By Sunny Igboanugo
The men made their campbeds in the large community football field, a substantial part that had been converted to an emergency farm. They spread their mats, tarpaulins, clothes or any other sorts of sleeping materials. That is where they would sleep till the next morning. The women and children had taken the various classrooms in the only primary school, carved them in small, tiny portions for each family. This had been the situation for the past years now. Suddenly, a shrill cry pierced the night. Everybody ran towards the direction and soon there was a commotion. The cry came from Agnes, the ravishingly beautiful lady, the most beautiful, sophisticated and educated at the camp, who had devoted her time and skill to teaching the children.
Now, what was the issue? Her most precious property had been stolen – her womanhood! How! Because of the peculiarity of the situation in the camp, everything had to be done in utmost secrecy including sex with her husband. This was what had been exploited. So, as she slept that night, a male hand had come for her laps. Without much ado, she parted them. For words were almost forbidden – not even whispers, lest those sleeping close by, in portions divided by as little as disused clothes or cartons, would be disturbed. It was not unusual that Goddy, would come for her as usual. And that was it. She had wondered at the size of her husband and even how fast he conducted the business, even though rapidity was part of every of such business in the circumstance. But even at that, she dared not ask any question, because nobody had ever contemplated that level of criminality.
Mr. Femi Adesina
But no sooner did the thief leave than the real owner of the property arrive. That was how the pot with which Nwa Mgbeke took her bath was broken! As the man made for his property, Agy, out of confusion and perhaps anger questioned him. “You’ve been here before, what is it again?” Goddy, who knew he had not been there that night was equally confused and promptly confronted the wife, who narrated the encounter. A quick touch, Goddy, felt the clammy and dampness of the wife, confirming her story. He quickly understood.
He wanted to manage it in secrecy. But Agy’s yell was impromptu. It was the product of the admixture of realisation and impact, which hit her like a thunderbolt. As the men and women, who gathered to hear the story began to disperse, each man in that camp became a suspect, each probing at the brother with corner-corner eyes.
Needless to say, that Agnes, completely lost herself in that gory episode. Now, this was a big promising bank worker in ACB before, who had everything going for her. Apart from the agony of leaving all the comfort of the city where she lived like a queen, just a few months earlier, to now share a tiny cubicle with people, having to deal with the heat and hunger, her most precious possession, her humanity had now disappeared – stolen by the devil. Who knows the scallywag that must have done this? WAR is an evil phenomenon!
I don’t know how this narrative of a real story resonates with Femi Adesina. But the essence of bringing it here, is to adumbrate on the impact of war, and the diversity of its effect, which I’m sure, he has not experienced, save for what he gets from the media, which to him, might be some fairy tales. My people say the corpse of a stranger being taken for burial usually appears like a log of wood, always.
Few days ago, the Presidential spokesman, was actually aghast at why Nigerians would leave what he believes are “the monumental achievements” emphasis mine, his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, has made in Nigeria and be dwelling on the issue of Fulani herdsmen. He fingers the elites for this faux pass.
In his latest attempt at selling Buhari, the modern-day Nero, who fiddled away while Rome burnt, entitled – President Buhari: The unheralded achievements, he tells once again some flowery stories of how the President is turning Nigerian into what the founding fathers like Nnamdi Zik, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Michael Opara, Dennis Osadebey could not even achieve in their dreams.
And what are these, if you might ask? First, he talks about how his master had brought back the budget circle of Nigeria to January-December – achievement number one. Then he laces it with number two – how the President, raised the budget performance of the Federal Government from, sometimes as low as 30 per cent to 97.7 – that is 2.3 per cent lower than 100 per cent. Hurray!
He moves from there to how the President has helped the states pay salaries, refunded more N700billion they spent on FG roads to them, gave out licenses for modular refineries, and then the clincher – INFRASTRUCTURE! Hear: “Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. AKK gas pipeline. All to be delivered before the administration exits in 2023. Second Bridge over River Niger, built with mouth for 16 years under the administration of another political party, is now about 50% completed.
