IGBOLAND-AN ETERNAL TRIP TO GOLGOTHA


Golgotha, that rocky place where unfortunate folks of the Bible era were put to death continues to come to mind whenever I ponder on the decay of infrastructure in the entire South East of Nigeria. According to the Biblical account of the death of Jesus the Christ, the road to Golgotha was rough, rocky and treacherous. Thousands of years later, this is the situation in the modern day Igboland; roads still remain treacherous and those that are forced to ply them die rather horribly.

For the purpose of this essay, I wish to reiterate that the Governors of the five South East states past and present should be filled with shame for allowing the entire road networks in that region to get to its present horrible condition. This is a classic example of the failure of leadership and these men ought to be filled with shame and contrition-they should find it in themselves to have the moral strength to come out openly to tender a heart-felt apology to Ndi Igbo. All the entry points into Igboland remain a good depiction of a trip into the Hobbesian state of nature; gully-filled roads that destroy both the vehicles that ply them and the human cargo they are ferrying around. Tell me what else could be more horrible.

Amongst others, of particular interest to me are the death traps of Enugu-Onitsha “expressway”, Onitsha-Owerri road and the Uga-Okigwe road. For those who dare ply these roads, books could be   written thereafter on the limits of human endurance. Of course, they are all “federal roads” which successive governments of the Federal Republic have found rather too convenient to play politics with-the result is that lives are daily lost, goods worth millions of Naira destroyed, human minds wrecked while the government talks such senseless trash as “the dividends of democracy”. The governors of the five South East states continue to blame the federal government for either failing to fix the roads or providing meager funds- this is all nonsense when one is confronted with the fact that the lives that are lost, the limbs that are maimed, the sanity that is lost, and the goods damaged are mainly of their people. Will the heavens come down on us if these Governors pull resources together to fix the roads in Igboland and present the bill to the federal government?

Of course, it is no longer news that our Governors moan so much about receiving so little from the Center in allocations but we all know that this is hot air. I still find it exceptionally difficult trying to understand what it feels like for those that swore to serve the people to turn around and lie to same people. I say this because all the past Governors of the five South East states were men of moderate financial muscle but became curiously wealthy at the end of their tenures; Orji Uzor Kalu, Chimaroke Nnamani, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Sam Egwu , Achike Udenwa and Ikedi Ohakim. Tell me any of these men that have not being dragged to the EFCC for allegedly embezzling billons of Naira of public money. A solid evidence that exposes our Governors as a bunch of men afflicted with the worst type of insincerity is the recent report by The Punch newspapers [Saturday, July 16th] of how state Governors conceal Security Votes. The gist on Security Vote will be for another day, but mention must be made that this is a classic example of how our elected officials rob us all blind. Many thanks to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State for daring to give us a fair figure of how much Governors receive as Security Vote monthly with his decision to use a staggering part of his allocation to fund free education in his state-this is quite commendable.

Interestingly, Anambra State appears to have the worst network of federal roads in the entire South East region of Nigeria-curiously, the state Governor Mr. Peter Obi goes to a great extent to conceal how much he pockets monthly as Security Vote. Two federal roads that ought to put Mr. Obi and all the past Governors of Anambra State to shame are the Onitsha-Awka “expressway” and the Onitsha-Awka old road; these roads have totally collapsed and a comical display of repair works remain what one see. To allow our two major roads to revert to tractor-paths while erecting huge billboards all across the state that insults us with the “achievements” of Mr. Obi’s administration is shameful. What is that nonsense about delivering the dividends of democracy [I still don’t know what dividends of democracy means] when your citizens can not safely move about because the roads they are forced to ply are practically washed out?

The much talked about egalitarian and enterprising nature of the Igbo folks remain tainted when one is confronted with the level of infrastructural decay in the states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. It is true that these states have so many money bags whose lucre is actively displayed in the mansions they build-but made nonsense by the fact that roads that lead to the various communities where such mansions are built remain either filled with gullies or not tarred. Nnewi and Aba are two towns in Igboland that should put our Governors to shame-towns where commerce and industry thrive but remain undeveloped. The only known enterprise that compete with the ingenuity of the Igbos in these towns are kidnapping and armed robbery; crimes which have caused so much human and economic flight in those states. While the Security Votes collected by our Governors appear not to be providing security for our people, one is compelled to observe that the Governors build business empires that wax stronger by the day.

