Aluu4′ And What We Have Become

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

So much has been written regarding the slew of tragedies that have befallen our dear country Nigeria. Violent tragedies, blood letting and savagery seem to have found a home in Nigeria and one wonders; why us? But it has always been with us, maybe not of this magnitude, but it has always been there. Let’s allow ourselves some soul searching. The resilience and never say die attitude which has seen Nigerians exist as individuals rather than a people, have finally come back to haunt us and the chicken has finally come home to roost. I write this piece with a gnawing pain simmering under the surface.

As a Nation, we have always been a people who, when pushed to the wall, will rather dig a hole through the wall, than fight back. Our irresponsible leaders have capitalized on our so-called resilience to wreak havoc on our collective and individual psyche. My friend, Femke van Zeijl, a Dutch, succinctly captured it in a recent write up, when she opined that our ” resilience to cope with a dysfunctional Government has turned into complacency. Instead of demanding for change, acting for change, starting a revolution for all I care, the first thing that comes to the Nigerian mind when ‘the system’ fails him is: how can I (singular) get out of this? Not ‘We’. In the end, fending for yourself means just that: for yourself and no one else. Screw your neighbours, your countrymen, the people worse off than you. In the long run this reflex, in which Nigerians have trained themselves to perfection, actually worsens the situation in the long run rather than making it better.”
It is pertinent to note that Nigerians have resorted to self help due to the failure of the Government. Rather than demand for clean and potable water, we dig boreholes. Instead of forcing the system to give us sustainable electricity, we buy generators. Since there is no viable public transportation system, we either buy cars, motorbikes or even use commercial motorbikes, at the risk of our lives, to commute from point A to B. We are forever seeking for alternatives rather than demanding for our rights.

It is these incessant resort to self help that has seen the rise of often raucous and ragtag groups called vigilantes or local securities. These vigilante groups are scattered all over the country. Their activities are not monitored. They are largely untrained and often are made up of men who are either frustrated with their lives, frustrated with their jobs or are outrightly jobless and very angry. Hence, their modus operandi is such that they can be used by any powerful groups or individuals to settle personal scores.
Our lack of faith in the system has made Nigerians disillusioned with the entire contraption called Nigeria. Most people would rather get their own security than hinge trust on a government full of empty promises like “provision of adequate security”. Well-to-do parents will rather send their kids to school abroad than ensure the government upgrades and improves the standard of education in Nigeria. This mindset of self help and personal preservation is at the heart of all the dysfunctions in our body polity. Nobody cares if this house collapses; as long as my family and I are okay. Yes, we have been screwed by the Government, but that is only because we have bent over backwards to let them screw us.

The failure of governance and the collapse of the system in Nigeria is such that people do not have faith in the system. The judiciary, the police etc, have over time proven very unreliable in the dispensation of justice. It has been alleged that some policemen ( a minute fraction maybe, but they are within the police, nonetheless ) work in tandem with robbers. It has also been alleged that someone’s life can be endangered if he dared to report certain well connected criminals, as the police will not only allow the criminals go scot free, they will also expose the identity of the informant, such that his life becomes endangered.

My friend, Femke, concluded by saying, “this is not a society, it is a collection of individuals fending for themselves. Nothing truly binds them together, it is the most dangerous condition for a state to be in. It is a recipe for implosion.”

Nigeria is currently on the precipice and her current rulers seem oblivious to the reality that the society they preside over is like a rudderless ship on a tumultuous ocean–one where the captain of that unfortunate ship is snoring deeply inside a luxurious cabin, unaware that the ship he captains is just about to capsize .

If we had a proper security system in place, there would have been no need for vigilante groups. As I round up this essay, I am currently running on my personal power generating set and the time is 1.35am. The current rulers of Nigeria will want us to believe they have done so well and in fact they have gone ahead to write an 80 page book, aptly nicknamed: Jonathan’s 80 pages of nothingness by my friend, Chinedu Ekeke.

I conclude by saying, no man has a right to take the life of another, no matter the circumstances or provocations. Therefore the people who perpetrated the heinous barbaric act against the Four Uniport boys must be brought to book. But when will our police be proactive and engage in proper crime prevention, rather than their usual reactive policing of chasing shadows and making trump-up arrests?

Most of the time, the real perpetrators would have disappeared while our very unprofessional, but brutal policemen will go around picking innocent men, thereby jeopardizing the case from the onset.
I hope the police will do a thorough job of arresting the real perpetrators of the crime. May the soul Of the departed rest in peace and may God comfort their families, friends, schoolmates and all their loved ones.

Ayobami Oyalowo

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