LETTER FROM THE SON OF MAN by ‘Lakunle Jaiyesimi

Dear Hannibal,

To say I am quite perturbed by your aloofness in the years gone by is an understatement. So much has happened in that spate of time such that, without hearing from you, I have had to make do with what I am fed by the gagged press and pages that are desperate to break even or maintain their status of leadership in mainstream media. Whichever came in handy, the move away from investigative journalism throws up news that fall below the standard that edifies the audience. As a result, going beyond the “turmoil pervading the world in recent times” as you pointed out in your last letter, the blend of truths and untruths have done more to complicate the acquisition of knowledge from modern media and schools.

The loss of hope that you so well captured previously is pathetic; however, that is where we have found ourselves as a country. Like most other youths, I am personally affected by a system that cares very little for her citizens. I have several dependents, yet with little to cope with their daily demands, while the people we voted into power spend millions and even billions at every given opportunity. Some friends were talking about the roar in the legislative house, where a Senator put down the budget that was presented by the Executive arm of government, which makes a provision for the purchase of sets of computers and cutleries for use at State House just as was done in the budget of the previous year. The question is, does the State House buy these things every year? What happened to the ones bought last year?

People are hungry. And understanding that rather than die of hunger, people will do whatever it takes to remain afloat. In many places in the Niger Delta region of the country, many people, struggling to keep body and soul together, have resorted to sourcing and cooking crude oil for onward delivery to the market. As unwholesome as this may be, it is how many of the youth in that region survive; bypassing or totally ignoring what is expected of the government, which has perennially remained elusive. While they do, several others are content with kidnapping, robbery, prostitution and other survival tactics possible beyond the government. The earlier the government realizes that the monsters created by years of neglect do not die just by saying the right words but doing the right things, the better for the health and progress of the nation, away from insurgency, sabotage and apathy.

Having said that, let me make reference to your “Justice is an expensive commodity; the poor cannot simply afford it.” How do you mean? I always imagine that the Justice system is checked by certain ethical codes, which members of the judiciary abide by. I also think that this is what makes the judiciary an arbiter when it comes to general human relations. However, when the role of this arm of government comes into dispute, flaunting bias when convenient, what hope is left? Do we admit that the money system the world currently operates is the albatross for genuine fairness, where money stands taller than the best of pieties?

 

The Presidency has been overtly silent on the activities of the Fulani herdsmen and that is highly unexpected of a government that is sincere at combating such violence within its space. However, saying that leaves a bitterness in the mouth. Why have I said that? I am afraid beyond expecting the government to speak against an act, it is most important that the government has a plan to quell the ongoing massacre perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen, which plan may have elements of sensitive security details and dynamic diplomatic relations. That brings to mind the place of the Shiite leader, Yaquob El Zakzaky, whose unconditional release a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered since December, 2016. This order and repeated calls for the order to be obeyed has been flouted by the agencies or bodies concerned, leaving El Zakzaky and his wife in continued detention.

Regarding the above, it needs to be pointed out the duality of opinions sourcing from a similar section of the Nigerian society. As it pertains to the Fulani herdsmen’s continued killing of Nigerians with the immediate goal being the acquisition of the victim’s lands for the purpose of grazing of the former’s cattle, there has been the ascription of the killings to the Islamization agenda of the country’s extant President. It is said with certainty even by leaders of the opposition religious sects, political parties and ethnic groups who are currently not substantially on the corridors of power that the Presidency intends by all means to turn the country into an Islamic state. They say that about the Fulani herdsmen even though the latter has not as much publicly pronounced this as their agenda while, following the order given by the Federal High Court, these opposition leaders also call on the government to release El Zakzaky and his wife.

I need to ask, “Is this not double standard?” If this government favours El Zakzaky and his followers, will these same opposition leaders not have more evidence to support their claim of an Islamization agenda by the government? Here is a man, El Zakzaky, whose organization, the Ismalic Movement in Nigeria (Muslim Brothers) founded in the late 1970s when he was a student at Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, has never hidden its Islamization agenda. Following the Iranian revolution and the resultant overthrow of Iran’s monarchy, which was replaced with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini, El Zakzaky began propagating Shia Islam around 1979, believing that along similar religious lines, the establishment of such a republic in Nigeria was possible. Clearly an Islamization agenda, which the current government is, although inadvertently, doing her bit to clamp down.  Yet, the same people who accuse government of an Islamization agenda are condemning the government for keeping on a leash those that actually have as official mission the Islamization of republics. According to a senior analyst on Nigeria at the International Crisis Group (ICG), Nnamdi Obasi, the goals of El Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement in Nigeria are “to ensure more stringent application of Islamic legal and administrative systems…then ultimately to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.” Without prejudice to the constitutional rights of every Nigerian citizen and to the orders of a Federal High Court, El Zakzaky deserves his freedom as granted by the court. However, it should not go unmentioned that what the government is accused of ignoring with pastoralist Fulani Herdsmen is what the same government is condemned for doing with El Zakzaky and his followers, who have made it known that their agenda is bordered on an Islamization drive.

With the new year gradually becoming stale while all eyes are set to the end of it, we await the fulfillment of prophecies set out by men of God in their new year messages, the most preponderant being that the recession currently ravaging the country will come to end in the course of the year. How that will happen surely will be told in form of news someday. However, some of the policies of the government which has hitherto brought untold hardship to the people, including the ban on importation of rice, has started to bring some relief. As you hoped in your last letter, the production of local rice is a dividend of that long-suffering with LAKE rice making its debut sometime last year amongst many other plusses. But what its status is currently is one of the many things I will like to learn.

What has since happened with the church collapse? Has the culprits been identified and brought to book? I suppose the wrath of the people is usually self-directed, choosing only those it wishes to consume, especially those who may not live in the same spheres as one does like a different religion, ethnicity, social class or political party.

Please, extend my greetings to all that you can and that you care about. I hope to read from you soon.

Yours, always,

Ola

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