Nigeria is a country that has been on the reverse gear within comity of civilized nations where the extant law believes and encourages selective justice. It is a country that worships sentiments and subscribes to hypocrisy. It is a country that thieves, looters, drug barons and even scientific pimps are worshipped for what they can offer. It is a country where the rich are above the law because administrators of the law are friends and sponsors of those in power.
Nigeria is a country where a stark illiterate can easily access power and encouraged to abuse such power for personal interest. It is a country where the security apparatus is under the grip of a selected few privileged, idiots that lack moral upbringing. It is a country that power is abused by those in authority.
Abuse of power and high scale corrupt practices by those privileged vagabonds are some of the major causes of the lingering security challenges bedeviling the country. The judicial system is archaic and infested by corruption. Judges are now business moguls in the temples of justice. In some cases, armed bandits and their senior colleagues, armed robbers are more patriotic than some Nigeria Police personnel. Custom and Immigration personnel are more of criminals than what they are paid from public coffer to do. The situation is ripe for violent change!
Funny enough, the opportunistic elite wherever they find a platform to speak astounds the audience with big grammar of ancient years just to drive a point home, which in most cases are at variance with their intentions against good governance. Whether the elite are in government, academia, private sector or the unregulated religious ministries, Nigeria is famous for first, talking without thinking, and second, talking without action. Since the escalation of insecurity in most parts of the country and the mayhem that erupted during the October 2020 #EndSARS protests, Nigerians have been inundated with some subject nouns that have been promoted in the Nigerian political and socio-economic space by the corrupt elite impoverishing the masses. These clichés from the Nigeria’s political lexicon are applied in the daily rhetoric of conceit, deceit and falsehood fed to the long suffering people.
The security agencies and their principals in the executive and legislative arms readily chorus ‘cultists, bandits, hoodlums, looters, criminals and terrorists’ as the purveyors of violence and promoters of insecurity in the land. After every slaughter of citizens, Nigerians are mocked with the familiar refrain of expression of ‘sadness and shock’, lamentations of ‘inhuman, tragic, callous, satanic, dastardly and horrendous’ massacres; and empty, contemptuous and unfeeling assurances of apprehension of the murderers; and vows of remedy with clichés such as – ‘we are on top of the situation; the killers or kidnappers will be arrested and prosecuted’. Condolences and hypocritical visits become the order of the day from various quarters – the presidency, national assembly, governors and sundry- words and expressions that do little to condole or comfort the bereaved and mourning families of victims, who themselves may be the next victims of attacks by the evil agents of death. Normal life resumes until another episode of slaughter occurs. This is the ghastly and morbid cycle of our existence here in the land of our ancestors.
But who are these ‘bandits, cultists, hoodlums, vandals, miscreants, looters, criminals and terrorists’? They are bona fide Nigerians who have for decades been criminally excluded from the distribution of national resources, abandoned to the low estate of crass poverty, ignorance, disease, squalor and subjected to avoidable and un-provided deaths. No social safety nets are provided for them whatsoever. They are the millions of out of school children, almajiris and illiterate youths who desire education but cannot afford it: the educated youth who roam the cities and villages without jobs to earn a living: the rural folks whose occupation is farming but who are not empowered with the funds and tools to produce and even when indulging in subsistence farming are hacked down in their farms by bandits; our students who are rendered idle with incessant and protracted strikes by academic staff and other unions. For these forsaken teeming masses, there is no hope but despair; no faith in nationhood and no love for country. These indigent folks are daily fighting battles of survival against vicious poverty, hunger and disease while they watch their leaders indulge in unconscionable, opulent revelries and ostentation funded with ill-gotten and undeserving wealth.
The alarming escalation of violent crimes is the harvest of decades of misrule, total alienation, exclusion, marginalization and contempt with which the political elite and ruling class has treated the poor masses since the military criminally aborted the fledging and promising First Republic in 1966. Successive governments whether military or civilian have thrived on falsehood to hoodwink Nigerians that they have come on a redemption mission, only to abandon the people and enrich themselves and their cohorts. These elites are our kinsmen; we grew up together, attended the same public funded schools and higher institutions. We know their economic and social standing in the society before they accessed power. No sooner they assumed office they erected palatial mansions in their sleepy home communities, in Abuja and other choice cities. They drive fleets of exotic cars in convoys. Their births and deaths are celebrated like carnivals with regal pageantry, with scores of pages of newspapers adorned with their photos, felicitations or condolences. They throw cash around and live in obscene and unconscionable luxury in the face and midst of crass and mass penury, poverty and severe deprivation of the greater majority of citizens. In their narcissistic posturing, they praise themselves to high heavens trumpeting achievements that are fictional and at best alternative facts.
