FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunny Chris OkenwaThursday, December 28, 2006
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soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr
Cape Town, South Africa

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GRIEVING FOR GODWIN AGBROKO (1953--2006)


hock, Grief and Disbelief were the exact words to describe how I felt last saturday morning when I stumbled on the Thisday news report that Godwin Agbroko, the daily's Editorial Board Chairman was shot dead on his way home from work around 10 pm by armed robbers the previous night. As I was reading through that horrible news goose pimples enveloped my body rekindling the very way I felt in my inner system when I learnt of my father's death and that of my lovely sister whom I owe a lot for my education. It was hard to digest and difficult to believe! How could the life of this gentleman of letters be terminated violently on the street? How could such bold and brave Nigerian be sent to the world beyond against his wish by those animals who do not know his worth? How could that happen now when his role and contribution to the renaissance of our nation are still very much needed?


Although I have never met Agbroko in person (and I must add here that I'm not a journalist though I had met and got encouragement from Mrs Adekunbi Ero (who now works for TELL magazine) when she was editing 'The Observer' in Benin City and I was writing articles for the newspaper and news analysis for the BBS Radio while in school) I know he was a thorough-bred professional in his calling as a great journalist; through his incisive column on tuesdays 'This Nation' in Thisday newspaper which I read daily on the web I was able to appreciate Agbroko as a true Nigerian who share our collective desire for a greater nation devoid of the present poilitical confusion and stagnation.

Like Dele Giwa of blessed memory (whose life was taken away violently allegedly by Babangida and his security chiefs) another icon of the fourth estate of the realm has left the scene, terribly and brutally cut down in his prime by enemies of decency and orderliness.

Like the late Agbroko other great intellectual minds whose literal works make my day any day in and out of Nigeria include Kola Animashaun, Pini Jason of the Vanguard, Dare Babarinsa of Tell, Eniola Bello, Yusuph Olaniyonu and Kayode Komolafe of Thisday, Rueben Abati and Okey Ndibe of the Guardian, Olatunji Dare and Mohammed Haruna of The Nation, Steve Nwosu and Louis Odion of the Sun and Femi Ajayi who writes for Nigeriaworld.com from Atlanta USA. These are minds that can influence one by their thoughts on print, illuminating lines that constantly seek for and combats for truth and justice, virtues long mortagaged on the alter of political hubris and leadership visionlessness.

That Agbroko was killed by fleeing armed robbers while returning home to have some deserved rest after a hard day's job is what we were meant to understand but something in me kept telling me that may be that official account and theory may not hold water anyway. Godwin Agbroko could as well have been a victim of a well-planned orchestrated assassination dressed up to look like an armed robbery attack or a stray bullet target from the smoking guns of the men of the underworld.

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After all nothing is impossible any more in Nigeria; we had seen a sitting attorney general and minister of justice, Chief Bola Ige assassinated in his bedroom this same time five years ago and Obasanjo and his security network has so far not told us who did it and what was the motive. As general elections months away approaches we have seen bombs and explosions rocking different locations across the land; politics and election as the most profitable business in town now those seeking elective positions for reasons other than service to society are employing every crude and rude means to "out-thug" their opponents.

Nigeria is presently from all indications at war. Yes, it is in an undeclared war against herself! A war being fought on many fronts: Niger Delta, Armed Robbery, Collapsing infrastructures, Leadership failure, 2007 elections, Underdevelopment, Corruption, Youth Restiveness. Yet Sunday Ehindero and his men are losing grip of the damning situation. Ehindero is the most inefficient IGP since our independence after Etim Inyang during the Anini/Osunbor reign of terror in Benin city and it's environs under IBB dictatorship. The police force are also paying a heavy price for their inefficiency by losing men including the mobile police boss shot dead few weeks back in Abuja of all places.

Obasanjo (who is more active and alive fighting Atiku than doing justice to governance) must summon Ehindero now and ask him the crucial question the same way Babangida asked Inyang "Where is Anini?" The question to Ehindero by Baba should be "Where are the Aninis of today killing your men and other Nigerians like Agbroko, robbing banks and destroying properties". Obasanjo must direct Ehindero to smoke the criminals out of their hideouts or face imminent sack with a definite deadline.

Under its present harsh economic realities, mixed with rampant materialism, Nigeria breeds legions of frustrated citizens. Many victims of unemployment that is bursting at the seams and social unhappiness in the midst of plenty coupled with lack of safety nets for the economically weak announces it's frustration by rebelling against the society and venting their anger and transferring their aggression on the streets.

The present situation is throwing up armies of the wretched and hopeless, criminal gangs bent on extracting their share of the good life from a society they perceive as callous and unjust.

The criminals are further emboldened by the present absurdities in the polity. Political leaders at the highest levels daily shock the people with their open banditry in the struggle for power and with their obscene looting of the treasury, their contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, their desecration of judicial institutions and values hitherto held dear, and their idolatrous self-glorification.

The Obasanjo administration has failed woefully to address the troubling issue of security of lives and property of Nigerians. Under true federalism every state should be controlling and maintaining it's own police force, that is where Bola Tinubu should not be blamed here for the unprecedented anarchy on the streets of Lagos. May be the Yuletide may be associated with that but if Tinubu had been given the opportunity as he has been demanding to have his state police force I believe Lagos would not have been this chaotic; it would not have been overrun by sophisticated gunmen seeking vengeance against a nation that treats it's own with utter disdain.

The worst is yet to come pessimistically speaking because a calculated revolution is in the offing, an unconventional revolution that is bound to consume more innocent lives and enrich those behind the barbaric idea, a misguided revolution whose mission may not even be known or understood by the field executors high on drug and alcohol.

In the condolence register for the bereaved Agbroko family someone nearer home should help me in writing the following:

"Big brother Godwin Agbroko, you have left us so soon when the battle of wits for the soul of the nation is advancing to a certain victory. I grieve for you! But I grieve more for Nigeria, a nation in dire need of redemption. You had shown through your profession and column in 'Thisday' that you are an uncommon patriot, a rare gem, one whose conviction is noble. May the giver of life, our Creator who awaits us all someday accept you in heaven. We will continue the battle where you have left it believing that you will be with us in spirit. As the late Che Guevara said in his revolutionary parting word to his comrades and followers in Bolivia, Latin America: "Our every action is a battle cry against (dictatorship) . . . wherever death may surprise us let it be welcome so long as our battle cry may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may reach out to pick up our weapons" In this case our pens. So long brother. Adieu!"