The remains of the Christian preacher, Mrs Eunice Olawale, who was murdered in Abuja while doing an early morning evangelism, were interred to mother earth on Saturday, 22 July, 2016. In attendance at the funeral service and burial was a delegation from the federal government who conveyed the condolences of the president, Muhammadu Buhari, to the anguished family. It was the first time Mr President would show such concern towards the family of a victim of a religious killing.
Nigerians would have no doubt been happy about the involvement of the federal government at the burial. At last, it seemed as though life is valued in this country as against the back ground of studied indifference shown in the past.
However, much as what we saw at the burial of Olawale was encouraging and heart-warming, we fear there is a lacuna which may be exploited to cause ill-will, especially in a country where religious and ethnic undertones are read into every action.
Before the killing of Mrs Olawale, a Yoruba, there was the brutal killing of Bridget Agbaheme, an Igbo, from Imo State. Bridget was killed, beheaded and her head paraded around the market like a trophy. She was killed in Kano, while Mrs Olawale was killed in Abuja, the seat of power.
Now, after the initial hullabaloo that trailed the gruesome murder of Bridget, nothing more has been heard of her matter. The initial reported arrest of some men suspected to be behind her death equally petered out. Thus, today, no one knows whether they have been tried or whether Bridget has been buried or not, even though it is believed she has.
Supposing she has been buried, why did not the federal government show the same concern to her family as it did to the family of the Olawales? Is a death in Kano or any other place in Nigeria less serious than a death in the capital of the country?
Again, we all know that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is controlled by two ethnic groups – the Hausa and Yoruba. Does the fact of Mrs Olawale being Yoruba confer on her, an air of superiority over Mrs Agbaheme, an Igbo? Was that why Agbaheme's case was treated as though she never existed or that she did not have a home and family?
Also at the burial of the Nimbo massacre victims, no federal presence was seen either, as the bereaved were left to bury their dead on their own.
These posers will always be issues in Nigeria and our leaders must find ways to manage them well to keep everybody happy.
But at least, Nigerians can take solace in the fact that finally, the government seems to be wearing a human face.