AM I human enough? How different am I from other members of the human race. Why does the sight of blood, the source notwithstanding, disturb for days? Why do I still consider the shooting at Ozubulu odd? Is something wrong with me or am I wrong with something?
Sunday, 6 August was marked in my mind as a lazy Sunday. No visit, no work, just relaxing and as the spirit moved, some calls, some chats and the day would have been spent. A different script awaited me.
The speed with which we made Ozubulu, unsure of whereSt. Philip’s Catholic Church, OfufeAmakwa, Ozubulu, in Ekwusigo Local Government of Anambra State, was remains incomprehensible to me. There was no need to bother about the direction.
Anyone you asked in the Ozubulu-Nnewi Road axis described the place perfectly. People ought to know. The fanfare that preceded the dedication of the newly finished church last May stood the community out. Today the extent of the tragedy made knowing St. Philip’s almost mandatory.
My mind was on other things–how people decide to shoot, to kill, the intensity of the matter that would result in these decisions. Individually, we can become important, big, popular, rich, famous, so much so that any impingement of our status would qualify for a massacre that defied sanctity of a place of worship.
Our nothingness enveloped my mind. The dead had their plans for Sunday. Being an early service most would have arrived without breakfast, other things had to wait. Their empty stomachs eager for nourishment that was expected after mass went to eternity empty because someone was angry beyond reason.
As they worshipped, placing their worries and cares before the Almighty, gunmen stepped up fired, emptied their mission through hot lead that interrupted lives and the future of more lives. They left mission accomplished, satisfied, at least partially.
If they missed their target, they at least an impression of their capacities, their anger, their vaulted emotions, that would remain incomprehensible to the likes of me. They are probably somewhere celebrating their mission, as we concentrated on the dastardly actions. All these seem very confusing to me.
My mind kept wondering. As I looked at the splash of blood on the fore door of St. Philip’s, a contribution from the dead, the injured, I wondered what the Almighty was thinking as He watched the desecration of a place of worship, as He beheld the death of worshippers that Sunday morning, as He looked on the gunmen, His creation, descending on His other creations.
Was it a father’s love that made Him allow them get away? He is a merciful God. Was that why the gunmen, whoever sent them, whoever planned the attack with them, reckoned that the Almighty would not intervene? How do human beings muster such effrontery that they live above fear, respect, for their Creator?
Could they have ventured such performance in a shrine? I imagined that whoever their target was, had chosen Sunday to worship in any of the frightening shrines around. Would they have trailed him there, looking in the shrunk hollowness of those places and fire shots at the followers of the deity?
Something told me that they would not. Are those not the same deities they subscribe to their powers? Are they not emboldened by the powers of the deities? Do they not believe in the instantaneity of the judgment of the deities?
Lives have been lost. Fortunes have turned to misfortunes. Families that knew nothing, had nothing to do with the life and death business that brought death to church would suffer. Hardly anything would ameliorate the losses and the new fears that have become items of the community’s life.
It is not true that nothing shocks Nigerians any more. Ozubulu shocked us– the shocks are still reverberating. I am not out of that shock; I may not be for a long time. Not after I saw that woman dying in the emergency award at NnamdiAzikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi.
Not with the image of that young girl, swinging her legs, unaware of the fate of her mother, whose wounds from St. Philip may never heal – if she survives. Nothing after the trivialisation of the killing as a community feud, a way of confessing that nothing would be done about it. Not after the debate over the number of the dead seems to suggest that not enough people died for the incident to qualify as a tragedy.
Ozubulu throws up oddities about the emptiness of life, the nothingness of our bigness, the futilities of our tomorrows and the sorrows that chasing after the winds of life are.
I wish I didn’t visit the scenes of the bestialities. They have refused to leave my mind.
Osinbajo – Last phase of pretence
THE acting President, YemiOsinbajo has human rights surrounding his entire career. I am constrained to add politics as one of his careers. There would be few debates about how he has excelled in all of them. Not many lawyers become attorney general, a senior advocate and a professor of law, in one life. Law, I would speculate,centres on rights of humans, which may be different from human rights. An essential ingredient of that right is freedom of speech.
He is also a pastor who rose through the power rungs of his church, to points where the General Overseer, with his many sons, knew this son very well. Right of humans, their well-being is an important consideration for religious organisations. I only hope that I am not speculating.
Then he is a politician, a profession where the practitioners keep telling the people, “I am here because of you”, a vacuous statement that may refer to the fact that your “votes” earned them the position. It is not affirming that they would serve you.
Those images of service on the streets are pre-election issues, as the courts would say about election disputes. Where our handshakes with politicians go beyond the elbow, we have rights to remind them that Section 14 (2) b of the 1999 Constitution states that the security and welfare of the people should be the primary purpose of government.
I was at last convinced that Pastor, Professor, Politician Osinbajo, SAN, acting President of Nigeria, had arrived when he made his remarkable speech that cast anyone with a complaint as an “appointment seeker”. He had supporters, as all men and women of power have. He was telling us to “shut up, no matter your condition”. His position was a clear departure to the pretences that government had patience for our petitions.
No complaints about my ward who would not be admitted to a federal government school for, since he scored 135 instead of 139, he would wait until his compatriots who were so brilliant that they scored 20, instead of benchmarks of 4, 6, 10 set for them, had been admitted. If I said a word, if I complained, it’s because I wanted an appointment, which, it would appear, is a crime, coming from me.
A businessman was complaining that he was spending an extra N20m freighting his raw materials from Lagos to the Calabar Free Trade Zone. He would have saved more than three-quarters of that money, which could pay the salaries of more than 200 of his workers, if the ports in Calabar, Port Harcourt were working. The man too is a hustler.
Professor Osinbajo has moved to the final phase of pretence. Some say it is his own contribution to the hate speech that is dominating the country. At least I know where he stands as professor of law, a pastor, a politician who dazzled us not too long ago with promises of a better Nigeria.
Freedom of speech is not part of a better Nigeria. Aspirations are ruled out and expectations to be appointed to serve Nigeria are not in the bargain.