I might not know your names
But I will not allow anyone to call you what you were not!
Some called you forty three(43)
Other said your names was seventy eight (78)
Mere number, in land of your birth!
Victims of Vipers in Power!
Enemies did not kill you.
Your nation gave you out!
It wasn’t the sword of terrorist that slit your throats!
It was the growth of apathy;
the rise of the tribe of the terrible,
who wears silence as garland of honor
and loyalty to evil, as evidence of patriotism.
You were victims of colluding forces
of silent subjects and their wicked king,
whose tender mercy is cruel! –gbenro olajuyigbe
Humanity loathes death, even though it is language of future of every living thing. It becomes scary if it comes brutal. Brutal killing challenges our humanity. It calls to question our sanity as part of mankind. Death culture is spreading and scarier is that it does not shock Nigerians any longer.2020 is a gory year made gorier by vipers in power. The benefit that comes with society is lost. The hope that democracy provides has turned to despair. Voices of wisdom are drowning while cacophony of sycophancy has shattered voices of courage. Ordinary poor people of Zabaramari, where scores of people were brutally and callously murdered were the recent victims in the unending ring of cruel victimization by Boko Haram, Bandits, Kidnappers, and sundry violent criminals that have pushed the frontiers of ungoverned space in Nigeria. Agony has filled the land and the nation is soaked in grief. Until apolitically altruistic intelligent steps are taken to come out with context informed security governance strategy that speaks to inclusion, effective coordination, proper and judicious funding as well as addresses the rapid national disintegration, the journey will remain a torturous long walk on mine.
One of the things I have learned from Lombroso’s Criminological theory is that ability to look at someone’s skull and recognize if the converging nerves give him or her out as callous cruel criminal personality. Cesare Lombroso was an Italian Criminologist and a Medical Doctor who saw crime as characteristic traits of human nature. He advanced that criminality can be inherited and that revelation of this could be grabbed from physical appearance, particularly defects around the skull. He might not be hundred percent correct as research has thrown up other factors and theories of criminology that are irresistibly convincing. Nevertheless, there may be no reason to waste more words and time on psychopaths who blame victims for their brutal killing if one takes time to look at their skulls. Vendors, hawking ‘License to life’ in a constitutional democracy and space that impose duty to protect on leaders and state definitely have traits that qualify them as appropriate specimens in Lombroso’s laboratory! Equally uncharitable was the statement of a Minister that continue to shamelessly insisting on the defeat of Boko Haram despite tragic contrary evidence. The same character also despicably describing the attack on the rural farmers of Zabarmari as attack on soft target. What a careless callous statement! The questions are; who and what made them soft target? Isn’t that an admission of existence of ungoverned spaces in Nigeria? Could that be a testimony to a government that is responsibly in control by any stretch of responsibility? Imagine the tragic narrative of empowered by laws and duties to generate protective impact and secure spaces within a geography stock- taking its own failure to protect and defend unintelligently with self- indictment. There is obvious collapse of intelligence and wisdom among the chips and chaps in this government that continue to lies and falsehood as governance tactics. Indeed, the seal of beast is on the callous monsters that mourn the massacre of vulnerable with non-issuance of military license within democratic and constitutional license of life and movement! That happens only in bloody regime of jaded jackals! I don’t easily connect with those who are timid and fearful, those who are apathetic to human suffering and those who profit from collective agony because I know that future does not belong to them. Powerful tide of grief is blowing across a country governed by a bizarre King that have broken all records of imbecility, won all awards on incompetence and scored all goals of tragic governance with deliberate affliction of his people. There is no substitute for competent, just and effective leader with strength of character in affairs of any nation; leaders whose words and deeds unite people and drive them toward profitable future. The unfolding crises in our country and the ways they are responded to and managed are reflection of her ‘leaders’. Leaders heal wounds; they halt crises and protect their people from harm. They keep the gates of their nation and defend the territorial integrity of their land. The basic features of civilization have evaporated in a nation where a set of outlaw wakes up to play death- game, determining how many people will die, where and how they are going to die without any resistance from those with statutory responsibility to protect!
Aside from the critical situations in all the zones in the North, Ondo, Edo, Cross Rivers, Rivers among others have also become the new fire zones while we are still dipping security in oil of politics!
While we should be seen to be responding from all angles, particularly addressing issues of our large youthful population by prioritizing human capital development, employment as well as supporting innovation and talents, we are busy throwing scarce resources at symptoms while Boko Haram continue to harvest recruits from the expanding pool of out of school and unemployed population of youths. We irrationally and backwardly continue to project Microbiology graduate as a successful Akara seller, worthy of emulation by our youths while her mates elsewhere are in laboratories seeking breakthrough in vaccine production, forgetting that man shall not live by bread alone. Education is to advance the cause of humanity, make its subject self-fulfilled by supporting his or her self-actualization; not to merely quench individual’s hunger. We should build conducive environment for our youths to fly and stop ancient retrogressive motivation that tend to project fatalism as an enduring philosophy of life! We may wonder as much as we can on how we got here, but then, every human tragedy starts with a wrong foot. Nations do not become terrorized in a day. It starts with exclusion, with injustices and with state backed liberty of lawlessness that emboldened people to become law unto themselves, creating government inside government and country inside country! When did we sink into nadir of internecine religiosity, that people now exclusively claim ownership of patent license for days of week? So Kano owns Friday that its Hisbah, a religious police in a secular state has audacity to warn a Radio Station to desist from saying Black Friday? This early warning of combustible bigotry must be heeded. The fire must be quenched before it consumes all without further notification. That’s how climate of terror grow! Under climate of inspired anarchy and state of inconceivable anomie, I pity those who further unleash on themselves the tragedy of silence; even when all evidence point to direction of imminent long and final night of silence, if hands are not stretched long, wide and early enough while soul of our nation can still be rescued from a sinking ship. I don’t understand the eternal idiocy of talking about sponsors of violence in a country that have legitimate government. I have responded to Disaster in the last two decades. None is as bad as irresponsible government. Worse if it’s democracy; it comes with rope for you to hang yourself! Fright not! Fight! A government that blames even the dead for its glaring incompetence is already dead! The living must never lean on it! Response to Zabarmari massacre is reflective of what is going on in all spheres of governance, worse in economy sphere, where tragiconomic self-defeating policies have become the drivers of recession, a Nigeria’s historic nemesis! Value of Naira is falling, prices of basic necessities are rising, there is running inflation that disposable income cannot catch up with. Hardship and chronic suffering are affliction that Nigerians have to endure; when not killed by bandits, you are marooned by inclement economy that spins blood out of its victims. Nations require a certain level of quality and compassionate leadership in driving people out of ditch. The tribe of informed elites has shrunk in Nigeria’s governing cycle. We have government that exist for nothing outside self-aggrandizement. The people are equally timidly docile, yet, the scoundrels, drenched in their gluttonous infamy, in their cruelest form, spit on them the same way they spat on Zabaramarian’s graves!
Gbenro Olajuyigbe is the Executive Director of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative.