“CNN initially reported that about 23 persons had been confirmed dead … but the reality is that the actual number of casualties far exceeds that number. Reuters quoted eye witnesses to the effect that more than 100 persons were killed. It is a sad commentary that Dr. Uwah and the Awka Ibom State government have exuded contempt towards the public, the families, and relatives of those who lost lives.” -Inibehe Effiong, Convener, Coalition of Human Rights Defenders.
At the end of the Second World War in 1945, Generalissimo Chaing Kai- Chek was on the victory podium of the Allied Forces. However, the Chinese government under the myopic General gradually descended into corruption and his tottering charge sparked off the Mao Tse Tung Revolution of 1949. That uprising was more than the torture of the thousand miles trek from the city to the faithful mountains of deep introspections. Away from it all, the leaders of that violent struggle were confronted with the immediate need of providing enough space and breathing air for their national exploding population of billions of scraggy peasants. Chairman Mao and the subsequent Chinese leaders, more than any other national inclinations, were deeply obsessed with the dream of catapulting that bulging population organising a selfless government, to challenge the Western domination of the world. From those detached mountain tops, the Revolutionaries resolved and worked on a deadline to overtake the rest of the world and crown China the premier power of the twenty first Century.
Inevitably, China closed her borders and practically looked inside. To this day, the Chinese government leaders and those in opposition in both state and the centre do not engage in frivolities. They are rarely seen in public. It is not in their protocol to participate in extravagances. Understandably, most the upward moving nations of the far East; Japan, the Koreas, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia like the Chinese work more hours for their people than most African governments.
The people of India few years ago was like Nigeria hit by recession, with immediate effect the prime minister cut down on all government perks enjoyed by its top serving officials. The prime minister would no longer fly first class and all the members of his cabinet and the governors took to his example and were flying the ‘people’s class” In his own words the prime minister said he was able to interact with his people regularly and the government was able to perform ‘as we were able to take and feel the people’.
At a recent anti-genocide conferences held at the Legon University, Ghana, I was picked from the airport to the university by a friend of mine, who was a minister in the last government. The gentleman, who drove himself to the airport on a yellow Zephr sedan was stunned by my coldness. “Emmanuel, I am taking you to the hotel. Please, come in; we’ll have lunch on the way. After lunch, I will drop you off at the hotel and return to the office…” I was not moving. Something is not right. If he was not known to me before he was appointed, the Nigeriana in me would have advised, I run for my life! Otherwise where is his convoy and coterie of advisers and security. But, after that croaky voice called my name, “Okocha, please get in,” again, I woke up from my Nigerian dream. This is Ghana, not Nigeria.
In Nigeria my country, governors, ministers, senators run around the place, behind a killer convoy of black bullet-proof armored Jeeps. Depending on the nature of their programme or destination, this wicked convoy probably heading for a burial ceremony or wedding of a political associate or goon demands total possession of the highway. The frightened citizen, walking the road; the equally frightened and stressed citizen on the wheels, would do themselves good if they quickly evacuate the road before they have their torsos lacerated by the excited bulala-brandishing, police conductors.
Last weekend few days to Christmas, His Excellency was in a convoy and, like the Pharisees, decided to head to Apostle Akan Week’s Reigners Bible Church to openly worship. The Church Service was still on when, as in the story of Samson in the old Testament, the walls of the Temple came tumbling down! At the end of the Christmas debacle, His Excellency escaped and the Nigeria scurry image returned to the dark screen of the world camera. There were inconsiderate statements from the State House. The governor had ordered the arrest of the contractors of the Reigners Church. Consequently, Mr. Inibehe Efiong and his Human Rights are ashamed that the authorities are covering up and will not announce the real numbers on the casualty list.
A stone throw away from this Christmas Armageddon, a serving federal Minister of Transport had abandoned his primary brief, preferring to lead a bloody election campaign in the Rivers State. Against him on the other side of the red corner is the Kongi Wrestler Wike, another Governor of Rome. These gladiators are throwing flames and missiles and have forgotten that we are in a recession.
After the governorship election in Ondo, the naira nosedived. After the bloody mess in Rivers State in the name of elections and the bonuses paid to the election armed forces, the naira would be like the Zimbabwean shillings. You need like a million of it to purchase a loaf of bread.
Folks, the system is heading to the precipice if we cannot reign in these Governors of Rome. Inside their palatial Government Houses, they have built churches and mosques. Why wouldn’t they for once stay in one place and worship in those chapels? Why would they not mind their state businesses and stop perambulating all over the country, pretending to troubleshoot crises and conflicts beyond their constitutional powers? Instead of running around, charging the tracks, spewing death all over the place, Your Excellencies should find time this recession period and read some of the world classic biographies. Fidel Castro, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles De Gaulle… A King Without A Crown, JFK… The Last Days of the Camelot.