By Gogi Serikoromo
A RIVER usually becomes calm, absolutely calm only after a perilous turbulence. With phenomenal confidence and pride voyagers ply the river because the calmness is their constant supplicatory obsession. Niger Delta was once turbulent because the Federal Government of Nigeria was insensitive to its rhythm of underdevelopment.
High Chief Government Ekpemupolo emerged as the masterminder of the turbulence and the clanging demand for development attention. It was purely an inspiration to redeem Niger Deltans from the underdevelopment abyss. Apparently, youth restiveness and other vices in the Niger Delta have been buried. Peace has virtually swallowed the entire terrain. Even the mangrove trees can testify to this peace in any court of law.
To redeem the Niger Delta, Tompolo lived in the forest like Robinson Crusoe for many years and fought all the juggernauts of exploitation until the oppressors demonstrated a vision to re-visit the Niger Delta question. A simple demand for beatification of this young man called Tompolo has no element of shrillness.
Nigerians should applaud this simple demand. In the heat of the liberation war, didn’t some Nigerians irrationally pray for the death of Tompolo? Why won’t the same Nigerians applaud the beatification now that we have become beneficiaries of Tompolo’s liberation war?
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be more nonsensical than the nonsense that Tompolo be beatified. He does not merit beatification in any form. Why should we beatify a man who has strangely become insensitive to the needs of the Niger Deltans? A man whose mind we no longer understand to be beatified? Tompolo no longer appears to be attuned to the realities of the time.
Probably because of his so-called ‘mystical inclinations’, he seems not to be interested in militant and violent approach to events. Predictably, violence has deserted Tompolo as he now appears more attuned to his world of mysticism where violence is an anathema. Beatification does not belong to a man gripped by dangerous transformation from violence to peace/pacifism.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is the President of Nigeria. Since he became the President of Nigeria, some quite commendable development strides have been recorded. There is clearly a revolution in the railway, aviation, oil industry, transport, agriculture, human capital development, peace and security, and other sectors of the economy. No Nigerian president has ever achieved this within this short space of time.
What about the emergence of Boko Haram against which the government has waged a meaningful war? Despite all these achievements, a dangerous cult of critics has constantly waged war against President Jonathan, using all resources within reach. For this cultist critics of President Jonathan they will not stop until he is eventually hounded out of power.
Thousands have threatened to hurl lethal stones at President Jonathan. Now that criticism against President Jonathan has become unprincipled, immoral, irrational, fatal and destructive, Niger Deltans would have been comfortable with a militant contribution from Tompolo. An old soldier is always an old soldier. Time to watch the revolutionary sash skillfully tied round determined waists is now. Alas, Tompolo’s head is irredeemably buried in mysticism. Does he merit beatification?
The war waged against Boko Haram by the Dr Jonathan-led government is commendable. Tompolo’s MEND can beg the security agencies to have a moment of rest and give him a space to have military dialogue with Boko Haram. This is the time for Tompolo to reawaken MEND and crush Boko Haram. Boko Haram does not use conventional war strategies: they are avant-garde in their war tactics.
I think MEND is the professor of unconventional war strategies and so can engage Boko Haram and produce desired results. Have we forgotten Professor Wole Soyinka’s constant reminder that ‘violence breeds violence and counter-violence breeds counter-violence?’.
Tompolo has recently grown too insensitive and toothless to merit beatification. Boko Haram has hegemonised the violence space and is dishing out lectures to Nigerians on even apparently forgotten components of violence. Tompolo has the resources to confront Boko Haram and make Nigerians smile forever but he does not consider it a sacred task to engage at this time of Nigerian history. Maybe Tompolo is waiting for Boko Haram to take over Nigeria before he swings into action.
That would be too late. It is the likes of Tompolo who can match President Jonathan’s tebebirisei critics word for word, violence for violence, action for action, gun for gun. Is it this unfeeling man Tompolo we should now beatify – this man on the run like the Biblical Jonah on the ship?
Even mystics go to war when it becomes unavoidable – especially when it becomes the only weapon required to normalise anomalies. The so-called mystical fever which has gripped Tompolo, making him insensitive and toothless in the face of the violence-consolidated arrogance of Boko Haram is condemnable.
After all Tompolo is not the only mystic. History is replete with examples of mystics who went to war and saved their people. Tompolo should wake up to the reality that meaninglessness is sometimes the solution to meaninglessness and so meaningfulness can only emerge from meaninglessness sometimes – which is the central point of avant-gardism.
Tompolo does not merit beatification. Professor Soyinka feels a strong repulsion against the beatification of the criminal in his Beatification of an Area Boy but I feel a stronger repulsion against the beatification of an insensitive and toothless mystic. Rather than recognise and beatify him for his liberation struggles, we should fight him.
Let us collectively make Tompolo uncomfortable with different strategies until he sees the need to confront Boko Haram. Too many people have been sadistically swallowed by Boko Haram. We must constantly disturb Tompolo until he ties his Egbesu war sash round his waist and goes to meet Boko Haram like JP clark’s Ozidi waging fierce revenge war against his father’s killers.
Tompolo could have beatification thrust on nobly after he had willingly claimed JP Clark’s Ozidi in Ozidi Saga and paralyse the enemies of Nigeria who hide behind the mask of Boko Haram to waste innocent precious lives.
Mr. Serikoromo a public affairs commentator, wrote from Warri, Delta State.