Apart from Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State who is a new kid on the block, I wish to state without mincing words that the Governors we have in Igboland are mostly men who are incredibly clueless. It is a terrible assault on reason when these men make so much noise about “building roads, sinking of shallow boreholes, and building of health centers” and all other similar uninspiring projects; pray, why else do we have governments if not to provide for the good of our society? Why buy up spaces in newspapers to celebrate the completion of “1.2 kilometer road”, and similar projects? Is this what we should be talking about in this 21st century? Point to one exceptional project embarked on by any state in the South East, show me that exceptional deed by any state Governor in Igboland [apart from the free education policy in Imo State] which celebrate the beauty of modern government, could someone please show me where in Igboland government has done something that will promote education, industry, good healthcare etc. It is really depressing that instead of building libraries, Anambra and Enugu states concentrate more on building “International Markets” which further encourage our males to scoff at going to school. Enugu State government committed the greatest blunder by selling off the once beautiful Polo Park where a shopping complex is now being built-this is the height of gaffe.

Now, we might resort to waiting for the spirits of those who have lost their lives plying the death traps sinfully called roads in the South East to come back from the great divide to haunt our governments. We might also wait for God to intervene on our behalf since these Governors all swore in His name to work for us-in which case we might all die waiting. It is clear to me that God does not kill those who take our money and give us mediocre services. However, I am compelled to subscribe to an earlier suggestion by Dr. Nkwo Nnabuchi to the effect that our elected officials take their oath of office with Alusi. In Igboland, Alusi kills those that swear falsely. Nothing could be more deterring, to say the least. Alternatively, we could all embrace the habit of demanding for proper service from our elected officials; in a true democracy, real power belongs to the people. Our Governors who begged for our votes owe us quality service and the sooner we start insisting that they deliver on their promises, the better for us. Until we imbibe this culture, our roads in Igboland we remain death traps while the Federal Government dithers-and our Governors continue with the lie that “there is no money”.

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BOKO HARAM-GOD ON OUR SIDE


Boko Haram, that apparently bigoted sect in the North of Nigeria has further vindicated my earlier position that the most dangerous primate is one who goes to “war” believing that God is on his side. From the horrible stories recorded in both the Quran and the Bible, human beings have a long but demented history of murdering each other while clutching to a stupid and unshakable believe that their deity so commanded. This is shameful.

Rather than join the litany of voices [especially from the South of Nigeria] that condemn the bigoted “Islamic” group based in Maiduguri, I wish to take a different route. Having pondered over this evil scenario for quite some time now, I have come to a conclusion which is almost religious in nature; Boko Haram is the brain child of the Northern elites which is as a result of their orchestrated negligence to pull that region away from the shackles of ignorance, poverty and disease. Military men of Northern origin that usurped power in the past made nonsense of tackling the vices listed here while in office; this to me might one day be viewed as a sin by the bomb-throwing bigots roaming the dirty streets of Maiduguri, Bauchi and similar places. The last time I checked, the only thing that continues to peak in the North of Nigeria remains the number of folks who can recite the Quran; this is in place of giving proper education to the millions of children who have been forced by their society to assume that wretched garb and gait of an Almajeri. This is evil.

I am particularly miffed by the stone silence of all the past military adventurers of Northern origin in the face of the murderous and deranged escapades of their brothers of the Boko Haram sect. The little we hear is a tongue-in-cheek crap of asking the “warring” fanatics to sheath their swords and embrace peace. Mention must be made of my shock in hearing the CBN Governor‘s hypocrisy in asking his Muslim brothers not to engage Christians in “any argument”! This is nonsense and a failure by that erudite Islamic scholar to join the beautiful voices that condemn Boko Haram as a group of demented hooligans who’s every action must be condemned openly by every individual. I make bold to say once again that the system of governance and leadership obtainable in the North of Nigeria remain the number one culprit in this bomb-throwing madness. All across the North, one is daily assaulted by the level of institutionalized poverty, ignorance and a well oiled system that produces illiterates whose only claim to “enlightenment” is their ability to recite the Quran, and a high-wired readiness to join any mob that wants to burn down a church, or kill a Youth Corper.

