By Jude Atupulazi
Not many years back, the Southeast was one of the most peaceful zones in the country; if not the most peaceful. We returned from wherever we resided or visited, being very sure that we were returning to peace. Tales of violence and madness elsewhere sounded like fairy tales to our people in the East because their place was devoid of what they heard happening outside.
But fast track to today and you see a zone engulfed in crisis; a severe one that threatens to make the zone worse than any other zone in the country. Sadly enough, so, so sadly, the chaos we experience today was largely manufactured by us; the snake we fed is today threatening to swallow us; our pet has become our predator. I’m talking about the so-called unknown gunmen, or, calling a spade by its name, the Biafra agitators.
In the beginning, many who are crying today were either actively or covertly supporting or clapping for today’s monsters. They were apparently driven by pro-Biafra sentiments, thinking they were dealing with sane people.
Thus, when these felons came up with their Ghost Monday (sit at home) directives, those supporters would argue that staying at home and not doing business was a necessary evil, a sacrifice to make to show ”them”, the Federal Government, that we were not happy with our situation in the country. Arguing with them, to see the negative implications of that was pointless because they were almost fanatical in their support for that.
They never saw anything wrong with the activities of the agitators then; even when police stations were raided and burnt, with officers killed.
They would regurgitate the tale of the perpetrators that those who carried out the attacks were officials of the Directorate of State Services, DSS; or foreigners in our midst, even when it was glaring who did it. When they were told that those in the videos were speaking fluent Igbo Language, they would also insist that it was the foreigners who had lived among us and thus mastered our language.
They maintained their stance despite hearing voice notes of the leader of the Biafra agitators openly ordering his boys to attack security agencies and to kill those who defied the sit at home directive. They never budged when you tried to tell them that what was playing out was against Igbo interest; that it was akin to setting one’s house on fire to tell a neighbour who annoyed them that they were angry.
For some of us who seemed to see tomorrow, we warned that where they were heading would lead to nowhere except cause more problems for their homeland. We warned that it was easy to unleash a tiger from its cage but difficult to get it back into that cage. This warning was not heeded. Their intransigence, led to the loss of innocent lives, including those of prominent citizens like Dr Chike Akunyili, who was brutally gunned down in broad daylight in the Nkpor Axis.
In those days, prisons (I refuse to call them correctional centres because they are not correcting anything) were raided and hardened criminals, including those on death rows, were released and armed. They swelled the ranks of the agitators and joined in pulling the trigger against their own brothers and sisters.
But like all things, a time came when the tables were turned. Their leader was arrested and as public opinion began to mount against their style of agitation, they washed their hands off the atrocious acts. By then, the tiger they unleashed, Simon Ekpa, had refused to return to the cage.
He continued where his oga stopped and today everyone belonging to the camp of oga is condemning Ekpa. Today, it is no more the DSS or Fulani that are killing us, but Ekpa’s boys. But one question they have refused to answer is to tell the difference between what they did under their oga and what Ekpa is doing today. Is Ekpa’s sit at home different from theirs? Did the killing of security agents start today? Were innocent civilians not killed then, as is done today for failing to stay indoors on their so-called ghost Mondays? Did not the Supreme Leader of the agitation openly call for the killing of former Ohaneze president, John Nwodo?
Any unbiased mind will agree that there is no difference. What is different is only that leadership has changed hands. The falcon can no more hear the falconer today and, in the words of Chinua Achebe, mere anarchy has been loosed upon the world and things have fallen apart. Alas! Many supporters are now seeing what we warned about but it is like a dead man whose grave has been filled up with red earth suddenly wanting to sit up only to be wedged by the piles of red earth.
Today, many of us are blaming the Federal Government for not coming to the aid of the Southeast. But they forget that he who does for the enemy what the enemy wanted to do to him should not expect the enemy to come to his aid. If you set fire to your house to tell your bad neighbour that you are angry with him, would it not be foolishness to expect him to help you douse the fire? Mbanu! So this is how our naivety, or is it stupidity, has got us into where we are today.
But even amid the inferno, we are still being told by them that it is our governors who are working with the enemies of our land to destabilize our homeland. What a ludicrous tale! Is it Soludo who has been trying to restore sanity and normalcy to our state that is working for our enemies to decimate us? Is it the Enugu State governor who had immediately waged war on sit at home upon assuming office? Is it even Uzodimma of Imo State who has been brutally returning fire for fire against the hoodlums threatening to overwhelm his state?
In Uzodimma’s case, because he has been brutally dealing with them, they have been accusing him of killing their youths. What a tale! What is any good youth doing in the bush when his peers are busy going about their legitimate work in their places of work? I even think those peddling this tale are more foolish than I think.
Have they forgotten the Igbo adage that warns that he who brings home ant-infested wood has unwittingly invited lizards to his home? Do they want Uzodimma, or, indeed, any other Southeast governor, to fold their hands while their states are overrun by a bunch of illiterate, brainwashed ignoramuses?
My only blame for the governors is not launching a joint war against the hoodlums. I have always said that individual states doing it alone is only begging the question. If Anambra pursues them and they run to Imo State from where they run back to Anambra when pursued by Imo, what gains have both states recorded? It is what we describe as running around in circles.
Thus, I have always advocated for a concerted effort by all Southeast governors to drive the hoodlums out of our land once and for all, using any means. They are yet to do this and they are yet to devise ways of getting Simon Ekpa repatriated to answer to his crime against humanity. It is the failure of our governors to do any of these that has blighted their efforts.
But back to our people. It beats me why some of us are yet to understand that those ordering sit at home and enforcing it are those who have failed in life through their own fault. Check them out: they are either those who stole their masters’ blind during their apprenticeship or those who dropped out from school for whatever reason but refusing to undertake legitimate means of survival.
Thus, when they see those who do well in their chosen vocations, they get angry and envious. It has become a situation where they have failed and want everybody to fail with them.
If not, why would any reasonable fellow lie little schoolchildren down and flog them and their teachers for daring to go to school on a Monday?Why would they chase poor old women away from the market and destroy their items for failing to stay at home for one week?
What has stopping kids from going to school or chasing away market women from their stalls got to do with the realization of Biafra?Are those being stopped from going to school or going to market their enemies? Are they the ones holding their leader? That is supposing they are doing what they do because they want their leader freed.
But we know that is not the issue. The agitation is now a personal business. That is why it is now believed that Ekpa is working for enemies of Igbo Land who pay him generously to make life difficult for his people. I don’t say this is not true. But what I want to make clear is that before Abraham, Jesus was.
Ekpa was once the apostle of the Supreme Leader of the Biafra agitation. He was once his beloved who learnt well from his master and has now opened his own shop.When he was learning his trade, we were clapping for him and his master.
Today that he is practicing what he learnt we have started looking for who to blame. Let’s look no further. We are the architects of the doom that has befallen us and that doom is the pet we groomed which has grown into the monster we are running away from today. We have defecated in the market square and it is only us that will remove our shit. Continue looking outside for who to blame and you will continue to suffer. Let us wake up, the morning has come.