Wednesday, 7 February 2018

FLASHBACK : Lawmaker bears his mind on Libyan slave market crisis. What he said is shocking!


Efio-Ita Nyok|7 February 2018

... There was a time in history in this very country when during the slave trade, —what I called the second run, that the Whites in collaboration with some Blacks (which is natural), came wickedly, took our able ones. It is recorded that in some cases Africans of then, Nigerians of then cherished their land and home such that at the Sea they decided to jump into the oceans and die. In other words they told themselves instead of me to leave that beautiful land of Africa, of Nigeria and go to whether Europe or America —whatever name you called it, let me die. That was then. I am talking about 500 years ago... That is to say that during slavery the thought was that in stead of me to go to America let me die in the sea. Today it is what, instead of me to stay in Nigeria let me die, be roasted. 
—Hon. Ogbor Ogbor Odop  

The fourth quarter of 2017 witnessed the shocking story of Libyan slave market crisis where Africans were auctioned for as low as $400 dollars. The Honourable Member representing Biase State Constituency in the 8th Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr Ogbor Ogbor Odop aka Rootman reflected on the crisis, making bold and indicting statements as well as proffering solutions to the ugly development. For him, an overhaul of our national value system, education and employment creation on the part of government as well as managing our greed on the part of the citizenry will assuage migration for supposed greener pastures. NegroidHaven met with Rootman who granted her an interview. Excerpt of the encounter :



NegroidHaven : Good morning Sir
Can we meet you, please? 
ROOTMAN : As member representing Biase Constituency in Cross River State House of Assembly, I am Honourable Ogbor Ogbor Odop. But, prefer to be called Rootman. I have various reasons for that. 

NegroidHaven : How do you respond to the gale of migration of young Nigerians to Europe? 
ROOTMAN : About Migration of some Nigerians, your question is a big one. But I would have to be brutally frank and maybe people would appreciate me. I am a Ganist-Zikist. In other words, in the whole of Nigeria and Africa at large, I uphold the philosophy of Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Dr. Gani Fayemi sacrosanct. In fact, I revere them for that their norm —nobody is near to them. So if you understand that, I have to be brutally frank. 

Talking about our young ones migrating out of Nigeria to Europe and people are now talking about it, in my yet-to-be published book I recorded what I came across in the Sun Newspaper where a man described the movement and that there are so many routes. The movement from Lagos to Cotonou all the way through Mali, Libya and all that, so on and so forth until you get to Italy. And we all know the dangers. 

If you read it, it was pathetic. But the question we should ask ourselves is there was a time in history in this very country when during the slave trade, —what I called the second run, that the Whites in collaboration with some Blacks (which is natural), came wickedly, took our able ones. It is recorded that in some cases Africans of then, Nigerians of then, (even though there were no Nigeria at that time) cherished their land and home such that at the Sea they decided to jump into the oceans and die. In other words they told themselves instead of me to leave that beautiful land of Africa, of Nigeria and go to whether Europe or America —whatever name you called it, let me die. That was then. I am talking about 500 years ago. 

How come that today, the same people, able-bodied men and women, young ones...  this is a big irony. The thought alone to leave Nigeria and then decide to go to Europe even if they die they don't mind is nauseating. That is to say that during slavery the thought was that in stead of me to go to America let me die in the sea. Today it is what, instead of me to stay in Nigeria let me die, be roasted. There is this poem I have written, the title is "Drown and Draft" : if you know the largest desert on earth is in Africa the Sahara Desert. For somebody to decide to pass through it leaving a beautiful country like Nigeria for greener pastures! 

What do you mean by greener pastures!? Which country is greener than Nigeria? We have one of the best vegetation on earth. Is the desert greener? Is Libya greener. Italy is greener than Nigeria? What I mean is a very big food for thought. But, I always say we philosophers should go beyond food for thought to balanced diet. Why should citizens embark on such an expedition? That's the question they should ask. They should stop infuriating some of us saying we have slaves in Italy. We have slaves in Britain. Who caused them to go. These people were our intelligent human beings.