All the so called leaders of Northern origin should show some shame and contrition; they should come out openly to apologize to their people for having short-changed them thus. Where are the Buharis, the Babangidas, the Abdusalamis, and all the top brass ex-military men that once held this country down by their misadventure into power? What will be that tangible shift in world-view and mind frame which these men will claim to have brought about in their region? While they live in opulence and struts about in private jets and snow-white agbadas, millions of their brothers and sisters remain in that social strata that represents the worst human condition any decent mind can fathom. Go ye to the North of Nigeria and you will be shocked at what you will discover- a people that are still so backwards in thinking, a people that die of very avoidable disease, a people forced to embrace ignorance because of the absence of schools, a people that know practically nothing about Nigeria, their country of birth. This is why you see a Governor Kwankwaso spread the evil lie that vaccinations for polio were meant to be used to spread other evil designs by white people [he later denied this with a different version]. Have anyone out there bothered to find out why even though that the official government census records maintain that the North remains more populous, [I don’t believe this though] that region remains at the top of the list of places where children do not go to school?

Boko Haram? Well, a society that breeds children who are taught right from childhood to abhor enlightenment remains a budding field for angry young men and women. The comedy in the sinful demand of this sect turns into agony and anguish when one daily sees the seriousness with which they vent their bigotry. Though I blame religion for giving us this murderous charlatans, I really do not lay any blame on members of Boko Haram who appears to be genuinely convinced that there awaits them in some heaven a harem of beauties who must be virgins. Now, it is only religion that can make otherwise sane minds to commit atrocities that will shock even the worst of us primates; there is no way anyone can convince these folks that murdering fellow human beings who embrace different cultures and life-styles in order to land in heaven to romp 72 virgins is wrong. Religious convictions remain one that is extremely too difficult to shake off-this is what we have in Boko Haram today. Why would anyone wake up in this jet-age to insist that “Western education is evil”? Who would have thought up this huge joke except somebody whose mind was corrupted from childhood with stories of wars, jihads and all that blood-letting? Do you now see why the Northern Muslim elites will never come out to condemn Boko Haram, rather they compare them to the Niger Delta militants!

I find it too perplexing that the Nigerian government appears to be talking of granting amnesty to members of Boko Haram. How can you slip in amnesty to a group of young men who are well looking forward to dying as martyrs? The agitation of Boko Haram makes theirs a very complex fight anyone can imagine, I for once do not understand what their fight is all about. Western education is haram? Really? Well, it has been alleged that this sect sends out emails to claim responsibilities for the bombs exploding all across the North, they wield AK47s, they detonate bombs, and sundry warped actions-all products of Western education. Now, I will start taking this guys serious the moment they resort to donkeys and camels, writing on papyrus[instead of emails], using bows and arrows to engage our security forces, etc. only then will I sit down to say that well, they may have a point or two and accede that they can look forward to their 72 virgins.

However, I remain resolute in my condemnation of the leadership of the North who contributed to this nonsense by under-developing their region. My spirit bleeds at the sad situations which children are forced to exist in the North, it is immoral and shameful for state governments in that region to continue to allow this. I will not end this piece without making mention of that demented charlatan who has found refuge in the National Assembly- Senator Sani Yerima. This man it was who contributed immensely to this Boko Haram upsurge when he sensationalized his Sharia; a set of laws that promotes more division amongst us rather than unite us. Now, it is Boko Haram-say no to Western education and cling unto ignorance for after all, God is on our side. Ah! 72 virgins!

PETER OBI-AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE


Nothing is as unappealing and bone-jarring as being introduced to a situation that leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth-the suddenness of a situation expected to be pleasant becoming the opposite sums my depiction of Mr. Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra State. This man has become an unpleasant surprise.

