A Nation in Heat – “No Tears”
By Anthony Chuka Konwea, P.E.
“……Jack was sleeker than Jill. He took Jill up the hill.
…..Jack and Jill went up the hill to have a lot of fun.
Stupid Jill forgot …..(to pray)….. and now they have a (bad) son!
…..Pay attention suckers so you don't make them same mistake.”
- adapted from The Gap Band, 1979; 'Oops Upside Your Head.'
(For Jack read political Jerks; for Jill read jilted electors; for their bad son read corruption, terrorism & criminality in Nigeria; for Jill's mistake read sentimental voting. This writer's adaptation is in brackets).
Boiling with prejudice, bubbling with bile and brimming with venom, Nigeria's cup it seems is now running over. You get a fair sense of the ebullition currently going on in my country by spending or wasting your time reading the comments section of even the most mundane online news items originating from Nigeria.
Within a span of four or five successive readers' contributions, the thread will most likely have degenerated into reciprocal ethnic, geo-political, religious and occasionally (feminine) gender slander. The latest spark-plug driving online commotion of course is the impending general elections.
One school of thought holds that it has always been like this and that byte-empowerment only ventilated otherwise stifled yet typical pillow-talk and elevated off-the-record town-meeting discourse into the global domain. Another school holds that this heating up of the byte-space is evidence of an end-game being played out in the country, amply powered by dwindling opportunities, economic disequilibrium and general disenchantment.
As in most cases, the truth may lie somewhere in between. What seems almost inevitable however is that the intensity of reciprocal slander is bound to rise markedly with the approach of the coming general elections. It is also going to spike as the recently re-based Nigerian economy takes a battering and the national currency the Naira takes a free-fall dive in sync with rapidly declining global oil prices. But that is not the only problem confronting the nation.
Jihadists vs. Proto-Jihadists
In a not too surprising twist, the Boko Haram terrorists and jihadists recently opened a new front in their battle against the State and other established institutions, by declaring a terrorist fatwa against the Emir of Kano, the second highest ranking Islamic figure in the Country and an ex-Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, once known as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi but now known and addressed as Muhammadu Sanusi II.
His sin? In the light of a terrorist bomb blast in Kano and given the failure of the State to defend its citizens, he had called on the people of Northern Nigeria to defend themselves against terrorists by any means available. Now SLS as he is known had previously either by acts of commission or omission been profiled by his critics as a die-hard closet Islamic Fundamentalist.
Indeed many there are who believe that the antics and activities of Islamic Fundamentalists including the covert sponsoring of religious insurrections targeted against Christians, Igbos and otherwise innocent people from the southern part of Nigeria, watered the grounds and tilled the Northern fields where the seeds of Islamic Jihadism and Boko Haram terrorism later took roots. In this sense therefore Islamic Fundamentalists in Nigeria may aptly be described as proto-Jihadists.
Some analysts had warned a couple of years back (refer to the opinion piece ' Savagery in the Savannah ' by this writer for example) that it was only a matter of when not if the Islamic Fundamentalists or proto-Jihadists would someday find themselves in the cross-hairs of their own laboratory test creatures. That day it is now confirmed has arrived sooner than we thought then.
The latest tactics of the terrorists is to deploy female suicide bombers mostly in their teens to carry out their heinous intentions. Yet the motivations of a Jihadist Jamilu – the lure of 40 virgins in the Jihadist paradise – may be quite understandable even if perverted. What is not so clear is what the rewards of a Jihadist Jamila shall be when she blows herself together with innocent bystanders into smithereens.
Will it merely be to serve as one of the 40 virgins servicing a single Jihadist Jamilu in paradise? If that is the case, that does not sound so equitable. If on the other hand by virtue of her feat a Jihadist Jamila is entitled to 40 striplings servicing her in paradise, will she not be seriously over used? Some food for thought.
Another question for the drivers of terrorist Jihad in Nigeria is this. If martyrdom is such a great thing, why are the terrorist leaders of the Jihad not the first in the queue to undergo martyrdom? Why do they keep on sending the expendable Jamilus and Jamilas on this voyage of no-return? By the way, what are Terrorist leaders still doing here on earth? Why are they wasting their time with infidels like us on earth when they can be the first on the queue to claim the vaunted price of 40 virgins in the Jihadist paradise?
