By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
A government that cannot provide security for the governed is not worthy to be because this is the commonest benefit the people can derive from the government. The federal government has aptly demonstrated that it cannot protect Nigerians in some locations in the country against the killer herdsmen who are on rampage and leaving in their trail scores of death at a geometric progression.
Unfortunately, the FG has generated several alibi to defend its glaring inefficiency. Such alibi include that the killers were trained by one late African leader as well that they were imported or invade from outside the shores of the country.These blatant lies, half-baked truths and half-truths are grossly unpalatable and will remain so as long as Christ tarries to return. If the design for spinning these lies is to deceive Nigerians, the reverse is the case and will always be because all Nigerians cannot be fooled at the same time. Nigerians are getting wiser, and any attempt to deceive them through propaganda will prove counter-productive and will always indicate how unserious and incompetent such government is.
It has never paid to remain indifferent in the face of an ugly situation. The story of the four lepers is a must read.At a point in history, Israel’s Northern Kingdom was at war with Syria, and Samaria was under siege. It is indisputable that cutting off supplies is an effective military strategy and this was adopted by the Syrians to compel the Samarians to surrender. The after effect is that this provoked famine and untold hardship forcing the situation in Samaria to degenerate to the point the prices of donkeys head were skyrocketed. It got to an extent that people resorted to cannibalism.
At a point, the four lepers who were sitting outside the gate could no longer endure the dire circumstances. It was the proverbial situation of “hanging between the lion and the deep blue sea”.For the lepers, it was a better option to dare the Syrian army because if they remain outside the gate, they will starve to hunger. So they decided to surrender to the Syrian army. But this was not also a comfortable option but there was no better alternative: If the Syrians let them live, they’ll at least be able to live and stay alive. If they are killed by the Syrians, they’ll die sooner and escape a more terrible and painful death.
The lepers had to throw caution to the wind by leaving their comfort zone.They hurried to the Syrian military base and made a startling discovery that the Syrians had fled their hold in fear of reprisal leaving everything intact. The lepers gathered much food that couldn’t consume.
It may not be out of place here to note that Nigerians are sometimes docile. We are always comfortable with every situation no matter how choking it may be.We prefer to “live on our knees than dying on our feet”.The nation is at a cross road because those whoe are entrusted with our security have demonstrated that if we continue to rely on them, we are merely fooling ourselves. At such periods in history, it has been pertinent for the people to chart their cause and work out their salvation.
Sitting on the fence has not been an effective way of handling ugly situations. In this instance, the story of the Israel’s four lepers is a must read.According to Prof. Wole Soyinka,”the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny”. The times are choking and disconerting and no time has nationhood been threatened more than the present times. The murders are committed in a large scale, and more worrisome is that the priests are found among the victim, replicating almost the scene in El Salvador in May 1979, when 123 people were killed, 47 arrested, while 18 disappeared. On June 20, 1979, a forty-year old Catholic priest, Rafael Palacios, was shot dead, thereby increasing the number of victims. Within a period of two years in that country, five priests were killed as a result of their solidarity with the poor and the oppressed. Archbishop Oscar Romero in his sermon during the funeral of Father Palacios declarted:”We can present along with the blood of teachers, of labourers, of peasants, the blood of our priests. This is communion in love.It would be sad in in a country where murder is committed so horribly we were not to find priests also among the victims. They are testimony of a church incarnated in the problems of their people”.
Romero was later accorded a Nobel Peace Price later on February 1980 in recognition of his solidarity with El Salvadoran poor and oppressed and in his mnoving speech he declared:”I am a shepherd who, with his people, has begun to learn a beautiful and difficult truth:Our Christian faith requires that we submerge ourselves in the world. The course taken by the church has always had political repercussions. The problem is how to direct that influence so that it will be in accordance with the faith. The world that the Church must serve is the world of the poor, and the poor are the ones who decide what it means for the Church to really live in the world”.
Indeed, the two Catholic priests felled by the weapons of the killer herdsmen in Benue are”testimony of martyrs incarnated in the problems of Nigeria”.
Ukegbu writes from Umuahia, Abia State.