By Alex Enemanna,
It’s no more news that for 77 days, Mrs. Beauty Oge-Ere Siasia,
the mother of former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia was held hostage by some marauding, monstrous elements who, like the Biblical agents of terrors of the night and arrow that flies by the day invaded her modest abode in the rural Odoni community in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa state on July 15 took her away in a Gestapo style with a speed boat.
For 77 days, the septuagenarian’s freedom was at the mercy of her fiery-eyed abductors.
For 77 days, they drank her tears of sorrow and feasted on her sighs of unease and frustration.
For 77 days these seeds of Lucifer desecrated her decades of earthly journey, a status money cannot buy.
For 77 days, they undermined and ridiculed the grey of her hair.
For 77 days, they mocked and questioned the very essence of her humanity.
From the firm grip of her tormentors, like the Psalmist, mama Siasia lifted up her eyes into the hills and say, from where cometh my help?
Interestingly, for the imaginary bigman status of her son, mama Siasia has constantly been an object of target by these gun-toting criminals.
November 2015 was her first missionary journey to the den of these criminal merchants where she spent about 12 days before breathing the air of freedom.
Who wasn’t moved when mama Siasia narrated the ordeal of having her freedom denied for 77 agonizing days? Who would pray for such experience to befall his/her 76-year-old mother, beloved mother? Who wasn’t emotionally touched when Mama Samson herself broke down in tears of joy while basking in the euphoria of her new freedom? Whose mouth will speak blessings upon the lives of these young men who subjected mama Siasia to such a dehumanizing treatment, in brazen rape of morality, all known religious injunctions and cultural practices?
In Rigasa, Kaduna state, the story is not different. No fewer than 300 compatriots, including the very educated, among whom is one Hassan Yusuf, a Doctorate degree holder in Energy Economics and children of different ages were locked up and chained like domestic animals in a house said to serve as a rehabilitation centre and an Islamic education centre. Harassed, routinely sodomised and physically assaulted, for weeks, months and years, these compatriots like common criminals were tortured and subjected to most inhuman treatments.
Like goats and sheep prepared to be merchandised, these sons of our great land were chained both legs, others chained to generator sets and others to vehicle alloy rims. Their skins are dotted with scars and marks of violence while the look in their faces radiates agony, pain and poignancy. They were starved, denied access to medication even with their dwindling health status. Where luck runs out of a candidate, he becomes an object of white textile piece and a shallow grave, while their “rehabilitators” look the other way. The testimony coming from the rescued inmates are as troubling as they are heart-rending, distressing and disturbing. Some were even said to have come from the neighbouring Mali, Burkina Faso and other African countries, a visible indication of a solidly networked crime. Would the perpetrators be brought to justice? Only time will tell
Paradoxically, these and a legion of other acts of brute conquest, criminal subjugation, servitude and various forms of crude and archaic slavery are taking place at a time when our dear country is in a high realm and in full swing with the celebration of the 59th anniversary after we broke loose from the chains of British colonial rule. For almost six decades have we enjoyed Independence and self-governance (at least on paper) and other self factors including self-dug holes of religious bigotry, ethnic jingoism, greed, avarice, unpatriotism, endemic corruption, thievery and deliberate acts of sabotage.
For 59 years, can we truly thumb our chest in a scintilla of any sense of fulfillment of the dreams and aspirations of our founding fathers? 59 years after self-rule, have we really raised our head above waters in terms of occupying a pride of place in the comity of nations even among our equals such as Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, Korea and others? 59 years after Independence, have we even made a giant step to have one indivisible entity that can stand the test of nationhood in the real sense of the word?
More than ever before, we have drifted miles away from what the visions of our founding fathers were. Ever since we emerged from the 30 months Nigeria/Biafra pogrom, never in the history of our great country has the tie binding us as a nation been this vociferously attacked from its very foundation. The voices of marginalization as a result of the unpatriotic activities of the ruling class have been amplified now more than ever. The agitation for the balkanization of our great country has been criminally benefitted by those presiding over our common patrimony. Vicious antagonism has replaced love and mutual understanding. Aggressive pursuance of clannish and ethno-centric agenda has dealt a deep cut in the very heart of our nationhood. Our nation’s peace and unity is at the mercy of the toxic fangs of those who are bent on myownising the country (apologies to Rev. Kukah) to the detriment of our collective interest.