Why are their wives, sons and daughters not the first to be adorned with suicide belts in order to quickly claim their eternal rewards before all the rest? Why do they preserve their wives and children from martyrdom but quickly dispatch their brain-washed followers' wives and children along this damned path?
This is serious food for thought, the likes of which ought to form the basis of the 'soft' battle for hearts and minds which the Nigerian Security Agencies should be waging by now. It is this failure of the Armed Forces and other Security Agencies to imaginatively and decisively confront the Jihadists that triggered the Emir's universal call to arms.
What of course particularly irked the Emir apart from the inability of the Nigerian Armed Forces to tackle the Jihadists headlong, were the unceasing reports, since confirmed by more than fifty death sentences for desertion handed out by Military Courts, of Nigerian soldiers abandoning their weapons and uniforms and taking to their heels in the face of terrorist onslaughts.
Sapped Soldiers and Energized Hunters
An Army divided against itself cannot fight, but of course, the Proto-Jihadists share some of the blame for the not too reassuring performance of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the terrorist battle fields. Much has been written about the under-equipping of the Armed Forces, which of course is most likely correct. The direct relation between corruption and the proper equipping and welfare of troops or lack thereof is so glaring as not to warrant further comment.
Absent leadership, demotivates the people and creates a 'look after myself and my interests only' mindset. It is not for nothing that American, Russian or European Presidents, Vice Presidents and Defense Ministers periodically visit their troops and intermingle with them. A soldier at the war front who is visited at some personal risk by his Commander-in-Chief, who thereupon goes to ask about his personal welfare, then thanks him personally for the service he is rendering to the nation and finally reminds him that his sacrifice will never be forgotten even if he were to lose his life, is less likely to run away from the battlefield when confronted by the enemy.
A soldier on the other hand who knows that his Commander-in-Chief ensconced in Abuja does not think his duty and sacrifice is important enough to warrant a personal visit, yet who watches on TV or reads in the newspapers as the C-in-C gallivants from one political rally in one town to another in another town, giving empty, worthless, sterile political speeches in spite of suicide bombs killing innocent people in front, behind and all around him is more likely to throw down his weapons and run away to his home village to save his dear life.
The lack of patriotism, lack of sense of national pride, ethnic and religious cleavages and competing loyalties, unmerited recruitments and promotions of the incapable and the sidelining and marginalization of the capable in the military as in all other sectors of the economy have almost totally destroyed the military ethos, bred mutual suspicion within the ranks and the barracks, rubbished esprit de corps and utterly blunted the potency of the Nigerian military as a fighting force. Make no mistake about it, the Nigerian military is not immune to the daily battles being waged online by misguided ethnic, regional and religious internet warriors. Soldiers too are human beings with blood coursing their veins and feelings in their hearts. They see and read these things. And you expect them to defend the same fractious nation?
As an example, what is likely going to be the level of motivation of a Nigerian soldier, who several decades back lost a father or a brother, or a friend or a colleague, during a pseudo-spontaneous insurrection inspired by proto-Jihadists? What is going to be the motivation of such an individual to fight to prevent full-blown Jihadists from taking over territory in the very same theater where their relatives or friends were unlawfully beheaded or otherwise extra-judicially murdered?
Reciprocal insults filed daily online on the basis of ethnicity, religion or geo-politics such as the recent one by a misguided, over-pampered ex-Niger Delta militant, describing a whole geo-political section of the country as 'ungrateful parasites' would almost certainly excite frictions within and create factions, fissures and cleavages amongst colleagues-at-arms who otherwise should live and die as one. This of course is without prejudice to the fact that there will be not a few financially motivated moles, not a few closet sympathizers and not a few proto-Jihadists parading within the ranks of the Nigerian Armed Forces at all levels and ready to sabotage its mission at the critical moment.
