Yesterday 30th of August, Governors of states in the South-East region met with leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. The reason the meeting took place is quite clear and from reports, one could deduce that the Governors simply placated Kanu to put up his demands – and by extension that of his group – for negotiation so both parties can find a mid-point. He, Kanu, was assured of another meeting and the Governors advised that IPOB should be engaged, not confronted.
Governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha would have been at the meeting were he not out of the country, as was reported. But despite his physical absence, he supported the meeting and agreed with the conclusions reached.
The interesting thing however is that in Imo state on Sunday 27th of August, people were forcefully evicted from a market by soldiers and the resulting chaos led to the death of multiple persons, most notably a teenage boy who tried to help his mother rescue some of her goods.
Imo state government claimed to have issued a notice of eviction to these people days before, even though the notice contained no information on where to go next or how to fend for themselves now that the government is taking away their means of livelihood. It is simply not the business of Okorocha and his foot soldiers. The government wants land and it shall get it. Even at the expense of harmless individuals who were only trying to eke out a living in a legitimate way.
If you find the manner of the eviction cruel, then maybe I should spare you the details of how the government treated, and is still treating, the victims of the unnecessary assault and murder. The killings have been denied [even though pictures and video recordings have surfaced] and Okorocha’s visit to the crime scene hours later was only to thank the demolishers for a job well done and acknowledge greetings from his ‘’fans’’.
Yet, this same man advocates that Nnamdi Kanu, a man with treason charges hanging over his head, should be engaged. Of course, he fears Kanu because like him, he also has willing foot soldiers at his beck and call, and has shown potentials of being able to disrupt the system as seen in his threats to prevent election from taking place in Anambra.
But what is there to fear or even respect in a petty trader and a son who is now lifeless? How possibly can they hurt the system or threaten the existing order?
Daily, our leaders teach us that the only way to get attention or at least a modicum of the respect we deserve as citizens is to rebel against the system; to become an outlaw. And they wonder why there is so much agitations and unrest across the land.
Look all over the country and you see this pattern. In the Delta, Avengers and other terrorists are the ones with real access to power and government funds, not the overwhelming majority of citizens who live with the harsh consequence of oil exploration and protest in peace. In the north, it took just a name and a threat for a group of people to meet with Emirs and Governors who eventually pleaded with them to settle for peace, after a failed promise of arrest in the media.
This pattern is obvious everywhere you look.
Rochas Okorocha couldn’t meet with innocent traders whose lives he destroyed if only in a hypocritical attempt to display love and care, but was willing to meet with a potential outlaw. Should the family of the people he wasted at the market give themselves to rage and take up arms, he would eventually meet with them in a bid to “secure the state and promote peace”.
To borrow the words of Chinua Achebe, there is nothing wrong with the Nigerian character, the trouble with the country is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.
Adeshina writes from Lagos. Contact via twitter @shina_pitta