When a hero comes along, this phrase comes inspired from listening to a Mariah Carey classic performed by the X Factor competitors in the United Kingdom. The single was played during my regular weekly fellowship meeting to remember the hundreds of thousands of military men who had given their lives for many during past and present wars.
Today I hope we will never allow ourselves to be immune to the many factors, the numerous occurrences, moments, occasions and opportunities that allow narratives of inspiration to change the course of history. The election of Barack Obama as the first President of the United States of America and leader of the ‘free world’ is one of them and of course the yearly Armed Forces Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom I believe is another of such instances.
May I suggest that in the midst of global gloom, hopelessness and disasters even in the most trying of circumstances, the ingenuity endowed with the human spirit, the drive to overcome can shine through and there is the capacity that our maker has endowed us with to constantly inspire one another through small acts of remarkable individual and personal acts of sacrifice and bravery.
However, right there in our very own Nigeria, it strikes me as very ironic that whilst the United Kingdom is remembering its own unique brand of heroes and selfless acts of bravery by its military in various theatres of war, past and present, Nigeria faces a quite different story. We are instead faced with the unfolding brutality of some men in uniform who appear to be the military of the naval vocation. If the video recording circulating around the internet and reports are to be believed then rather than acts of heroism from our own, some of our military has made brutality is the order of the day. A harmless and defenceless lady, in the full glare of sunshine is beaten and stripped of all her dignity under the flimsy excuse of a minor traffic infraction and refusal to obey and instruction to meet with the Rear Admiral.
While our government busies itself through its ‘secret’ agents arresting an unsuspecting internet journalist and interrogating his right to free speech some of its military men appear to be on the rampage trampling upon much ‘cherished’ ‘rule of law’.
But curiously this story is very familiar to me and many others. When I was 6 years old, whilst returning from school with my siblings, driven by my mother in her Volkswagen Beetle, on the excuse of a minor traffic infraction we were accosted by some military men, my Uncle, now deceased the late Professor ‘Biodun Adetugbo came out of his car to protect and defend us, for his act of gallantry and kindness he was brutalised and beaten senseless by a dozen soldiers under the direction of their Major. My uncle bravely stood up to them and prevented them from escaping. True to type the military in the fashion of Fela’s description behaved like zombies without any control.
Today, however, am gladdened to hear about the responses of Governor Raji Fashola, SAN and the belated but necessary response of the Federal Government to redress and investigate such alleged conduct and barbaric actions.
To Miss Uzoma Okere a victim of the alleged brutality I can only offer words to the effect that as the hero who has come along, standing up to and exposing the character and the militant vavolence of power that lies at the heart of our military, you are in my view worthy of the song, the lyrics which I set out below:
“There’s a hero If you look inside your heart. You don’t have to be afraid of what you are. There’s an answer If you reach into your soul and the sorrow that you know will melt away.
And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on and you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you
It’s a long road when you face the world alone. No one reaches out a hand for you to hold. You can find love If you search within yourself and the emptiness you felt will disappear.
And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on and you cast your fears aside And you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you
Lord knows dreams are hard to follow but don’t let anyone tear them away hold on there will be tomorrow In time You’ll find the way.
And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on and you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth that a hero lies in you”