Posted by News Express | 13 July 2020 | 1,055 times
The greatest value of citizenship in an organised society is the collectively-held right to human dignity. The value placed on a single human life reinforces humanity’s shared belief – that man is more than an animal. In the absence of this “value”, human life is doomed to Thomas Hobbes’ model – “nasty, brutish and short.”
Our headlines give life to the Hobbesian spectre: Boko Haram, ISWAP attacks leave 60 dead! 37 Soldiers die in Boko Haram attacks – Sources; Over 140 Nigerians killed in violent attacks last week; Northern Nigeria attacks – militants kill 81; Herdsmen have taken over our farms - 5 communities sacked, churches, houses razed; 20 killed as suspected herders attack 3 villages; Insecurity – 35 killed, 6 kidnapped in different attacks across Nigeria last week; Two dead as suspected cultists invade station to free robbery suspects; Our deadly robbery operations in Oyo, Osun, Lagos – 23-year-old gang leader!
These are the type of headlines that have become our daily existential reality. From the reporters to the editors, through their newsrooms, to the reading populace, we have all become numb in a fatalistic ways that psychologists would only have expected in a time of war. To put the headlines into context will mean to also recognise that, damning though the daily reportage may be, it is more frightening because it doesn’t cover the full extent of this undeclared war on hapless, nameless victims. For, there are places in our beloved fatherland that on a daily basis bear witness to the gory orgy of killings, kidnappings, rape, destruction - the unleashing of hell on nameless victims that go unreported.
Stuck in the mire and reeling from deviant societal reactions to the actions of a corrupt, dense ruling class, ours is a double-edged tragedy. Not for these hapless citizens, who are violently and abruptly taken out of existence, is there any hope that their existence will ever be remembered. For the mass of our people, the hoi polloi, the plebs, their abrupt passing, if at all acknowledged by the powers that be, will be as a statistic, more surely, a disputed statistic. Not for them, the recognition of their citizenship as seen in other jurisdictions where power is derived from citizens’ acquiescence.
Those left behind, bereft already in their loss, will find no solace in societal solidarity. Alas, the memories of those taken will not remain as evergreen like the victims of: The U.K Manchester Arena Bombing in 2017; The 7/7 2005 – London terror attack; The Westminster bridge terror attack on 22 March 2017; The US September 11, 2001 attacks; The November 5, 2009 Texas shooting; The April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
The memories of those lost through natural or man-made disasters in jurisdictions where “Power” is of the people, is forever kept indelible. When Benjamin Disraeli, a former British Prime Minister said: “Power has only one duty – to secure the social welfare of the people” - he surely was not contemplating a society like Nigeria.
We exist in a country that is institutionalised to socially stratify, with a small minority having all the advantages while the larger majority is held as inconsequential and of no real relevance. In a country where those who hold power assume it through crude contests in the deployment of force, little credence will be given to the people's existence or inexistence.
The political scientist, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, put it succinctly when he said: “If you're running a dictatorship, you don’t really have to worry about the welfare or the property rights of the ordinary citizen. Only the people who keep you in power, a very small group, matter.”
It has been the tragedy of the Nigerian people that rather than practice what was promised as democracy – and strive to uphold its tenets – the Nigerian ruling class has since 1999, foisted an abridged version that could be better described as Civil Rule Dictatorship, which is hallmarked by the preservation of the rights and privileges of a few.
Little wonder that in a society such as ours, “Under Rule”, the empires built on sorrow, tears and blood continue to thrive. The incentives, allure and pecuniary benefits – reinforced by the perceived absence of penalty – continues to embolden deviant, corrupt, criminal elements in the continuance of terror. Confronted by insecurity, the hydra-headed monster – the resolve to fight is forever sabotaged by the proclivity and unending thirst of corrupt misleaders to steal anything and everything.
There is no greater catastrophe, no sadder and heart-wrenching tale of where we are as a country than that we have become in our fatherland – outside of the elite and ruling class – a country of nameless citizens. Saddled with a debauched ruling class, indolent and wrapped up in their delusions they, like all such debauched caste historically, have failed to hear the “bells tolling.” Insecurity, widespread and unchecked, is a “monster” that will devour everyone, given time.
The words of Frederick Douglass, the American social reformer and abolitionist resonates: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
•Victor Ikhatalor, ambassador of Nigerian Industry and Business: @MyTribeNigeria.
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