By Comrade Aloysius Attah
I0 years after the death of Comrade Chima Ubani, the former Executive Director of The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) Nigeria, the ideals he stood for and the struggles he died for still stares us in the face.
Chima Ubani died in a controversial ghastly road accident on September 25, 2005 along the Postikum, Yobe highway while coordinating the Labour and Civil Society (LASCO) coalition rally/ protests against the incessant increase in the prices of petroleum products by the then Obasanjo administration.
Chima was supposed to fly to Abuja for the continuation of the rally but they said that the seat is filled up and he had to give up the space for Adams Oshiomole, the then National Chairman of Nigerian Labour Congress.
A die hard fighter of the oppressed and one whose life was an epitome of selflessness, transparency, abhorrence of obscene lifestyle and aversion for greed and primitive accumulation, Chima started his activism from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He was rusticated and later recalled to campus and he graduated with a first class honours but the university senate denied him the first class honours because of his rigid stance against the oppression of the students.
It was during the commendation service for the late Chima at the Auditorium of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus witnessed by this writer and other human rights activists that the authorities of the university made an open confession about Chima’s academic result status.
A non tribalist and non conformist human rights crusader, Chima lived all his adult life in Lagos, married from Edo state and never owned any personal property in his native home in Oboete Obingwa, Abia State till his death.
As at the time of his death, many promises were made on his burial by those in government authority but the bulk of the promises were left unfulfilled save for the then government of Lagos state who offered accommodation to his wife and children.
Ten years after Chima’s death, the struggle he lived and died for seems to have been in vain. Pump prices of Premium Motor Spirit goes for N87 per liter while our refineries are moribund leading to importation and the fraudulent subsidy regime things. Kerosene which the ordinary citizen uses to cook while the villagers rely on it to light their lanterns in the night goes for an official price of N50 but Nigerians from time immemorial now buy the product between N110 to N140 per liter.
Our roads remain death traps with craters and gullies tearing down vehicles and causing untold road carnages where uncountable numbers of Nigerians are roasted daily.
Mr. President who swore to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on assumption of office is unapologetical in his Northernisation agenda against the tenets and provisions of the Federal Character Principle.
Corruption remains all time high with some people who have been in the corridors of power either as appointees, elected or contractors/ conduit pipes amassing so much wealth that the collective treasury is empty while their personal accounts and investments are overflowing.
Chima wanted an egalitarian society where there won’t be the ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. A society where those who hold political power hold it in trust for the people and are consumed by the pursuance of public good against personal aggrandizement.
Why is it that that in the 21st century and with the abundance of both human and natural resources, the country still wallows in underdevelopment , poverty in the midst of plenty and collapse of basic infrastructures?
A country that places no value on its human resources and treats its citizens without dignity has no place in history as a great country. The Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis was emphatic on this when he said that “ the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those in need , those who have nothing apart from their poverty”
Emile Zola identified truth and justice as pillars of greatness of any nation when he said that the greatness of any nation depends on them.
We recite the National Anthem daily and we show our hypocritical nature all the time when we sing that “The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”.
All the labours of our heroes past have been ridiculously in vain because apart from not immortalizing their efforts, the decision makers have never made genuine efforts to live and act by the ideals those heroes stood for.
As we therefore mark the 10th year anniversary of the passage of this extraordinaire human rights and good governance crusader, it is a clarion call for those in various government authorities to place the public above self.
The activists should rev up their engine room and remember their callings as the conscience of the nation. This is the time for realignment, coalition and action to rescue the nation and keep those in authority on their toes.
The time to stay in the sideline and criticize only is also fading away, so let there be synergy that will allow the ‘fighters’ to be in the saddle too.
At 55 years of independence, Nigeria cannot continue to wallow in all indices of underdevelopment and bad governance; it is time to kill all that has stunted our growth all the years past.
The time to immortalize the late Chima Ubani and others who died in the struggle is now, both in symbols and in positive actions.
(Attah is Chairman, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Anambra State Branch. He can be reached via: 08035090548, firstname.lastname@example.org)