“Lagos-Ibadan Expressway racing towards completion. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway being reconstructed. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed.for the first time in 40 years. Bonny-Bodo Bridge and road finally underway, more than four decades after it was conceived. Rail projects round the country. Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe already in operation, Lagos-Ibadan to be commissioned anytime soon, Ibadan to Kano under works, Kano to Maradi flagged off last week. Brand new airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano. Enugu has been rehabilitated. “Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) completed after decades of lack of will, the local content skyscraper dots the Bayelsa State skyline, the Nnamdi Azikiwe mausoleum completed in Anambra State after 22 years.” Phew!
He didn’t end there, but also spoke about how Buhari had virtually eradicated corruption. For this, the auditing of the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), arguably Nigeria’s cesspit of corruption and the Open Treasury Portal now publishes Federal Government expenditure online.
He also spoke of how Buhari enabled the thriving of private investment. These include Dangote Refinery, the largest single-train crude oil refinery in the world, Lekki Deep Sea Port, a brand-new port to serve as alternative to Apapa port and Dangote Fertilizer and Petrochemical plant.
There were also the Segilola Gold Project in Osun State, described as “Nigeria’s most advanced gold exploration and production project,” Nigeria’s first ever gold refineries under construction in Ogun State and FCT, Olam’s $150million investment in poultry feed mills, hatchery and breeder farms in Kaduna and Kwara States, commissioned in 2017, GB Foods 20 billion naira tomato paste factory in Kebbi, the $250 million brewery by International Breweries Plc, commissioned 2018 in Sagamu, Ogun State, said to be the biggest in West Africa, Indorama Fertilizer Plant Train 2, nearing completion in Port Harcourt, the NLNG Train 7, which will expand the company’s production capacity by more than 30 per cent and the agric investment that has hit a six-year high.
Of course, Ogbeni Femi Adesina, actually believes these are the “achievements” with which Nigerians would roll out the drums in celebration. Do you blame him? Did Rueben Abati, his predecessor in office, not warn Nigerians about a certain demon that dwells in Aso Rock Villa that afflicts the residents with all manner of calamities? Even as a self-acclaimed pastor, it is not expected that Femi would escape such a devastating phenomenon that we are told afflicts the body and the spirit as well. Else, how could anybody as endowed as him, believe that this should be elevated to the frontburner of national discourse, far and above the real threat of life and death, to which the citizens of Nigeria are being subjected daily, these past six years?
Holed up at the Villa with everything free, from food to toilet papers, he may be permitted to reel out these as the achievements Nigerians so hunger for at the moment. Let us even agree, though without conceding that such achievements are true, the way they have been presented, do they in any way come close to assuaging the immediate worries of Nigerians?
How, for instance does the question of re-jigging the budget circle equate to the astronomical rise in the prices of products in the market, for Mama Ejima and her husband in Onitsha or Iya Abeke in Abeokuta or Hajia Riskya in Sokoto? Better still, could Adesina, a widely travelled journalist, who, as the former Managing Director of The Sun, and former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), has since assumed the position of a world citizen, avail his compatriots knowledge of a second country that increased electricity tariffs and pump price of petrol as the first step to celebrate the waning of the COVID-19 outbreak? Nigeria is the only country out of the 178 nations of the world that did that. Let him contradict this fact.
Nigeria is the only country, where children were forced to play football with bread donated to them during the lockdown, to mock their wicked leaders, for having the presence of mind to send six loaves to an estate of more than 500 families. Nigeria was the only country in the world that locked up the palliatives in warehouses, whilst millions of people went hungry as was discovered during the #EndSARS protest. Nigeria was the only country, where a minister claimed to have distributed more than N2.6billion in just one day to the poorest of the poor without anybody coming out to bear witness. Nigeria is the only country in the world that spent N3.5trillion on such palliatives without a single person as witness. How else does a presidential spokesman tell lies? Not only that, but Nigeria also actually takes the trophy as the country that has brought out the most thoughtless and inhuman policies to punish its people even after the seeming substantial defeat of the scourge.
Okay! It may be argued that the US, which recently approved $2,000 check more than N700,000, up from the initial $600, or about N200,000, as relief for millions of the citizens to cushion the effect of the pandemic is the biggest economy in the world. But Ghana, our next door neighbour and poorer country, actually elected to pay electricity bills for its citizen amongst other palliatives within the same period. Not even Benin Republic or Togo or Zimbabwe or Haiti or the poorest of the poor countries of the world toed the step of Buhari’s Nigeria. And Femi is running his mouth!
