By Rev Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu
1) Do we realise that treason is considered to be the highest offence against the state? This means that the state can pardon a person for every crime but hardly does so when it comes to treason because no society can survive with traitors. Do we also know that treason is nothing but betrayal? Judas Iscariot did just that. Any nation that lacks traitors or saboteurs can hardly be conquered. A traitor or saboteur sacrifices communal interest at the altar of personal interests.
2) Ndigbo from time immemorial understood the dangers of treason more than any society. Thus, they were able to identify individuals capable of becoming traitors. They were named efulefus. Efulefus were so much detested even by their own parents because they were ready to reveal vital information to the enemy in exchange for a box of snuff or a cup of wine or even for nothing.
3) During the colonial conquest of Igboland, it took the ruthless British colonial government more than 20 years of constant military onslaught before they could subdue Igboland because efulefus were scarcely available to help them infiltrate Igboland. Every means of using insiders to subdue Igboland proved abortive. No real Igbo (that is, Igbo bu Igbo) accepted the offer of being a warrant chief whose duty would be to enable the enemy to conquer his people.
4) The colonial masters continued to search for willing tools till they came to know about the efulefus in Igboland. The efulefus readily accepted the warrant chieftaincy. To ensure that their people whose interest they were paid to undermine did not fight them, they were given police and military protection. With this the eventual conquest of Igboland began.
5) Till date the system of using efulefus to subdue Ndigbo has remained the same. The efulefus today are either imposed on Ndigbo by those who want to conquer them or they submit themselves as willing tools to be used in undermining the interest of their people. Just like the pioneer warrant chiefs, these so-called leaders know that they ae neither wanted nor loved by their people because of their nefarious roles. Thus, just like the warrant chiefs or chief efulefus, they move around with police and military protection.
6) If our forefathers were able to discover and keep efulefus away from the corridors of leadership because of the dangers they portend to security, peace and progress how is it that in the 21st century, we, their “sophisticated” descendants cannot? Until we solve the problem of efulefuism in Igboland and in all our societies we are going nowhere as a people! We can pray all we like, plan all we can, strategize all we know, cry all we can, acquire academic degrees all we can, as long we do not develop a system that will keep efulefus away from governance and leadership our decimation is imminent.
7) These efulefus are not only found in political leadership. They are also found in Churches of all denominations, Trade/Labour Unions, village groups, Sports organisations, schools, and so on. Many managers of institutions, directors, bishops, general overseers, men and women of God, ordinary members and so on. No matter where they are, they have a common trait, namely, to sacrifice their people’s interest or common good at the altar of personal and selfish interests.
8) The tragic end of Judas made it clear to the apostles and disciples of Jesus that efulefuism is not the way to go. But in our own case today, being efulefu has become very lucrative.
9) Are you ready to do anything in order to retain your post or be promoted? Are you ready to keep quiet in the face of blatant injustice because fear of losing an appointment or punishment? Are you ready to divert common fund to personal use? Are you happy when your relatives and friends are stealing public funds? If yes, you need to repent from being an efulefu because you are one of the problems of the society. It is because of people like you that Jesus had to die.