Happy independence Nigeria!
We have been through a lot and are still passing through much. But for optimism, there is the temptation to say we have had more troubles than fortune, even that which is to be our fortune, like the oil and diversity, has become part of our trouble. Can we have peace, development and prosperity at once, or must they come periodically in bits.
But it is said that troubles or challenges make life sweet, interesting and worthwhile; especially the sense and taste of victory that comes from overcoming the challenges. Even pure and harmless romance has been roped in with this challenge = sweetness theory. Some say that lovers bond better by having misunderstandings and settling them.
If Nigeria is a bride then she has never enjoyed her marriage for long, and it is not because of infidelity, (it could not have even been as every country is concerned with its own good, at best there) but because of a soul chaos. The groom – land – has no other part to play after wooing her into its territory and providing her all that she needs. It is now left for her to manage herself, the home and she doesn’t have any competitor but herself.
She has never settled down like a virtuous woman to love her husband and by that, herself. It’s been decades and the bachelors night refuses to end as the bridal shower is still on.
Individuals, groups, political parties and even the military have all come at different times to help her become a model home, but all to no avail, it gets worse. Sometimes good and then back to worse. Did those who have come to help her overtime come with good or bad intentions? It is left for them to judge.
One thing which is clear is that there appears to be a system set on autopilot which directs or determines the state of the nation at any given time, and you know what, the system is not commendable. It gets stronger (silently) as time passes, that’s why no matter the noise we make for positive change nothing seems to be happening. It turns good men into bad and mute men; it upgrades bad men into monsters.
That’s why the judiciary can be bought.
That’s why legislators make billions just by sitting while doctors, teachers are left to struggle through life.
That’s why offenders are not afraid, because they know a police chief or one big man.
That’s why young men behead a person and play football with his head in broad daylight without fear.
That’s why bandits call the shots and will not be caught.
Speaking about bandits, there have been calls to label bandits as terrorists. But labeling them as terrorists or whatever, doesn’t change anything, like their operations, at best it will change the way we see them, and if possible and better too, change the way the government approaches them.
What is banditry?
According to Collins Dictionary, Banditry is used to refer to acts of robbery and violence in areas where the rule of law has broken down.
Mark the phrase “where rule of law has broken down”.
In the Nigerian context, banditry is the name the media chose to give to one of Nigeria’s loud changing problems, or from a conspiracy point of view, the guide of editors ganged up with the government to maintain the label. Banditry is just one of the bad isms troubling Nigeria.
Nigeria has had its fair share of great, medium and small but cancerous isms from independence till date.
It had “coupism” from 1966 till 1999,
It has tribalism, “religiosim” pre 1960 till presently
It has corruption from 1960 (exponential increase from 1999) till presently
It has had civil war, terrorism, riots, self-induced hunger and disease.
It continues to have election malpractices. Let’s stop the list for now.
Now, not all of these are sacred to Nigeria only, other countries have faced them too and overcame, some are still facing them.
How old is banditry in Nigeria? The title of this piece states that banditry is 62 years of age while Nigeria is 61. Does this mean that banditry gave birth to Nigeria or that it existed before Nigeria? The answer is actually close to that.
To take us back a little, Nigeria in a sense is actually a product of banditry; colonial banditry to be precise. The colonial masters came with every material and intangible scheme it could muster; force or diplomacy, trade or religion, aid and craftiness, and subdued the region.
So we can say banditry in Nigeria is even more than 62 years, it is as old as the colonial expedition of the 19th century, it is as old as the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate in 1914.
But this should not be an excuse by Nigerians to say that since we did not have the best of ethical or natural conception and delivery, then we must exist as illegitimate and reprobate offspring. History itself is replete with men and women who were born under abnormal circumstances but lived to leave outstanding positive marks in the world.
Currently, banditry is not the only problem facing Nigeria. We have increasing inflation, skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services, increasing debt burden, bigotry, unhealthy divisions, dwindling education sector and many others. But banditry has its footprint in many of Nigeria’s problem today.
Students are kidnapped in droves from school and thus education suffers. Farmers are not allowed to go to their farms, those who risk it are either killed or taken captive, and as such food supply is low and might get worse.
It will surprise you to know that the government and citizens are the actual bandits now, not the so-called bandits in the forests. Yes, because the so-called bandits have now established their own rule of law unchallenged, they collect tax from villages, and establish laws in their immediate environments.
Nigeria can come out of the challenge of banditry. All it takes is a body language from the leaders, not even a proclaimed order.
As Nigeria celebrates in 61st birthday, the numbers may not matter as much as the need to understand the NOW factor. We might have to do away with excessive strategies and embrace individual changes now through introspection. Though Nigerians have been accused of being wastefully religious and putting its responsibilities on God, though there seems to be no way out, we must not neglect to pray, again.
In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, we find how a short prayer changed the course of an obscure man’s life:
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother named him ‘Jabez’ saying, ‘Because I bore him with pain.’ Now, Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, Lord, bless me indeed and expand my territory. Keep Your hand on me, and keep evil from me, that I may not cause pain!’ And God granted him what he requested.”