Thursday, 25 September 2014

Wanted: A Dutiful Nigerian

Wanted: a dutiful Nigerian
With the pains of the continued missing of the Chibok girls gnawing this nation, but their respective parents, one cannot but notice the leadership deficit in the nation today. Below is a piece I did, October 2012, which I find relevant to harp the leadership morass we are saddled with. Enjoy.
Last Sunday, the nation woke up to be greeted with the tale of the killing of some 26 persons in Dogon Dawa in the Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna State. During the course of the week, emerging reports have indicated that the attack was indeed a well advised act: a group of Nigerians unleashed it on the community in reprisal for an alleged violation on others of theirs. A policeman has even been fingered as an accomplice.
Earlier, four University of Port-Harcourt students were brazenly murdered in the most despicable and barbaric manner by a community, Aluu, in Rivers State for allegedly stealing laptops and mobile telephone sets. While all the humiliation and eventual killing was going on, people had the all the time to video the ongoing – probably even without revulsion as we have become numb to such horrors – and we still had a police force in place in Nigeria. Feelers even have it that the police actually got to the scene and then left off before the young men were finally roasted alive.
Also, days before all that, in the dead of night in Mubi, students, 26 of them, were cut down by persons wielding guns and machetes and axes, with many others gravely injured. These killers, as with many others before them, took their time; they went from room to room; identified their victims and hacked them down. This was only days after the claim by the nation’s security system that it had combed the area for terrorist threats and was satisfied that all was fine. On the night in question, they – the security – were nowhere to be found, and never showed up during that whole length of time it would have taken to go from room to room, identifying human beings and perishing them. It is a tragedy; a huge indictment on the state.
Almost a year ago, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency warned the nation of impending incidences of massive flooding this year 2012 across the country. Nobody expected anyone one to be able to stop an occurrence of nature, but at least high risk areas could have been identified and people relocated, even if forcibly. Since early this year, signs began to manifest as to the seriousness of that forecast as isolated floods began pummelling Nigeria and Nigerians. Nothing was quite done until things got to a head. Now we are running from pillar to post with relief materials. We seem to be so verily enamoured of the “relief” bit of emergency management and response. May be because money is what we understand and we love every opportunity to throw it at anything as has been done in this occasion.
There is crass dereliction of duty at every stratum of the Nigerian national life. The wonder is whether it is because it is easy to abandon responsibility or it is just that we deliberately cast off our responsibility because we choose to be profiteers of disorder. Whichever way, we are the worse off in the long-run because society must quake with the effects of our failure and either we or our children must suffer. When the state fails to provide security for citizens, citizens will naturally improvise and that means taking laws into their hands. If the Aluu community were certain that the police will duly investigate and prosecute those murdered four for the alleged robbery, they surely would have handed them over. If the group that attacked the Dogon Dawa community had been confident that their grievance would be properly attended to by the Nigerian security system, they most likely would not have taken matters into their own hands. If people who have been arrested in the past over various offences and crimes had been seen to be duly prosecuted, convicted and punished, where necessary, and without heed to their socio-economic estate, ethnicity, religion or whatever consideration, the worst of us would not have so brought out. If someone had acted dutifully and promptly on the early warnings of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, many Nigerians would not have been out exposed in the elements, displaced persons without homes and with livelihoods lost.
But surely ours is a nation of abandoned responsibilities by virtually all: political leaders, civil servants, security operatives, public officers and also the private sector. People are sure that if you forward a concern to some appropriate quarters, it is sure to be frustrated as someone, for whatever reason, just fails or refuses to act upon it and suffers no consequences for such dereliction. But we all suffer as a result as a society. The concept of the butterfly effect is instructive here: a seemingly innocuous ripple out in the ocean finally causing a tsunami. This is why many a Nigerian looks at our country today and wonders whether it is not an exercise in futility to entertain any hope for a better society. For the older people who feted the nation’s independence with great expections and especially those of them who have worked tirelessly, with sincerity and integrity to make sure that Nigeria might become the great nation that its potentials poised it for, the feeling must be one of excruciating misery as they cannot recognize this country. As for the younger generation, surely the feeling is of anger and frustration. For them, this must be a society that does not care for its own. Indeed they could not deem themselves any more than orphans. No one, therefore, has the moral legitimacy to question their lack of (or is it refusal to...?) commitment, and even hostility, to the nation.
But hope is not lost. We can save Nigeria for our children... but only if we want and we are determined. Regardless of our status, we must commit ourselves to our simple duties in our own little corners of Nigeria. Mr President, and all elected leaders, must be eloquently seen to be at the head of the move to salvage the nation. As an erstwhile leader of this country, IBB, once rightly called out, for their tomorrow we must give our today.

Published on BLUEPRINT Newspaper, May 1, 2014.

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