NegroidHaven : In view of this some gave their reasons to be hardships, unemployment and others. Don't you think this movement justifies their reasons?
ROOTMAN : You are just answering the question I had asked. I said what will make a man/woman, who is sane, who wants comfort to do that? Your forefathers instead of leaving their land preferred to die at Sea, but now the same people, their children are saying we had better leave Nigeria, and die elsewhere. The question you asked have answered it. 

When Chief Gani Fayemi said that we have no government in Nigeria did you people believe? When they asked him 'what are the impediments?' he said government pushes citizens onward. Impediment is bringing someone down. When someone would go and push themselves and get drowned, they are no fools. Something triggered it and that is the unemployment you are talking about and the whole thing has gone too systemic that you can't even blame Buhari because this thing started from a point when some persons who were so aggrieved and because they had a gun, remove sane minds, removed the light and brought darkness —that was in 1966. From that time no plan again for Nigeria youths. 

Go to the universities you see people, thousands of youths and the question is when they come out to meet the million who are too unemployed, where are the jobs? I have already said in India, Uganda and Nigeria, they were the country so blessed with young ones but Nigeria has decided that the, like in one of my poem to maim the youth, maim the future because by the time you take all the route on earth you are so indebted you have already impoverished the unborn children. We are too inhuman to our children, too inhuman to youths, quote me anywhere —we are too inhuman to the youths!

President Nnamdi did every thing to ensure that the Nigerian youth is balance spiritually, physically, financially and otherwise but these people are ensuring that the Nigerian youths get nothing in the real sense of it. And we take it too lightly. We are talking about a country, where for instance, when the white man says an idle man is the devil's workshop such statement should be taken seriously. A human being is so intelligent, is so great, is so cunning for you to let him be idle. It's too dangerous. 

Government has to sit up and plan. They were not planning. That is the truth. I repeat it —from 1966, Nigeria's government were no longer planning. Apart from that Development Plan, apart from that, all others that followed were planning for the elite, the blind elite. I repeat it we have been too wicked, too inhuman to our youths. 

NegroidHaven : Honourable, this development is coming at the period where a new government just came onboard a few years ago. If you were to score them within this period this is taking place, what would be your take? 
ROOTMAN : Go and tell everybody, for Rootman I don't believe there was a new government. This government is that which started in 1966. It has been there. No human being can tell me that there is a new government in Nigeria. If you say there is a new government and it is Buhari, can't you see Gowon was removed by the same people, Dimka, Murtala, that was then in February 1976, Obasanjo took over, handed over to Shagari and then Buhari came. That is to say that after Obasanjo somebody should be there before Buhari comes even if it is after 20 years. And so after everything a lot of things happened. Obasanjo that was rejected 20 years earlier became the one that was proposed. When Abiola emerged, the people of Nigeria decided for Abiola the same people said no! Obasanjo said 'Abiola is not the messiah', so it must be them. Don't you think that to some persons the real owner of Nigeria have privatised the presidency? After Obasanjo a civilian will just come to camouflage us, Buhari would come. How can it be a coincidence? 

See, statecraft is not children business. I am a philosopher talking. I have to be very blunt. Statecraft, the way you people talk in this country, we are not serious. They have not started at all. That's why I will always ask the question : how come in the early 60s we had four Their Excellencies and those Excellencies proved their worth to such an extent there was a big world-bound report that Nigeria would become one of the 20th economy in 20 years time. That should be before 1980. Why didn't that happen? When John Kennedy became President in 20th January 1961, he made a statement  —even though Ghana got independence in 6th of March, 1957 nobody bothered too much. Even though the Guinea got independence nobody bothered, but when Nigeria got independence he made a statement; 'A great child has been born who would be like America'. Why are we still like this? 

What I mean is this : if four Excellencies could do this today every where you turn to is Honourable, Distinguished, everything is high super, professors who are not qualified to write even JAMB. So at the end of it when a blind man leads the blind man you know where we are. We are not serious in this country. All these things are natural consequences of our inactions and of our government all the years. Buhari coming in now —not to talk about when he is not as vibrant physically as he was in December 1983 when he took over— Then he was quite young but for now there are things He can't do because the situation is so endemic. 

