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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Columnist: Rufai Oseni

EUREKA: Relieving the Nigeria civil war in Akwukwu Igbo

It was a warm Saturday afternoon when I visited the picturesque town of Akwukwu Igbo in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.

As I drove on the hills, all I saw was beauty and the green plantation and lush yam farms kissed the skies and miles and miles away I saw the glorious River Niger flowing and sprawling in its endless beauty.

The picturesque outlook of Akwukwu Igbo was more beautiful than the Yorkshire dales and for me, it told a story of resilience.

The Akwukwu Igbo people had migrated in the thirteenth century after the oppression by the Benin King and moved to Owerri, hence they picked up Igbo before they finally settled across the Niger to the fertile and idyllic landscape.

They set up their traditional systems there and made it home and they constantly lived there for many years.

On entering the town I saw buildings that had stood for over 100 years, I saw the home of Pa Sam Jibunor, the father of desert warrior, Newton Jibunor, he lived from 1890-to 1942. He was a successful plantation owner and he excelled, he was one of the first persons to own a car in the community.

I went to visit the three oldest persons in the town, a 92-year-Old, and a 96-year-old, but I couldn’t visit the 102-year-Old.

In fact, I met the 92-year-old taking an afternoon stroll. I guess he had walked about 3km before I met him. I had to tell him you don’t look 92 and he laughed, we broke Kola nut and offered prayers.

Then I visited the 96-year-old that had just come back from the farm he still works about 6 hours on the farm every day and obviously he didn’t look 96. I was just amazed seating with a man close to 100 years, or that will be 100 years in 4 years and he looked fit, with no wrinkles, he wore no glasses and we discussed for hours about the civil war.

He told us about the war and said Akwukwu Igbo was the safest part during the war and many people from Asaba came there, but at a time a village bully called Jota, had gone to inform the federal troops that Akwukwu Igbo was harboring Igbos and the troops came to attack the town but for the intervention of an indigene of the village who called Gowon and debunked the story.

The Nigerian Army also set up a hospital in the village to treat their wounded soldiers because it was safe.

As we continued to speak, he told us the first-hand experiences of the Asaba massacre victims that ran to Akwukwu Igbo and how they heard a regular loud noise from the shelling across the Niger all through the war.

He closed by affirming that war is a bad thing and the suffering was unparalleled and they had not still recovered from the war.

He also completed the story of Jota, the village bully who finally became a pastor and died on the Alter. It was indeed an experience driving through most parts of Oshimili North and I learned that the strength of Nigeria is the informal sector and all people truly want is to provide the amenities of life for them. I hardly saw well-equipped hospitals around there and I wondered what is the government doing to ensure the health needs of people are met.

I always heard stories of how people have to drive to Agbor to get good medical responses. I always say the people of Nigeria don’t need much, all they want is a responsive government but I wonder if the politicians truly understand this.

As we seek a leader in 2023, I pray the politicians understand that with power comes responsibility.