By Denrele Animasaun from London
“Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.” -Mahatma Gandhi
The cold blooded murder of the Principal Private Secretary to Edo State Governor, Mr Olaitan Oyerinde ran a cold shiver down the backs of numerous people in the country and far afield. Oyerinde was killed by unknown gunmen in the early hours of May 4, in his residence in Benin City.
He was 44, aMass Communications graduate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG). He was a former student activist, he was also a former Lagos State Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy. He was a template for what a public spirited individual should be. Olaitan packed a lot in to his short life and he was a fine man, a good family man, a committed public servant and a visionary.
A former member of the defunct Nigerian Tenants Association (NTA), he began his trade unionism with the Iron and Steel Workers Union as Assistant General Secretary. He was also the executive director of the Centre for Workers’ Rights (CWR) in Lagos. He is survived by his wife, Funke, four children, two sisters and parents.
You see, in the facebook community , we are closer than a lot people think and news travels with the speed of light. I happen to share some of Olaitan’s friends on facebook and it was heart wrenching to read that such a fine man met his death in such a callous and inhuman fashion. As I scanned through the tributes left on his page, It was clear that this man was loved by so many people.
One said: “Laitan Oyerinde was my childhood friend. We attended the same primary school, Ideal Nursery and Primary School, Ilorin. He had a genuine and great love of people and we were already looking forward to him becoming one of the outstanding leaders of my generation as he rose through the ranks of Labour to become the personal secretary of Edo State Governor. This is a very sad day for me. This is one too many”.
The last statement struck an eerie cord down my spine. This is prophetic and sadly the body count will continue and many tributes will follow that of other Oyerindes’.
Few days before Oyerinde’s death, there was an attack on Governor Oshiomhole’s campaign convoy, allegedly targeting the governor. Three journalists in the convoy lost their lives in the attack which the governor claimed to the media was an assassination attempt on his life.
The old is killing its young. Sadly, our society is destroying its future and they do so with such impunity . There are murmurs that the old guards ordered the killing.
In its reaction to the murder of Mr. Oyerinde, the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) stated: “The way the politics of Edo State is going is reminiscent of the First Republic politics in the old Western Region which led to tragic consequences for the entire country.”
Professor Wole Soyinka deplored the killing of Mr. Oyerinde, vowing, “The agents of darkness and retrogression will not triumph. In a text message on the issue, Mr. Soyinka said: “The hand of the assassin is clear as day. It reaches all the way back to the killing of Bola Ige.”
This country is being crushed by a gerontocracy of older politicians or elder statesmen who appear determined to cling to the vestiges of power for as long as possible and then, when they do retire, demand impossibly rich private and public pensions/allowances that the younger generation will be forced to shoulder.
We know too many and statistics of political assassinations in Nigeria far back as the 1990s. Contract killings have become part of the underbelly of our brand of politics.
What is for sure is the fissure between young and old is deepening.We are squandering our future.
The older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones. This is very worrying indeed and we need to re-examine the way we live our lives. We need the likes of Oyerindes to heal Nigeria and make Nigeria live up to its potential.
The figures speak for themselves, in any civilised country , you would have the confidence that they would solve these murders . No, not the case in Nigeria. The numbers just stack up and people cry and make noise and then nothing. We have become numb with similar cases that we expect no more from the authorities. We have become seating ducks, living, oh , I mean existing and praying that these nefarious monsters do not visit us. We have become frightened of our own shadow and murderers are free to roam the streets and kill at will.
We have normalised this way of existing and we have become so apathetic instead of getting angry and demanding that our leaders provide us with the security that we should expect and need to go by our daily lives.
We have unleashed terror on our streets and they visits us at home and we stand by and do nothing. We should demand action and expect no less because we deserve better. Good people should not seat back and watch bad things happen because we feel helpless and believe things would not change. Well, it would not change unless we change our attitude and do something to change things.
I remember , the Dele Giwa murder and this has a similar resonance. Where the evil men wish they could erase a promising and useful life , they have failed . You can kill the body but, you cannot kill the ideal and it lives on in others. These murderers , long after their miserable lives have been expunged, the people we will continue to remember these fine and enigmatic people; through the lives they have changed and the way they have lived their lives.
They will continue to live through their body of work like we remember the likes of Martin Luther King jr, Malcolm X, JFK jr, Anwar Sadat, Ken Saro Wiwa , Uncle Bola Ige and many others . We will remember them , because they stood up for what they believed in.
“There are two ways of living: a man may be casual and simply exist, or constructively and deliberately try to do so. The constructive idea implies a constructiveness not only about one’s own life, but about that of society, and the future possibilities of mankind.” -Sir Julian Huxley