Welcome Address By Chief Uba Anene Chairman EBF At The Ongoing EBF Meeting In Calabar

Everyone knows Bob Marley as a legendary and gifted artist. Some hail him as a prophet, as a freedom fighter, etc. Back in the days, I grew up with his rhythm and his philosophy.
But it took one cool morning drive to court in Awka, Anambra State one day a few days ago for me to realise after all these years that he was also gifted in the art of speaking in tonques.

Seriously! Anyone who doubts should go and listen again to the song ‘So Much Things to Say’ from the ‘Exodus’ album, particularly the ending. Anyway, as I drove along that day I kept hearing these words over and over from my car stereo: ‘when the rain falls…‘ It set me thinking.

There is so much to say about the state of our country today. There has always been so much to say.  And indeed, we are very good at saying things. Everybody has something to say, at all times.

And we do say it, quite loudly; sometimes very forcefully, even wrongly.
Difficult as that is, we could live with that. Indeed we have lived with it these past 61 years of independence and more than a hundred years of nationhood.
Lately it seems, even our loud, uncompromising and often aggressive speaking has made way for something new.

From the Niger Delta to the North East, the North Central to the North West, the South West to the Middle Belt, to the South East.

Violence has taken over our landscape. Now, apart from politics and rain-whose season this is- the most topical issue on every lip, in every mind across the nation is insecurity. No one and nowhere is safe anymore.
When its current iteration started in the North East those of us in the South East felt safe and secure. It was too far away to be of any concern to us.
When it spilled into the North East we in the South still felt safe and secure and paid no heed. Then the usually meek and placid Fulani, with whom we had co-existed peacefully for ages, acquired arms and began to expand their traditional occupation as cattle herders to kidnappers and murderers.

At that point it dawned on us that nowhere was actually safe. Not the North Central or the South East or the South West. It is safe to say that insecurity has become like a statute of general application, if you may.
For those of us in the South East who were feeling safe and comfortable a while ago, a new reality has set in. Our economy is being strangulated by a senseless and violently enforced Monday sit-at-home order.
Kidnapping is the order of the day, and it has now been joined by murder and decapitation at the hands of people who speak not Fulfulde but are fluent and at home in our own language.

Now, I know that there are many people out there who propound all kinds of conspiracy theories about these events. I do not wish to delve into that or join issues.

This earth may well be heaven for all we know. Obama may be the antichrist because he is after all black. Putin may well be Hitler’s son. Indeed anything can be whatever you wish it to be.

Everyone is welcome to whatever he chooses to believe. That is democracy for you, and the absurdity of the social media age. Before insecurity became the hydra-headed monster it is in Nigeria, there was the problem of injustice. Injustice in the simple definition of Plato is when you treat equals unequally.’ Its commonest expression in Nigeria is in the concept we used to call tribalism; now more known as ethnicity.
The fact that we have about two hundred and fifty to four hundred ethnic groups in Nigeria is not our fault; our fault lies in the abuse of this diversity to inflict injustice on one another. “clamic based injustice is the season groups who feel shortchanged or excluded in the scheme of things agitate for self-determination. These agitations have often turned violent as we saw with the OPC a while ago in the South West, 
and with IPOB and Unknown Gun Men in the South East.
Injustice is wrong and evil. It breeds resentment and anger. Anger breeds violence, and violence is at the root of the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.

Are we no longer one Nigeria? Do We no longer share a common humanity? Are we incapable of evolving a fair, equitable and inclusive political structure in Nigeria as we have in the EBF?

Was this not why John Dunne wrote: ‘No man is an island, entire of its self: every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main:…”Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind: and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee!’
Was this not why Dr. Martin Luther-King Jr. said that: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.’
We should, therefore, wake up to the need to cast out injustice from our polity. The air all around us is dark and pregnant and heavy like a rain cloud.

As we ponder over these things let us continue to remember and reflect on these words of Bob Marley: ‘When the rain falls it won’t fall on one man’s house alone. Remember that.’

Thank you.
Uba Anene, Esq.
Governor of the Eastern Bar Forum.

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