By Jude Atupulazi
A Nimo based industrialist and MD/CEO of Safanaco Technical Industries Ltd, Chief Francis Nwabachili, has expressed fears that the recent Bill by the Anambra State House of Assembly, seeking for a law to control burial ceremonies/activities in the state may end up as a revenue generating window by the government against the people, reports Jude Atupulazi.
Nwabachili who spoke with Fides in his office in Nimo, Njikoka LGA, rather urged the House to make a bill that would compel the issuance of death certificates to bereaved families in order to ascertain the cause of deaths and prevent avoidable ones in the future, while government should concentrate on infrastructural development.
The Anambra State House of Assembly, it will be recalled, had on Tuesday, 9 April, passed a Bill for a law to control burial/funeral activities in the state. The bill which was sponsored by the member representing Anaocha II State Constituency, Hon. (Engr.) Charles Ezeani, was passed after due consideration by the House.
The Burial/Funeral Control Bill was aimed at cutting down the cost of burial activities in the state. The bill provided that in the event of death, no person shall deposit any corpse in the mortuary or any place beyond two months from the date of the death, while burial ceremonies in the state shall be for one day.
It further stipulated that during burial and funerals, the family of the deceased shall provide food for their kindred, relatives and other sympathizers at their own discretion.
It placed ban on destruction of property, gunshots, praise singing, blocking of roads and streets during burial ceremonies in the state, with defaulters to pay a fine of N100, 000 as punishment.
But speaking to Fides in his office, Nwabachili said the development, though well intended, might provide some government officials with an avenue to making money at the detriment of bereaved families in the state and urged Gov Willie Obiano not to sign the Bill into law.
The industrialist said the Bill had not addressed the major issues in the state such as unemployment, offering of free education and issuing loans to school leavers to establish small scale industries.
He argued that the Bill was against Igbo Culture, which, he said, had its own procedures for burying people.
‘We have particular days for mourning people. You can’t just bury the dead and go out the next day to continue with your business. It’s not our culture,’ he said, noting that how anyone was buried depended on one’s age or status.
‘A chief in our culture has a prescribed period of mourning. Ozo titled men also have theirs,’ he noted, insisting that burying people immediately was not Igbo Culture.
Arguing that it was better to find out the cause of death of anyone and issue a certificate so that the cause of death would be known and prevented, he urged the State Assembly to make it mandatory for death certificates to be issued.
While suggesting that people should be left to conduct funerals according to their capacity, Nwabachili argued that expensive funerals even helped the poor by providing them the opportunity to earn free meals which they would lose if such funerals were banned.
He therefore called on the state government to concentrate on provision of infrastructure rather than preventing poor folks from getting free food.
On the just concluded elections in the country, he urged those who lost to either accept defeat in good faith or go to court rather than over heating the polity, just as he urged winners not to betray the mandate they got from people.
He advised them to work ahead of the elections rather than hoarding constituency money only to spend it during elections.