What pain! What unimaginable shock! Contemplating the magnitude of unvarnished gut wrenching
sorrow, sudden and seemingly apocalyptic, that would have befallen the family of Dr Chike and Dora
Akunyili on hearing about the gruesome murder of Dr John Chike Akunyili can be better left to the
Already bereft and forever left with a hollow vacant space in their hearts from the demise of their
ebullient, steady, accomplished mother – the Akunyili children were not spared the brutal reality that
disparate families across Nigeria have to come to terms with on a daily basis.
It is the Hobbesian spectre of life as “nasty, brutish and short” made manifest on our shores. It is the
reality of living in a failing country in the murderous grip of unknown gunmen.
For better or worse, we live in a country conquered by kleptocrats, ethnic/religious bigots, terrorists of
different shades, and their champions who have disdainfully shorn their velvet gloves and must willfully
shape all of our lives irrespective of divergent views.
We live in a country, devoid of politicians and statesmen who genuinely elicit "adorare" from their
people and followership. All conquering "politrickcians" and elitist "lootists" have despoiled a place
where the likes of Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano, et al, used to call their own.
We are now, most of us at least, in the roles of unwilling spectators, watching the unfolding tragic
drama of a nation inundated by deadly plagues inspired by a blight of misleaders and crooks in official
The omissions and commissions of voracious kleptocratic Nigerian misleaders and their pestilential band
have come home to roost, unleashing hydra-headed monstrous shadows of extreme poverty and
virulent insecurity to daily stalk the land.
Terrorists of all hues, seemingly invisible to security apparatchik hold sovereign territory on Nigerian soil
and appear inviolate.
To pigeonhole, distinguishing these violence practitioners according to anyone’s yardstick, as if the
devilish and wanton spilling of the blood of innocents can be compartmentalized in greater or lesser
portions as some of their overt and covert champions in public spaces will want us to believe, is to say
they do not all "terrorize".
Daily murderous binges of "gunmen” across the country have in real terms only elicited, rather
uncannily, almost copy and paste responses from the Presidency, detached from reality and lacking
consequential actionable force.
Indeed, Nigerians, who are all very much aware, besieged by daily poverty and mortal dread for life and
limb, have only noticed that stereotypical threat's of fire and brimstone emanating from Aso Rock only
seems to spur the invisible unknown gunmen on to more fiendish acts.
These statements, invariably following the same patterns of “shock and avowals of retribution” issued in
the wake of acts of terrorism have now assumed the characteristic of "surplusage" – of irrelevance.
What is clear, is that, from North to South, East to West, unknown gunmen, increasingly emboldened,
are expanding their fiefs and leaving a trail of sorrow, tears and blood in their wake.
Earlier in the year, in April 2021, the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello said; " I am confirming that
there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State. Here in Kaure, in Shiroro Local Government Area.
I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags there. The villagers wives have been seized from them
and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure
meaning they have taken over the territory."
Fast forward to October 2021 and the headline is : " Boko Haram cripples governance in Niger
communities, fixes marital age for girls".
In a development already confirmed by the Chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area, a resident of
the area and Co-Convener of Concerned Shiroro Youths, Bello Ibrahim, told a reporter; " now, they are
not only in Kawure, they have also extended their tentacles to Communities like Kuregbe, Awulo and
host of other Communities.
In Awulo and Kuregbe Communities, they assembled the locals, both Muslims and Christians, and gave
them marching order that any girl that is 12 should be married off. There is no any form of law in the
area aside Boko Haram’s”.
Hitherto, much to their enduring sorrow, the good people of Niger State, like the rest of the North-
Central, have felt the heavy hand of terrorists of the bandits and herdsmen variety.
That Boko Haram terrorists have now infiltrated the North-Central is in keeping with the emboldened
proliferation of their kind which had hitherto seen them transcend from their original base in the North-
East into the North-West.
Like the whole of the Northern part of Nigeria, the Southern part of the country is helplessly ensnared in
the grip of unknown gunmen. The herdsmen/bandit variants continues to terrorize all of Southern
Nigeria in daily unabated killings and kidnappings for ransom.
Added into the mix of this hotbed of insecurity is the dastardly upsurge in ritualistic fueled kidnappings
and killings that is reprehensibly mind-boggling. Pervasive daring armed robberies and violent crimes
like rape are raging monstrosities in our neighborhoods that continue to leave bloody and scarred
Unremitting demonic inspired cult clashes and street violence is now a recurring decimal especially in
the South-South but not limited to, as the South-West and South-East has its own fair share of this ever-
The South-East, it would seem, is now in a unique territory all of its own. Practicing unknown gunmen in
this area seem bent on a scorched earth policy uniquely combining and fitting all of the evil tendencies
noticeable across Nigeria into one place in what is surely a combustible mix.
Eastern Nigeria, exposes in stark relief, the “failings” of the Nigerian enterprise to any discerning eye.
The startling optics of cities in the South-East, a significant component part of Nigeria, turned in it’s
entirety not once but severally, into ghost towns, heeding the dictates of a secessionist group, not
withstanding the coercive powers of State to do otherwise – is as troubling as it is revealing, of how
clearly the Nigerian entity stands on the precipice.
In the Northern part of the country, there are areas where terrorists are sovereign, promulgating laws
and collecting taxes and fees. These terrorists (bandits and herdsmen inclusive), who seemingly cannot
be demystified and rooted out from their lairs and bastions, continue to thrive and perpetuate their
reign of blood empires.
These abiding truths, however besmudged or deliberately downplayed, hallmarks a failing State and that
reality cannot be doctored or remedied through threat's of forceful coercion or doublespeak but must
be seen and handled for what they are – as a menacing present and clear danger to Nigeria’s corporate
And so, as Nigerians perish by the score on a daily basis from the hands of unknown gunmen, can
hopeless and helpless citizens contemplate a better tomorrow!
Dr John Chike Akunyili’s children, now among the legion of bereaved Nigerians touched by the outrages
of unknown gunmen, wrote a tribute to a man they said, was like millions of his compatriots – an
ordinary man. Here are their words.
"In his final days, his heart was heavy about the state of things in Nigeria. He lamented about the
struggles of people unable to pay for treatment anymore and about the unfortunate state of unrest
where human life has lost its value.
His hope echoed that of his beloved wife and our mother, that Nigeria might lean on the forces of unity
and shun disunity. That we might do the right thing, trusting that our potential lies in the goodness of
the people and the greatness of the nation.
What happens if we move closer to these ideals?”
Human Rights Defender and Good Governance Advocate