By OSA AMADI
His mother named him Onwuegbuchulam, and that was the name he was known by everyone, until he became a young man and began to project his second name, Robert.
The name, Onwuegbuchulam, is deep in meaning. It is an affirmation against untimely and horrible death. A direct English interpretation of Onwuegbuchulam will equate: Death, don’t kill me wrongly. To be killed violently, untimely, and for what one knows not, is to be killed wrongly. What manner of evil forces could have so conspired against a mother, to subvert her wishes and aspirations, and bring her fears for her son to a reality?
Robert Onwuegbuchulam Ekeh had been the only hope of her mother and sibling. Her mother’s prayer had been that God would raise a son that would give her a befitting burial when she dies and then take care of her younger children. And God had answered that prayer by raising Robert.
With his flourishing business in security doors installation in Abuja, Robert had shouldered well, his mother’s and sibling’s upkeeps. Robert’s mother, therefore, must have died a happy woman last May 2014, with the thought that God had answered her prayer by raising Robert.
He was sent for at her mother’s death, and when he came, he wept bitterly for his mother, and took her corpse to the mortuary, without the slightest premonition that in less than one month from that day, people would be weeping bitterly for his own death, and that his body would similarly be deposited in the deep freezer of death.
After depositing his mother’s dead body in the mortuary, Robert returned to Kubwa, Abuja to look for money in preparation for the burial.
On that fateful Wednesday 25 June, 2014, Robert must have woken up with some heaviness of heart and deep desire for purification, for he decided to start fasting from that day, probably telling his wife, Favour, not to bother to prepare breakfast for him. Perhaps, telling his wife and his 5-year old daughter (his only child) that he would be back in the evening at close of business, he bade them goodbye and went to his office at Emab Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja.
Around 2 PM, according to a close family source, Robert called his wife, Favour, and told her that he would be coming home a little bit earlier in order to break his fasting for the day at home. So he closed for the day a few minutes before 4 pm, and walked out to the Emab Plaza Car Park, right into the bomb explosion of June 25 around 4 pm!
Most reports say the bomb was planted in a car, but an eyewitness insisted that the men who brought the bomb came on a power bike; that as soon as they got to the busy gate of the plaza they dropped two bombs and ran off. One of the bombs exploded immediately, but the second one could not detonate. According to the observer, soldiers chased the men on the power bike and caught one of them, while the other one escaped.
That was how Robert died, bombed to death by Boko Haram, while his mother’s corpse was still lying in the mortuary, and his wife, Favour, and his 5 years old daughter, were still at home waiting for him to come back. As soon as the news of the blast had spread, his relatives who knew he had office at Emab Plaza started calling his GSM phone, which rang for long without any answer. Eventually, someone answered the phone and asked the relatives to come to the Maitama General Hospital. When they got to the hospital they saw Robert’s corpse. A piece of iron from the explosion had pierced his chest and killed him on the spot! Asked how people feel at home now in Robert’s village, Chima Emmanuel Edinburgh, a polytechnic college student, said: “grief, anger, and pain, all channeled against Boko Haram and the Hausas.”
Before Robert’s death, Boko Haram was a mere story to the villagers, heard of far away. But now, Boko Haram has come to roost right in a remote village of eastern Nigeria. “Boko Haram has come home to us in eastern Nigeria,” says an elderly woman.
While some people believe that Boko Haram is politically motivated and a fulfillment of the promise some northern politicians made to make Nigeria “un-governorable” for President Goodluck Jonathan, others believe that Boko Haram is a product of corruption, and therefore can only be defeated if corruption ends in Nigeria. One such people who hold this view is Enza Guccio, an Italian nun who has been living in Southern Nigeria 18 years.
Speaking in an interview with International Business Times, UK, Enza said: “I believe Nigerian politics, infamous for its great corruption, does not aim at promoting the country’s development. Politicians’ only interest is to get rich by exploiting the country’s oil. There is a continuous fight over oil production.
“To defeat terrorism,” she said, “leaders must build a solid future for the nation, by providing education for everybody, creating jobs for the youths, using the country’s natural resources to help Nigerians and guaranteeing the recognition of basic human rights to all the citizens.”
But Boko Haram is opposed to Western education in northern Nigeria and wishes to impose the Sharia law in that geo-political zone.
From all indications, however, it is clear that Boko Haram is a terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda, and has since been declared as such by United States and international agencies. One of their strategies is to make people believe that they are fighting a religious war, but fortunately, Nigerians and the international community have not bought into that fallacy.
“If it was a religious war,” says Enza Guccio, Boko Haram would have focused their attacks on the Southwest of Nigeria, instead of the North, mainly inhabited by Muslims, and which is close to Muslim-majority countries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.” While these arguments rage, Onwuegbuchulam’s kits and kin are not only mourning. They are very, very angry. By some twist of fate, death ended up not only killing Onwuegbuchulam wrongly, but also horribly.