Instructively, the chief executives at the federating units see the centre as a model for the Machiavellian manipulation they perpetrate in their various states. The minority ethnic groups are at the mercy of the so called majority ethnic groups. They brandish colonial tendencies and act like lords of manor over minority tribes. It is akin to the proverbial Carmel passing through the eye of the needle than for Southern Kaduna to produce the governor of Kaduna state. Same applies to Benue where the Tiv tribe has for long held sway in the state while the Idoma and Igede tribe watch in akimbo, not forgetting Kogi where Igala domination has for long been the norm while the Okun and Ebira tribes wail of segregation. Across the country, the practice is virtually the same.
Our deeply fractured system may have engineered the activist, Chido Onumah to write the book “We Are All Biafrans”. The perennial dominance of the majority ethnic groups create a deep rooted animosity, palpable hate and unwavering sense of marginalization in the minds of those perceived to be the minority.
It is a refined act of sheer hypocrisy to be basking in the euphoria of Independence when we have deliberately chose to ignore calls to entrench a sense justice, equity and fairness among the country’s various ethnic divides. There is a grand plan to scuttle the dreams of our founding fathers who foresaw equal opportunity for various ethnic divides. The visible hegemony of certain parts of the country over others is in sheer contradiction to the spirit of true Independence. Why can’t Emeka, Adebayo and Musa be given a level playing field to compete for the available admission, employment, promotion, and appointment slots? The obnoxious quota system has for instance been used to stagnate the educational movement in some quarters and kill dreams and aspirations. This is not the spirit of Independence.
Those who have deliberately held our nation for the jugular for decades and vowed not to let it go are like mama Siasia’s abductors. They have invoked upon themselves the wrath of our founding fathers for derailing and undermining their visions for our great country. Anyone who has at any point in time occupied any leadership post and presided over our common patrimony, yet refused to use the same office to touch lives, leave the people better than he met them and left a legacy of goodwill, he is not different from those who held our young men hostage and sodomised them in Rigasa torture house.
The myself and my family attitude of our leaders cannot be extricated from why we are called the poverty capital of the world despite various social intervention schemes of successive governments since 1960 to better the lives of the people. The uncharitable conduct of our leaders cannot be extricated from why healthcare services are now the exclusive reserve of the affluent in the society. The thievious attitude of those who have at one time or the other presided over our affairs is the reason why billions of Dollars expended on revitalizing key sectors to enhance our people’s standard of living has not yielded any fruit.
Our fortunes have rapidly been on a steady decline like a people jinxed for failure. Everywhere you go, the glaring decay in infrastructure stares with brazen audacity. How can we till date not boast of any functional refinery as an oil rich nation? Why has our roads across the country remained death traps? Why are our sports facilities the open advert of a national shame? Why do our airports attract global ridicule? Why is decent accommodation now a status symbol other than a necessity for all?
We must begin to change our orientation and selfish attitude and think about the person next to our door. We must jettison perennial dominance and create power rotational system that will ensure that no part of the country or state is marginalized. This will not only instill a sense of belonging but engender an atmosphere of peace, unity and love and permanently banish the feeling of subjugation and conquest.
Those in leadership positions must bear in mind that they will only be remembered by the legacy they leave on ground after the expiration of their terms of office and not by how much they siphoned to better their lives and that of their cronies.
Until the basic things of life are readily available for our people, until our people’s hearts stop beating in uncertainty over the source of their the next meal, until our people stop dying of ethnic and religious clashes across the country, until our people are saved from minor ailments that kill them in hundreds of thousands yearly, until our people are free to utilize their freedom of speech without state harassment, until the mass exodus of our people in search of the proverbial green pasture abroad is brought to an end, until the government truly shows its cardinal responsibility is the security and welfare of our citizens, the search for a true Independence will continue.