The hypocrite minimises his own flaws and makes allowances for imperfections while homing in on and exaggerating the problems of another. We have an even distribution of hypocrites among all sections of the country. But I think there is a more bubbling joint of whited sepulchres in the south-east. Yes, a host of people lost in gyrations of affected piety and plaster saints who capitalise and summarise their troubles with third-party headlines. They are never responsible for own their problems; there is always someone or some people in the north, south-west or south-south to blame. Even the gully erosion ravaging my area in Anambra is blamed on exteriorised agents.
When are we going to take responsibility for our troubles? When are we going to face up to the adversaries within – not in the north or south-west? And when are we going to call out corruption by our own?
We are fixated on the Bola Tinubu corruption trope, but our own people made flatulent by loot we palliate the enormity of their malfeasance. A former governor of Abia State was jailed for alleged N7.65 billion fraud. But after he was released from prison, there was a carnival in the streets of Abia to welcome him – the same people he allegedly stole from. The same former governor has enjoyed canonisation by his people and even projected by them as a ‘’worthy son’’ to replace President Buhari in 2023.
Tinubu in Lagos is a bigger headache to Okoye in Owerri than the ruins of Imo state? We are more concerned about the acts of tyranny in faraway Kaduna under Nasir el-Rufai than the attempts at autocracy in Imo. Governors in the south-east have largely escaped outrage and social media justice, because the citizens of the region concern themselves with amplifying the troubles of the north, while glossing over the cancer ravaging the area. We cavort giddily to sit in parliament on issues affecting the north while our own problems are mitigated – and most times totally ignored.
In Anambra, for instance, there are over 1,000 gully erosion sites. About 70
percent of the land in the state is witnessing chronic denudation. Statistics show the environmental peril is devouring Aguata/Orumba local government areas, which have more than 78 gullies; Nnewi, (60 cavities); Njikoka/Aniocha, (50 gullies); Idemili, (46 dangerous openings); Ihiala, (40 gullies); Awka, (30 cavities); Onitsha, (22 gullies); and Anambra/Oyi, (16 gullies).
Many citizens of Anambra have lost valuable property to this creeping violator of nature. This monster has remained untamed. Now, 70 percent of land in the state is under threat! And there are gloomy projections that this intruder could overrun the state in the next few years. Yet no deliberate and exigent plan to salvage what is left. No alarm! No emergency! It is like we are waiting for the inexorable doomsday.
In Abia, some workers in the education and health sectors of the state have been not paid for months. In fact, the governor only elected to pay lecturers and non-academic staff of Abia State University 30 percent of their salary for June, 2020 – in November! But the Campus-based Industrial Trade Unions in Abia State University rejected the ignominious offer. Basic infrastructure is even not basic in the state; largely decrepit. The state is mere a garland of filth and slime.
In Imo, the governor rules like a potentate – he brooks no opposition. In September, the governor signed the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2020 which empowers him to detain anyone at his pleasure without the need for a court warrant.
Sections 484 and 485 of the law stipulate that the governor may summarily effect a detention notwithstanding the provisions of any other law – not even the constitution?
Section 484 of the law reads: “Where any person is ordered to be detained during the Governor’s pleasure he shall notwithstanding anything in this law or in any other written law contained be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the Governor may direct and whilst so detained shall be deemed to be in legal custody.”
And section 485 stipulates that any person “detained during the Governor’s pleasure may at any time be discharged by the Governor on licence” and that “a licence under subsection (1) of this section may be in such form and may contain such conditions as the Governor may direct”. It also said such a licence “may at anytime be revoked or varied by the Governor, and where licence has been revoked the person to whom the licence relates shall proceed to such place as the Governor may direct and if he fails to do so, may be arrested without warrant and taken to such place.”
This law is clearly against the lay-downs of sections 34 and 35 of the 1999 constitution, which protect the rights to freedom of liberty and human dignity.
Governance in Imo is also on the reverse gear. So, clearly we have our own problems in the south-east which we should be chewing on and outraging against. If there is famine in the north, there is pestilence in the south-east. Whatever challenges there are up north, there are also down south. Armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, homicide and other crimes are all maladies ailing all parts of Nigeria – but one side gets outraged against the more.
Ndi Igbo, charity begins at home.
––Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist