Events in the last few weeks have confirmed that Nigeria is now a basket case of raging storms. Obviously, the storms have started making their impactful landing, leaving catastrophes, tears and anguish on their trail. The new spate of killings is dressed-up in the garb of unconscionable arrogance and impunity enmeshed in idiocy. However, it has not dawned on the Federal Government that the symbolism of its authority and legitimacy has been successfully challenged and demystified. A casual analysis of deaths from banditry, kidnappings and terrorism in Nigeria reveals that, between May 2011 and November 2020, more than 37,500 Nigerians have been killed, with over-2.5 million displaced and nearly 244,000 now sitting comfortably in the socio-demographical status of refugees. Yet, the Nigerian authority continues to feign ignorance and chooses to live in reprehensible denial.
Only last week, suspected Boko Haram terrorists cruelly slaughtered more than 60 farmers like fowls in Bornu. Earlier in the week in Abuja, the kidnappers of Matthew Dajo reportedly demanded for N100 million ransom before the Catholic priest could be set free. Elsewhere in Kaduna State, bandits unleashed mayhem on a village while hoodlums and smugglers also held some men of the _Nigeria Customs Service_ hostage and snatched a gun from a female soldier in Ogun State. The worrisome implication is that the Nigerian state is clinically dead. Contemporary cataclysmic events have highlighted government’s impotence and powerlessness; and, it is as if the national government has succumbed to the wishes of amnesia; as such, has lost its ability to decipher the interpretive understanding of the writs of the social contract.
Nigeria’s political storm is coming like a hurricane. However, when it will make its ominous landing is unknown! Besides, only God can tell what the shape and size of its destructive ramifications will look like! _#EndSARS_ protest might just be the beginning of a furry unleashed on the society by the mob, with no one saddled with the responsibility of an effective control over the unorganized mob! Nigerians are hungry and angry, and only God knows the degree of the bitterness in the people. In this clime, public servants are neither accountable nor responsible for the wellbeing of the citizenry. Not only that, most civil organizations have integrity crisis even as few are grounded in financial immobilism. Unfortunately, contemporary crises and sloppy responses of government to them are preparing the future #EndSARS-type of protests. That is why, as Boko Haram terrorists were cruelly harvesting the souls of farmers in Zabarmari, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force were either bursting the hideouts of those who specialize in sewing clothes for the terrorists in Kaduna or carrying handbags for the wives of important personalities in Ibadan.
The geography and spread of devastation and sufferings caused by mayhem, arson, looting, gangsterism, and hooliganism unleashed upon the society are ethnicity, religion, and political affiliations-neutral, to say the least! But then, imagine a Chukwudi who came from Nnewi to make life worth living in Lagos; and he succeeded, only to lose all his life savings and commercial wares in his shop at Surulere to ‘unknown-looters’. Will Chukwudi return to Nnewi, tell his unfortunate story, blame it upon the gods, and simply go to sleep thereafter? Yes, there are hundreds, even thousands Chukwudis, whose voices will never be heard! The tragedy of our situation is that those who can address the issues have not woken up from their self-induced slumber while those who claimed to have woken up have gone back to sleep.
Another troubling point is that the window of opportunity of timely intervention is slowly shutting down and our leaders are not sensitive enough. The information handlers of the government’s affairs have forgotten that an essential ingredient of good governance is effective communication. This important tool of administration draws its oxygen from the pool of trust and confidence profile of government as perceived by the people. Unfortunately, since President Muhammadu Buhari’s handlers are having it all mixed-up, this life-link in government cannot but wane. Yes, the security apparatus is obsolete, rusty and ineffective! But, from their harsh and unmeasured response-statements to issues of national security and a plethora of unguarded utterances, it is obvious that The Presidency’s _vuvuzelas_ have lost touch with reality and the needed connection with the people.
Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who ruled Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974, claimed to be the direct descendant of King Solomon and the Ethiopians believed him. He had ‘Royal Lions’, always dancing round him in his palace. When the country was in a mess, Selassie was living in opulence. He was so powerful that, at 80, he was still sleeping around with the prettiest of the damsels in the country. The tyrant became unhinged, and Ethiopia descended into a slippery slope of socio-political instability. But, when some young soldiers suddenly toppled his government, they demystified the myth of the link to the royal lineage of King David of Israel. Selassie was taken into custody and he became a very ordinary human being. The rest is history. Lesson: you are who you claim to be, until the day the perception of the society changes negatively. There and then, you are thrown into the garbage can of history. The more reason the rich, including those who find themselves in positions of authority through political permutations and politics of inclusion, zero merit and nepotism should go and read the history of capital. Impliedly, for the rich to survive, it is in their objective interest to part with a substantial portion of their wealth in order to keep their wealth. Otherwise, there may be no wealth to keep and no country to flaunt the wealth. What one has spent 100 years to build, anger can destroy it in minutes.
To get out of the woods, the ambivalence in Nigeria’s socio-cultural setting has to be addressed. In order to build a house, all the faulty structures have to be rebuilt. A skyscraper built on a faulty and weakened foundation will come down eventually. As far as Nigeria’s case is concerned, currently, there is no patch-up, and we must not wait for the whole structure to come down. This is the time for governments and public institutions to set in motion earnest appraisals and inward-looking at extant policies and programmes with a view to recalibrating these policies and programmes for the betterment of the citizenry.
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
Abiodun KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (firstname.lastname@example.org; 07087941459)