Now, what it the worth of 100 per cent budget performance, which Femi celebrates and wants everybody to join, to a family of six, whose net income is less than N700,000, but has just received N35,000 bill from Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKDC), on the pain of disconnection or the car owner who now has to spend double his budget for fuel since the end of COVID-19? Yet, our man wants the nation to roll out the drums for his boss.
Again, let it be said that Nigerians are an ungrateful lot. But how close do the so-called achievements come to the devastation – wanton killings, raping of women, kidnapping and other atrocities being wrought on the nation by Fulani herdsmen, that Femi Adesina wants Nigerians to relegate to the background?
That Buhari, has made the Nigeria a living-hell for the citizens in the last six years, is no longer the issue, but the attempt to take away the only thing remaining, which is their life, is the essence of the din reverberating across the country at the moment. Nigerians simply want to live. They want to survive the Buhari Scourge, which is worse than Ebola and COVID-19 put together. Obviously, the combined effect of the Aso Rock demon, a la Abati, and too much comfort, has struck Femi with blurred vision to see what others see, but it doesn’t mean that the danger doesn’t exist.
He may further be excused of blame, because not being Fulani himself, which may deny him access to the inner fortress of the Villa as many others and thus, would not know of the real agenda, unlike his counterpart, Garba Shehu, but the fact remains that the real culprit of what he complains about is with him right there at the Villa. That culprit is President Muhammadu Buhari, who seems to have elevated the importance of cows over Nigerians. Simplicita!
Yes! Outside the fact that he is the President, on whose table the buck must stop, he is Fulani and the people killing Nigerians are his brothers. There is a local saying that the man whose name is being called by the villagers while pursuing a loose cow must either have a charm or a rope. It is either he uses the charm to pin the cow to a spot or throws the rope across its neck to restrain it.
Buhari has both the charm and the rope to restrain his rampaging Fulani brothers. All Nigerians are waiting to see from him is action! The fact that the echoes of discontent and manifest resistance is now stretching the fabrics of the Nigerian contraption to its full limits, is because the people had waited for this action for the past six years. Yes! From day one, Nigerians have cried out from Agatu in Benue to Jos in the Plateau, from Nimbo in Enugu to Ore in Ondo, up to Zamfara and even Buhari’s Katsina villages, about the atrocities of the Fulani, to no avail. Because it is only a tree that continues to stand at a place even at the threat of being cut down, Nigerians – the victims of this onslaught, have now decided to react.
This, as they say, is the koko of the matter. Nigerians are tired of being killed by the Fulani herdsmen. They are now willing to defend themselves or at least, like the hen whose chick is in the clutches of a kite, are shouting, not for the kite to abandon its prey, but for the world to hear its voice.
Here’s my ten kobo for Femi. Turn your attention to persuade your boss to change. Assuming he is not directly involved in prosecuting the agenda of his Fulani race, to complete the hundreds-year quest of dipping the Koran in the River Niger, including grabbing and occupying lands, hard to believe though, he must now rise from his deep slumber, retrieve those AK-47s and the slaughter swords and generally rein these known killers.
This is a more ennobling enterprise than the attempt to turn the victims to the aggressors. It is only after that that Nigerians may, as he wants to see, smile as Buhari touches their waist-beads. You don’t use the instrument for pricking the ears to prick the eyes. On the other hand, if the sweetness of Aso Rock or the demons thereof have made Femi impervious to the reality, he may find out that by the time the sounds of canons which faint noise is being heard from the distance gets closer, and finally does its job, many may neither remember the location to the railways, refineries, bridges, roads, airports or other achievements of the President nor a country that built them.
The approaching implosion, God forbid, may ensure that. After all, the Niger Bridge, arguably one of the greatest achievements of Nigeria at that time, was one of the first victims of the Nigerian civil war. Yes! By the time the last dust settles, even that beautiful edifice our dear brother may want to retire in his village, may not only have become mere rubbles, but there could be thousands of Agnes from his village – whose faces are familiar, staring at him – all forlorn – all living-deads.
For the battle cry in Nigeria today, from desperate citizens, resembles that of Patrick Henry, in America, more than 300 years ago, saying – Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!Mr Igboanugo, a veteran journalist is the Publisher of Whirlwindnews.com.ng