As Imo Assembly boards the Titanic…

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By Yinka Olujimi

With the successful execution of the judicial coup that pole-vaulted Hope Uzodinma to office as Governor last week, I instinctively knew that it was only a matter of time for our party of integrity, the great All Progressives Congress (APC), to seize more crowns in not only Imo State but also the entire stretch of the hitherto impregnable southeast Nigeria.

It’s a classic tale of progression from zero to hero! Until last week, our party had no single member in that Assembly. But, today, thanks to the supreme twisters in the Supreme Court, we are now in the majority!

An implacable wailer friend of mine wondered aloud if the mass defection did not come after one of the hapless legislators must have received a friendly call from a top member of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), or some other big ogas somewhere in Abuja.

“Look, there must be a hidden hand in all this. These people who had seen how DSS officials invaded the homes of Supreme Court justices in the dead of night in search of pins, how Walter Onnoghen was yanked off his seat as Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) after which all allegations of fraud against him were dropped; who had seen how their Governor Emeka Ihedioha was removed via judicial abracadabra, must have known that the only way to secure their seats was to queue behind the horse-wielding slave masters in the APC,” he fumed.

I simply chuckled. I have told him, and anyone who cares to listen, time and again, that our great party is not only in government but also in power. There is no mountain too high to be reduced to rubble once we set our minds to the task. Morality is not in our books, nor is decency. Whatever we want, we take.

We needed a foothold in the Southeast, and we got it. How we did it is nobody’s business. The governors and political leaders of other southeast states better get the message, before hurricane APC sweeps their way.

The southwest is already a conquered territory. In the Southsouth, the very home of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Bayelsa, has been captured on a day daddy’s boy, Yahaya Bello, retained his seat in spite of his alleged failures in the previous four years in office.

Just this week, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar admitted that the traditional and religious institutions in the country that used to tell truth to power had been cowed by our government.

Where are they? We are in full, perfect control. No more opposition, no more dissent.

Like the Vice President of White Star Line, the builders of the Titanic ship, P.A.S. Franklin declared on April 12, 1912, I joyfully make bold to say that, this titanic is unsinkable!

Having conquered all parts of Nigeria – the executive, legislature, judiciary, social and traditional media, religious and traditional institutions, among others – our great party, the APC, is now a titanic; unsinkable!

Or is it?

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Requiem for Dalep, Andimi

Our bus had arrived at Sabon Gari, deep in the heart of Kano city one wintry Saturday in late September 1991. It was the last stopover for a band of mostly fresh graduates as we journeyed up North to partake in that year’s national youth service.

A young man with whom I had become friends during the 16-hour-long trip from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, made a dash to an eatery in the bus terminus. He ordered his meal, swallowed a few morsels and got up to go fetch a bottle of soft drinks to wash down the meal.

He had hardly taken five steps when a dirty, unkempt and ill-clad boy raced to my friend’s table, took the barely touched plate of food and emptied it into another dirty plate the lad held.

My co-traveller friend was livid.

“Whhaat! How could you steal my food in such a brazen manner?” my friend thundered.

Passersby and the shop owner quickly intervened and pleaded with my friend to let it go.

“The dirty looking boy is an almajiri. There are hundreds of them in the city, roaming about, looking for food,” the passersby intervened. The shop owner served my friend another meal, free of charge, and advised my friend never to leave his plate of food unattended next time in the city because, according to the restauranteur, almajiri boys did not enjoy the luxury of parental care. They were, in fact, abandoned by their parents when they were as young as five years, left to struggle for survival in life. They ended up in the homes of religious leaders learning the holy book, but were required to go into the streets and beg for food. They then returned to the homes of the religious leaders at night to sleep and continue studying the holy book.

“These ones are young. As they grow old, most of them leave the homes of the religious leaders and move deep into the desert to join some weird groups who subscribe to stricter practice of Islam,” the passersby added.

That was my first encounter with the almajiri. It was a sight that broke the heart those days, as the boys – plate in hand – moved from one house to the other, chanting: a-l-u-m-a-n-j-i-r-iiiiiiii!

Twenty nine years after, the five-year-old lad who stole my friend’s meal will be around 34 years today, untrained, untrainable.

The about 500 others who roamed the streets with him, are also most certainly untrained and untrainable – ready-made instruments of violence in the name of religion.

When I read the reports of the beheading of Daciya Dalep, a student of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), by an eight-year-old boy, and Revd Lawan Andimi by people who demanded two million euro before he could be released from captivity, I could only remember the almajiri boy who stole my friend’s plate of food.

That boy is now an adult. His fellow street beggars have also come of age. They no longer steal plates of amala, or beg for coins. Their demands are now in hard currencies, and in blood.

Hold those who started the iniquitous almajiri practice in the name of religion and those who sustained it responsible for the heart-breaking killing of Dalep and Andimi.

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