Enough Of The Lethargy, Let’s Do Something,By Ibim Semenitari



Ibim-SemenitariLast week, a young Rivers man sent me a message that I consider very profound. The piece was a reaction to the unfortunate air crash of the plane bearing the remains of the late governor of Ondo State. I will not bother to go into the details of it but some part of it struck me. “Fix Nigeria, You will not only invariably fix your family in the process, but your future and your future resting place.”
Before I received the piece from Mr. Ali Akeodi, I had attended the memorial mass of the four young men who were killed in Aluu, the host community of the University of Port Harcourt. The parents of the four young men had decided to do something out of the ordinary. They had chosen to plough back their grief to ensure that never again would the system fail us so much that we would have to bury our future in their prime.
The parents of the Aluu 4 as they are now better known made a profound statement. The system has failed and everyone has a share of the blame. They said something else, all of us as Nigerians need to come together to fix Nigeria.
All the four boys who died were first sons of their various families and held much promise. Handsome, precious and definitely full of vision, their families will always hear the hollow sound their demise has left.
One of the boys is the only son. I too have an only son and understand the pressure that our system puts on only sons as the bright and shining stars and the proof of their father’s manhood and their mother’s ability to perpetuate the family name.
But last Saturday was not for grieving. The parents of the Aluu 4 chose to start a foundation to focus on some key systemic problems. I’ll paraphrase their plans to include:
1) Finding a creative solution for on campus accommodation
2) Addressing the matters of insecurity on our campuses and especially the university of port Harcourt
3) Addressing the matter of values and mores in our communities
The parents of the Aluu four have made a strong statement. Even though one year after, the case appears not to be moving fast enough, the families are refusing to allow their pain define them. Rather than playing politics and grandstanding, they are taking action in spite of their situation. They are asking questions of course but they are not wasting energy in destructive criticism and finger pointing. They are making a determined move to say, “never again will we allow the system to fail us.” Their action tallies with Akeodi’s request. The need for us to fix Nigeria; for all of us to take action.
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The parents of the Aluu four have made a strong statement. Even though one year after the case appears not to be moving fast enough, the families are refusing to allow their pain define them.
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I am amazed at how little Nigerians are ready to take responsibility or action. The Aluu four were killed with people looking. The police couldn’t get there in good numbers fast enough. The judiciary hasn’t given the families justice yet and both the university and government don’t seem shocked enough to have swung into action.
On Saturday I told the audience at the memorial service that each of us had a share in the blame, but some people in the hall pooh-poohed the idea. I wasn’t playing to the gallery. I meant every word of what I said. Akeodi asked those of us in leadership questions. He wanted to know if we realized that there is life after office and that our failures of today will definitely come back to haunt us tomorrow.
He pointed to the fact that roads left undone may become the very death traps that could take our lives and school systems allowed to rot may very well produce the spouses our children will marry or the staff that we ourselves will hire to “run down” the multi billion dollar enterprises we have stolen money to build. He says a poor health system will be our undoing as we may in later years be too ill to make the trip abroad to save our lives and will need to visit the morgues which we now call hospitals. He says, the young unemployed men we arm today will come back for their pound of flesh when they find that our own children stay safe within our marbled fortresses while they live haunted lives running in rain and sun. He says, even when we escape all of this and think we have cheated the system by keeping homes abroad and sending our own children out to be trained in the best universities outside, the chickens must come home to roost. In reality, we would be faced with the fact of life that “as long as your neighbour is hungry, your chickens are not safe.”

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