4 SONS GONE WITH THE BLAST
Citizen Donatus Arua, the distraught Nigerian from Nsukka, Enugu State cannot in anyway boast of any much benefit he ever was singled out to get from Nigeria. He raised four sons only to lose them to some terrorists in a flash.
The terrorists planted their weapon of mass destruction, a trap they set for just anybody, and even for their family members, and that trap caught four games. They all belong to one man. At the sound of the blast, a burden of sorrow was laid on the heads of Donatus Arua and his wife, Lovelyn. That is their lot today. But worst of all, these two persons did nothing against the state to deserve all these - a burden too heavy to bear.
It sounds distant because only very few of us know this family. But think of this incident as something close to you. You have your children, beloved family members and other relations and all of a sudden, news comes that they have been all snuffed out like in the Nazi Treblinka camp. It sounds like a joke, but soon it crystallizes into a huge reality that could no longer be wished away. That is what this couple has been subjected to and does anyone help in anyway to assuage the pains and burden? I don't know much of this.
I have witnessed heavy sorrow as a spectator, but it pains to see and hear. Five years ago, Sosoliso airliner crashed in Port Harcourt. I was sent to report the incident. In the course of the work, we hopped from one mortuary in Port Harcourt to another starting from the General Hospital in Borokiri where the University of Port Harcourt used as teaching hospital in search of news. That is one of the odd sides of the news reporter's job.
The following day, we ended up in the home of the Ilabors in D Line off Olu Obasanjo Way. The mood of the home defied news nosiness. The scene saddened the hardest of minds. The couple - Ilabors, I am sure they must have found some comfort in the healing balms of time and the heavens, were struck dumb. They had no words to utter. They managed to allow some grin nobody knew the depth dance around their lips whenever they see familiar faces. They both gazed into emptiness with eyes rarely blinking. After watching them, you understand that an overdose of pains makes the glands run dry of tears. They had none to shed because the inner person had been so put out of shape that even the emotion that brings tears ceased to play its role. It was the visitors that did most of the crying. Only few held their emotions and managed to mumble whatever to them. It was so huge a ball of darkness and gloom that visitors just looked at their faces. None found the words of encouragement to drop for them. As groups came, they would look at the photos of the three wonderful children the flesh eaters in the sky bashed mercilessly on the tarmac of the airfield. They were gone and forever so, and they were all the children the family had.
When I read the story of the Aruas in Abuja who has this unusual odd bounty of sorrows, my mind went back to the Ilabors. Yes, it also raced back to Lisa - the crash site of Bellview airliner. There as a reporter again, I witnessed the largest congregation of sorrowing human beings. It was a scene you would never wish to see. Everywhere one turned at Lisa on the day of the funeral for the victims buried with the aircraft in the forests of Lisa, there were wailing and tears. It was a bad assignment just a little before that of Port Harcourt.
To make things really so bad, not counting the cost of the blast in Abuja to individuals, the politics rising from the smoke run to fever pitch. From the first response to the last, I never read or heard anyone who mentioned that his mind went out to the victims and their immediate loved ones. They reduced that incident to vague political capital just good for stunts and grandstanding in foolishness. The politicking heartless Nigerians have shown how they feel for the nation and its good. What they saw in the act was politics and not that human beings who stand for the joy of other Nigerians have been killed. They never asked how these common victims from the common stock of the citizenry who became the takers of the terror are involved in the politics they target. No Nigerian needs to be told that Donatus Arua, his wife and four dead sons have nothing to do with the PDP and its zoning tussle or the weird quest of some to be whatever they want to be.
The first person to react to the bombing incident was the IBB campaign team for their paymaster. Kazeem Afegbua who has decided to become an irritant of sorts never balked from the enormity and callousness of his comment that: 'We believe in the ability of our presidential aspirant, General Ibrahim Babangida to offer experienced leadership if given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of this nation.' That was the condolences of a reasonable human being to the victims and their families and they want to make us believe they have the mind to be kind to Nigeria and Nigerians while in power.
I had thought these campaigners would urge their masters to visit the victims, offer words of kindness and sympathy to them for the losses, and I heard none. At a point I wanted to conclude it might be against the spirit of political aspiration to empathize with these victims until I saw and read that Nuhu Ribadu visited the victims in hospital. I reasoned, so it is not against the rule for the aspirants who say they want to rule us. As these super experienced men who refuse to shed their old toga go on campaigning with this calamity of terrorism, I never heard of any condolence message from Udenta Udenta for Bukola Saraki, Ben Obi for Aliyu Gusau, the Atiku camp or any other person for these affected persons. If it was an omission initially, maybe they would have woken up to the right thing 17 days after. But they never did. It taught me that those that had stoked callousness as culture all their lives can never run bereft of it overnight not minding how much they pretend.
I have listened and never heard how Jonathan, our president, announced what palliative the family of victims would get. He only mentioned medical attention for the wounded. The family of Chike Cosmas Ehirim, Business Manager of Sovereign Trust Insurance in Abuja who also died of the blast has swallowed their bitter pill and buried their son like the Aruas. Those that lost the SSS assistant director, the EFCC operative and the NAN official in the blast and many others have to wipe their tears and take the preachment of being patriotic Nigerians.
After a thought on this penchant for indifference, I wonder how good the intentions of these men who want to rule us are. And ironically, you hear the same people preach to you to love Nigeria and be patriotic. How could these direct victims including those killed by agents of state in the past just buy patriotism from a shop and hurl it at Nigeria? Is love for fatherland not cultivated like a plant?
You might also have watched the rescue of trapped Chilean miners who had been underground for 69 days as at Wednesday when they started surfacing. Even the president of Chile spent a whole day there. Can you ever imagine that happening in Nigeria?
Those rescued miners, a class of people we would call common menial labourers in Nigeria and wish their fate away, after counting the efforts of the government and the whole people to show them that they are valued would ever live and die for Chile. Their families have been given enough tonic to believe in their country and give their best for it. The government went out of its way to find experts and equipment to make sure those men were not left to die. Yet, we have not heard they were mining for the government. That is the way to sow patriotism and leadership and reap obedience and followership by the people.
If that happened in Nigeria, oh, forget it, all government jobbers, political loud mouths and noisemakers will latch onto to it and insult us further.
Citizen Arua bears his burden unaided and that is how we all do with a heartless clan leading us.