The manner the so called ‘hoodlums hijacked’ the #EndSARS protests, our present colonizers have hijacked our hard fought democracy and turned it to a mercantilist, exploitative, oppressive and rogue system that exclusively favors them- a tiny segment of the populace, churning out billionaires and multi-millionaires, the new rich with gummy hands and heartless. These corrupt Nigerian elites are products and disciples of poor mentoring by past leaders- the Obasanjos, Babangidas, Abachas, AbdulSalams and their ilk. For them, restructuring the faulty federation is balderdash because they would be inconsequential and voiceless in the new dispensation. They are sitting on the goldmine of corruption, they cannot be easily moved. They are All Progressives Congress (APC) today and, tomorrow they are Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). They are all members of the club of indigenous colonists and neo-imperialist oligarchs.
Pardon me for crying out loud. The frustration is becoming unbearable! I watched how warehouses were burgled by hungry youth to evacuate what rightly belonged to them but hoarded by the very government they elected. I watched how stark illiterates accessed power and misusing same power to frustrate the people. I have watched how the criminally-minded with fake credentials catapulted to the red chamber of the national assembly as lawmakers. I have watched how idiots were appointed ministers in a government that was elected on claimed credibility. One has watched a lot of Kanny and Nolly wood dramas in the present system of government. Where are the mentors and role models who promote our core human and cultural values of honesty, hard work, truthfulness and fraternity?
Where can we find them? Do we see them among the former heads of state and presidents who took as much as they desired from public treasury to build mansions and launder billions of our monies in various banks here and overseas and are not held to account? What about our political elite who justify humongous salaries and allowances they earn which are not legitimate and statutory but contrived on the claim of self or group entitlements? How can a member of the national assembly ever dream of being more productive and important to the society than a medical surgeon, physician, university lecturer, engineer, journalist or those teachers that labor to impact knowledge and discipline into our children to justify their bloated and bogus salaries and allowances? Will the police ever banish their illegal toll collecting checkpoints? How about the ‘famous’ Army Captain who in Taraba State waylaid a police team that arrested a notorious kidnapper Wadume and snuffed life out of those few police officers? Is that captain the ideal model for our army which is still shielding him from the wrath of the law?
We can recall that few years back some military officers and their civilian collaborators diverted billions of naira and dollars budgeted for purchase of arms and equipments to secure the country from the murderous Boko Haram beasts. Instead of the purchase, the officers stole the amount against the security of the country. Today, are those officers mentoring the military rank and file to become real patriots or thieves? By this their actions of national sabotage and treachery, have they not put our troops in harm’s way and empowered the murderous beasts? Should they not be summarily tried by a Military Court Martial according to military law instead of a conventional court? The same military high command would rather demote a major general who complained of dearth of equipment for our fighting troops. Why is Nigeria not winning the war against Boko Haram, banditry and kidnapping with all the claimed Army Divisions and resources provided by government?
A forensic interrogation of the prevailing and escalating state of insecurity may reveal insider sabotage by greedy and selfish elements in the security institutions and their civilian collaborators benefitting from the endless conflict.
My country’s problems are complex and complicated; a nation without heroes and iconic leaders to be emulated. In a situation where the security agencies- the police and the armed forces – the bastion of discipline and patriotism, descend from these lofty ideals to indulge in criminal activities, surely we are in trouble. In this cesspit of corruption and conundrum of insecurity added to grinding poverty devastating the land, President Buhari must extricate himself from the hostage position he found himself, reboot and reset the entire security architecture and machinery of governance if he wishes not to be remembered as the worst leader history placed on Nigeria. He should disabuse his mind from the big grammar and pretence of those surrounding and deceiving him with phantom lies and juvenile propaganda dished out by some of his senile and insincere aides and political associates to the oppressed people from their secure and comfort zones.
For Nigeria to move forward out of the quagmire it found itself, President Buhari should listen to the voice of the people. The country needs a Presidential National Security Committee to proffer solutions to the lingering security challenges. We have to plough our retired army officers into the system to strengthen the records for the good of our country!
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues