Demystifying the Gun In 'Naija'!

by SOC Okenwa

The ‘Ajegunle soldier’ in Lagos, Daddy Showkey, one of the most popular musicians in Nigeria, some weeks ago, survived yet another attempt on his life. According to the Edo-born wierd talent he was in a filling station in Lagos trying to buy fuel when suddenly two men riding a motorbike accosted him and shot him at close range! That was the third time he would be facing death and resisting same courageously cum mysteriously! He asked in an interview, days after the foiled attack, who was after his life but the answer was not forthcoming! That Daddy Showkey was attacked at gunpoint may not be surprising in a Nigeria where stars like Tuface Idibia had been attacked on few occasions with them cheating death by the whiskers.

The issue here has to do with the fact that the ‘Ajegunle soldier”s body was able to resist the bullet of the assassins! Maybe, who knows, the ‘African assurance’ (the traditional bullet proof) he was wearing was too much for the bullet to penetrate and Showkey went home happy to have demystified the gun yet again! Without the ‘native bullet proof’ providing some ‘cover’ Showkey would not have lived to tell his story; many like him had been gruesomely murdered in cold-blood in broad daylight with no justice rendered. Ours is increasingly becoming a society ruled by arms!

The gun, or any other lethal weapon for that matter, instills fear in any mortal. The gun is synonymous with blackmail, abuse and intimidation even though war and fighting happen to be the major reason(s) of its manufacturing. When a gun is brandished men and women who hitherto are seen as iron-willed melt into despair and subdued emotion. When a robber, a kidnapper or a rapist is armed he believes he is above the law and a government unto himself! That is why the late Lawrence Anini and his late sniper-friend Monday Osunbor got the extra-ordinary attention of the military dictator at their time, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida — a particular attention the big national fraud, in his giddy years, never gave to the developmental needs of Nigerians!

The gun, when not demystified, encourages crime perpetuation and aids and abets criminality of every sort. Never mind that back home in Nigeria our people are faced presently with two evils: that of gun-wielding men of the underworld and the politicians — using their gold-plated pens and lap-top computer to embezzle billions of our commonwealth! Between these two evils I think the armed hooligans are less hypocritical and more fearless.

While the average Nigerian politician steals shamelessly and devises smart ways to hide his loot (away from the prying eyes of the ICPC and EFCC) the professional killer, kidnapper or armed robber believes in one philosophy of life: one thing must kill a man! The Nigerian politicians, swimming in looted petro-dollars, are mortally afraid of death and indeed ‘die’ many times before their real death! Living dangerously and desperately in a nation where justice is bought and sold, where insecurity is generalized and ubiquitous, where corruption has metamorphosed into a national tragedy, where leadership has simply failed at the zenith these bunch of Abuja-based criminals sorround themselves and their families with impressionable battery of security goons.

General Ibrahim Babangida, living in obscene opulence in Minna hilltop mansion (having stolen billions of dollars of our oil money while in power) shot his way to Dodan Barracks in Lagos with the arms and ammunitions bought with the Nigerian tax payers’ money for the military’s robust defense of the nation and its territorial integrity. Ditto the late ‘Khalifa’ Sani Abacha who used the force of coercion to sack the illegitimate ING of lame-duck Ernest Shonekan. Without the gun and the bullet IBB and Abacha would not have probably happened onto the Nigerian political stage. And the late President MKO Abiola would have assumed duty as the President of a united stronger Nigeria!

Gun has generally taken the lives of notable leaders and people in different lands and epochs. It was the assassin’s bullet that felled the great black-American orator and freedom fighter Martin Luther King. It was the gun that brought down the former Nigerian Justice Minister, the ‘Cicero’ Bola Ige snuffing life out of the great mind. It was the gun that was used to assassinate the late President MKO Abiola’s amazon of a wife Kudirat Abiola in broad daylight in Lagos! It was the gun that terminated the existence here on earth of the late NADECO chieftain Alfred Rewane. The late Pope John Paul 11, the Catholic Pontiff, was nearly killed by an assassin’s bullet and he survived the attempt on his life by the grace of the Almighty God who he served and worshipped.