The Americans know all these of course. They realize that the problems of the Nigerian Armed Forces go well beyond modern equipment which would most likely soon fall into the hands of the Jihadist terrorists either via combat or via sabotage or via sheer operational incompetence or via cowardice. And so they are unwilling to supply sophisticated ground support, Cobra attack-helicopters for the Lake Chad Theater but are willing to donate a decommissioned warship to patrol our nation's coasts where they sense the greater danger may actually lie in these days of coast guard defense privatization for the benefit of ex-militants.
But of course nature does not allow a vacuum. If the morale of the Nigerian Armed Forces after years of neglect is on a downward spiral, that of local Hunters is on the upswing in spite of the fact that the Ebola virus epidemic (EVE) has made the consumption of bush meat, a local delicacy, anathema. The local hunters armed with Dane guns are now openly reinforcing the conventional military.
Some reports claim that the Local Hunters use what Igbo rude boys call 'Odieshi' charms to become impenetrable to Boko Haram bullets. Other reports say they use other types of charms i.e. 'Odiagba' to prevent Boko Haram weapons from releasing their bullets. One does not of course believe in such nonsense as Odieshi and Odiagba but it would be nice if military historians and weapons experts such as Jane's Defense Review can undertake rigorous, scientific analyses under actual or simulated battle field conditions of these stupendous claims made-only-in-Nigeria.
At the rate things are going, and if the current President persists in office who knows, we may one day end up seeing a Local Brigade of Dane Gun Hunters supplementing or supplanting the Federal Brigade of Guards who are charged with securing the President's safety. But thankfully the President and his Party are currently facing the stiffest challenge yet to their profligate 15 year regnum.
Weep not for the President
And so the President is currently fighting for his political life. And he begins to look more and more like a lame duck with each passing day. Here is a man who had the whole nation at his feet, a man who has had several lucky breaks with destiny. Out of willful negligence he allowed his good luck to ebb away and quickly transform into the nation's tough luck. He had his chance and he blew it. He had a choice to align with the masses, to associate with the truth and to promote justice. He willfully chose to mingle with fawning cronies, to set camp with propaganda and to implement deceit.
And so fittingly the Jonathan Legacy is one of appalling effort on the job with monumental incompetence as the consequence. It is one of over-enjoyment of his official position with undiluted corruption as the pay-off. It is one of willful ignorance of the sufferings of the masses with accelerated national decay coupled with catastrophic insecurity as the end-product.
There is much propaganda going on currently about some of his Administration's achievements in infrastructural development but of course you can always buy a bottle of Coke for a hundred dollars if you so wish. In this writer's opinion his major and most uncommon achievement is that so far no Nigerian has been known to die violently as a result of his direct or indirect commission. Yet many more Nigerians have died violently under his watch as a result of his omission than at any other time in the country's history apart from the Civil War years which we shall revisit from a personal angle shortly.
His administration just like that of his publicly acknowledged “Father”, former military President IBB has set Nigeria back by several decades. Indeed his stewardship serves one and only one important purpose – as a case study, a practical example and an abiding illustration of how not to lead when you become the President of Nigeria.
It is ironic and worthy of a Shakespearian epic that the same man General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), a man of reputedly unimpeachable character but with several flaws nonetheless, who was overthrown by IBB, 'the Father', three decades ago, currently aspires to be commissioned to attempt a demolition of the corrupt edifice whose grounds were purchased by 1 st Republic politicians. An edifice whose perimeter survey was conducted by the associates of GYG. An edifice whose perimeter was ring-fenced by 2 nd republic politicians. An edifice whose heavy raft foundations were laid by the very same IBB, 'the Father'.
Yes this same corrupt edifice whose massive pillars were erected by the one and only GSA. An edifice who's decking and flooring was done by OBJ, his associates and political Contemporaries. An edifice whose doors were hung, windows placed and façade walling raised by the associates and political Contemporaries of UMYA who was too sick to either participate in it or to caution them.
