Olorogun Hon Kpuwhara Anthony is a community leader and politician. A Graduate of Geography and Regional Planning from Universityof Benin. A Former Supervisory Councillor for Education, Ughelli North and a farmer.
In this interview Olorogun Anthony answers some burning questions on youths, ‘Yahoo’, rituals, cultists, insecurity.
Recently, there have been ritual killings, cult related cases that has led to dismembered corpses being dumped at junctions gutters etc. what is your take on that?
Our society back home here life has a different meaning at the moment. The craze for wealth has overtaken every other thing. As fathers, if you advice your children to go to school they will tell you “Daddy you wen get PhD come back, wetin you don take am do for Nigeria society?
So cultism, ill-gotten wealth has taken over the society. Nobody cares how you make it. You see fathers or mothers save to buy phones for their children to do yahoo and stay in their masters houses popularly known as HK for three, six months, instead of paying school fees for them. The yahoo that we are talking about has various aspect of it. Some require human body parts to do rituals to get more money that is why you see dead bodies littering our streets, our road junctions being desecrated. Breast of women, their private part, eyes plucked out, tongues cut out and so on and so forth.
And the way this group of people flaunts their wealth around, the younger ones growing up does not see the other side of life, they want to emulate them, they want to be like them. So it has been very difficult at our age now when we observe and advice they tell us “Daddy forget that naa your time naa our time be this”. So it is really terrible and terrifying and secondly Christianity has given a different meaning to life especially in Urhobo land. There is always that believe that no matter the enormity of the sin that you have committed, just go to your pastor and pray for forgiveness and all will be well. But our old African tradition that we use to have; there is this belief that if you take some body, else thing without his consent, you will die, that fear put some sanity into our society. But the Christianity that we have today says that no matter the enormity of the sin you have committed, when you run to the altar, all will forgiven.
Are you saying that we should revert to African traditional system?
If you so much as suggest that right now in Nigeria, everybody will call you a devil because Christianity is the in thing, if you are not a Christian you cannot enter into some people’s home but the African tradition served us better. Most Christians that I know, when they have problems, they run back to the traditional people they openly condemned for solution that is the deceit and hypocrisy that Christianity is shrouded in. It is only a fool that goes down the Christianity road point blank. in our African society in those days if you gather in the market square to find out who has committed an offence, it will not take you more than an hour to fish out the person. There are series of divination that we do in those days to find out who was responsible or not responsible for a particular crime, but the mercy associated with Christianity has emboldened our people to be committing all these atrocities but is it actually true that these body parts that they remove from people, If you use it for a particular ritual it brings out money to you without working, It is not true?
Back home as a community leader what are the efforts the community is putting in place to ensure that these acts of rituals, sacrifices at junctions are reduced or curbed, have you ever called on security agents to do their work?
My clan and immediate community have done a lot. At the moment at we have a security outfit,(community vigilante) The community bought a vehicle for them for patrols, day and night, 24 hours, the community fuels the vehicle, maintains the vehicle and the personnel without money coming from government. At the clan level, we have such an outfit too they have three vehicles at the moment, the Hilux that was given to them by the local government council, the one bought by the king and the one bought by one of our illustrious son who works at Chevron. that they uses for patrols at the moment all the efforts to curb these atrocities. Along this road by the express on your right you will see the corpse of a man dumped there but you cannot go to the police because if you go to the police now, the police will ask you how did you come about this fact, how do you know that somebody was dumped there the man who now tries to unravel what is going on now will get himself into deep shit and that is the Nigerian law.
Is the community losing confidence in the Nigerian police force?
Even the police are helpless, the amount of vehicles that I told you now is available to our local vigilante is not even available to the police. Only Oviri-Ogor and Otor-Ogor have more than four vehicles available for patrol. Can we get that number of vehicles from both the Area Command and the Division to service only my community, we don’t even have a vehicle for the whole clan from the police so they are handicapped, the police force is underfunded both in finance and personnel. The personnel are not only enough, they are under paid.
What will be your word of advice to youths across the nation?
Generally even right from day one the greatest legacy that you will bequeath to a child is education. If you are not too bright to follow the side of Education, learn a vocation, you will not sit down at home and expect that ritual will bring money into your home, no. To our youths I advocate hard work. You must be educated or learn a vocation. Most of the NGO’s coming from USA, Britain, and Europe are bringing various programmes to help our youths but they are not interested, they are only interested in what will give them immediate cash. I am a partner to a programme by Life ND that gives indigent people the opportunity to learn any vocation whether it is fishery, piggery, poultry, cassava farming, production of palm oil. All trainees are being given a stipend monthly of nine thousand at the end of the training, you will be given money and starters pack, at the beginning of this programme in December 2021 I was given five trainees, I have only two trainees left now the other three trainees ran away, that the nine thousand naira to take care of their animal of choice monthly is too small. The opportunity came from abroad, not the Local Government, Delta State or Nigerian. I pleaded with them to just undergo the training, at the end of the training when you are a graduate we will give you a working capital for you to be an entrepreneur on your own. To them the money is a pittance they have ran away, you can see the kind of society that we are living in. It is a very difficult situation and in fact the stakeholders need to come together. Even cultism, I have had an opportunity to serve under the community stakeholder’s network. We were going from one secondary school to another in this local government area preaching against cultism and yahoo but it did not change anything the mindset should start from the home, the building up of a child should start from the home/family. We the mothers and fathers have a lot to do to contribute not only the society. As a father and a mother, if you insist this is the way my son/daughter should go, that is the way he will go. In some homes now in our locality you will see boys, men coming to the father’s home to pick up the daughter for an outing and the father is sitting up in a chair in the church, imagine in a family home like this a daughter giving out money to the mother to cook food for the family and she is not working may be she is a student or unemployed, where does she get the money from you will not ask questions how does such a child grow up to be? So it is very terrible the society has totally collapsed we hope for God to help us to change our mindset towards these problems that we all are facing.
There are so many churches now where the pastors ask members to raise up their phones and laptops for prayers to pick up money, what do you have to say about this?
Those are not churches. All those churches where they ask members to raise up their phones and laptops for prayers to pick money, If you go deeply into those churches, you will see that that those are the modern Pentecostal churches that we have around incorporated all those are commercial houses, business centres in the name of God exploiting our people they are not churches but they deceive people by holding the bible by calling the name of Jesus Christ. What you are supposed to preach in that altar is salvation, the word of God, what will make the people serve God in holiness and truth. Prosperity comes into your home through what you have invested on, or what you have put your hands on economically it is not through raising up your phones or laptops in the church those are not churches, there should be a rebirth in our society.
What do you have to say to the government because the youths are saying the society failed because the government failed it’s citizens first that is why they are looking for alternative ,so what can government do to put an end to this because if it is not curbed now we may be heading for doom?
Actually government has failed totally at the three tiers of government from federal, state down to the local government. Like this my compound at the moment I provide light ,water and security for myself ,then what is the government’s responsibility to me as an individual so also after graduating in the last thirty-five years, I could not get a job so this does not encourage those who are behind us to go for the education that we are advocating for because at the end of the day when you come out with a great certificate, there is no job they will tell you that government is not in the position to provide job for everybody. When Delta State had just one university, employment was next to none, now that Delta state is having four campuses, including private universities when these people graduate where will they work? Is government looking towards that direction in fact apart from the leaders we had after independence from there going forward. I am a politician, but politicians have messed up the economy, future of this country, they have messed up the destiny of Nigerians. When they get there they no longer think about the people, the masses, they think about how much they will be able to make for themselves while there in government. The masses are out of place, the budgets that are passed in the national and state houses of assemblies are never implemented. So it is awful our government has failed from the local up to the federal government take it for instance let us go into federal allocation at the end of every month the state governors and the local government chairmen goes to Abuja to collect our share of the federal allocation take Delta State for instance, when they return all the local government allocation goes into the hands of the state government the state government has to hand pittance to local government chairmen to operate. The problem I was telling you about that is happening to the police force is what the local government councils are experiencing if you watch this present administration in this Ughelli North Local Government in the last six years, there is no major project that has been carried out by the local government council let me take my ward as an instance, we have two state ward and one federal ward there is no one local government project in the last six years so what are they there for, is it just to pay councilors salaries and you say government exist no this country needs a total restructuring. You produce what you eat. The Hausa man cannot be taking our oil to develop his own place no more. When they were producing cash crops in form of groundnut, cow piece and all that, they used it to develop their own place so now that we are producing the oil, we should use the oil to develop the south, do you know the problems we encountered before we could bring the PIB bill to the national assembly, with just three percent even what will that do for our communities it will not in any way help we need a total restructuring in this country if we really want to go ahead.
What can be put in place to curb insecurity?
I will toe the line of those who have asked for community policing that is the only way.