• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Chartered accountants versus economists (continuation)

Continuation from: Chartered Accountants versus Economists

By Bashorun J.K. Randle

Is it true you were once a Catholic?

No! People make mistakes. I attended a Roman Catholic school, St. Aquinas College Akure, just like the College of Immaculate Conception, CIC, here in Enugu. If somebody attends CIC, must he be a Roman Catholic? But you find that it was made compulsory for everybody to behave like a Roman Catholic, and because of my attitude and way of life, I speak Latin. The Irish Fathers loved me, and so they put me in charge of the Sacristy.

At that time, I was serving Mass. We were all made to attend the chapel, whether you are a Roman Catholic or not; it was compulsory. So, I was influenced a bit by the Roman Catholic doctrine, which was an eye-opener, and my father therefore said, Why don’t I become a reverend father because of the way I served Mass and followed the reverend fathers for evangelism?

Read also: Continuation from: “Chartered Accountants versus Economists

My father wanted me to be a lawyer, and some people wanted me to be a reverend father. I started teaching; from teaching, I was to read law at the University of Ife, but I went into theology because, during the civil war, I was one of those that would have been killed in the Asaba genocide, but God saved my life.

In 1967, I was to be killed among those that were killed, but God saved my life. When they were shooting, I fell down, and in the night I escaped. So, I experienced the genocide of the Nigerian civil war. I saw war with my eyes; I saw blood with my eyes; and it was a serious genocide. Innocent people in my Asaba area were killed for nothing except that we were ‘Ajukwu’ brothers (Ojukwu brothers); that was what they were saying. My father’s first house in Asaba was burned down; many of our houses were burned; many of our relatives were burned; many of our kindred were killed unnecessarily; and many of our women were forcefully married by the soldiers. It was such a terrible thing that when I remember it, I shed tears, especially when they are doing Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

I feel that Nigeria still has to apologise to the Asaba people and to the eastern part of Nigeria for the genocide and war. That was the reason I said that on January 15, which is my birthday, Nigeria should be celebrating it as a day of mourning and forgiveness, asking God for forgiveness and thanksgiving for the end of the war.

Remember that in the Bible, when God destroyed the world with water, Noah prayed to God, and he stopped the war of water, and Noah praised and thanked God for it. So if the war has ended, we should be able to say, Father, thank you for the war that ended, but rather than doing it, what you see now is selectiveness against the Igbo.

We are being neglected and sidelined, and nobody is thinking about what we suffered during the civil war. This is unfortunate, and I feel that President Bola Tinubu, if they could do something to MKO Abiola and honour him, the people of Asaba should be honoured with a day of forgiveness and thanksgiving, and then a lot of things should be done in memory and compensation for the eastern part of Nigeria for the civil war.

Read also: Continuation from: Chartered accountants versus economists

How did the Asaba genocide actually happen?

The Nigerian soldiers were to cross the River Niger, but when they came, they couldn’t cross. They said there was a goddess in the river called Onishee who would come out and their boat would sink because, at that time, the bridge had collapsed. So, the soldiers got angry and said that there were some Biafran soldiers among us. In fact, they separated when I was about 14 years old. They separated the women and said that all of us, the males, should be lined up and killed. In the course of the shooting, I fell down, and corpses fell on me. That was how I escaped.

When I spoke Yoruba, one of the soldiers said, ‘Are you a Yoruba man?’ And I said yes, and that was how they rescued me. The soldiers were tall; we called them Gongola, gwodogwodo! Some of them said it was because of Chukwuma Nzeogwu, who was not really from Asaba; he was from Ika Ibo, but they still dealt with us, and that’s unfortunate. To God be the glory, we survived.

What do you think is the reason General Yakubu Gowon has yet to say anything about the civil war?

Gowon is very apologetic, and that was why he started Nigeria Prays, and we have to commend him for that. That Nigeria prayed was to revive the spirit of the people back from the civil war, to reconcile people back to God, and to go on with one Nigeria.