A woman, Mpanda Mbelu Wa Mutobodji has called on the Nigerian government to curtail the worsening insecurity before it becomes a full-blown war.
According to Nigeria Abroad, the woman, who was born in Nigeria but with Congo origin cautioned that the most populous black nation should avoid the path toed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under autocratic ruler Mobutu Sese Seko, who carelessly managed the East African country until it became a war-torn nation.
Mpada said a vast majority of Congolese people left the country for overseas during the war and never planned to return.
In 1987, Mpanda Mbelu was born in Kaduna State, into a family with a mix of ethnic identities: her mother was a Hausa daughter of a Congolese woman.
Mpanda’s Congolese father, after coming to Nigeria to marry her mother, settled in the country and started a family. His country Congo had been facing political turbulence for years.
And Mpanda, a 34-year-old Luba woman has continued the family’s history of inter-ethnic embrace. She was bred in Northern Nigeria and is married to an Isoko man in the south.
Her Luba side is alive, as is her northern and southern Nigerian identities inherited from birth and marriage.
Despite her mixed Congo’s background, she said, “This is my home. I love Nigeria.”
She studied at the Kaduna State Polytechnic and works with the Nigerian Navy as a civilian. Though she always thinks of her natal country the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she has not visited her entire life.
Intermittent instability persists there, but relative peace has endured since a 2017 ceasefire was brokered after a shambolic election led to violence.
“This (Nigeria’s) worsening insecurity has reminded one of the aftermaths of the Mobutu years,” Mpada said.
Mobutu ruled DRC from 1965 to 1971, and later Zaire from 1971 to 1997.
The persistent unrest has also created a large contingent of Congolese diaspora around the world. Like Mpanda, many of them never return home, though they maintain ties.
In Belgium, the United States, and other Western countries, they are a strongly knit community linked by memory, exile, and hope.
Speaking on this, Mpada said, “Everyday killings are happening in Nigeria and are underreported. If we don’t do anything about the insecurity, it will blow into a full-scale war, which will cause further devastation to the country. I wish we would not work along tribalistic lines; we should stop seeing it as something happening in the north or south.
“People are leaving the country on a daily basis. It’s going to get to a point like Congo, where you have Congolese abroad and no one wants to come back home and build the country. I wish the government could do something about it. I really wish it would not get to that point where everybody has to flee and then rebuilding the country would be left in the hands of a few unwilling people.
“I have people that have gone back to Congo that are trying to rebuild the country, but most citizens in the diaspora are not interested. That’s the situation in Congo. Imagine that playing out in Nigeria.”