FEATURE ARTICLE

Temple Chima UbochiMonday, January 30, 2012
[email protected]
Bonn, Germany

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A MORNING WITH KIDNAPPERS IN ABA, NIGERIA (1)

Morality has disappeared, and people now do anything for money, an extremely serious social problem. (Xia Xueluan)

Some rich people are poor, and some poor people have great wealth! Being kidnapped and held for ransom never worries the poor man (Proverbs 13:7-8 (TLB))

No plan can prevent a stupid person from doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong (Charles E Wilson)

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong (Thomas Sowell)


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returned from Nigeria on Tuesday January 24, 2012. But it wasn't a nice experience as I had a deadly encounter with kidnappers in Aba. I thought kidnapping was a joke until I experienced it first hand.

Briefly: On Monday January 16, 2012, the day started just like the ones before, but, I had no vague premonition of what was waiting for me later that day! I went to see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) because of my chronic eye problems (red and watery eyes) which have defied all medical remedies here in Germany. I decided to try a Nigerian eye doctor based on the belief that a Nigerian doctor would be better placed to diagnose my eye problems. So that morning (Jan. 16), I asked my nephew to drive me to an eye clinic at Ahaba Umueze, near where the Abia State University Teaching Hospital has its new site. We decided to take the MCC road, few kilometres after Osisioma Junction, not knowing that kidnappers laid an ambush for their "prey" after getting a tip off that their target would be using the road. It was a tragic case of (me) being at the wrong place at the wrong time. When the kidnappers stopped us, they didn't know whether to take me away or to let me go so as to wait for their prime target. After holding us for sometime, they decided to let me go, as kidnapping me would have been a distraction for them, because, the bigger fish they were waiting for would pay them more than me. They asked us for money before letting us drive away. Despite the military presence in Aba, the menace hasn't been defeated outright. The whole tale will come later, but, before then, let's look at what they have turned my beloved Aba into.

Aba, the popular Enyimba City is no longer what it used to be! If you knew what Aba was, and you visit the place now, you will hardly believe your eyes. Things are no longer what it used to be in the city once touted as the "Japan of Africa". To put it mildly, Aba is now an eyesore! Emmanuel Onwubiko wrote: "I must confess that my heart, mind/soul is in Abia because Aba City in Abia State is a spiritual home of all the Igbo speaking people all over the world because of the undeniable fact that all Igbo families are represented in the diverse entrepreneurial activities going on in that gravely neglected commercial town. I weep on daily basis for Aba, a city seen by even we 'non-indigenes' as our spiritual home".

Maladministration, armed robbery and kidnapping have destroyed Aba and never again will the town regain all it was known for. Successive inept and corrupt state and local governments allowed Aba to rot away: roads are impassable (see the Tit Bits); structures are moribund; infrastructure is non-existent; and law and order have broken down beyond imagination. Do you know that Nigerian Breweries Ltd. (NBL) is no longer producing star lager beer in Aba, rather it is using the sprawling complex now as a depot, because, kidnappers didn't allow many of their senior staff to be? Do you know that companies like Lever Brothers, PZ and many others have stopped production in Aba due to lack of security?

Daniel Elombah, while posting the picture below, put it succinctly:

"This is the popular Port Harcourt Road in Aba, Abia state. Part of the expressway had been encroached by filths. Ariaria market is the worst. Waste had taken over. The government cannot point out a single road it had constructed in the entire city. Umuahia is not even better. These are the calibre of leaders parading as Igbo political leaders. There's trouble in Igboland. Ndibanyi, anyi na egbu onwe anyi na agho kwa onwe anyi aghugho" (Afam Chukwunwike)

"If you are from Abia State, have you called or been home recently? A state of despondency has overtaken the land. Evil and grave atrocities reign supreme: Murder, arson, armed robbery, child trafficking, human trafficking, human sacrifices, ritual murder, kidnapping, government high-handedness, wanton impunity, looting and brigandage, workers strike, traders chased away and their stalls locked up, name it! Aba, Abia State, a city with skills and great potentials, talents everywhere; almost everything can be manufactured in that city. From good quality clothing's, shoes etc. but marred by poor infrastructure; dilapidated roads, rubbish and children all over the streets- A CITY BETRAYED!

An Abia indigene told me: Abia is now the worst state in Igboland!

From 'God's own state' to the 'the Devil's own state'!

How did I get to know all these?

I was trying to find out why the murderers of Chidi Nwosu (the murdered human rights activist) remain at large….why the arrested suspects were released from Police custody; freely moving about…it was a sad tale!!! A reliable source that wishes to remain anonymous for fear of his life told me: "up till now my brother Chidi is yet to receive justice, one of the commissioners for commerce and industry is using Abia state money to support the killers and stall justice. His name is Dr. Samson Orji"

