, that picture! By now, my editors should have known that I love things of beauty. Women of beauty in particular stir me - Gbemisola Sarakis, for example and Deziani Alison Madueke too. The wife of the Governor of Akwa-Ibom (what's that her name?) also is in this league of our charming beauties. Wait a minute. I now remember. Her name is Ekaete. She was in the news recently. Isn't Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also cute? Cuteful ladies doing beautiful things, especially with their brains.
I was thinking aloud of the need to promote our own in Bianca. Create our own Jacklyn Kennedy Onassis. Create our own queen Belinda. Remember Belinda? Of the Rape of the Locke fame; – that paragon that drew the restless nymphs into a war of wits to prevent a lock being taken from her luxuriant hairs. Create our own Lady Di; Create in Bianca, our own Maria Estella Peron. Create our own Queen of Sheba equivalent, and above all create an authentic Igbo centric dynasty, beginning with a Queen Bianca mounting the royal throne being vacated by her able husband, Ancient Nri Kingdom's choice, now, notwithstanding. But how do you expect history and posterity to treat me if I wrote of beauty and brain and elegance and demeanor of a people when its folks are being massacred to the point of annihilation? So I had to self-caution. If Ojukwu had not been involved, why should I have bothered? Can you now see that like Osondu, I have a lot to say?
Then I thought of that Christmas day, Christmas week massacre of mainly Igbo Catholic worshippers somewhere near Suleja on the outskirts of Abuja. Then I thought of the Ebonyi communal mayhem where 66 innocent men and women and children had died as at the time of this write-up. Then again, like a bad dream, the Madalla Christmas day tragedy resurfaces in my thought process. How would God forgive the mayhemites if in actuality they knew what they did? If the attack was pre-programmed and targeted against the Igbo. Or did they actually not know what they did? Forty-three dead, 45 wounded. Ojukwu was catholic and I believe Bianca too. Of the dead 43, 40 or so are Igbo. Of the 45 wounded, 40 of them or so are Igbo.
On the list published by most newspapers, you find people who certainly are of the same family - depicted by their common last names, decapitated by bombs; you see them perish, in the attack. Like the Great Book would say, their habitation indeed has been made desolate. This massacre is worse than the pogrom, I mused. What is it that Ndi Igbo have done this time again? Why do they deserve all this senseless perennial cleansing of their ethnic group? The last ethnic cleansing was because the Igbo spearheaded a coup. The ethnic cleansers claimed they were provoked. Were they also provoked in 1933, 1935 and in 1955, in 2000, in 2005, in 2010, in early 2011 before the madness of December 2011?
This massacre is not in retaliation to any Igbo soldiers' or leaderships' rascality by any measure. This is not an attack prompted by any Igbo direct wrong doing against any segment of the Nigerian populace as we write. This time the Igbo have not been accused of urinating on any holy book or any sacred place of worship by other religious faiths. The Igbo offense this time is that they are a collateral consequence of a sect's angst against a nation. Those wounded, if we must borrow a line from a famous Nigerian poet, no doubt are now, still awaiting burial by installment – as most of them would certainly die. We do hope the authorities would be kind enough to publish the instalmental deaths - when they occur.
Then I picked up a copy of The Sun on Friday December 30, 2011. At the back page, I read Femi Adesina, where as usual he did a brilliant work lamenting the Christmas Day massacre in the article titled 'The end of the end.' But the nationalist Femi generalized. It made me a bit angry because I had thought he would give a detailed chronology of the massacre of the Igbo in Nigeria. More so, as I had in private conversation asked him to do so for me – on Igbo's collective behalf.
Or is he no more Igbo Nwannedinamba? I had asked him to do so because I know his voice would sound firmer and stronger than mine in the face of this weighty burden placed on some of us. Some of us, who are Igbo, but love Nigeria and humanity. But just as I was about dropping the paper, the caller's voice I quoted in the beginning of this essay came back knocking. Femi, please do something about it.
Offoaro writes from Havensgate Owerri. [email protected]