In his spare time, Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, likes to visit the City. Ordinarily, his nights are for fishing expeditions while the days are reserved for sleeping, interacting with his family and attending the Parliamentary sessions of the People of the Waterfronts. However, he chose a day last week to visit his friend in the City. Being imbued with native knowledge, he knew that the People of the City are full of jealousy for the People of the Waterfronts and so sometimes, in a bid to mimic the Waterfronts, they allow the City to be flooded. They accuse the People of the Waterfronts of harbouring criminals and so the Waterfronts must be destroyed, they vowed. The People of the Waterfronts are not perturbed because they know the People of the City are only referring to the Watersides. For centuries, the People of the City have ignorantly called the Watersides, Waterfronts. So when they talk about the destruction of the Waterfronts, they actually meant the Watersides. It is beyond their thinking that the Water has sides, front and back. The Waterfronts are indestructible and so the People of the Waterfronts never get worried whenever the talk of the destruction of Waterfronts arise.
When Njemanze Waterside was destroyed, the People of the City announced that they have destroyed Njemanze Waterfront. The People of the Waterfronts heard and kept quiet. When Abonnema Waterside was destroyed, the People of the City again announced that they have destroyed a Waterfront, and again the People of the Waterfronts kept quiet. The People of the City said the places were destroyed because of the preponderance of the criminals there. The People of the Waterfronts knew that they are not criminals and harbour no criminals. That is why when governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi talked of criminals in Waterfronts, they kept silent because deep down, he was actually referring to the Watersides. He said, “I will demolish waterfronts till I leave. Criminals live there. We demolished Abonnema Wharf waterfront before the agreed date, after payment of compensation to the landlord, because the rival cult boys in the area were shooting for many days and fighting over which group would control monies being collected from tanker drivers. Abonnema Wharf people asked Rivers State government to come and demolish the Waterfront. They said the armed hoodlums were raping the women and committing other crimes.”
The People of the Waterfronts kept quiet because it did not affect them. However, because they are neighbours, they sympathize with them. What puzzled the People of the Waterfronts is the alleged call by the very People of Abonnema Wharf for the government to destroy their houses. Is it that the very people that called for the destruction have already packed out before calling for it? Or did they stay there and invited the government to remove their roofs and walls right under the rain, thus suffering together with the criminals? Why was it difficult to fish out the criminals alone and arrest them? Will the GRA in Port Harcourt be destroyed if criminals dislodged from the Watersides run to there? Or if they run to their different towns and villages, will their towns and villages be destroyed to get rid of them? Talk of burning the house because a snake sneaked in! Abuja, the nation’s capital has no watersides, so there are no criminals there. Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Enugu, Aba, Onitsha and others have no watersides and so there are no criminals, since criminals live only at the watersides. They are lucky, else they would have been destroyed by their governors.
Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, knowing that it is the nearness to water by the People of the Waterfronts that evokes jealousy from the People of the City and so they allow their city to be flooded sometimes, went with his little canoe to avoid folding up his wrappers on the streets. He was right. The entire Mile One, Ikwerre Road, was flooded, despite being rebuilt just a few years ago. He knew it was deliberate and he quickly paddled his little canoe and moored it beside his friend’s house, before entering the room to meet his friend.
Injibabo relived his bitter experience when he went to the City last week, as he sat down like others in the Parliamentary Hall, waiting for the appointed time to begin deliberations. At last, the appointed time came and the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up to call on the ancestors to take charge of the deliberations. He picked up the bottle of the local white brew with his left hand and picked up the little glass cup with his right hand. He filled the little glass cup and began his call on the ancestors.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, he who makes his presence known to his people at every promontory, take and drink. The People of the City are mysterious people and we hand them over to you. You are the only one that could understand them. Take, drink and help us.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens detecting the unfaithful ones, take and drink. We do not know what to make out of the People of the City. They seemed doomed. We need your help to instill some manners into their heads. Take and drink.
“Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts, take and drink. We need the help of you our ancestors to understand the working of the minds of the People of the City. They abhor truth. Take and drink.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation, refilled the little glass cup and swallowed all. He allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to go round the Parliamentary Hall. They all took their share.
It was Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, that first got up to speak. “People of the Waterfronts, I greet you. The People of the City have a way of closing their ears to truth. They do it so well that even if you tell them you are a man, they are ready to announce that you are joking and that you are a woman. Even if you go to the extent of showing them your manhood, they will still insist you are a woman.
“Take the issue of Boko Haram for example. The Islamic sect has never stated that it has gone on its killing spree because of poverty and unemployment. Yet the People of the City insist that it is the reason for their mass killings. Some even go to the extent of saying members of Boko Haram are not Muslims, giving the reason that they kill Muslims also, as if people of the same religion do not kill each other. Now, the most irritating aspect of the People of the City is their chronic selfishness. They are so self-centered that it does not matter to them if several lives are lost or properties worth trillions of naira are destroyed, as long as it does not directly affect them.
“Take the case of Boko Haram again. This is clearly a terrorist organization. The leaders have been declared terrorists by the United States of America, but some Nigerians insist the group should not be labeled terrorists. Can you imagine! Armed robbers lead their groups to rob and kill; you call only the leaders armed robbers and declare that the group should be known as petty thieves! Why? Because the term terrorists will subject many of them who fly from one country to another to be thoroughly scrutinized. Can you see the selfishness? Thousands can go to hell through the help of suicide bombers as long as their children or parents or wives or husbands have not been affected, the perpetrators should be treated with kid gloves. Why can’t we tell our selves the simple truth and free ourselves? According to the U.S. Patriot Act, domestic terrorism is a dangerous action that is intended to intimidate or coerce a “civilian population,” influence government policy by intimidation or affect a government’s actions by “mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” Terrorism can be the work of one isolated individual, or a larger network of criminals. Tell me the difference between that definition and the actions of the members of Boko Haram!
“People of the Waterfronts, why I stand here talking to you today is because of the recent action of Generals Obasanjo and Babangida, two former rulers of the country. Of the country’s 52 years since Independence, together they have ruled almost 20 years, most of the remaining years, by their anointed ones. These very rulers, after knowing the truth from their years of experience, are advising that the government dialogue with the Boko Haram sect. Can you imagine! Are they afraid of them? The Emir of Anka, Zamfara state, Alhaji Attahiru Mohammed Ahmad asked the right question when he asked, “Why should everybody be afraid of Boko Haram?” Is it that the former rulers never knew what the sect stands for?
“Without mincing words, the sect has stated, “We wish to reiterate that our crusade is not for personal gain, it is meant to ensure the establishment of an Islamic state by liberating all Muslims from the excesses of the infidels. We strongly believe that Almighty Allah will reward us with his famous paradise in the hereafter as he rightly said in chapter 9 verse III of the Holy Qur’an. We wish to strongly warn people to desist from collaborating with security agents. The fact is that we are the warriors of the Almighty and even the security forces are finding it difficult to contain our activities. We want to stress that in our struggle, we only kill government functionaries, security agents, Christians and anyone who pretends to be a Muslim but engage in assisting security agents to arrest us”.
“People of the Waterfronts, where will the dialogue start from? In dialoguing, you give some and take some, so will you grant them part of their wish to Islamize the nation? Or, as they demanded again, the president will turn to be a Muslim and resign as president? It is a good thing that they have begun to attack even Emirs who out of fear have never said a word against them. The saying is true, the over-pampered child turns against his parents at last. Grandpa, please my throat is dry”
Angaladikibo coughed a little and sat down. The Oldman of the Waterfronts filled the little glass cup with the local white brew and swallowed all. He allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to go round. ###
By Kenneth Amabipi
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