What the government does now is to destroy people's houses and business premises on the pretext of widening the roads, but, till today none of those roads has been widened. The government collects one levy after another, but, nobody cares about the mountains of waste heaped every where. The government collects environmental levy, but, everywhere is filthy; the government collects borehole levy from their private owners instead of living up to its responsibility of providing piped and treated water to the people; local government officials visit any building site even before a single block is laid to collect building levy, but, there are no good roads. What the governor did was to create disunity amongst Ndigbo by disengaging non-natives from Abia State Civil Service. Even Abia State daughters married to other Igbo states' indigenes were not spared the ordeal. Governor Theodore Orji's wittingly disengagement of about 3,000 non-Abia State indigenes from the state's public service is criminal. This ugly move has threatened the corporate existence of Ndigbo and the wellbeing of Nigerians. What of if other states retaliate by sacking all Abia State indigenes from their civil service, what would happen? Pini Jason wrote: "Last August the Governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Ahamefula Orji, issued an order sacking so-called non-indigenes from the public service of Abia State. In a directive dated August 25, 2011 entitled: "Backloading on Transfer of non-indigene in Abia State Public service to their state of origin," the Governor directed that all non-indigenes working in the public service of Abia State (including Local Government) be transferred to their states of origin effective from October 1, 2011. To be excluded from this purge are non-indigenes in the tertiary institutions in the state. This policy has expectedly drawn appropriate flaks from Igbo nation for those affected by this purge are mostly fellow Igbo. There have also been some sympathisers who have tried to rationalise Governor Orji's action. The main plank of Orji's defence rests on the need to pay the newly enacted minimum wage of N18, 000.

My view is that the purge is unnecessary, inexcusable and puts a sharp knife through the thin ligature of Igbo unity. It puts a question mark on the penchant of Igbo politicians to cry about marginalization and injustice in the Nigerian nation. I have always suspected such cries as self-serving. Orji's action proves me right. For a gregarious people who have been at the forefront of the advocacy for Nigerians who have lived almost all their lives in any part of this country to be accorded citizenship rights, I think this purge is not a very thoughtful one. It has a tendency to backfire as I have read somewhere that Anambra State is retaliating Orji's action! I hope to God that it is not true".

One can't imagine that Abia is an oil producing state. The governor is not a team player as he had the reputation of being aloof whenever his colleagues from the other 4 south-eastern states meet to discuss issues such as asking for more states for the zone for it to be at par with the other five zones, or whenever they (the four other state governors) are discussing how to tackle the ecological disaster waiting to happen in the zone. In a nutshell, whenever Governors Peter Obi of Anambra, Martin Elechi of Ebonyi; Rochas Okorocha of Imo; and Sullivan Chime of Enugu are meeting to discuss efforts to improve the well being of the zone, Theodore Orji of Abia will be absent.

This column supports the convening of a sovereign national conference where the issues militating against the development and well being of Nigeria would be sorted out, as that's the only way forward, but, is frightened whenever the issue about the possible break up of Nigeria comes to the fore, because, the Biafran spirit is gone and with the death of Ojukwu (may the soul of the great one rest in perfect peace), Ndiigbo would be worse-off if eventually Nigeria reverts to the regional system of government or in a worst case scenario, breaks up. Because, if the Igbo politicians can be so corrupt and uncaring, and if the Igbo criminals (robbers, kidnappers, ritualists etc) can be so heartless to subject their fellow Ndiigbo to untold hardship, suffering, pain and death while we are still under Nigeria and in a federal system of government, think of what would be the faith of the zone and its people if eventually regional system of government comes into place or when the region becomes a nation?

Aba is just a very large trash dump; everywhere, rubbish such as water sachets, banana peels, papers, scrap metals/plastics etc litter around; everywhere, trucks, trailers, tankers, cars break down in the middle of the road thereby obstructing the free flow of traffic. For instance, the space in the middle between the two expressway lanes from Osisioma Junction to Alaoji is full of parked and broken down trucks, trailers, tankers and scrap metals obscuring people's view in a place that is supposed to be free and neat; everywhere, there are police check points and still criminals are operating unhindered. Reprieve has come to Aba residents because of the dry season, otherwise what one needs to move around in Aba is, at best, canoe or speed boat, because of the bad roads. Now that the place is dry, the government has failed to fix the roads. Now, the tricycle imported from India called "Keke Napep" is ubiquitous and is turning into a menace just like the Okada before it.

The government of T.A. Orji is not interested in reconstructing the bad roads, because, this column was reliably informed that the governor vowed to deal with Aba residents for throwing "pure water" sachets on him last year. But what the government does is to engage in propaganda, using the state media, and claiming to have constructed one bogus road or the other or having awarded one fake road contract or another. Last December, just few days before New Year's Day; the people of Obegu in Ugwunagbor LGA of the state feted their son who is the state's deputy governor. There, while addressing the people, the deputy governor lied that the state government has re-constructed Obohia Road up to Ugwunagbor LGA headquarters, but, many of the people there came through that road to the occasion and were wondering if the Obohia Road the Deputy Governor was talking about was somewhere on the moon or on Mars, because, the Obohia Road they know is still impassable even in dry season. Some of the people wanted to manhandle the deputy governor for spewing out brazen lies, safe for his security detail, and many walked out on him. A journey through Obohia Road from Ngwa Road Junction ends at St. Peter's Anglican Church Umuagbaghi, just opposite Umuagbaghi East/West Primary Schools Aba, because, that section of the road is not motorable and nobody cares to fix it up, but, the government claimed that it had repaired the whole road. The government of Abia State is that of liars, by liars for liars: Imagine that!

More is yet to come! (To be continued)

TIT BITS

Okey Simpson wrote in Daily Sun that:

* Aba as commercial city has collapsed.
* Riding on human back becomes mode of transport
* Youths charge between N50 and N500 to ferry passengers

Please read more:

https://odili.net/news/source/2011/nov/2/505.html

Despite all the odds, enjoy yourself for now with these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv3Ht_2KZHM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt6Gy5qIBGM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlouFkFly3M

THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!

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IMAGES IN THE NEWS