Having supervised its plumbing, roofing, plastering, painting and application of exquisite sundry finishing ably assisted by eager cronies and ravenous political contemporaries, GEJ, 'the Son' at last officially cut the ribbons, and declared the monumental edifice of corruption in Nigeria as fit for habitation with the immortal words 'stealing is not corruption' or is it 'corruption is not stealing'? So awed with the exquisite finishing of the edifice of corruption under GEJ, 'the Son' is IBB, 'the Father' that he has just recently publicly stated that his 'own achievements' pale into insignificance compared to what he is now seeing.
Shed no tears for Mr. President because he has been crippled by his own over-indulgence, self-pampering and self-preservation. Indeed any President whose sole aim and desire is to save his own administration will end up losing it. But any President who is ready to make sacrifices including laying down his life for the sake of the masses will end up saving his administration. This is the simple lesson, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, himself a PhD holder, could not learn in six years – more than enough time for a serious full-time graduate student to complete a PhD degree program. And so many Nigerians have lost patience with him.
We are fed up with hanging our heads down out of shame and casting our gaze to the ground due to shame when we meet foreigners from all corners of the globe. Yes we are ashamed. We are not ashamed of Nigeria but we are ashamed for Nigeria and there is a difference between the two. We are ashamed of the shameless leaders of Nigeria. Ashamed of their fraudulent antics. Ashamed of their dubious shenanigans. Ashamed of their criminal negligence of their prime responsibility of protecting Nigerians from harm. Ashamed of their impotence in protecting our brothers and sisters up north from rampaging jihadist terrorists. Ashamed of their shamelessness.
And so starting from the middle of February 2015, all adult Nigerians currently residing in Nigeria have the opportunity, nay the sacred responsibility to declare to the world by their votes the following. “The value of our national currency the Naira may be dropping, our economy may be wobbling, our physical and economic well-being may be threatened, but our prospects have changed and our fortunes will soon follow suit. We are coming back. Nigeria is back! ”
“Nigeria is back not because our new leaders are angels or saints. Far from it. Nigeria is back precisely because we the people of Nigeria do solemnly swear before God and man, that never again will we allow a set of unscrupulous leaders to take us on a jolly ride into the abyss without meting out commensurate electoral consequences to them at the earliest available opportunity. We will do so sans ethnic, religious or geo-political sentiments. We will henceforth requite each leader according to their works not minding their ethnic origin, their religion or their geo-political status. No longer shall we be held hostage by prejudice or bias, by sentiments or favors.”
So when you go into the polling booth, do the right thing according to your conscience. Let your conscience be your own judge. Do it right, even if you are not doing it for yourself due to what you are currently enjoying illicitly from the system. Vote rightly nonetheless because of your children and children's children who will definitely not enjoy the same illicit benefits that you have access to today and will someday ask you “Daddy or Granddad, Mummy or Grandmum, what did you do to stop them when those ravenous scavengers were wrecking this country, what did you do when those swarms of locusts were eating away our future? Did you cast your lots with them because they are from our ethnic group, or because we are of the same religion or geo-political region? Did you vote for them because they promised us the Second Niger Bridge between Asaba and Onitsha?”
Then you shall answer, “Junior remember when you were young when we used to take you every three months to that upscale store in London which you loved so well and bought you everything you pointed at? Remember how we sent you to school in the U.S.? Remember how you used to go and party in Dubai? Remember how we bought you a Lexus Jeep when you turned 21? Where do you think all that money we spent on you was coming from? Don't you realize it was because of our support for the ones you call scavengers and locusts that we got our share of the goodies to give you a wonderful childhood? Do you think it was all from our honest sweat? Don't you realize that it was all fall-outs from the system? After all how much were our official salaries? With our official salaries we cannot even send you for shopping at Tejuosho Market in Lagos talk less of Harrod's in London. Don't you realize that it was because of you children that we used to support any government in power so that we all especially you children can live well?”
And then Junior shall answer, “Yes Daddy and Mummy I realize now where all that money you had, came from and I thank you for pampering me when I was young and giving me access to things which my mates could not enjoy. But now I am 40 years old and you are much older. I cannot find a job no matter how hard I try. Where will I find the money to give my own children the sort of good times you gave to me?”