The list of victims of guns and bullets are endless in a world where violence is growing as the human population grows. When the late Liberian President Samuel Doe was caught and taken away in the ECOMOG headquarters in Monrovia many years ago he was armed with a pistol. But his aggressor in Yormie Johnson had to disarm him and extracted certain state secret information from him before mutilating him and leaving his bleeding body by the riverside to die a painful instalmental death!

And when the former member of the presidential guard in Kinshasa, Rashidi, went inside the Palace and met with the late President Laurent Kabila he utilised his pistol to fatally shoot at close range the fat ex-President pumping bullets into his system and destroying the system within leaving Kabila to die minutes later on his way to the hospital. The gun is indeed an instrument of control with both the good and ugly sides.

When I was a kid in the late 70’s in the village my late father’s house was visited by some local robbers in the wee hours of the night one fateful weekend. As they knocked on our door my father was rudely awaken from sleep and he shouted “who is that?!” to which no answer came forth. Moments later having gotten no response he thundered again: “I say who is that or you are deaf and dumb?!”. As no one answered he reached under the bed and brought out his well-sharpened cutlass and headed towards the main door. Opening same fearlessly he saw the robbers at a distance fleeing in different directions! That was then! If it were to be today in a Nigeria where gun rules maybe my father would have had no courage to challenge the bandits or go to the extent of opening up the door.

When I asked my late dad (an intrepid outspoken local ‘warlord’) in the morning why he was not afraid of the robbers or death itself he cleared his throat and said to me: “my son, you see in this life you must strive to conquer fear and dominate your environment. If it is the will of God for anyone to die by the gun then nothing we can do about it!” If it were to be now in ‘Naija’, that is if my oldman was still alive and kicking, perhaps roaming kidnappers would have since visited home taking him away and demanding ransom since his last son is based abroad!

As a strong believer in Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — the greatest indomitable celestial force in the universe, Omnipotent, Omniscience — fearing no man or god, death or evil and living positively no matter the circumstance one finds himself, my philosophy in life is defined by one scriptural doctrine: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of love, of power and of sound mind”. That is why one sleeps soundly, relates well with friends and foes alike, tries to be the master of his destiny and holds his Creator in greatest esteem. Though death is the portion of everyone, as it were, it is good for one to live long enough to see his children and grand children become what he had wished them to become before answering the final call to eternity.

So from the foregoing, plus and minus, one can say that the gun plays a major role in the public administration of any entity. Without the force of coercion which arms represent then governance the world over would have been one hell of a mission impossible. But having

said that the gun ought to be demystified in Nigeria! Like in the developed Western world where the gun has been demystified with responsible adult-citizens allowed to own guns for self-defense there is urgent need to demystify the terror of gun in Nigeria by legislating the ownership of the instrument into the constitution.

With kidnapping becoming part of everyday life in ‘Naija’, armed robbery happening here and there, killers taking what they cannot give in terms of life, Boko Haram throwing bombs into churches in the northern cities and killing in the grim process the faithful worshipping the living God is it not high time the Nigerian government considered legalising the individual bearing of guns? That is de-penalising ownership of arms? I strongly believe that a responsible citizen should be able to defend himself when attacked proving thus to the aggressor that blood equally runs in his body like the one he wants to silence. In that way crime and assault will be reduced to the barest minimum as everyone will be respecting each other.

Whilst one recognises the danger in arming some segment of the population with its inherent uncontrollable dimensions in an underdeveloped nation where the centralised police force is ineffective and inefficient one thinks the advantage far out-weighs the disadvantage. Bearing a licensed serially-numbered gun in self defense could go a long way in taming the monsters of armed robbery, kidnapping and unresolved murders littering the case-files of the Nigerian law enforcement agencies scattered across the landscape.

Here in my station I possess a licensed pistol with which I keep watch over my young family and household especially at dusk! While we pray daily for divine protection one must take physical control of his immediate security. God, it is said, helps those who help themselves! ‘Ka Chineke mezie okwu’!!

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