WEDNESDAY COLUMN by USSIJU MEDANER
I assume after reflecting over the nature, extent and form of crimes and criminalities in Nigeria and the relationship they share with the increasing unbridled and unholy aspiration for political offices in the country that the basic problem of this country began with the hyper inflated benefits of political offices. Overtime, the attractiveness of political appointments and elective positions has become a signal of doom for the country.
When in a nation ravaged by poverty, an individual can overnight turn billionaire just by becoming a politician and holding a political office, the natural law of nature set in; it becomes the survival of the fittest; men doing everything and channeling every means to become political leaders.
The Nigeria nation becomes one large war field where the mark of victory is winning election to control public resources, and since all is fair in war, it is only the end that matter. The things we do and are willing to do, to gain popular supports and win elections in Nigeria are unimaginable.
We are set to kill, maim and destroy others both in the present and damage the nation without consideration for the future. We literally become the cause that ruins our course. No one is innocent; the politicians lost it all, sold themselves wholly to the devil for the pride of power control; the populace, for the love of financial gains, support the evil, propagated by these men; we celebrate them, we sing their praises.
In the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Victor, for the joy of satisfying his personal ego created a monster with the resources at his disposal, when the monster is finally brought to life, fear set in, (in Victor); he couldn’t tell anyone what he has done; he became afraid of what the monster he created can do; he lamented his inability to permanently control it.
When it all started, it is either; we were enjoying it, supporting it or even praising it. The few among us that raised the alarms of the implication of the acts we are condoning and celebrating are call-out as enemies of the populous movement.
It was the monster we’ve been creating; something the present welcome but which represent and signifies much more damning things than we visualize; we created what becomes our fear tomorrow. Today it is our child; tomorrow, our menace; our creature yet our undoing.
The Nigeria situation is pathetic; Pathetic because we have a very serious national problem and we know what the root causes are yet we are not only unwilling to address the causes but we are bent on intensify the acts of the cause without remorse.
The magnitude of violence in the country over the last few decades is alarming. While we all know that the created differences along ethnic, regional and religious lines for the purposes of gaining electoral supports were the prime factors responsible for the core of the internal conflicts and corruption, we all equally pretend not to be in the know of the sources that fan the disorders.
Till date, it has so become that all major violence, crimes and criminalities in Nigeria are socio-politically related. We all remember the famous Offa robbery case; the Michael Adikwu led gang were creatures of the Kwara political dynasty who believed in intimidation of the citizens to have their way during elections. Pulse.ng reported in November 2018 the statement credited to the gang leader of the robbery team saying that he makes political arrangement for certain political figure in Kwara South. The same report stated that the Lexus jeep GX-300 used in the robbery had a sticker plate related to that figure. Ayodele Akinnibosun, one of the gang leaders claimed he was the chairman of Liberation Youths Movement, Kwara South that makes political arrangement or more precisely thuggery for the then state ruling party.
What form of political arrangement do this gang made for the politicians? They are the instruments of brutality; the weapons used to snatch ballot boxes and arbitrarily write election results. They are armed and buoyed to become temporary big boys. After election, the need to maintain the new found social status and life style prevail and the result is the daylight killing of nine police officers and 24 others when they attacked a total of six banks in Offa on April 5, 2018.
Many of us wonder while elections in the south-south states are predominantly violent; we wonder while the incidences and reports of cultists actions are on the rise in the region and it so appear that some of the states could not do much to stop the trend.
We equally remember the history of elections in the region; where a particular political party amassed as much as 98% of total vote cast across a state in elections. The boys are empowered with guns to turn the polling areas to personal non-grata for oppositions while the party had its way. After winning election, the boys are expected to do what with the guns? When the political largesse ceases to flow, the guns come in handy; kidnapping, armed robbery, cult killing become the order of the day. There cannot be any genuine effort to crack down on the boys because there would still be need for them in the nearest future when the next electioneering season comes upon us.
Today, just while I am writing this piece, the news of gunmen who invaded Opuoko community in Rivers State came in; several innocent citizens were killed and houses and properties set ablaze. Who were these gunmen? Most probably some of the once useful boys; “THE CREATED MONSTER”.
Few years ago, Nnamdi Kanu was recorded in a video protest held in London against insurgency in Nigeria. He was pro-Nigeria, in his word “ we are protesting about killing of families by people who are determined to tear the country apart and it is not something we support, it is not something we would like to see continue”. The same Nnamdi Kanu tactically campaign for the Jonathan presidency in 2015. There was no IPOB then; the agitation for separation was not known then, but suddenly when the need to challenge the government of the new administration that democratically unseat their anointed candidate arise, Nigeria become a zoo and actualization of Biafra become the song. Would it be wrong to conclude that IPOB was a “ CREATED MONSTER” for the sole reason of destabilizing the present administration?
Those who should have spoken against the development were either in support or apologetic to the cause. Those who should be more concern about the peace and unity of the nation prioritized their political affiliation and thrust for the power at the center above every other consideration.
Then IPOB was seen only as an instrument to gain support across the south-east and south-south. While the government was busy managing the atrocities of the group, Nigerians who had sworn to protect the integrity of the country looked the other way and some even out rightly supported them. Sometimes in 2016, when the decision to proscribe the group was to be made, we remember the then deputy president of the Senate saying openly that IPOB is a peaceful organization. It is not limited to him, every member of the PDP saw nothing wrong in the operation of the group and at different times offer hands of friendship; the case of Femi Fani Fakayode( FFK) come to mind.
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Today, the opposition sees the IPOB as a reckless group; ex-governor Fayose of all people boldly described the group as miscreants who don’t deserve a place in a civilized society. He called them the “Igbo touts”. Some months ago it was the same individual who was the friend of Nnamdi Kanu, the Yoruba pro-Biafra; loved by the IPOB for his huge vocal support and attacks on the presidency. THE MONSTER WE’VE CREATED yesterday has come home to hunt us all including its creators.
