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    Nigeria: A Time for Courage or Circumspection


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    Let’s begin with Ejike Camillus Mbaka. He’s a friend of mine. This Catholic priest and head of Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria (AMEN) is truly a man of God, a dogged fighter for the downtrodden. But he’s also a politician – in the sense that his pulpit doubles as a soapbox. On virtually every public development, he takes a position, and he voices it without fear or favour.

    This dual disposition inevitably challenges the perception, and often influences the judgments, of those who react to his actions and pronouncements. For uncomplicated work, therefore, Mbaka assessors require to consciously delineate the man’s spirituality from his politics.

    Reverend Father Mbaka prophesied that President Jonathan would lose the March presidential ballot. He was excoriated. But it came to pass. He was in tune with the Holy Spirit. I, without the gift of prophecy, also knew that President Jonathan was headed for defeat.

    I knew that two whole years before the ballot, and I warned at least ten prominent people associated with Jonathan and the PDP, all of who are still alive today, and none of who saw the point of critical remedial actions. Jonathan failed because there was no MOUTH to his presidency. Jonathan also failed because any presidential election will go the way taken by any two of the tripod of national politics. All this is by way of introduction.




    If I found the means to be in the South East this Christmas, I should meet up with Father Mbaka, and broach conversation with this opening salvo: “The Holy Spirit cannot have decreed the indiscriminate shootings of unarmed pro-Biafran demonstrators in Onitsha.” I was in Biafra; Mbaka wasn’t. Biafra was a free-bombing site.

    Markets, churches, hospitals, refugee camps and every cluster of people were legitimate targets for indiscriminate bombing and strafing by Nigerian warplanes, resulting in the weekly extermination of countless thousands. Now again, and nearly 50 years later, Biafrans are being shot and killed at random and without provocation by those officially invested with the primary responsibility of their protection. Why might any man of God not pronounce anathema on the aberration?

    There are others whose inertia in the face of the burgeoning franchise of a “cold and iron age” I would love to challenge. Where is Wole Soyinka, the cautious endorser of Candidate Buhari? Half a century ago, Soyinka was one of the few – another was the late Tai Solarin – who, against the grain of mob hysteria, opposed the anti-Igbo pogrom that cost some 50,000 lives and led up to the civil war. Soyinka was among the first to raise hell over the October 7, 1967 massacre of over 500 Igbo men Asaba. Soyinka is the one who pronounced that, “Justice is the first condition of humanity.” Dear Soyinka, soldiers paid with Nigeria’s money, soldiers on oath to protect the citizenry, have converted most of Onitsha into a concentration camp.

    Anyone that happens around the military is ordered to raise their hands in surrender. They are harassed and extorted. All these have video authentication. Two weeks ago, a young man reportedly asked why his hands should hang in the air when he was not a slave. Gun butts! Boots!! Whiplashes!!! “Kill me on account of Biafra,” the young man insisted. “But I’m not raising my hands for nobody.” What became of the man? What does this portend? Where are the voices of conscience?

    There are award-winning writers like Niyi Osundare, Ben Okri and Chimamanda Adichie, and many others angling for their own awards. These are progressive chroniclers of the movement of transition, who didn’t give a damn what part of the country their president was elected from! Where is their courage? Where is their conscience? Can these have been substituted with circumspection or convenience?

    If they deafened everyone with uncharacteristic muteness, does it not align their worldviews with Olusegun Obasanjo’s, the despotic tyrant under whose watch thousands of Nigerians were criminally wiped off the face of the earth? If this class of Nigerians suddenly quit commenting and poetizing against injustice, would it be because some oracle secretly revealed to them that what went around no longer came around? Would it be because the man no longer died in all who kept silent in the face of tyranny?




    President Buhari praised Father Mbaka for his “honesty” and “exemplary courage” when they met in Aso Rock last week. But, in all of Nigeria, honesty and justice cannot reside in just one priest. There was a Shi’a demonstration in Zaria on which reputable human rights organizations posted the slaughter of about 1000 by the Army! Videos exist of the killing spree, and of the futile attempts at covering up the unspeakable crime in mass graves. Videos also exist of the two waves of the Onitsha massacres, the second one activated merely by jollification on the (false) news that Nnamdi Kanu had regained his freedom.

    The bodies of those shot in Onitsha, and those hospitalised, from this second wave were seized by their assailants and taken to unknown destinations. The conscientious shouldn’t pretend sleepiness under this sadistic canopy. These sordid developments beckon – not on politicians heavily clothed in the shameless nakedness of vice and avarice – but on the rest of humane society, to rise and stand firm on the side of democracy and justice.

    Mr. Chuks Iloegbunam, an author, wrote from Lagos.

    Opinion – Let's begin with Ejike Camillus Mbaka. He's a friend of mine. This Catholic priest and head of Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria (AMEN) is truly a man of God, a dogged fighter for the downtrodden. But he's also a politician – in the sense that his pulpit doubles as a soapbox. On virtually every public development, he takes a position, and he voices it without fear or favour.

    [See the full post at: Nigeria: A Time for Courage or Circumspection]

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