Corruption is so much that Nigeria is a leaking state. Let me tell you one thing, How would Babagida only agree to leave Aso Rock When he has his own 'Aso Rock'? They call it Hilltop. Everyone is going to hilltop to hero worship. Even though Mandala has shown him example, why didn't he toe the line of Obasanjo? We are not moved. Then Jonathan that you had hope, let them tell you where he lives. 

NegroidHaven : Sir, you are a lawmaker, you make laws for the betterment of the people whose interests you hold at heart. In all of this, if you were to advice the government, what are those policies you think can be put in place to arrest the issues in a mega way?
ROOTMAN : Thank you very much. Let us be very practical. You would start by creating jobs. Engaging the youths creating a fertile land for patriotism to thrive. Let every Nigerian believe that Nigeria will help him. Italy is not heaven, Libya is not heaven, that's why I said they are not fools. When you give them education, give them an education that is worthy of its name and not education that is for the sake of education. 

And most important, Nigeria is a rich country, and knowing that a greater faction of Nigerian are poor you can only deduce one logic from it, someone is taking a large portion. So our leaders should learn to emulate Mandela to an extent who would follow the rules flat because a good name is better than riches. In a situation where an Honourable Member, a senator, President etc wants to own the whole world before they leave office which is not possible —There is a saying that 'the world resources can reach everybody but all can't take care of a persons greed', the greed among us is something else. I think our leaders should sit down and begin to think about the masses.

NegroidHaven : Beyond what government and public officers can do to salvage the situation, what can individual citizens of Nigeria do to salvage themselves from this particular situation?
ROOTMAN : One, we have to moderate our expectations. It begins from there. The government should have engaged Libyans. Libya is a country in Africa of about 6 million persons but in terms of landmass it is almost two times bigger than Nigeria, so it is a desert. We can engage them. I mean the government. 

You can't expect respect from your citizens if you do not respect them. The way you treat your child determines how some one outside would appreciate them. Let the government first treat every Nigerian as a child, with respect just like the American values its citizens and hold their interest high any where world over unlike if a thousand Nigerian dies anywhere it is treated as nothing happened. You see?

Let's first of all school ourselves, moderate our expectations because all those person who have gone, made that attempt and died at sea; are we saying there are not people who are succeeding in Nigeria? We have people who would prefer not to agree to collaborate. It's not a thing for an individual. It's a collective effort, it's an international thing, the capacity of an individual is limited. 
Now some people pay as much as six hundred thousand Naira to go on this migration, don't you think if you give some people three hundred thousand Naira they will be happy and do better in Nigeria? Let's do away with this make-it-rich-quick syndrome in Nigeria. 

Nigeria has one of the porous borders in the world because you would be asking how can it be that people are leaving like that, is there no border? Where is the Customs and Immigration corps? I also ask that questions and that's why I call it a leaking state like a container with many holes. First of all we would have made it difficult for any body who is leaving to go. How come it's easy for anybody to leave at will? We should start from there. Where a person sees it difficult to leave others won't leave too. But when they know we have no borders, it's on record that Nigeria has over a thousand illegal borders across the Mediterranean sea and they don't care. 

NegroidHaven : In view of what has happened there are still many Nigerians who want to take this risk not minding what has befallen others. They have this notion they must make it abroad, advice them. 
ROOTMAN : I will like them to remember that there was a time, the very early 1990s when there was need to travel but people refused, preferring to stay and die in Nigeria. I counsel them to know that if they are going to seek for greener pastures, Nigeria is greener than elsewhere. 

Secondly, we have to make the government know it is in their hands in terms of international relations and not individuals. 

Also we should know that home is the best. Let's join hands and build Nigeria. Going out to die on the way isn't better than staying in Nigeria. Nigeria is our nation if we leave who will build it, it is our home.

Thank you.





Efio-Ita Nyok
Is a Blogger, the Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of NegroidHaven 



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