(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – Igwedibia Johnson, also known as Don Wanny, said to have been a cultist operating in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, ONELGA, of Rivers State was killed along with some of his lieutenants on Sunday by security operatives in Enugu state.
Since after the confirmation of the death of Don Wanny, an indigene of Aligu village in ONELGA by officials of the Nigerian Army, condemnations have been pouring in from across the country and Rivers State in particular.
Ironically, the man who was celebrated yesterday in some quarters has suddenly become an orphan and denied by all just because the odds have turned against him, and he is no more. His killing attracted the attention of many because of the new year killing of about 18 people in Omoku, many of who were worshipers returning from a cross over night meeting, and he was alleged to be the mastermind.
We are convinced by now that some one will be anxious to know the connection between Don Wanny and Nigeria’s former head of state, late General Sanni Abacha. The parallel is not difficult to see:
While General Abacha lived, Nigerians were not aware that so much looting was going on in an administration that was championing the war against indiscipline and corruption. At some point, almost all the political parties were adopting him to become their presidential candidate in the on going transition process.
However, shortly after the man died, Nigerians were inundated with stories of how Abacha, the maximum ruler at the time looted the nation blind. It did not end there the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took steps and was able to recover a huge chunk of the looted funds. The succeeding administration of Umaru Musa Yar’Ádua, that of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan even up to the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari sustained the effort and millions of dollars said to have been looted were returned to Nigeria from foreign banks.
Ironically, while all attention appeared to be on the recovery of Abacha loot, no noticeable efforts were being made to also recover funds allegedly stolen by other leaders before and after Abacha: Or is someone telling us that Abacha was the only former Nigerian leader who took advantage of his position to unlawfully enrich himself, relations and associates?
In our considered opinion, Abacha could not have been the only one. He was probably singled out of the lot because of his sudden death in office. And interestingly, there appears to be a consensus among Nigerians that the story would have been different if the Kano born former military ruler were to be alive. He would have been enjoying the same kind of immunity that his colleagues are enjoying today, in addition to a prominent position in the Council of State meetings and other national functions.
This brings us back to the mass condemnation of Don Wanny after his demise: If only we realise that there are so many other Don Wannys walking the streets, and being celebrated by a cross section of the society, then we will rather be mourning over what has befallen us.
We believe that Don Wanny, who is being condemned all over the place for his alleged crimes is only a reflection of a society that has lost her conscience; a society where money is preached as the answer to everything and people are therefore desperate to get it at all costs! Those who succeed in making it by hook or crook are worshiped, but they are abandoned whenever thy run out of luck. Welcome to the society of pretenders!
Well, some may be wondering why it was so easy to capture Don Wanny in such a very short time even when not one of the Fulani herdsmen who are said to be responsible for the provocative destruction and killings in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Adamawa and Enugu states has been arrested over the years. It is a similar conspiracy of silence putting on a different uniform, but no nation can fulfil its potential if some persons are allowed to achieve their goals on the ruins of the rights and aspirations of other citizens.
Any wonder why the West has always maintained that Nigeria will remain a stunted giant until she embraces good governance? Surely, things can change for good in Nigeria but that will only be possible if there is a sincerity of purpose. Unfortunately, selfish interests have so beclouded the consciences of many that what is right is being determined by the parochial interest it serves. The implication is that, the definition of what is right and just is no longer as we all know it but as defined by the whims and caprices of the powerful and brutal.
Many might not have seen it from this perspective but we believe Nigerians should be restrained in celebrating the killing of just one Don Wanny out of so many others who, rightly or wrongly, are daily scheming to improve their access to the common wealth. In one of his Face Book postings, Azubuike Ihemeje, who sounded like someone very familiar with the history of Don Wanny said inter alia: “He was not a creation of any one but opted to become the evil he came to be associated with. What began with mere agitation for (Nigerian) Agip (Oil Company) recognition soon snow balled into full fledged criminal network of armed men that specialises in kidnapping , armed robbery etc.”
Our contention remains that, while condemning Don Wanny’s alleged violent activities, we should not loose sight of the fact that he is a product and reflection of our society where the dominant population seems to prefer darkness to light, falsehood to truth, and dishonest men over men of integrity. There is need for a paradigm shift: Instead of waiting until after the damage has been done we should be courageous and proactive in condemning and punishing criminality wherever it is observed. That, to us would be a better deterrent than being reactive.
Going forward, we believe that justice can only be seen to have been done to the memory of late General Sanni Abacha if the recovery of Nigeria’s stolen funds do not start and end with him. And for the war against corruption to succeed, all Nigerians must own it, while we call on the relevant authorities to purge themselves of double standards and do the needful.
Besides, something must be done to check the unimaginable desperation for money and power among Nigerians, especially politicians who perceive money as an end in itself instead of a means to advancing the cause of national development. Politicians must realise that advancing an ambition on the ruins of others will ultimately harm both the victim and the aggressor.
Nigeria, the country with great potentials is in need of people who love her, not necessarily those who swear that they love the country when they have a hidden agenda to care only for their own well being. We also need peace, but this can only be achieved when there is mutual respect for the rights and lawful aspirations of others, irrespective of their tribal and religious affiliations. Aristotle was right when he said: “All virtue is summed in dealing justly with every man”. That is indeed the crux of the matter. God bless Nigeria.
Iheanyi Ezinwo is the publisher of Notable Outcome.