I stand here to raise my voice in condemnation at the charlatan and uninspiring government that Mr. Obi is running in my home state-because I am a “stakeholder” in this enterprise called Anambra State. I voted for Mr. Obi during his first coming because I was pleasantly seduced by his campaign promises and style. He promised to bring about a different type of government that would change the face and mind of Anambra for good; he made so many captivating promises. His most captivating line was “are we the cause or are we cursed”? I was particularly impressed by the way he churned out his campaign strategies and manifesto and I thus voted accordingly. Years later, I wish to own up to the fact that I genuinely believe that Mr. Obi is far from being a “performing governor”.

The hypocrisy, the propaganda and wicked lies that the government uses in its bid to deceive us enrages me; It is quite cheeky for Mr. Obi to use spin to gloss over his apparent lackluster performance in Anambra state. Billboards proclaiming the magic wand of Mr. Obi litters all over the state; I find it a practical joke in bad taste for the Government of Anambra State to gloat about taking education to the next level. This is pure nonsense. Education in my home state is literally crumbling at an alarming rate and all the government is keen on is hype. Now, it is true that the state government donated buses to some secondary schools in Anambra State; it is equally true that computer sets were given to schools too, but I dare say that this was purely an avenue to enrich a few folks by settling them with those contracts. Of what use is a computer set to a school that has no electricity to power it? Who thought up this stupid idea? Mr. Obi lives in my town, Amawbia but choose rather callously to kill secondary education in that town. For a governor that allowed Boys’ High School Amawbia to decay and fizzle away into nothingness to come out and lie to Ndi Anambra about doing so much in revamping education is unacceptable.

Now, paid megalomaniacs like Val Obienyem will come up to accuse people like me that dare criticize Mr. Peter Obi as being “disgruntled elements”-I can live with that. I am really disgruntled and will not stop moaning and challenging the government of Mr. Obi to rise up to the occasion and give us Ndi Anambra real value for our money. I attended Boys’ High School, Amawbia and remain a proud old boy of that once great college-the school which is within a stone throw of Mr. Obi’s Governor’s Lodge remains an eye sore. I have pictures to back this up as I am sure the state government might want to deny this. The buildings have no roof, all the classes were without windows, no toilet facility for the staff and students, no electricity [the computer donated to the school is kept elsewhere outside the school because there is no electricity to power it]; in short the school looked more like an abandoned zoo! This is the same story all over the state! The government lies about improving education whereas the reverse is the case! It is unbelievable the level of apathy and neglect in government owned schools in Anambra state; the state that once boasted of producing so many educated minds now boasts of having more “international markets” than schools. Little wonder private investors are cashing in on this anathema by building private schools and ripping parents off.

Are we really cursed or are we the cause? Anambra citizens had so much faith in Mr. Obi when he came out to be elected governor the first time; he presented a fresh face and a total departure from the regulars, above all, he was of a party [APGA] that appeared to hold so much promise for the Igbo person. For a Governor that enjoyed so much goodwill to trample on the very plinth upon which he stood tall strikes me as the height of wickedness. I am talking about the decision of Governor Peter Obi and his handlers to ignore the cries of Judiciary workers in the state; I am troubled that hospitals remain closed in the state too. Judiciary workers have been on strike in Anambra State since February this year, and the Government seems not to be bothered that breadwinners and their dependants are having a rough time-this is the same Judiciary that Mr. Obi ran to when he felt short-changed. There is something worrying about the government of Mr. Obi; it appears to be averse to dialogue and reason. The governor carries with him a deluded sense of “I am the Messiah” and treats others with contempt-it is appalling how he goes about screaming that he runs his government without owning anybody. This may sound good but what good is money when it does not create value? He seems obsessed with money! I sincerely believe that it is immoral for Mr. Obi to run a government that sees civil servants going on strike for such a long period of time. From lecturers in Anambra State University, to medical doctors and Judiciary workers; this is so very wrong and sad.

The joke usually is on the government of Anambra state when it comes out to tell otherwise intelligent people that things are rosy in the state. Selling self-congratulatory stories to media houses, insulting the people with hundreds of bill boards praising the governor and employing empty barrels as otimkpus will not erase the fact that Anambra state is not getting the dividends of democracy Peter Obi promised. There is no functional government water scheme in the state [except the Okika water scheme that serves only the Governor’s Lodge in Amawbia]-this is in the 21st century! Anambrarians now sink boreholes for themselves, even the government encourages this madness by sinking boreholes in some communities; boreholes that dry up after being commissioned [the one in my town dried up and remains so], this is really sad.

