The new year has begun on a note of hate. Rivers State fired the first salvo. A section of its bitter citizenry chose a most inauspicious date to demonstrate its hate and disdain for the rest of the people. Ordinarily, New Year day is held sacrosanct by those who harbour the fear of God in them. It is the day they give reverence to God for his grace upon their lives. They thank, praise and worship him while hoping for a better year. But it was not so for the purveyors of hate in Rivers. The new year filled them with anger and disdain. They were full of gall. And they demonstrated this by descending on worshippers who had spent New Year’s Eve in church, worshipping and praising God. They opened fire on the defenceless worshippers, mowing down many. The victims were returning from a crossover night full of hope and expectation. They had gone to make a pact with God. Little did they know that they were on a misadventure. A death dash. Governor Nyesom Wike was obviously disturbed when he visited Omoku, where the mayhem took place. The murderers have pulled the carpet from under his feet. He did not bargain for what he got. Enemies of the people are on the prowl. The governor needs to gird his loins properly before they take the wind out of his sails. He has a lot of work to do to nail the purveyors of hate. Unfortunately, his woes are being compounded by his detractors. He has been accused of not doing much to secure life and property in the state. The governor is on edge. Agents of hate have made him so. This is clearly a worrisome way to begin a brand new year.
But Rivers State is not alone in this tale of woe. The blood of the innocent is also flowing freely in Benue State. Evil men went on rampage in Benue the same day. The people, like their counterparts in Rivers, had just embraced the new year with renewed hope in God and expectation of better days ahead. But while they were in this ecstatic mood, opposite men who have been choked with hate were hatching a plot. They had planned to use this special day to tell Governor Samuel Ortom how much they hate him and the people of the state. The blood-suckers stormed parts of the state, killing over 20 people in one fell swoop. This has thrown the state into mourning. Ortom is scandalised by what has taken place. A few months ago, he took a bold step by signing into law the bill banning open grazing in Benue State. By this development, it would appear that those who were not receptive of the move are on a revenge mission. They want to tell Ortom and the people of Benue State that they have murdered sleep. They want to ensure that Benue remains volatile. Governor Ortom is asking why. He is accusing security agencies of complicity in the hateful drama. The killers, according to Ortom, infiltrated Benue through the numerous checkpoints on the highway from a neighbouring state. They were not intercepted. The governor is alleging high level connivance. The Benue scenario reminds us of the Nimbo mayhem in Enugu State. Those who sacked an entire community in Enugu passed through Benue State. They were aided and abetted by security operatives. They gave them free access. Enugu suffered from it. Now it is the turn of Benue. The hateful cycle goes on.
The hate we have on our hands now appears ingrained. No one is ready to sympathise with anyone. Benue cannot sympathise with Rivers and vice versa. The two governors are at daggers drawn. They once traded hate speeches. Their misfortune is that of “every man to his tent.” There is no word of sympathy or commiseration coming from anywhere.
While all this was going on, President Muhammadu Buhari stepped forward with his New Year message. He was supposed to give Nigerians hope. He was supposed to give them something to look forward to. But the people are disappointed. The President has not connected with them. He is insisting on carrying out a narrow, selfish and self-serving agenda. Like before, he has again refused to give the people what they want. He has continued to resist the call for the restructuring of the country. The President’s disposition in this matter is part of the problem of this country. His resistance to the popular demand is fueling tension. It is promoting hate and resentment. The President is being accused of insisting on the old order for the simple reason that it favours his Fulani stock. Benue or Enugu or any other part of the country would have been saved the tragedy that befell them if the structure of our federation were not what it is. The President’s obstinacy is unbecoming of a leader who rode to power on the wings of populism.
And in the face of all this, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka of Adoration Ministries Enugu has stepped in. He has mocked President Buhari openly. Like he did with Jonathan, Mbaka has asked Buhari to drop his second term bid. He has said that the quest will end in disaster and disgrace for Buhari. He wants the President to change or be changed.
I do not know what drives Mbaka. I do not know whether God truly speaks to him or whether he merely relies on the mood of the people to make his prophesies. But whatever Mbaka says or does not say is hardly the crux of the matter. What we cannot run away from is that Nigeria is descending into the abyss. Governance has taken flight. The people are freely engaging in self-help. They are angry with one another. They have gone bestial. Man’s innate depravity is rearing its ugly head. Many have gone fully animalistic. There is no respect for human life anymore. The country is going through a dangerous slide. Yet the leadership looks on morosely. In the absence of an arrowhead, the people have chosen to take the law into their hands.
Who then will bell the cat? Certainly, Buhari has done his level best. He has been in the saddle for close to three years. But there is a consensus of opinion that the change he promised is a mere slogan. It has not translated into real action. While some may still be hoping that Buhari will improve, practical-minded people have since given up on him. They know that he lacks the capacity for proper governance. That is why his government is always overwhelmed with confusion. For weeks now, Nigerians have been buying a litre of petrol for N250. This was a product they were buying for N87 a litre before Buhari stepped in. What is very telling about the present situation is that government does not know what to do. It has been running from pillar to post without finding a solution to the energy crisis. This is a government formed by an opposition party that claimed that it had all the answers to all our questions. Yet, it cannot tackle the most basic of those questions. The failure of the Buhari government is unspeakable. It is crying to high heavens for redress. Since there is no one to lead the people aright, everyone is creating his own system. It is the myriad of systems that we have before us that is responsible for all the wild push and shove. Everybody is trying to find accommodation within the polluted set-up. This has resulted in the hate that has taken over the land. Someone has to save Nigeria from itself.
Pix: Nyesom Wike
“Since there is no one to lead the people aright, everyone is creating his own system. It is the myriad of systems that we have before us that is responsible for all the wild push and shove. Everybody is trying to find accommodation within the polluted set-up. This has resulted in the hate that has taken over the land.”