{poem} Missing My Dad

By Odimegwu Onwumere

My Precious Father: Ichie L.M Onwumere

I didn’t know much

the importance of having a Dad

till these two years and,

of not being with one.

The bird in the hand

is often not cherished, adored,

till she escapes into the air.

Who can fly?

Many things we do not cherish today,

we regret when they are gone

tommorrow.

I don’t only miss my Dad;

some parts of me died

with his passing

(c) Oct. 18 2017; Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant.

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How A Lady Embarrassed A Man For Approaching Her

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: Her gait was enchanting much as it was alluring when Kelvin my friend who was riding a bicycle on the cool evening saw the abundantly beauty on Saturday, September 30 2017, crossing the dangerous Oyigbo Express Junction, Rivers State, where security men stationed at this place have turned to terror of a sort, after the IPOB’s September 12 imbroglio.

He then made a move. The young lady suspected to be in her middle 20s was a beauty to behold, but her carriage was a misplaced one. “Hello, lady,” Kelvin said on getting to her, walking side by side now, with her. The lady kept a long face and neither replied Kelvin.

“Goodeveing, Lady,” Kelvin added. The lady in a very low but arrogant tone replied. “Goodevening,” she said.

“Thanks,” Kelvin replied. “I could not resist, at least, coming closer to you when I saw you passed somewhere, along this road.” The lady was yet to respond. Kelvin was rolling his bicycle by that hands and had followed the lady to a distance. “Stop embarrassing yourself,” the lady later talked and kept her long and pride-full self.

“That’s an overstatement,” Kelvin retorted. “What is the embarrassment in seeing a lady and walking after her?” Kelvin asked, but the lady did not say a word.

“Is it that you don’t like men coming after you or you are looking down on me because I’m coming to you with a bicycle?” Kelvin asked. The lady was a bit remorseful on hearing Kelvin spoke. She turned and looked at Kelvin, but this was the point he had to turn back. “I will be leaving now, so that I don’t embarrass you further,” Kelvin said, and left.

When Kelvin narrated his ordeal in the hands of the lady to me, I did not need a soothsayer to conclude that she was in her arrogant self because Kelvin didn’t come to her in a Venza or the other. But Kelvin she looked down on was well educated, mannered and stunningly wealthy.

At least, he had about 5 different storeys. Each is not less than 2 decks. He had some companies and what not. A young man in his early 30s. “The lady, perhaps, didn’t know the meaning of embarrassment,” I consoled him. “I think it was expected of her to have told you that she’s married or not interested in your overtures than the other way she took.”

It is pertinent that we learn how to approach people and how to respond to people. Pls, what kind of lady is this?

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant based in Rivers State.

How Being A Journalist Saved Me From Nigerian Police

BEYOND RELIGION AND CULTURE: The notorious security agents stationed at the popular Oyigbo Express Junction in Rivers State after the September 12 IPOB impasse apprehended me today (September 25). The reason was that I stopped and was rolling my bike by hand just near one of their vans. They said that I ought to had stopped somewhere that was not even well defined in their language to me. They later asked me to pack my bike but one of them, on looking critically at the ID card on my crest, said, “So, you are a pressman. You are among those talking rubbish at LUV FM of our excesses here.” I kept quiet. But one of them seemed to know journalists better. “Leave him to go, these guys are dangerous,” he told his colleague. I was still quiet. Later, I took my bike and left. When I got to my family house and narrated this story, neighbours praised my job as my rescuer. “If not, those police guys would have asked you to bring 10k before you will pick your bike,” one of the neigbours said. “What the police and SARS are doing at that Oyigbo Express Junction is pure extortion ranging from seizing people’s phones, arresting and molesting innocent people in phantom search for those that disarmed some of their colleagues of 3 guns and burnt their car.” The stories of heinous things the security agents are doing at the Oyigbo Express Junction were much. The stories reminded me of a brother, Wonder Generator, who saw me early in the morning and was telling me of how the SARS seized his bike simple because there was no plate number on it and asked him to go and bring 10k.

Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Media Consultant.

{PRESS RELEASE} Wike: When Are We Going To Hands Down In Oyigbo?

PRESS RELEASE 

Wike: When Are We Going To Hands Down In Oyigbo?

Four days from today would make it two weeks that a special security agents were stationed at Oyigbo, Rivers State, precisely, at the popular Express Junction, after the September 12 2017 supposed impasse in the area that was fingered to be an IPOB affair.

{Wike During 2015 Rivers Guber Campaign}

Even before the security agents came to the place, the least chaos that erupted had settled down and the residents were out for their normal businesses. However, the rather prolonged stay of the security agents at the Express Junction makes it look like there is a war going on in the area, which should not be so.

If you are riding a bike, you are forced to roll it by the hand to pass the Express Junction. Pedestrians are not left out of the security nuisance: They are forced to hands up while crossing the Express Junction.

And the question is – how long are we going to see this in Oyigbo? – a place that has been as peaceful as the cemetery from the time immemorial. The worrisome aspect of it all is that the security agents are converting the Express Junction to what we are yet to understand: The often shots of gun in the air by the security agents are embarrassing just as they do not send good signal to the Government of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

If there was a cult rival in Oyigbo, that would have been a different thing. The idea would have been that the security agents must fish out the culprits before they retreat to where they were deployed from. But in this case, Oyigbo is peaceful before and after the September 12 bottleneck.

I hereby call on the office of Governor Wike to call the security agents to order, to allow residents and passersby to walk freely without any form of molestation by the security agents.

It does not add up that Oyigbo residents should be raising their hands up before they walk the Express Junction. In a sane clime, this security method does not represent the wish of democrats in a democracy.

The practice by the security agents can be attributed to pure intimidation given that in a democracy, the “people shouldn’t be afraid of their government,” one Alan Moore, V for Vendetta would say, “Government should be afraid of their people.” But in Oyigbo, the people are being intimidated to be unnecessarily afraid of the government, which invariably was not the mindset of Governor Wike.

We should not allow anti-intellectualism and anti-democracy become a recurring decimal in the political sphere in this country. Let the governor read Mahatma Gandhi, “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

Notwithstanding, if the security agents must stay, let the residents and passersby be allowed to walk freely without raising their hands up and the motorcyclists, not rolling their motorcycles by hand before they cross the Express Junction.

The continued mandating of people to raise their hands up and motorcyclists to roll their machines by hand, do not achieve positive gains to the government of Governor Nyesom Wike, but a bad name.

Oyigbo is not known for charlatanic maneuvers, so the residents shouldn’t be subjected to ridicule and inhumane features in the name of security checks. Let the governor withdraw the security agents to allow people go about their normal businesses. The security agents’ presence at Oyigbo Expressing Junction is not only intimidating the residents but also halting individual businesses.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes In Rivers State (CONIRIV). Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Date: September 22 2017.

[poem} Oyigbo On September 12

By Odimegwu Onwumere

{Scene of IPOB protests}

The orgy of messages has been received in Oyigbo:

Some vehicles cremated, human grievance still mountaining.

The streets are littered with baked chaos,

Stern-looking agents from Aso-Ruse watch in apprehension.

Biafra protesters clamour for freedom

Adjacent-to the craving of the man from Daura;

Who fancies their blood sponged-down the ocean

In lure of freedom he sees as a taboo.

Men are drinking coffee to expunge sleep

Yet, sleep befalls them like a possessed by malaria.

There is nowhere to lay the sleeping head

In a land where soul and body are shoddily severed.

Certainly, everyone is un-free

Except for supernatural empathy.

©Odimegwu Onwumere; September 13 2017.

Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

How Dishonest Politicians Cause Pains Among Citizens

By Odimegwu Onwumere

The electioneering campaign is on and we gather ward by ward and unit by unit to receive aspirants of political positions in 1999 and hear their manifestoes. They promise us of a better living like good roads, hospitals, qualitative education, constant electricity and other people-oriented need.

{Scene of IPOB protests}

While we listen to them, many of us do not believe their sermonizations. They say that politicians are not honest in the entire global political environment, they are not frank. They say that politicians just speak in the language that they feel will arrest the minds of the people, seeking to engage the people, but not actually to do what they promise after the people must have voted them.

There are today tears and anguish written all over our faces – we are now refugees in our country, christened Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). I look for explanations to define the relationship of politics with the people; it is a strong and importunate relationship of disagreements. The word politics is dirty to people. Nigerians say that politics has become about power and conflict and this explains why many people are especially irrational about politics.

The displaced are victims of politically-motivated insurgencies being carried out by Islamic sect known as Boko Haram in the northern part of Nigeria. The last time I checked, there were nearly 4 million people in the camps where the government provided for them. These people are excluding hundreds of thousands that have been killed since the mayhem started in 2009. We are facing a problem of political foolishness. It is a social problem greater than any crime in the world; politics has prevented our leaders from solving the problems they promised the voters that they would solve if voted for.

We have been having politically-motivated religious wars between the two dominant religions of Christianity and Islam in the country. The United Nations (UN) will always have politics or is it humanitarian services to play in such crisis whereas it is very hard to see a country that is united with each other across the world. Politics has divided countries and peoples. Yet, we hear that in the last 20 years alone, the United Nations (UN) has presented electoral support to more than 100 countries. However, the drums of wars and rumours of wars in diverse places, being brewed by politics continue to skyrocket.

We once saw Palestine on 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 where people lost everything they had due to political conflict. I have heard of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the decades of dictatorship under Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, where Tunisians gnashed teeth in their experience of bad governance, dearth of liberty and poor panoramas. They later engaged the government of Ali in December days of 2010 and on 14 January 2011, they achieved their objective and the government was ousted. By then scores of people have been pummeled to the soil. All boiled down to politics and the people.

I’m looking for the truthful person who will engage us actively. I would have joined politics but one has to know how many millions of dollars that he or she has, hence politics isn’t for people, but for the capitalists, who have for centuries been transforming in circles from the times of lords and feudal and found themselves in democracy. Around the world, I’m seeing a lot of people who are not engaged in politics and policymaking, due to politics.  Yet, over the years, you hear of politicians, clerics and opinion leaders advising more people to join politics.

Hardly can we explain political decisions and hardly can journalists be given freedom of information. We saw Zambia in 2011, when for the second time since independence in 1964, Michael Sata from the Patriotic Front vanquished the sitting president and was elected to the country’s presidency with the highest choice, after three unsuccessful endeavours. This makes politics boring to me and it has created long distance with voters. We have sentences like German sociologist Max Weber stating in his capacious sociology of religion in 1920, that the direct problems with the world people are material interests which come first, followed by mental interests, and not ideas.

We perceived that the earlier European colonization relegated the Aboriginal peoples to abysmal political approaches that contempt or pay-no-attention-to Aboriginal peoples’ cultural rights. There was the Queensland Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897, regarded as the most heinous, geared towards pointing out where the natives should live, who they should associate with or even marry. It is politics that drove more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015. The last time I checked, 135,711 people got to Europe by sea since the start of 2016. In 2015, Germany received more than 476,000 asylum applications. More migrants made the journey on land through Greece and the Western Balkans, and sought for asylum in Hungary, which had 177,130 applications by the end of December 2015.

We heard the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saying that more than 1,011,700 migrants entered by sea in 2015, and about 34,900 by land. More than 3,770 migrants were reported to have died while on their expedition. We also heard and saw the crisis that it sparked. Many countries were literarily held hostage by the flood of people. Europe nearly divided over decisions to handle the menace. Many migrants drowned in the seas and many arrived by seas to their respective countries of refuge.  We saw that Turkey and Albania didn’t rest.

