By Anayo Agu
he story of the Good Samaritan teaches many profound lessons, but the heart of it all is “love your neighbor in spite of your differences and be good to everyone.” The Good Samaritan embodies other virtues such as empathy and compassion. His conduct is a lesson in courage, commitment, and death to self in the service of neighbor and the public. His attitude trashes the conceit of the self-righteous.
There are no saints among us, not even one. The Holy Bible is this much clear about human nature and the morality of over eight billion human beings who populate the earth today. But there are some Good Samaritans among us. There are some persons in our political environment, who are admired for the courage of their convictions, their outstanding achievements, and contributions to our development; their compassionate predisposition to rescue and bind the wounds of any lone way fairer stricken down by bandits on our uncertain, life highways. Such people will always be rare in any environment and at any moment in time. But, amid our current challenges, such are the people we really need to lead the charge in our next political cycle starting May 2023.
THE REIGN OF TERROR
Things are no longer at ease in Enugu State. Anyone still thinking otherwise is either living in a fool’s paradise, or is a direct beneficiary of the inexplicable, sudden descent of the State into a conclave of killing and bloodbath in broad daylight. There is no doubt that something has gone fundamentally wrong with our security architecture and/or with the key operatives. Otherwise, how does anyone explain the carnage going on in several communities in Isi Uzo local government area, the killings and the pandemic of kidnapping spreading unchecked like wild fire across the State? Are these fatalities not enough indicators that our security system has collapsed? Or are we waiting until Enugu State becomes a replica of the mayhem in many states in Nigeria?
On all fronts and in all our highways, Enugu State is under attack. While the Federal Government watches from a distance and appears indifferent, and the state government seems helpless, gangs of merciless bandits, ruthless kidnappers and weaponized herdsmen are gradually snatching Enugu State from “the hands of God.” And the irony of it all is that the elaborate headquarters of the 82 division of the Nigerian army is located right at the center of the state capital, Enugu. Yet allegations are rife, proven or not, that some soldiers on duty at check points might be complicit in most of the kidnappings now happening frequently along Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, along Four Corner – Udi axis, along 9th Mile-Udi old road, along 9th Mile-Opi old road, and along Nike-Opi bypass. Agbani, a strategic commercial town in Nkanu West, has also become a killing field and a nightmare to the Police.
Enugu State, once rated as the most peaceful state in Southern Nigeria and one of the safest places to live and do business, has suddenly become a safe haven and a gathering wasteland for merciless bandits and foreign kidnappers. And the relevant authorities appear unwilling or unable to stem this worrisome trend. All of this month of November, 2022, the social media have been jammed by tales of tragedies, and of gory stories about victims killed on their way home. The statistics include a mother and a child returning from a marriage ceremony in Ebonyi State, and victims hacked down or taken hostage in their neighborhoods.
THE ILLUSION WE GLORIFY AND PAY FOR
State governors are designated the chief security officers of their states. Yet, they neither command any security agency nor have authority to procure arms and ammunitions even for their local vigilantes. How anyone in this precarious constitutional arrangement is expected to decisively deal with and effectively tackle the compounding complexities of our security challenges is beyond comprehension. More importantly, this dilemma calls to question the real intention of the humongous security votes the governors are burdened with and most enjoy to dispense without transparency and accountability.
BEFORE THE CHRSTMAS SEASON AND THE 2023 ELECTIONS
A state of emergency must be declared, at least for one week, in Enugu State to address the surging brigandage and killings on our roads, farmlands, and communities. Otherwise, this Christmas season may be a harrowing period, and it may witness some unpleasant experiences. We must devise some indigenous ways to take back our state from foreign bandits, commercial kidnappers, and armed herdsmen who have seen our people and environment as a soft target. We must be strategic, unanimous and decisive, and our political leaders should be at the forefront.
