By Kehinde Nubi

In a country where every day has its breaking news, it is so easy to forget breaking news that broke hearts. The killing of Dr. John Chike Akunyili, the husband of the late D-G of NAFDAC, Prof. Dora Akunyili, by gunmen on the 28th of September 2021, was a scene straight out of a horror movie. It was a horrendous sight seeing him struggling for his life, and a forlorn hope, to have expected him to survive the horrific injuries he suffered, especially knowing the state of medical services in Nigeria.

Ironically, Dr. Akunyili was a first-class graduate of medicine from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and was until his gruesome killing, the medical director of St. Leo’s Hospital, Enugu. It is horrible enough to have killed Akunyili, who, if the testimonies are to be believed, was as good as they come, but, more horrible to note that seven other people were killed alongside him, including a policeman attached to him.

As usual, when things like this happen, there normally follows the usual string of platitudes and bland statements describing the killing as ‘shocking’, ‘outrageous’ and ‘dastardly’. The police, as usual, has promised to ‘fish out the killers’, and of course, again, as usual, have asked members of the public ‘not to panic’, and assured law-abiding members of the public to go about their businesses ‘without fear’, as the Police are capable of protecting them.

If truth be told, should anyone describe any death in Nigeria today as ‘shocking’? Painful – yes, but shocking? Nigeria presently is notoriously unsafe, and certainly, if we are not being sentimental, is not going to get better yet. Dr. Akunyili’s death will not be the first high-profile killing in Nigeria, nor will it be the last, and it is certainly too much, in light of precedence, to ask that the crime be solved by the police, as unresolved killings are not new in Nigeria.

Not necessarily in chronological order, Marshall Harry, Funso Williams, Bola Ige, Barnabas and Abigail Igwe, amongst many others, were killed in such a manner. It is neither here nor there whether the killings were acts of pure crime or politically motivated, the victims remain as dead as can be.

How did we get to this pass? That’s a question that cannot be answered in a straightforward manner. One thing is sure though, Nigeria did not get to this dangerous pass overnight, it was through a steady decline that could have been averted with genuine and concerted efforts.

Optimism demands that we ignore the extant realities, and simply join the parrots, who incidentally fancy themselves as patriots, in mouthing the ‘may Nigeria succeed’ mantra. However, common sense dictates otherwise. The Southeast, nay Nigeria is boiling, whereas, the leadership of Nigeria is acting as if everything is under control. The money voted for defense is mind-boggling, at the expense of education, health, and agriculture, underscoring the security challenges facing the country.

The security situation in the Southeast in particular should not be surprising to anyone. Indeed, it was sure to come, in light of the way and manner the Federal Government was handling the Igbo people. It seems to me that the solution the Federal Government of Nigeria has for the problem in the East is to kill as many Igbo as possible, and if that doesn’t work, to kill more Igbo people. In fact, there is no restraint of the security forces in this regard. It is a fact that Nigerian security agents do not value the lives of Nigerians, but, it looks to me as if, they disdain the Igbo in particular.

The inequities and iniquities of the Nigerian State against the Igbo people, at least in my opinion, had mounted to the extent of their becoming insufferable for the average Igbo. It was a matter of time, as I predicted, for armed insurrection against the state to occur. Please, I am not suggesting or implying that the IPOB or Eastern Security Network killed Dr. Akunyili, I am only acknowledging the fact of the general insecurity of lives and property in the East.

One other thing that emboldens the Nigerian State in its unbridled violence on Igbo people, is the belief that the Igbo will not want to go to war again with the rest of Nigeria, considering that the Biafran War of liberation failed with Biafra’s surrender in 1970. Do people take into account the fact that 1970 was 51 years ago? There are now three generations of Igbo people, born after the war, for whom the stories of the horrible things that happened during the war have no meaning. Unfortunately, the average young Igbo people have in their psyche the pain of the defeat and the perceived injustices before, during, and after the civil war.

With Dr. Akunyili’s death, one thing is crystal-clear, no one is immune to the danger inherent in the pervading insecure atmosphere. Unfortunately, instead of asking the necessary questions with a view to finding solutions, we have wailed as usual, and have made the usual empty and boastful promises of putting a stop to the ‘dastardly’ act! In fact, once a heinous crime has been described as ‘dastardly’ in Nigeria, that’s about all that would be done about it.

Whilst no society can be 100% crime-free, however, unless we want to continue playing the ostrich, the Nigerian society is in a special class of its own. The tragedy of the Nigerian conundrum is that things need not be this bad but for the gross mismanagement of the country.

No one deserves to be killed, except in the execution of the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, least of all peace-loving Dr. Chike Akunyili, a thoroughbred medical practitioner, and especially in such a gruesome manner.
His death ought to be sufficient for all to stop and ponder if we are doing the right things to fix Nigeria. Alas, there is no chance in Hell of such introspection happening.

Dr. Chike Akunyili has become a mere statistic, the heinous crime leading to his death may never be solved, and so, his killers, who killed seven other people with him on that day, will probably go on to kill again. What is worse, the Nigerian State, a criminal enterprise in its own rights, has secured another excuse to continue perpetrating worse atrocities than those it’s supposed to curb, on the Igbo people.

Will Nigeria ever become a stable, peaceful, and prosperous country? The answer is not blowing in the wind! The answer is very simple. Nigeria will only become a better country if we understand that, as presently being run, Nigeria is going nowhere!

Yet, to fix Nigeria is not rocket science, however, and quite unfortunately, Nigerian leaders have turned Nigeria into a racket! This is perhaps why they don’t care a hoot about fixing the country. Not fixing Nigeria leaves all of us vulnerable to deal with as it wilts. In popular parlance, Nigeria can happen to anyone, as it did to poor Akunyili!

Chike Akunyili was not killed by ‘unknown gunmen’, he was killed by Nigeria!
Nigeria happened to him!

(c) Kehinde Nubi, 2021