The conflict in Syria drove many citizens away with the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, molestations in Eritrea, poverty in Kosovo, compelled people to leave. They were looking for better life elsewhere due to political issues in their countries.

But upon how politics has treated the people, we are still struggling to be like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the First indigenous President of Nigeria; Fidel Castrol of Cuba. You see Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President (non-U.S.1954–).  There is Hillary Clinton, Government Official, U.S. First Lady, Women’s Rights Activist and once presidential hopeful in 2016 (1947-). There was Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister (1925–2013). There is John Major, Prime Minister (1943–); Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen (1542–1587); David Cameron, Prime Minister (1966–); Alexandra Feodorovna, Princess, Tsar/Tsarina (1872–1918) and a host of others.

{Scene of IPOB Protests}

Notwithstanding, we heard a former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in 1998 that democratization gives people a stake in the society. Its importance cannot be overstated for unless people feel that they have a true stake in the society, lasting peace will not be possible and sustainable development will not be achieved.

Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

The Stinking Gap Between Politics And People

By Odimegwu Onwumere

I was youthful when the military took over the political affairs in Nigeria on December 31, 1983, lasting till 1998. Killing of civilians and hounding of activists that were opposed to the whims and caprices of the military, were the first impression that I had about politics, likewise many of my ilk. Nothing more!

Many Nigerians fled the country for their dear lives. I saw a country that was moving backward, yet preaching to us pubescent as the leaders of tomorrow. I saw radical elders who did not blink before their wards in showcasing their political impoliteness, whereas young people were involving in political conflicts.

Some sane minds were afraid that we the youth then were erroneously influenced; saying that what influences a person build up his or her future. Those in this line of thought were worried that we the youth were learning radicalism from the military and there might not be respectability and rule of law in the country, even if the much touted democracy was finally achieved.

Upon democracy in 1999, I’m among the many Nigerian adults today that are asking for who destroyed the country economically, socially and politically, especially between 1999 and 2016 that we attained democracy. I’m among the adults who are dropping patriotism to question reality: The country has not moved forward from where the military left it.

The writer in me has propelled me to ask many questions in my articles pertaining to mis-governance in our country, but the answers I have gotten are not what we collectively bargained. One may think that our country is Iraq in 2002. I see cynics everywhere, not by their making, but the hardship in the country has caused some persons’ neurons. People are going gaga. Most times, I have to go miles to charge my phone with electricity generating sets in the houses of those who can afford buying fuel at the exorbitant price of N145 a litre. Electricity supply in the country is seen by the authorities as luxury, not a necessity. No one is talking about government water. The roads are sorry tales.

I’m aghast that scarcity of fuel, kerosene and diesel is endemic in a country that is characterized among the 10 producers of crude oil in the world. Police are on their part collecting tips on the road, transport fare is on the increase, people are being sacked from their jobs everyday and there are no job opportunities in sight. The present government that promised change during its party’s electioneering campaigns in 2015 and was embraced by Nigerians in the Diaspora as well as the international community, is giving excuses like governments before it, why it cannot reform and transform Nigeria over two years it mounted the saddle of leadership.

The resultant of this is the hunger I see written on people’s faces in the name of democracy, more than it was in the military era. Functional education, hospital, road, and every dividends of democracy are all mirage. Yet, politicians are joining politics everyday to make money. Service to the people is not in their agenda.

There is insecurity everywhere. One wakes up every morning to note from news some hundreds of innocent people that have been killed either by insurgents that have taken killing as an occupation in the northern part of the country or Fulani herdsmen from the north massacring numbers in the south for the purpose that their cows must graze in the south. Kidnapping is rife and issues of judiciary and corruption are on the increase.

These heinous acts without doubt are the extension of what we learned from the military and today, our leadership (as leaders of tomorrow then) is not in moving the country forward, but in extending what we learned from the military that has left us poor.