The Zamfara bandit attacks is another avoidable devil we brought on ourselves; the menace had been with us for decades and attempts to end it had been equally fruitless for decades. Why? The bandits were created instrument of protection for certain individuals who have monopolized the gold mines of the state. According to thesourceng.com, most of the mines were illegally bought over by retired Generals and powerful politicians including some Emirs in the region, who need the bandits to protect their investments. This should explain the reason why the miners are exception to the bandit attacks; in an interview with Punch April 14, 2019, Senator Kabiru Marafa was more concern as to why the bandits pick out the locals and the poor villagers; he said the people believed it is deliberate attempt to scare the locals from asking questions.
The summary remains that the bandits were created by Nigerians who prioritized personal gains above the collective well-being of their state and the country at large; today, the bandit operations have exceeded the scope of plan of their creator and become a menace to both their gods and the nation ; so is the CREATED MONSTER
Nomadic herders/farmer relationship is almost as old as the nation as much as incidence of conflict between the duos. As early as 1965, government of the northern region already had its hand full trying to resolve the impasses created by the unavoidable interrelation between the groups. The creation of grazing reserves in 1965 was the earliest recorded of direct government intervention and since then the problem has been with us; region of the north central being the most hit considering the population of nomadic settlement and operation in the region.
Between 1999 and 2015, there were a number of planned interventions to end the menace by the various governments of the period in the region around Benue, Plateau states and some other states in the north.
Fast forward to the period from 2015, the herders/farmers clashes assume a different unprecedented dimension. The politicians hijacked the concept and rebranded it. Benue and southern Taraba states were their pilot testing grounds; the herders became sophisticatedly armed; operations become incessant; media report and attacks on sitting administration regular and diminishing.
The opposition appeared to be happy those killing were happening; it seemed the desired was the effect it had on the sitting government. We woke up each morning to the news of the current attack and we were never disappointed because it always happened. In those days, no one care to consider the possibility of any other groups been behind the atrocities; THE CREATED MONSTER was serving it purpose and they were comfortable.
During that period hundreds of innocent citizens were killed, properties and farmlands destroyed; thousands were displaced, just because some men must become relevant politically. Immediately after the elections, the herdsmen were done with Benue State so they left but killings did not stop; several statement credited to the Benue state authority and his brothers from the neighboring Taraba before the elections were in unison attacks on the government at the center; the menace was the main campaign agenda for those politicians in the region.
They created the new version of herders’ attackers, created open entrants for all criminals to operate under the umbrella in the name of herdsmen and get away with their crimes. Today, we are all groaning under the weight of the menace. Every criminal in Nigeria today hide under the cloak of the same. No region is spared; the rich are having their taste of the calamity.
The same Governor Ortom who berated the federal government for unleashing the herdsmen on his people and are doing nothing to safe them suddenly realized that the herdsmen are peace loving people and that history have shown that the Jukuns are the ones masquerading as herdsmen in Benue State.
Today, the issue is how to end the Tiv-Jukun crisis. When the politician were fueling the attacks and nicknaming it herdsmen attacks to wean down the popularity of the Fulani president, they were enjoying it; it worked for them; they won the elections in Benue State. The same Governor Ortom who repeatedly echoed his party position of no land for RUGA in our territory suddenly turned around to express his state readiness for the program (Punch August 18, 2019); the state is reconsidering its position in view of the fact that they now have enough information to make an informed decision. The politicians in the state just realized they need help to tame the monster they created.
They have now since then moved their CREATED MONSTER using an alibi “ Herdsmen” to the south west in preparation for 2023 elections. Nigerians are being killed on daily basis but the creators of this MONSTERS don’t mind as long as they are getting their desired results.
Those who created boko haram could no longer live in Maiduguri. The sect was relatively peaceful functioning in a way similar to “boys scout” in other realms; many will bear witness to this. The politicians manipulated the group and turn them into an election winning machine tagged “ ECOMOG” with promises of financial and position rewards after the elections. What happened after is a story Nigeria would never forget.
This is a country where we altogether are careless of the future implications of our present actions. This is a country where we watch school age children roaming the street without being bothered what the implication is on the society. This is a country where some individual sit on the resources that would provide jobs for the teeming graduates and unemployed population roaming the duty street in search of unavailable job. They don’t care that these children and these unemployed youths would become a “MONSTERS” to the society tomorrow.
This is a country where the leaders; those in position to provide direction for the rest have been busy strategizing and championing ethnic bigotry and religious superiority to entrench their control on the masses. Altogether, the politicians have wittingly sown the seed of destruction; we are fighting cold war on all front; religious, ethnicity; boko haram, IPOB, herdsmen, bandits…. .. All ARE CREATED MONSTERS
Nigerians this is a wakeup call to us all, ethnic profiling of crimes and criminality, unchecked alliances and support for groups working against the unity and peace of the country, desire to do anything to win election and control national resources, creating and spreading lies and false propaganda are vices against Nigeria.
We must realize we need to be together. We are naturally created together; we are inseparably mixed up. Go to a typical market at the corner of Osogbo in Osun State; you will interact with a minimum of thirty tribes per time. Even in the midst of the boko haram insurgent, Maiduguri is still home to an unchanging population of Igbo and several other tribes or do you think they left? No.
Supporting separatist movements and tendencies would only slow down the pace of developmental stride of the nation to the detriment of all of us. Our responsibility is to work together to move this country forward on a new pedestal, we, Nigerians all have a responsibility to collectively rise against evil regardless of where it is found; we must jettison sentimental reactions to issues of collective national consequences.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
TO BE CONTINUED