However, it will be uncharitable of me to ignore the numerous good works which the Peter Obi administration has recorded since it came on board-roads, a new hospital in Awka, a government secretariat and too much talk about saving money. It is with every sense of seriousness and a joyful scoff that I refuse to be impressed, it makes mockery of reason for a government to praise itself for attempting to do what it was elected in the first instance to do! Hypocrisy is really at the pinnacle of government affairs in Anambra-I make bold to say that this governor is busy feathering his own nest while refusing to pay civil servants their just wages-this is immoral. All across Anambra state, there is a tangible feeling of scorn and disdain for this government. People that once stood for and supported Mr. Obi have deserted him in droves [they are still doing so], and instead of this man to see this as a pointer to the fact that all is not well with his style of governance and performance, he turns around to circulate the perverted lies that the people despise him because he does not “share money”. Sterling qualities do not hide; hence it will be logically incorrect for Mr. Obi to argue that “the Anambra elites do not like me because I do not share money”.

For some strange reasons, Anambra state remains one state that appears to be averse to any substantial infrastructural development. The three major towns [they are not cities] of Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi are still struggling with heaps of rubbish and human wastes, darkness envelopes these towns every night because the streets do not have street lights, the Anambra State Water Corporation remains dead after so many years, hence no water supply scheme, roads and streets are as filthy as they come. I challenge the government of Mr. Obi to tell Ndi Anambra what his government has done to improve the lots of those living in the three towns mentioned here-the governor’s lodge is in my town but this government has refused to tar one road in that community. I am really worried that Mr. Obi is running my home state with a typical Igbo trader mentality-one that sees everything through the lens of how much he has stashed in the bank! There is one huge difference between being able to manage a private business successfully and running the affairs of the state brilliantly.

It would be wrong of me too expect so much from Mr. Obi’s government which finally mirrors the larger Nigerian affair, except that he is the governor of my state and I will not hesitate to scream when I suspect fraud. I did challenge Mr. Obi in an earlier essay to tell us how much he takes home as ‘Security vote” from the Federal government every month- I am still waiting to hear from the state government. However, with the provision of Freedom of Information Bill, I will insist that he comes up with this information. I will also insist that his government reveals to us ndi Anambra how much the state generates internally monthly. I will not be sold the lie that the state government is unable to do more noble works for the people because it receives so little from the Federal government in allocation. This is nonsense and must be repudiated by well-thinking people. We must insist on being carried along by government rather than being lied to; why is Mr. Obi carrying on as the only man with workable ideas while making mockery of advisers and their advice?

Anambra state, is “the light of the nation”? The metaphor at play in this slogan strikes me as an attempt at dry humour-not funny. The light diminished significantly when the government allowed kidnappers, armed robbers and similar misfits to establish a thriving empire in the state. There is no such thing as a visible job creating scheme by the government of Mr. Obi, sports which the state used to be well known for is practically dead-there is no sports stadium in Awka, the state capital! In the absence of jobs, education and sports facilities to keep the youth occupied, in the presence of a warped and morally dead value system epitomized in a frenzied lust for lucre, a resort to crime becomes alluring. If this is the light the government of Anambra is talking about, I will be forced to nod in agreement. We can lie to the people all we can, we can mount so many bill boards proclaiming the genius that is Mr. Obi’s statesmanship, we can invite all the editors of major media houses in Lagos for a chat with a view to encouraging them to write reviews that celebrate the governor’s ‘achievements”, what we cannot hide is the fact that people are scared of coming to Anambra state. The fear of kidnappers and armed robbers remain astute! This is situation we have in Anambra state.

Summarily, Mr. Peter Obi remains one governor that was elected by the people and so much was expected from him. This is because he came at a time when there was so much misery in the land; he brought a different package that promised to run a government that will be for the good of the people, he promised to transform the state into a beautiful place with education, infrastructure, security etc being top-notch. Today, I beg to disagree; Mr. Obi is apparently running Anambra state the way a typical Onitsha trader runs his business-no input from anybody, I know it all. This is disgraceful and there come the unpleasantness of this surprise.