“Now that the Naira is exchanging at almost 400 naira to a dollar, how can I send them to school in the US? Even if I do where will they work when they graduate? I know you are approaching 90 years, but the only way out of this mess that I can see is for you to come out of retirement and rejoin the system and hustle to become the Campaign Director of the Scavengers Electoral Campaign Organization so that you can make enough money for me to send my own children and my children's children to the US, Britain and Dubai!”
Intended and Unintended Consequences
Make no mistake about it, Nigeria is in a very vulnerable situation right now. To see exactly how, cast your mind back to Sunday June 28 th 1914. On that day Gavrilo Princip aged 19, a member of the Bosnia Youth an offshoot of the Black Hand movement shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie as they toured Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina.
The immediate intention of that conspiratorial act was to assassinate the Archduke, a mission which was accomplished. That action however set in motion the train of events that led to the First World War. It was war at a scale never before known to mankind. It left an estimated 16 million dead and 21 million wounded. That was the unintended consequence.
As President Goodluck Jonathan and his main challenger General Muhammadu Buhari crisscross the nation campaigning for votes, all that it takes to ignite Armageddon in Nigeria is a single sniper's bullet or a single suicide bomber or a rigged election by conniving electoral officials and security forces. God forbid that something like that should happen. But if it does happen let the person in the field not run back home to pick up his family. Let the ones in the house not wait for the return of their breadwinner. Let everyone run to his place of origin. As a tiny tot, this writer's family experienced it during the Nigerian Civil War, an ugly experience that craving the reader's indulgence, will shortly be narrated.
And this is why the security and electoral agencies should be on maximum preemptive alert right now, providing cast iron security to the major political contestants and the entire electoral process. Let them not assume that it is not in our character as Nigerians to do such things. That was how most people, this writer inclusive erroneously assumed that it is not in our character to become suicide bombers. Today it is not only in our character, the pre-eminent suicide bombers in Nigeria now are teenage girls!
War is Ugly
War is not a tea-party. Big Youth (Manley Augustus Buchanan) the accomplished reggae toaster sang in his message loaded track, ' What we need is love ,' and I quote him here, “War is kind of ugly, but love is very lovely.” As one of the post-independence children, this writer was a post-toddler at the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. That war who's immediate and extended causes neither the writer nor his family knew anything about affected this writer's family and the nation badly.
The late S.C. Nwanze (for Sunday Chukwuedo Nwanze) was perhaps one of the very first Chemical Engineers Nigeria produced. He was also the first Indigenous African Director of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR). He was this writer's mother's senior brother, born of the same parents and from the same womb.
His father i.e. this writer's maternal grandfather, the late Robert Nwokocha Nwanze, was one of the earliest students of Kings College, Lagos who counted the Late Oba Akenzua II, father of the present Oba of Benin as one of his contemporaries at Kings College. He worked and retired as a senior staff in what was then known as the Marines and known today as the Nigerian Ports Authority. Naturally S.C. Nwanze took after his father's steps and also attended Kings College, Lagos.
With his status, it was not surprising that S. C. Nwanze's name featured prominently in the hit list of Asaba indigenes scheduled for slaughter at the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. As recounted to this writer by his uncle, Mr Robert Igbonoba Nwanze, S.C. Nwanze's only surviving brother as well as this writer's mother's youngest brother, who was them living with his late brother and his family at NIFOR, S.C. Nwanze was at his post as the Director of NIFOR near Benin-City when retreating Biafran soldiers got to NIFOR and ordered him to release the chemicals at NIFOR to them with which they intended to make explosives to prosecute the war.
He declined. In the ensuing melee, S.C. Nwanze suffered a stroke. At this time the situation in Benin-City was very tense and the anti-Igbo sentiment was very palpable in the town. S.C. was rushed by his wife and his younger brother to this writer's family's home in Benin-City accompanied by his three children. The next day this writer's dad with the writer's mum, his uncle R.I. as well as the writer and his sister, both tiny tots in tow, rushed S.C. down to Asaba. S.C.'s Cameroon born wife Elsie (nee Malafa, she died about a year ago) and her children were left behind in the writer's family home in Benin-City with the understanding that Elsie was to go and secure the family property in NIFOR. By the time the writer's family reached Asaba their hometown it was already equally tense due to the war situation. S.C. was rushed to St. Borromeo Hospital at Onitsha which was by then largely commandeered for treating wounded Biafran troops.
