Dr. Ian Squire, popularly known as the “village optician“, is dead but not without leaving a landmark in Nigeria to be remembered forever.
Dr. Squire was confirmed dead on Monday, November 6 after being abducted in Enekorogha Creek Community in Burutu Council Area of Delta State on October 13, 2017.
The kidnappers killed Squire while three others were released and returned safely after Nigerian authorities negotiated their freedom.
The deceased and fellow Christian charity workers, David and Shirley Donovan and Alanna Carson were working as missionaries when they were abducted from their accommodation in Delta State, Southern Nigeria.
Known as a man who was ‘constantly pushing the boundaries of generosity’, Ian Squire, 57, ran his own opticians in Shepperton, Surrey, England and had been founder and chairman of Christian charity Mission for Vision since 2003.
The Briton who was taken a hostage and killed in Nigeria had travelled to the West African country to help set up a new eye-care clinic.
Ian Squire’s Crime:
Previously Niger Delta militants have usually targeted oil workers, as several armed groups in the oil-rich region have fought for a greater share of the control of the crude oil in the region. Though he (Ian Squire) was not an oil worker, he, however, became the latest victim of the onslaught of the militants in the region.
Late Squire’s only “crime” was working with the health charity New Foundations and training local people to carry out sight tests and dispense prescription glasses in the rural community of Enekorogha in Delta state.
Late Squire had a mission through his Christian Charity Mission for Vision of taking old glasses to remote African areas from donations to his surgery in Surrey, England. This Ian Squire did before he was killed in Delta state.
Ian Squire’s Selflessness:
The Briton, a loving father, husband, and devout Christian dedicated much of his life in the service of others.
Late Squire became a Nigerian to save Nigerians not by nationality but by constantly pushing the boundaries of generosity with his charity work, the scope of which knew no borders, taking him all the way to the small village of Ekameta in Delta state that needed it the most.
Nigeria became his second home as he was pictured working in Nigeria in 2015, before returning to the country two years later to continue his generosity only to be rewarded with death.
Late Ian Squire’s mission in Nigeria was to offer cataract operations and eye check-ups to local people and to set up a much-needed eye clinic in the remote village.
He was not just referred to as the ” village optician” for no reason but earned this as he was more concerned about the rural areas. Ian Squire became a friend in need to the people of Ekameta in Delta state, a saviour they never had.
While still carrying out his humanitarian service, Squire was kidnapped with three (3) other charity workers but following negotiations by the British High Commission and the Nigerian authority, the three other Britons were released but not before the militants had killed Squire.
His only crime was to help the people of Ekameta in Delta state see only for them to be plunged into darkness by their own hands. So the reward for selfless humanitarian service is death?
Nigeria The Biggest Losers:
Though he is a Briton, Nigeria and Nigerians benefitted the most from Dr. Squire’s selfless humanitarian service.
The people of Enekorogha community in Delta State confirmed this on Friday, November 11, when they staged a procession over his death, seeking justice and calling on the government to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.
Nigeria became the biggest losers of Dr. Squire’s death because the clinic operated by the missionaries which have been the only healthcare facility available for the community to access proper healthcare for free since 2007, has been under lock and key since Dr. Squire’s death was confirmed November 6, 2017.
The Nigerian Security System And The Need For Community To Be More Responsible:
Dr. Squire and three (3) other charity workers arrived Nigeria for humanitarian service but were they feted and welcomed by the local community, made to feel at home and protected by all and sundry for the laudable, humanity-driven and selfless services they were rendering? No!!
Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria. A number of high-profile abductions have been carried out by militants in the Niger Delta region and by the Islamist group Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria.
While most oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region provide security for their expertise due to the porous Nigerian security system, missionary workers in the region do not get the much-needed security they deserve for the selfless services they render.
The Delta State Police Command spokesman, Andrew Aniamaka had said two (2) people were arrested and another killed in a shoot-out in connection with Dr. Squire’s death. Aniamaka said the suspects were arrested in Nigerian oil hub Warri November 9.
However, though the arrest of the suspects is commendable, it must be stated that it is not enough as the security can prevent such if proper security is provided as to when needed. It is also not enough for the people of Enekorogha to mourn the loss of a man who has been described as “a lovely, quiet man who everyone knew and loved as the village optician”, they must also protect foreigners by reporting suspicious movement of any group in the community to the security agents in the state. Same goes to the security agents in Niger Delta, kidnappings in the state must be curbed, arresting suspects is not enough it will not bring back a “dead hero”, rather prevent such unfortunate incident from repeating itself.
Why Delta State Must Honour Dr. Ian Squire:
Though the only secondary school in the community has since been renamed after the late Dr. Ian Squire, ALEDEH however calls on the Delta State government under the leadership of Dr. Arthur Okowa Ifeanyi to look for more possible ways of honouring this great Briton who became a “Nigerian to save Nigerians” as renaming a secondary school in Enekorogha community after him is the least Delta state can do for the selfless humanitarian service rendered by the “village optician“.
If this is done apart from the arrest of his killers by the security agents, Dr. Squire’s family would obtain some solace and the battered image of Nigeria will be slightly repaired. Rest in Peace Dr. Ian Squire, the “village optician“, your killers shall know no peace.