Posted by Olusegun Hakeem-Adebumiti | 28 June 2016 | 2,937 times
The recent ‘I don’t care’ attitude of governments at all levels in Nigeria reminds me of an incident that occurred when I was growing up. News had it then that a cabinet member of a state had lost his family members to a car crash due to bad condition of roads within the state. That was about 20 years ago.
The unfortunate incident that year, however, spurred the State Government to fix damaged roads that posed danger to them and, by extension, the masses during that year.
This was done apparently because the incident affected a member of the state’s cabinet. Had it been the crash involved ordinary citizens, the story would have been different, as the authorities wouldn’t have bat an eyelid. But when it affected one of them, they quickly swung into action.
The scenario painted above is the situation we have found ourselves in this country named Nigeria by Flora Shaw. Do you remember her? My dear reader, more scenarios will be painted for you as we go along in this discourse.
Now, do you remember the ‘Apo’ and ‘Aluu 4’ killings? How about the ‘Ejigbo’ incident where some women were stripped naked, having been accused of theft in the market and thereafter had pepper inserted into their private parts by those who purportedly sought justice against them? These are few incidents relating to jungle justice in Nigeria, but the state won’t do anything about them.
Having said that, let’s now focus attention on the atrocities committed by security forces in Nigeria. A vivid example that comes to mind is the unnecessary killings by some members of the Nigeria Police Force over N20 or N50 ‘tax;’ or what name do you think we can give to the tolls these officers are collecting from commuter-bus drivers? Many breadwinners in homes have had their lives terminated abruptly due to “Wetin you carry, roger us, and anything for the boys?” syndrome.
Mass killings in Zaki Biam, Odi and, recently, Zaria have further highlighted some of the atrocities against the civilians by security forces in Nigeria. Nothing was done to bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to book. Hence, the rights of these people were trampled upon. It is, however, hoped that the inquiry into the recent Zaria killings will bring about justice.
Extra-judicial killings have also been attributed to the Nigerian security forces in the past, while some of these heinous acts are still ongoing, even after the hue and cry by notable bodies such as Amnesty International, Civil Society Organisations, and the media.
More worrisome are the activities of armed groups: whether it is Boko Haram, herdsmen, cattle rustlers, militants, kidnappers, political thugs and pipeline vandals, the laxity of the state has been responsible for these lingering shenanigans.
In fact, many things are wrong with our institutions. The questions that come to mind again at this point are: How did we get to this sorry stage? Why can't we get things done the right way? Are the leaders not learning from their trips to developed countries? Why is there no equity and justice for the oppressed? Why are we playing with human lives that can contribute to our development in the future? Why are we mortgaging the lives of our youths? When are we going to give birth to the beautiful ones among us? Or, are they within us already but passive due to the repercussions they will get from being just?
Well, it was reported in the media last month that over 300 persons died in the Agatu killings by Fulani herdsmen. It witnessed little condemnation from the state; and no order by the Federal Government and other stakeholders of the state to bring the perpetrators to book. Now, over 50 persons died in the Enugu herdsmen’s attack and we have a presidential order to ‘crush the perpetrators’ and a Senate committee to ‘address the incident.’ It only tells us something about the states: they care less about their subjects, and they are only political reactionists and opportunists.
Why I am not saying here that the lives of over 50 persons killed in Enugu, which is the state of the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, does not matter, it further exposes the state to an existing belief by the hoi-polloi that they cared less about them. For me, it is good that the state is awake and thinking of ways of resolving these herdsmen’s menace and other activities that are affecting the functions of the state. More should, however, be done to wage a total clampdown on armed groups and individuals that are bent on destroying the federation.
The laissez-faire attitude of governments at all levels to the development of their abodes has already boomeranged, with its telling effects on every one of us. The state must thus be alive to its constitutional responsibility of protecting peoples’ lives.
When we talk about insecurity – and people often raise eyebrows on the type of weapons being used by these evil doers – what readily comes to mind is their ability to get those weapons. From where are they getting them? Some have said that porosity of our borders have been responsible for this. But, again, the question is: What has been the response of the security agencies saddled with the protection of these borders?
The recent comment, by the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, on the need to checkmate arms proliferations by individuals and groups, is a welcome development. But, our borders must be under-surveillance by security forces, both day and night. Perhaps, a special task force to withdraw arms stocked in the hands of individuals or groups could be engaged, while the state should reward this set of people with cash or relevant jobs, if it so deems fit.
Those whose rights have been trampled upon and families of those who have been extra-judiciously killed by security personnel should also be rewarded accordingly, while those involved in jungle justice, either individuals or agents of the state, should face the wrath of law.
I have read in the news recently that the Federal Government has commenced preparation of the 2017 budget. If that is anything to go by, then it is cheery news; even as we cheer the signing of our ‘padded’ but now ‘unpadded’ 2016 budget.
In sane climes, this is how the state works: no time to waste. If this single act of planning ahead is imbibed by every one of us, be it the state or the hoi polloi, soon, we will get to the tabula rasa.
The masses have lots of assistance to render to the state in reaching a clean slate, as it is part of our duty to speak out from-time-to-time. However, speaking out does not mean raining curses and playing the blame game: it should be constructive and solution-oriented.
We must not always wait for the unfortunate to happen before we take actions. Parents should also do their part by teaching their wards morals and the need to be responsible citizens, as they are the future of tomorrow. Charity begins at home, as the saying goes.
Religious institutions have to ‘up their ante’ by going back to the pristine forms of preaching: enough of prosperity in the face of unrealistic potentials. More people are being misled due to this trend, and they have resorted to cutting corners in order to gain wealth.
When these two above-named institutions (the home and religious institutions) fail; the state, no doubt, will also fail in its responsibilities.
•Hakeem-Adebumit is of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo. He could be reached
@hakeemadebumiti. Photo shows President Muhammadu Buhari.
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