There are some around and about who hold that it is perfectly normal in 2021 for herds of cattle to stop traffic on our roads, litter our streets with dung and rampage through our farms destroying livelihoods and lives.
They say it is an everlastingly God given right for pastoralists to continue the perpetuation of an age-long way of life that is now synonymous with bedeviling criminal enterprises exposing the wider society to danger and yes, putting genuine herders in harm’s way.
Mind, the typical day of those who say these things revolves around waking up in air-conditioned well-appointed domiciles, being driven around in ostentatious air-conditioned vehicles, navigating through air-conditioned offices and cocooning at day’s end in luxurious air-conditioned well guarded abodes.
Is it remiss of them to want to uplift the herder and his kin from age-long drudgery and deprivations? Is it remiss of them to, like the revered Mallam Aminu Kano; seek the upliftment, enlightenment and emancipation of the talakawa (downtrodden)?
No! They must have pliant masses and so they sustain the drudgery and deprivation. Illiteracy and poverty are necessary ingredients to create more biddable subjects and so they foster the culture of dependency as historically grasping misleaders have always done – for only then can their perfidy, debauchery and nefarious hold on power be maintained.
They are not unique and have kith and kin across the nation whose creed is money and power. From North to South, East to West, Nigeria is bedeviled by an elite ruling class that in all their bastions employ a gamut of destructive tools with the sole aim of continuing the subjugation of the people.
Rather unfortunately and to the continuing distraught and impoverization of the Nigerian people, we have been conquered through the effective deployment and weaponization of illiteracy, poverty, ethnicity and religion by political desperate actors whose only recommendation and basis for induction is that they are astonishly very nimble with their fingers and have been able to master the dark arts of “jiggery-pokery” in determining electoral outcomes.
The extent of our national conundrum is evinced by the ironic spectre of a class of unrepentant, dyed in the wool town residing bandits who whilst still perpetuating the looting of the public till, pontificate and gnash their teeth at the upsurge of rampaging forest dwelling bandits who derive their moral equivocation from them!
For misleaders, there is certainly no correlation between rising violent crime and over a third of a fit and able population jobless and unable to find work. For them, there is no relationship between widespread insecurity and being the poverty capital of the world. Our political types do not see the clear outcome in arming deviant youths for election rigging purposes.
It is totally lost on them to relate that being at the top echelon in the world as the breeding ground of poverty and holding numero uno status in the world as unemployment czar has translated to first in Africa as the leading kidnap-for-ransom nation whilst being amongst the top three kidnap hotspots in the world.
Surely if they had any “gumption” of these troubling connections they will make haste and literarily “move heaven and earth” to seek a paradigm shift for the better! That is what would be expected of leaders who were truly “of the people”, right?
Terror practitioners of all shades will not let up. They have realized that we do not have democratic governments “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Quite a few of them have had “work experience” with our political types and so they know that we only have an abridged version of civil rule which certainly only caters for a few.
Since 1999 (start of the 4th Republic), Nigerian governments at all levels have under flimsy and conjured up veneers of legalese continued the perpetuation of the most wicked and mindless annexation of a humongous portion of the people’s resources in the guise of “cost of governance”. This wanton fleecing of the commonwealth is at the root of a most virulent distrust by the governed towards government.
So, “perception engineering” will no longer work with “societal deviants”, for they know that their criminality and that of majority political types is only differentiated by the cloak of “government functionary” under which the later operates. So long as we continue to be stuck with our bandits in power (BIPs), so long will our many bush fires continue.
To comprehend the enormity of the nation’s challenges is to firstly understand that Nigeria is a place where every process that has to do with government business at all levels is deliberately designed to work opaquely or not at all. This corruption jinx seemingly never to be demystified but rather deliberately nourished has been the perpetual state of being of successive governments in Nigeria.
African traditions and contemporary religions attribute demonic spirits as the source of unremitting problems that defy logic and just will not let go. Are a class of people who will not remove their knees from our necks even when they see we are out of breath and dying not truly demonic?
Some say they want to break up Nigeria. They clamour for Biafra, Oduduwa, Arewa et al. Will peculiar demonic spirits not still roam in these new constructs? One who is plagued by bed bugs in his house will find his blood is still being sucked even when he moves to a new home if the bugs(known to burrow into everything, multiply alarmingly and frustratingly resistant to most remedies) have not been well and truly rid of.
Being forever plagued by misleaders has been the true and lasting bane of Nigeria and if she deconstructs on the morrow, that afflictive legacy will live on even in it’s splintered parts in a rinse and repeat cycle. A Yoruba adage is apt: “Do you cut off your head just because you have a headache?”
What, pray, will be the fate of Amaka and Babajide, of Yetunde and Abdullah, of Itohan and Usman, of Ejiro and Ikenga – what will be the fate of Nigerians in their millions who have intermarried – those who have become more indigenous to their adopted homesteads than to those which their names are linked?
What will be the fate of millions of Nigerians who are invested in the Nigerian project by the commitments of love, family, property and livelihood. Have they or their forebears sold whole populations of ethnic nations different from theirs into slavery whilst unleashing unparalleled terror? Rome did that to other Italian nation states but today there is only Italy.
There are numerous examples around the world of now viably forged countries where ethnic nationalities that constitute them where known in times past to have fought interminable wars of attrition and slaughtered themselves. Would millions of Nigerians deserve the disintegration of their world because they are under such burden of history?
And so we have gotten to a point in this nation where misleaders and the mass of the people alike have found themselves mired in a “catch 22” situation. George Orwell in “The Road to Wigan Pier” adequately contextualizes the reality of our society when he wrote : “ We are living in a world in which nobody is free, in which hardly anybody is secure, in which it is almost impossible to be honest and to remain alive”.
Frustrations with the “cowtry” Nigeria are justified and feelings can make one, indeed “fit to be tied”. However the burden of Nigeria’s failures must be put squarely on our misleaders and our most crucial effort is to engender a system that gives us the ability to elect good leadership and to bind same to the will of the people. Nigeria’s future, if she must have any, can no longer be determined by her “perennial misleaders”, much like the fate of a herd of cattle is reflective of the herder’s disposition!
We must jettison our nonsensical junta inspired constitution. We must decentralize power and have a constitution that is indeed of “we the people”. We must collaboratively restructure our polity to the extent that all segments of it will “feel” joint ownership.
Only a legal and moral restitution set on a foundation of social justice for all will elicit a commitment to temperance from divergent interests. Only by these steps can we move from a “cowtry” to becoming a country – nothing else will do.
Human Rights Defender and Good Governance Advocate