The hot topic of the moment in Nigeria is about the church massacre in a town called Ozobulu, Anambra State and the main player at the centre of the entire saga, is 35 year old High Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu.
I thought I needed to address the issue from my own point of view..
This Aloysius guy everyone is talking about is a wealthy young man but also a gang banger who made his money from drugs and other nefarious activities. And from the proceeds of his illegal wealth, built a church which he donated to his local catholic parish. The same church which was invaded by his gang rivals and at least 14 people including his own father, were killed last Sunday morning.
But you know what? At the end of the day Aloysius is not much different from many of the legally elected and appointed ministers, governors, senators that we have occupying huge, plush obscenely decorated offices, drawing obscene salaries and allowances, with obscenely bloated local and foreign bank accounts in all currencies imaginable.
However, the question we must ask ourselves is how come blokes like this Aloysius guy get to become “community heroes” that build churches and roads and are highly revered by their own people – because there is no way on earth anyone is going to believe that the wealth they so openly display – and spend is from any legitimate, hard worked for enterprise?
And may I also quickly point out that many of these guys have government officials, police officials – even commissioners – as friends and socialize with senators, ministers and representatives at high society events where they can be seen spraying money like sheltox.
It is easy to cast stones and all kinds of aspersions on the “Evans” (the billionaire kidnapper) and “Aloysiuses” in our midst, but in these days that those who are given the very jobs and responsibilities of caring for the masses and looking after the welfare of the citizens have failed desperately and woefully, it is little wonder that the poor, hungry and downtrodden masses are turning to the “Robin Hoods” in their community and turning their faces away from their criminal ways. These guys provide jobs,financial aid and God knows what not for people who are deeply grateful that at least someone is caring for them.
Take Ogun state – my state for example. Many of the major roads are an absolute disgrace to the 21st century and have no place in any society. The last time I travelled home, I turned into a jelly-livered driver when I had to drive on a road that was not too different from driving in a 20 feet river and it felt like the car was going to capsize. And no, it wasn’t in Lekki! Some roads in Ijebu Ode simply need to be blocked off and abandoned as they are simply unsafe for either motorists or pedestrians. Many have been ignored by governments and even more surprising that many of these roads lead to the villas and palaces of rich residents who cannot put their hands in their pockets and fix the roads – except of course when they have their birthday or kid’s wedding coming up.
The state is littered with schools that no human being should be seen in. Oftentimes, I wonder just how students manage to study or learn in some of the classrooms I’ve seen. And would you believe that some schools – even secondary schools still have “shalangas” (pit latrines) for the use of their students!!! In 2-0-1-7!!! for Christ’s sake!!!!!
As for the hospitals – please don’t even go there. There are only 2 diagnoses for any ailment in Nigeria: Typhoid and Malaria. And both attract the same treatment. Endless saline drips and 2 weeks stay at highly exhorbitant rates in some “private hospital” with rude, ill educated and thoroughly backward nurses and doctors you want to ask if they actually studied medicine at all!
Subsequent Nigerian governments on Local, State and National levels have thoroughly failed their citizens with little or no welfare system, unpaid salaries or pensions and less than sub-standard amenities fit for this day and age.
So isn’t it little wonder that guys like Evans and Aloysius have become modern day Robin Hoods – stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? putting their wealth albeit ILL GOTTEN back into the community and making life easier in some way for their people.
I am in no way and by no means condoning crime neither am I impressed by wealth that cannot be explained by a legal, verifiable and open source.
I’m very certain that these two are just the tiniest tip of the iceberg of crime lords in our society. But it is highly ironic that these crime lords are the ones building roads and churches. And if we delve deeper, we will probably find out other things they have given back to their communities – schools, hospitals, kids whose education they are sponsoring, local men they have bought okada or danfo buses for, or some widow they have set up in business….. the list is endless. All we need to do is delve deeper. Meanwhile, our hugely enriched senators are busy debating how big their barbing allowances should be, how many SUVs they deserve and how many SSA they are entitled to employ.
The current Ogun State administration is building useless overhead bridges all over Abeokuta while the walls of classrooms are crumbling and falling down. Even the shalangas are overflowing and completely un-useable!!!
At the last Nigerian Diaspora Direct Investment Summit (NDDIS) which held in London, I was highly shocked and disappointed that there was no delegation to represent the state and make a presentation of the achievements of the current administration or demonstrate investment opportunities to lure returning diasporans to the state in spite of the huge number of Ogun state indigenes in the UK!! Lagos and Ondo States sent a high powered and highly informed delegation and I’m sure there will be a lot more diaspora money going to those states as a result.
But even though I single out Ogun state, it is by no means unique in its gross ability in neglecting its citizens. And “Aloysiuses” are by no means limited to Nnewi or Anambra State. Look everywhere in Nigeria and you will find other crime-lords. Evans might have been the caught kidnapper but he was by no means the only one. Criminal elements are everywhere and all over the place in Nigeria.
If the government played its role adequately and paid more attention to the needs of its people, then there will be no ponds for crime lords to flourish. Many of these criminals usually come from a background of abject poverty, and turning to a life of crime is mostly because normal and legal ways have failed them.
At the recent Championship games in London, there was no single Nigerian participating in any of the sports – not even in running or boxing that we used to be well known and respected for. That is how bad programs for young people have been neglected by the current government
There are many young men and women in Nigeria – the same ages as Evans and Aloysius that have chose to shun crime and followed straight and narrow paths – but the straight and narrow has not worked for them because those responsible for encouraging our youth are more interested in self aggrandisement and self enrichment over Youth Development. This, I’m afraid , is why many Nigerian Youths are turning to a life of crime and prostitution and until the government takes Youth development seriously and puts in place, systems and programs that will help, empower and encourage our youth to explore and reach their full potentials without the need to resort to crime, then I’m afraid, the Aloysiuses and the Evans are only going to get more proliferous in our communities.
The church shooting in Ozubulu, Anambra State might just be the beginning of a new trend.
God help us all.