Some concerned citizens have made useful suggestions on how to curtail our deteriorating security situation. Their suggestions include the necessity of local government chairmen to step up security surveillance and also the need for them to take full charge of security responsibilities in their domains. The thinking or the wisdom in this proposal is that security is local and it is everybody’s business. While one acknowledges these good intentions, the fact remains that security is constitutionally and financially a national and sub-national function domiciled with the office of the president and the state governors, who are “designated” the chief security officers of their states. Designate is used advisedly here, because; state governors are chief security officers de jure, but not de facto, as lawyers would put it. It may therefore be problematic to ask the local government chairmen who do not have the financial backing to take over the kind of large-scale insecurity currently besieging every nook and cranny of Enugu State.
STEMMING THE CAMPAIGN OF CALUMNY
Some weeks ago, there was a very interesting article, possibly in Enugu Metro. According to the author, the governorship candidates of the four leading political parties in Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah of PDP, Chijioke Edeoga of Labor Party, Frank Nweke, Jr. of APGA, and Uche Nnaji of APC, are protégés of some of the god fathers who dictate the selection of political leaders in Enugu State. While the author accused Edeoga of loyalty to the Nwodo family who are his in-laws, he claimed that the other three candidates are beneficiaries of the Ebeano family. In the end, he suggested that the electorate should discard the four candidates and look for credible, untainted alternatives from other parties. As erudite as his analysis and commentaries appeared to be, the implausibility of his recommendation was made obvious by his failure to mention some potential replacements of the four front runners from candidates of the other struggling political parties.
Over the months, starting from the buildup to the party primaries, Enugu State has witnessed a barrage of very distracting campaigns of calumny deliberately orchestrated by some candidates to undermine their most dreaded opponents. One has heard, seen and read some of the most obscene accusations of improprieties and purported pending trials by the EFCC. For the sake of decency and fair contests, political candidates must be persuaded at this juncture to desist forthwith from personal attacks of their opponents. They should focus on issues of governance, leadership, security and our broken economy.
HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY
Beyond hoping on providence and the providential wind of change, it would appear that some candidates are not really investing in the 2023 elections. According to Vitus Ozoko (Odenigbo), among the four leading, governorship candidates, Peter Mbah of PDP appears to be the most prepared for leadership. Ozoko made this unequivocal statement after listening to Mbah’s presentations at a zoom meeting hosted by Enugu State people in Diaspora. The town hall meeting which had previously featured Edeoga and Frank Nweke, Jr. provided Mbah an opportunity to answer sundry questions related to his relationship with his former boss, His Excellency Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, the formation and ownership of Pinnacle Oil Company, and accusations of executive embezzlement of state funds while he was serving as commissioner for finance. In his statements, Ozoko posited that Mbah is the only candidate with a clear roadmap, a manual on how to rebuild, reposition, and revitalize Enugu State. For instance, in his manifesto, Mbah promises to aggressively tackle unemployment, work with relevant security agencies as well as mobilize stakeholders and communities. Furthermore, he proposes to deploy drones, close-circuit cameras and digital tracking systems to checkmate our spiraling insecurity. His manifesto is described as a Master Class, and his propositions inspire hope. In this wise, one can say that his strategy inspires hope, but hope is not his strategy.
WHAT TO DO NOW
At a time like this when we are in the midst of extreme challenges, particularly challenges of heightened insecurity, a broken economy, and widespread poverty, we need a Good Samaritan, not an angel. We need a Johnny-on-the-spot, someone able and willing to lead from the front, regardless of the mountains of dangers ahead. We need someone who will not be encumbered or distracted in office by sectional acrimonies or differences.
In conclusion, it is worth repeating with all seriousness that Enugu State is under attack by some gangs of merciless bandits, ruthless kidnappers and weaponized herdsmen. These foreign invaders have literally taken over the highways, farmlands and neighborhoods, and they are determined to snatch Enugu State from “the hands of God.” A state of emergency must be declared ahead of Christmas and Enugu people must have the courage to rise up to take back the communities from these rampaging criminals before the state becomes a replica of many states in Nigeria that are now a den of terrorists. As political campaigns intensify ahead of the 2023 elections, we must resolve to vote for a Good Samaritan, and we must resist those who cast aspersions on their opponents in attempts to rubbish their reputations instead of proffering solutions to our challenges. Such candidates are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The die is cast.