Sad Valentine

By Uche Amunike

Valentine’s day is still in the air and much as it is a beautiful season, I feel a lot of tension presently. I should feel love in the air, but I don’t. I should feel sweetness in people’s miens and see smiles on people’s faces, but I don’t. I should feel the power of love permeating from all quarters and yet, nothing. I sit here before my computer and try to write and yet, I have no inspiration. I’m wondering if I should keep typing, empty though I feel, or just stop and shut down my computer until I have the inspiration to write. It’s really all so crazy. And what, you might ask is the reason for these melancholic musings? I’ll tell you some of the reasons why.

Just last week, I told the story of the young Paschal Onyilo who was beaten to stupor by an angry mob in Umuoji over allegations of being a kidnapper. I am yet to get over the shock of his death. As a matter of fact, after I wrote that piece about his death, I heard from a good friend of mine that his wife just put to birth recently and he is survived by two children. That really broke my heart. I am particularly worried about the trauma his family presently faces, especially after they saw the video recording of his brutal attack by the irate mob. My question then remains, when will Nigerians learn to be more concerned about saving lives while they can, than recording lives being snuffed out of people for the sake of entertainment in the social media? When will Nigerians start understanding that jungle justice should be for savages in the jungle and not for sane people who live in a civilized world?

Last week, cult clashes here in Anambra and even Delta states have left several communities living in fear as they do not know when to expect the next attack from the raging cult groups. About ten persons have been murdered so far in these cult wars and more are likely to go down.

Still on killings, only last week in Awka, a beautiful young girl was murdered by armed men as she jogged in the wee hours of the fateful day of her death. According to news sources, her assailants tried snatching her phone from her and she resisted. What did they do as she struggled with them and resisted surrendering her phone to them? They didn’t waste time in stabbing her to death. Multiple stabs ended her young life and she was left dead in a pool of her own blood. I saw the picture of this very young girl named Oluchi Ezeobi, aged 23 looking really alive and lovely even in death. My heart went out to her parents and entire family knowing how painful it must be for them. What a loss! What a waste of youth!! What a destiny cut short!!!

Need I mention the crazy news we get to hear every day about young men trying to make quick money and resorting to rituals in that light? We no longer hear of them beheading young girls and cutting up their private parts for these rituals. What we get to hear about is the fact that they steal dirty pants of young girls and women for their money making ventures. At first, I thought it was a joke until I started seeing video clips of these young men actually caught with dirty pants in their possession and also, confessing to stealing them for ritual purposes. In fact, I also saw a CCTV footage of a young man stealing pants through an open window of a lady’s bathroom. Wonders!!!

What about the cult in Lagos where their members make money from eating their own faeces? I had never heard of such craziness before until I watched it on social media. Money is certainly the root of all evils. Honestly!!!

We are in the electoral period and it is always tough in Anambra state. Mudslinging is the order of the day. Hate speeches thrive. Dirty politicking seem like a part of the electoral process. Thuggery is seriously encouraged by the big wigs, because they believe their money speaks for them. I see our youths wasting away in the light of all these variables all because they live in a society that has nothing much to offer them. There are no jobs. There are no provisions for graduates to gain employment immediately after they leave school. I remember watching a video clip of a short drama sent to me on Whatsapp. It was really interesting and had lots of lessons in it. A rich politician, Chief Disu called on a young man whom he usually employed for his dirty jobs during elections. The young man nicknamed ‘danger’ told him that he no longer wished to do his dirty jobs because he was a degree holder and needed to do jobs that befitted a degree holder. He told Chief Disu to bring back his son in Havard and make him his political thug because he was done being a thug for politicians. He told Chief Disu to call his line only when he had jobs from Oil companies and international organizations and not when he wanted thugs for political reasons. I watched that clip and I was super proud of the young man. However, I still worried about the ones that are not as sensible as he was. What about the ones who have felt cheated right from birth and are angry with the system. The one thing these ones do is that they give back to society, a higher dose than what society has given them. They go into all sorts of crime and are reckless about it. They are angry, hungry, hopeless and helpless. They are the real victims in this very warped country of hours.

Just now, a friend of mine walked into the newsroom and narrated the story of a young man who was wounded at Amanuke by some members of the local vigilante in the town. They accosted him where he was drinking and broke his head. I asked what his crime was and I was told, nothing. I guess they were trying to exercise their power or authority as the case may be. It got me even more depressed. Why is there so much violence every direction you turn? And yet, we live just by the mercy and grace of the Almighty.

Well, Valentine day should erase all these negative vibes from my system. It certainly isn’t and I haven’t felt this low on a Val’s day week in years. I know that the 14th February has come and gone but it’s been less than one week now. How come all the love that is supposed to permeate every nook and cranny has so quickly dissipated? Just how come?

Let me not forget the fuel tanker that fell last week behind the government lodge. It’s sad how the victims involved died just because they couldn’t get help on time. And to think that the Anambra Fire Service was just right next to the scene of that horrendous incident! Biko, when will our Fire Service begin to be ready for emergencies??? When in the world will we stop hearing about such disasters and our inability to quench the fire when they happen?

I lost my very good friend and great Pal recently too. He was the Anambra State Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr Sunday Ajayi. He died in a ghastly motor accident that threw the entire Anambra state into deep mourning. We all still mourn him. The late Ajayi has since been replaced by a successor, Mr Kumapayi. I have not had the mental strength to go and see the new FRSC boss and interview him since he assumed office because of the pain I know I will feel, entering Ajayi’s former office. I will definitely pay the new man a visit. I can only pray for the grace not to break down when I do. Uwadiegwu, my people. The new man is also from the Yoruba tribe and his name got me startled when the announcement of his appointment was made. Kumakpayi means ‘may death not kill this one’. I pray he lives up to his name. May he live and do the work for which he was brought to our dear state and not die like my good friend and buddy, Sunday Ajayi. It is well.

Just before I sign off, I hope you all spent Valentine showing love like we all should and not the hate and violence I see and feel. How many of us were able to make their peace with friends and relatives they fell out with for one reason or the other? How many couples tried to bridge the gaps in their marriages? How many of us remembered the motherless, fatherless, orphaned and less privileged in our immediate environments? What about widows and their children? Did we all try and reach out to them this season of love? Did we even remember to buy gifts for family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours? How many people remembered to call their aged parents over the phone just to wish them a happy Valentine’s day? Or was it just all about sex?????????

My wish for us all is that the love of God which is the true love that knows no bounds continues to envelope us and fill us with everything that is modest, decent, true and sanctifying. God loved the world so much that He gave his only son to us to live and die for us so that we may have life abundantly and live an eternal life. That is the greatest love I have ever seen or experienced. The world is filled with all sorts of hate and bitterness. Let’s make it a better place. Nigerians have seen it all. Suffering, hunger, poverty, joblessness, hopelessness, killings, debauchery and the like have been our lot in this country. I can only pray that God in His infinite mercy will lift us from this abyss of pain, insecurity and unrest.

Hopefully, this will be my last Sad Valentine! I believe the best is certainly yet to come!! Daalu nu!!!