A government information officer, the writer's father attempted to return to his post and look after his possessions in Benin City a town which by this time harbored very strong anti-Igbo and particularly anti-Asaba sentiments. The writer's mother and her younger brother R.I. accompanied by the writer and his sibling remained at Onitsha to look after S.C.
And so three family separations occurred almost simultaneously. First S.C. Nwanze was separated from his wife and his three children. They were never to see him alive again – not even his corpse. Second the writer's dad was separated from his own family. Third all members of the writer's maternal family, the writer inclusive who accompanied S.C. to the hospital at Onitsha were separated from those left behind at Asaba because shortly thereafter, the Niger Bridge was either partly blown up or otherwise rendered impassable.
Thankfully there were other members of the writer's maternal family at Onitsha because the writer's mother's second eldest sister as well as immediate junior sibling of S.C. Nwanze (she too is now late) was married to an Onitsha indigene, the late Mr. Ben Machie. And so during the Civil War period, this writer was in the Biafran enclave with his mother, sibling, R.I., and yet another cousin J.J.N. (names withheld) who today is a Director in a sensitive Federal Government agency as well as the bed-ridden S.C. Nwanze, as guests of their relatives the Machies, whose husband and father to the glory of God worked for Caritas, the Catholic Relief Agency. That singular family connection meant therefore that the enlarged household was largely spared the pangs of the brutal starvation suffered by many other Igbos during the war.
With the rapid advance of Federal troops however, this aggregated Machie/Nwanze/Konwea family had to continually keep moving. During this period S.C. Nwanze died in this writer's mother's presence. Till this day he lies buried at Lilu, in Anambra State where the writer's mother's immediate elder sister (now late too) was married to a Lilu indigene the late Mr Japhet Uchegbu. He was buried at his in-law's compound, the Japhet Uchegbu family compound in Lilu, Anambra State of Nigeria.
When S.C. Nwanze died, he took along with him some of the Nigerian expertise in Oil Palm production. For a revealing confirmation of this assertion, please google the name S.C. Nwanze. His death was definitely a set-back for the Nigerian Oil Palm industry. Who knows what intellectual heights he and through him the nation would have attained had he lived and not been forced to an untimely death as a result of a stupid war between brothers. Not surprisingly partly because of his death and a host of other reasons such as the increased production of crude oil, as well as the abandonment of most oil palm plantations during the Civil War, Nigeria ceded its place of prominence as one of the pre-eminent producers of oil palm produce to countries such as Malaysia.
Ironically in death, S.C. Nwanze's name perhaps resonates far more loudly in Malaysia than in his native Nigeria if the personal testimony of another of this writer's cousins, the late Victor Onochie Abuah, himself a trained mechanical engineer and oil palm processing specialist, whose late mother was the writer's mother's eldest sister and who once visited that country for a training course, is anything to go by.
By this time of course S.C. Nwanze's wife, Elsie whose elder brother Mr P.E.N. Malafa was a United Nations staff, (he was at one point the former director of United Nations Information Service in Nigeria or something like that), had presumably with her brother's influence been granted safe passage with her children to Lagos. She remained there throughout the War.
So what happened to the list of Asaba indigenes scheduled for slaughter? When the Federal Soldiers with their list got to Asaba, the Nwanze compound at Cable Point, Asaba was one of their ports of call. There of course they met S.C. Nwanze's mother, i.e. this writer's maternal grandmother the late Mrs Nwakuso Nwanze, a very hospitable and charming old lady. At this time of course, the writer's paternal grandfather i.e. S.C.'s father Robert N. Nwanze was long dead having died before the nation's independence.
S.C. had built a bungalow adjacent to his father's house, where his mother, another younger brother (i.e. this writer's mother's immediate younger sibling) the late Eze Nwanze and his nephews and nieces were residing. The irate Nigerian soldiers proceeded to burn down his father's (i.e. the writer's maternal Grandfather's) house when they learnt their quarry had been evacuated into Biafran territory. Thankfully they spared S.C.'s own house and his mother's life as well as that of his relatives.
