I find a symbolic similarity between the travails of Dr. Chike Akunyili and Reverend Richard Henry Stone, (1837–1915) the latter’s which I picked from his memoir that contained his missionary activities in Nigeria entitled, In Africa’s Forest And Jungles. Stone was an American missionary who came to Africa during the nineteenth century to represent the Southern Baptist Convention and who spent years in Africa among the Yoruba-speaking people of Western Nigeria.
For both Stone and Akunyili, I struggled, with scant success, to reconstruct the horror of the grisly movie in which they starred.
Akunyili had been shot and killed at Nkpor, Idemili Local Government of Anambra State by yet unidentified gunmen. About eight other people were said to have been shot dead or beheaded in that melee. Save for the video circulating on the social media of his huge frame lying on the bare floor, writhing in unimaginable pain, his face a huge mask and gash of ripped flesh and blood, Akunyili didn’t live to recount the gory horror of his waylay by that band of bloodthirsty hounds in the last minutes of his life.
For want of a picture to fill that void, I fled into the experience of Reverend Stone who had been subjected to a scene of similar waylay, over a century ago. Again, while Akunyili was said to have been driven in a car, Stone was riding a war horse, which he named Bucephalus, sold to him by the legendary warrior of Yoruba, Ijaye kingdom, Kurunmi who Stone had the opportunity of meeting with.
Upon receipt of a message that one of the missionaries stationed in Oyo might be in danger, Stone set out on a journey from Ijaye on his Bucephalus. Unfortunately for him on that journey, he was ambushed “and quickly surrounded by a body of men armed with guns and cimeters” at “Eedoh,” most likely Ido, a suburb of Ibadan; men he later found out were “Tarkpar (Tapa) and Foolah (Fulani) adventurers under the command of Ebaddan (Ibadan) officers.”
I went into this long history to conjure the comparatively agonizing travails Akunyili went through in the hands of his own killers. Stone, a man of peace, intent on rescuing a fellow man opposed to slavery, escaped being killed but comparatively, Akunyili, who friends and acquaintances in Enugu State told me was a man of peace who lived his life saving others as a medical doctor, was killed by men who stood for everything but peace. While Stone’s crime was riding a war horse associated with Aare Kurunmi, enemy of Bashorun Ogunmola and his slavery-disposed allies, Akunyili’s sin was allegedly being found with accoutrements of the enemies of Biafra – a gleaming car suggestive of “Nigerian beasts” and a police orderly that is the metaphor of the injustice his people suffer.
President Muhammadu Buhari came on television, a few days after the murder of Akunyili, with his ritualistic homilies which he yearly places at the groove of an almost dead god of One Nigeria. In his October 1 Independence speech, the Hobbesian life that is nasty, brutish and short that Nigerians live under the Buhari presidency merely received an euphemistic treat.
Buhari has not been able to answer the question of why and how Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, a.k.a. Igboho, who terrifyingly shrink the president’s balls today, were disregarded and inconsequential entities in 2015 when he came into power.
Who canonized, deified and catapulted them to this level of renown and worth? It was Buhari and his hostility against equity and good governance.
Buhari, in the said speech, in his timeworn characteristic, found the Nigerian media most convenient group to scapegoat.
The president was however dead wrong.
What has led us to where we are today is Buhari and nobody or nothing else. All other growths from this are mere offshoots.
This platitude of imploring us to “take this opportunity, on this special day that symbolizes the unity and oneness of our great nation, to ask all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances,” is mere cant and hypocritical.
Added to his skewed understanding of justice and equity and administration of Nigeria, the stage was set for implosion of people who seek other loops to equity and fairness, no matter how foul. This is the logic that makes IPOB’s animalism in the Southeast to fester and why a character like Igboho, in Buhari’s own narrow admittance, would be funded by a National Assembly member. Buhari is the sole reason why otherwise inconsequential characters like Igboho and Kanu are holding Nigeria to ransom and why Chike Akunyili and so many others have been killed by men who foolishly think killing their kith and kin and burning structures in their locality will remedy this government’s arrogant and inequitable governance.
This administration still harbours a frozen conception of what the media is. Nigeria is not Iron Curtains and all shades of opinions, including the so-called “irresponsible remarks” that Buhari so much abhors, in the spirit of free speech, must be accommodated. When he, as presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), in May 2012, made the generally considered irresponsible remarks that if the alleged rigging of 2011, when he was voted out, happened again in 2015, “by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood,” in the name of free speech, the press gave him a voice, even though the statement was divisive, outlandish and dripping with Osama bin Laden-kind terror temperament.
Buhari doesn’t seem to see any difference between his despotic decrees of 1984 and legislations and policies in a democracy. Banning Twitter, a major ventilating window of free speech and seeking to formulate, directly or through legislative proxies, stringent regulations, legislations and policies aimed at muzzling the press and controlling the traditional and social media space seem right to him. Rottweilers and Alsatian dogs like the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) are used to bring this about.
I feel compelled to bring into this argument the last minutes of Obadiah Mailafia, ex-Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, who died a few weeks ago. Till date, the Buhari government’s unforgiving disposition to whatever it feels was wrong with Mailafia’s interrogation of the state of the Nigerian state has impeded it from commiserating with the family he left behind.
Yes, the government reserves the freedom to choose who it showers its obsequies on, but the optics of this synchronise with the near-fabulous story of a military Head of State who allegedly divorced and never forgave his first wife till her unfortunate death, her crime being that she sought his freedom from the shackles of his prisoners.
Mailafia’s last days on earth, from accounts published in the media, where he dictated hospitals to be taken to, dreadfully imploring his family against taking him to government hospitals, speak to he apprehension among people opposed to this government that it can speed up the death of those who hold contrary opinions to it. Even Papa and Baby Doc of Haiti were not known by this heinous intolerance.
As we pray for the repose of the souls of Akunyili and Mailafia, it is evident that only Buhari holds the key to Nigeria’s peace and progress. The moment he chooses to administer this country as a national and not Fulani leader; a peace-loving leader and not one who delights in attacking violence with violence, the likes of Akunyili will not die in vain, for, we would have succeeded in steering our beloved nation away from the precipice of hatred, bigotry, divisiveness and despotism..