The Federal Government is recently, politically proposing a grazing bill in all the 36 states of the federation for northern cattle owners. But the southerners are objecting the agenda. They are saying that they do not see how that will translate to national development, but owners of the cows who are supposed to man how their cows are fed.

Against this backdrop, politics has made some of our people who returned from overseas to feel that they are ‘repatriates’ or tourists, because of the sordid conditions they left many years ago, have not been solved when they returned, many years after.

Every year, we clamour for change. But change has remained elusive, not minding that the project of our country should be taken seriously. The economic system is down and citizens are scampering for safety without hope.

Observers say that more than 70 per cent of the citizens are very poor. Just on July 17 2016, the Deputy President Yemi Osibanjo affirmed this in the national broadsheets, saying that 110 million Nigerians are poor; whereas the population of the country was estimated at 170 million. Imagine!

Like many of my ilk today, who were not born in 1960 when Nigeria got her independence from the British colonialists, everything is moving backward 55 years after. Our country has not learned from the woes of the past. It keeps taking backward movement and repeating the same old things that have not made us develop like the so-called developed countries of America and Britain.

A large population of our countrymen and women believe that the country has been backward due to the charlatanic approach of the political class. Against this influence, I’m thinking if there is a correlation between politics and corruption. Everyone is saying that our political elites are severely corrupt and pay just lip service to national issues that should matter.

It was politics, like in our country, that compelled the Arab Spring of 2011 that saw to the ouster of Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi.

Our leaders are yet to learn from the political conflict of the Middle East in late 2010. From Tunisia, it spread all over the region in 2011, all-through Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

Born June 7, 1942, al-Gaddafi was politically killed on October 20, 2011. It was the same politics that saw to the death of the fifth President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti. What killed al-Gaddafi was what I saw in 1990s when youth-spawned political upheaval brushed the former Soviet coalition like East Germany, Georgia, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, and Serbia.

Across the world, politics has destroyed many conditions that include social ecology, basic resources, social networks, safety and security. Hussein was killed by a kangaroo judgment on December 30, 2006. Born on April 28, 1937, he served in his ability from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003.

We saw Bosnia in the 1990s, when young people did not understand the political situation around them and that borne emotional and shared scars of ill-treatment. The youths moved for violent struggles for the social good.

That was coming after the Palestinian first intifada of the late 1980s and early 1990s. In Syria, this is the fifth year that youths have engaged in politically-motivated war, ignited by a display of foreign intrusions on the side of government and Free Syrian Army.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and millions driven from their homes in this war regarded today as the world’s bloodiest civil war. Look at the ruins created by politics in Sudan. I still remember the Nimery’s notorious September Laws in 1983, which ushered in Sudan’s route headed for Sharia Law and the equally villainous Article 152 that bullies pants-wearing females with whips amid prejudiced sentences and shrewdness.

There is politically-motivated madness in our country and this has made a lot of people to mind their businesses and, they are naive. We have been experiencing crackdowns on opposition political parties and their members.

The authorities think that the laws they enact would shape our lives, but while we most often embrace social path and decorum, the authorities don’t. Today, liberals in the Americas are calling for political fairness, while the conservatives wink. Our backwardness as Nigerians would have been averted if politicians think that politics is related to the entire masses, not only to them. Politics is life.

Imagine where government decisions that were supposed to affect the generality of the people just affect only a few opportunists. Politicians have turned politics to where people take their destinies into their hands.

Nevertheless, no matter the shoddy sides of politics to people, the world will still have Martin Luther King Jrs., who will take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, to challenge the atrocities of politicians against their people, because conscience, not politics, tells them it is right.

We will continue to have Theodore Roosevelts, who will tell the world that in politics, it is not oppositions that count, but those unsung heroes who fight, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who err, who come short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who do actually strive to do the deeds; who know great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best know in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348032552855. Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com