And so the house of the late Robert Nwokocha Nwanze, a friend and contemporary of Nnamdi Azikiwe was razed to the ground. The friendship between both men was such that the Azikiwe children were said to sleep over at that house on their journeys between Onitsha and Lagos in those days before the construction of the Niger Bridge. The mother of the late Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba of Nnewi, a shrewd Lagos based trader herself and a business acquaintance of S.C.'s mother Mrs Nwakuso Nwanze who was herself at one point a petty trader in Lagos was also said to have occasionally dropped by that house during her journeys between Lagos and Onitsha.
The story at least from this writer's perspective did not end there. The writer's father the late Fred Okonicha Konwea went back to Benin-City to discover that his abandoned home had been looted and that his life was not safe. He therefore gathered what he could and made the risky return journey to Asaba. Asaba was not safe either for by this time the Federal Troops had reached Asaba and the killings had started.
It was by the mercy of God and through the divine intervention of the writer's maternal grandmother Mrs Nwakuso Nwanze, that this writer's father was spared from being counted among the statistics of Asaba male indigenes slaughtered during the Asaba Massacre. As recounted to this writer by his late cousin the aforementioned Victor O. Abuah, the writer's father was among the Asaba indigenes assembled for slaughter at the killing fields in Asaba. Apparently the writer's father was forced at gun point to convey many people with his car to the killing venue.
It is possible that one of the Nigerian soldiers tipped her off, but somehow the late Mrs Nwakuso Nwanze sensed that something ugly was about to happen when the men and young boys were separated from the rest. She was reported to have wept and rolled on the ground and asked the soldiers to release the writer's father and substitute him with her very self. The Nigerian soldiers were taken aback by this display. They were somehow miraculously moved for they released the writer's father from the multitude of Asaba indigenes lined up for slaughter and granted him as well as the writer's maternal grandmother and other cousins free passage to leave the killing site unharmed. They were ordered to chant “One Nigeria” on their homeward drive to avoid being rounded up again.
And as recounted by the late Victor O. Abuah who was on that homeward drive, at the sound blast of the car horns, all the occupants of the vehicle driven by the writer's father would chant 'One Nigeria'. The chanting went thus: “Pee-pee-pee, One Nigeria!”, “Pee-pee-pee, One Nigeria!”, “Pee-pee-pee, One Nigeria!.” They had barely left the venue when the slaughter of innocent Asaba men and youths began.
As an aside, this writer is certain that if that vehicle driven by his now late father and conveying his now late grand-mother and several now late cousins from the killing fields of Asaba had run into a detachment of Biafran soldiers around the corner, the chanting would have quickly transformed into, 'Pee-pee-pee, One Biafra!', 'Pee-pee-pee, One Biafra!', 'Pee-pee-pee, One Biafra!'. What will a man not do to save his own skin!!!
Pay Attention Nigeria
Now the main reason of going through this long odyssey of the Nigerian civil war from a personal perspective is to draw the attention of all and sundry to the fact that even as this is being written, there are many innocent Nigerian citizens caught up in the senseless jihadist cum terrorist war raging in the North Eastern parts of the country.
Just as many Nigerians had no clue of the terror Asaba indigenes were subjected to during the Civil War until the war ended, so too many Nigerians as well as the ruling elite today including Mr President ensconced in Abuja, do not have a clue as to the level of terror being meted out to innocent Nigerian citizens in their ethnic homeland in the North East. And this is why no tears should be shed for an administration that cannot provide security for its own citizens no matter its excuse. Such an administration is not worthy of its own very existence. Simply put, it has to vacate and be replaced.
A word it is said is enough for the wise, but a smack is reserved for those who refuse to learn. As the falling price of crude oil in the international markets coupled with the dwindling value of the Naira as well as the un-abating jihadist terrorism and general insecurity continue to smack all of us Nigerians, Oops upside our heads , what God may actually be telling us is this: “Pay attention you suckers, don't make the same mistake again. Declare and proclaim with your votes, 'enough is enough!'”
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