By Dickson Okafor
Festus Mbisiogu, CEO, Blue Diamond Logistics, China, has condemned last Sunday’s shooting of worshippers during morning mass at St. Philip Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State by gunmen.
The business man, who was recently appointed Coordinator of Guangzhou Province of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization (NIDO) by the Federal government, also spoke on the need to sensitize other Nigerians, intending to travel abroad.
How would you react to the recent massacre of worshippers at St. Philip Catholic Church Ozubulu, Anambra State by gunmen?
It is painful that the incident took place in the house of God, a place of worship and no reason should justify such a dastardly act in a place of worship. It was alleged that the killing was as a result of drug war between groups from Ozubulu community resident in South Africa. Whatever the problem, the house of God should not be turned into a battle field. Sadly, innocent people mostly women and children who had gone to worship God on that Sunday morning were killed. The church is a place of prayer, where people go to ask God for forgiveness and direction. So, I condemn the act. However, such thing has never happened in Igbo land before. Our people are known as religious people that worship and reverence God with their heart even though we can’t claim to be righteous yet. But I doubt if a true Igbo man or woman will take up arms and go into the church and shoot innocent worshippers.
Could it truly be attributed to drug war between indigenes of the state living in South Africa?
This allegation has not been substantiated hence it is an embarrassment to Nigerians in Diaspora as many are beginning to perceive those of us living and doing business overseas as drug barons. I want to correct this impression by saying that most of us in the Diaspora are engaged in legitimate means of livelihood. Nigerians anywhere in the world are the best in their chosen career and are genuinely engaged. So, only a few are into illicit trade or narcotic business. However, what happened in St. Philip Catholic Church, Ozubulu is man’s inhumanity to man and I’m sure that the perpetrators will never go unpunished. I can’t understand what will make drug barons want to settle their dispute in the church? Why would they kill worshippers over the dispute? Drug dealers all over the world know themselves and how to locate themselves or where and how to settle their dispute. Why attacking innocent people who knew nothing about the transactions? This act must be condemned by all who have conscience because it is barbaric. So, until the police complete their investigation, I cannot say if the killing was as a result of drug war or not.
What would you say is responsible for the rising tension in the land?
In the case of the massacre in the Church, many said it was the handiwork of Fulani herdsmen. I won’t subscribe to that because according to Governor Willie Obiano, it was as result of drug war which he said has been on for a long time. To me, no matter who is responsible, the battle field shouldn’t have being in the house of God. On tension in the land, this can be attributed to increasing rate of unemployment in the country. Majority of our youths have no jobs, hence the desperation for survival. The idle mind is the devil’s workshop and that is why we have been advocating for a conducive environment for businesses to thrive so that youths can be gainfully employed.
And there cannot be a conducive environment for business to thrive without steady power supply. Therefore, I want to once again urge the federal and state governments to revitalize the power sector. I have also enumerated the benefits of uninterrupted power supply in a growing economy like ours and its multiplier effects. For instance, if there are industrial parks in the South-East that can employ a good number of youths, it will be difficult for young people to think of engaging in vices.
You said in one of your interviews that over 2000 Nigerians are in the prison in Guangzhou Province alone, why do Nigerians in Asia engage in illegal businesses knowing the consequence if they are caught?
Six months ago there was a town hall meeting in China where I tried to discourage Nigerians to desist from engaging in illicit trade because the trade is on the high side. Yes, over 2000 Nigerians are precisely in Guangzhou province alone not to talk of other provinces. And they are giving those of us doing genuine businesses bad name. So, the Union is doing everything possible to sensitize our people. Also, government especially, state governors mostly from the South-East can organize town hall meeting to sensitize those traveling abroad. I’m planning to organize a seminar in Nigeria and I intend to have discussions with market leaders in Alaba International, Trade Fair, Lagos Island and Onitsha to find a way to convey this message that China and Asia are not safe place where you go to do drug business and go free. We must let them know that statistics have shown that over 10, 000 Nigerians are languishing in various jails all over Asia, even though the media has been talking about China alone. But if you put together those in Singapore, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirate, you will arrive at the figure. And the only way government can help prevent her citizens from engaging in narcotic trade is to organize sensitization programmes through the media especially the radio.
Parents must ask what kind of business their children who travel abroad are into. The essence of the sensitization is for parents to investigate any person who wants their children to join them overseas and find out if the person’s means of livelihood is genuine before releasing their wards. By so doing, parents will help in reducing the number of people who indulge in illegal trade. Majority of those caught are ignorant of what they are asked to do by their masters. Some are handed parcel s by the masters to deliver to somebody they do not know and in the process they may be caught. I expect South-East governors to initiate a massive campaign against involvement of youths in drug business.