EMERGENCY FOR SOUTH-EAST… SO WHAT?
Did you notice the apprehension of persons and groups, as Senate President, David Mark, was quoted as saying that what was needed in the South East Region was emergency rules. By this, he appeared to mean replacement of the serving governors of the various states with retired or serving military personnel. The so-called no-nonsense men. Another of Obasanjo's scheme at dealing with recalcitrant state governors!
So many have been so infuriated by that prospect that all manner of names and obnoxious appellations have been brought forward to be given the Idoma, Benue State-born retired signal general.
The Ohanaeze said they already knew him as hater of Ndigbo. Many have gone to dig up the incontestable facts that Mark, as a young officer, in charge of the abandoned property matters in the early 1970s actually did the Igbo in. Yes, while David Mark did that to Ndigbo, perhaps, in response to the mood of the moment, he was not expected to continue to harbour resentment or hatred of the entire race, which is even a shouting distance from his minority ethnic place in Benue State.
This is my reason for not accepting that in him we are dealing with a bigot. What I believe is amiss in Mark is what has always been amiss in him. Have you forgotten that this was one of the IBB state military governors? One bearing what Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu called northerners with criss-cross identity. Although in his case, he is David Bonaventure Mark, all Caucasian and smart name tag that reveals a man of neither here nor there.
Again, in his own case, he was, at one time and as Minister of Telecommunications, so enraged about the temerity of the poor in Nigeria to comment on the functions and service satisfaction of the then NITEL and he fumed very heatedly: 'Telephone is not for the poor.' In other words, this was a man who, despite his long exposure, prolonged presence in the corridors of power and living a life of perpetual privilege and opulence, since 1966, found it intolerable for the poor to ever dream of owning telephones.
In proffering a state of emergency for the Igbo states, Mark may not have furthered his famed hatred of Ndigbo but may just have dug back into his long standing pattern of riding in the wrong train. If in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when small French West African states were already operating the GSM, our man was screaming above the roof top that 'telephone is not for the poor,' do not be surprised when he will suggest that every able-bodied man or woman in the South East be castrated to be sure that in the next two decades, we won't have kidnappers.
Yet, it may not be entirely in place to dismiss Mark, who, by the position he occupies, may be privy to some information about the menace of kidnapping, vis-a-vis the ability or otherwise of the state governors to cope. In truth, while the whole nation is reeling in pains about kidnapping, it was expected of the governors to devise measures that would alter the operating environment for the business. Take, for instance, in the last dispensation, in most of the South East states, it was an offence to move about in tinted vehicles if you are not a governor, minister, commissioner of police and a few others. In fact, in Enugu State, then, it was banned and the ban was so rigorously, if not ruthlessly, enforced that those who had groaned under huge ego and had coated their vehicles for prestige were forced to drop such cars in other parts of the country if they must come into the well-checkmated state.
Today, in the same state, every person casts the plastic cover over his glasses, ensuring that nobody ever sees the occupants of such vehicles. Remember, you cannot beat Nigerians. Every person wants to belong. Local government chairmen, supervisors, councillors, party ward executives, commissioners, permanent secretaries and all other manner of political appointees. Of course, every other kind of businessmen is not left out. They are, daily, struggling to out-do one another in covering their cars with dark, plastic, coatings. In some cases, these men in pursuit of notable differences from the rest of us apply black colour oil paints on the glasses, including the windscreen, causing them to strain their necks as they drive around town.
Sometimes, you watch a long convoy of cars of one state official or visiting minister, but you cannot make out one single occupant. The entire vehicles, down to the police patrol escort vans, are tinted.
So, if you have this kind of situation, especially when it is so easy to beat police road blocks by either 'roger' or bravado, the field is ready made for kidnappers.
Again, when it is alleged that the police are actually complicit in the odious practice, what do you think the governor can do to police officers who are answerable to somebody else? In a way, it was possible that Mark had reasoned that if you have emergency rule, probably headed by serving or retired military personnel, then you can be sure of leading factors of government standing a notch or two ahead of the police, and whose orders will have to be carried out to the letter.
And, you must remember that a son of the South East, Ike Ekweremadu, had slapped across his chest, puffed it out and yelled: 'Yes, let us have emergency in the South East.' That is why I believe that there was something Mark saw, which he is not saying and that was why his argument looked shallow, perhaps, without being so.