Thoughts on Things

Kingdom of Goons

It is amazing that the fate of a country like Nigeria is being determined by those who have the biggest guns. From the suicidal Boko Haram, whose ideology and demands are as tenuous as they are untenable, to the bigots called the Niger Delta Militants, whose vision does not advance beyond their noses and have been feted by the powers that be, to the armed, uniformed brigands called the Nigerian security operatives, led by the army, that is at best as barbaric in its approach to fighting these other groups of brigands as they all are in their continued massacre of Nigerians.
To add to the Boko Haram killings, the army’s occasional mass slaughter of the people it is sworn to protect and the lawlessness of the Niger Delta Militants, (criminalities for which no one has been brought to book), the fact that Asari Dokubo actually called a press conference in Abuja and issued Nigerians the ultimatum to re-elect President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 or face total annihilation is a brazen display of impunity.
The fact that an election is open to be contested and that Nigerians, under the guise of democracy, have the right to choose (not that their choices really matter) who their leaders would be does not seem to register with Mr. Dokubo. That he presumes to be able to take away the franchise of Nigerians, whose only comfort remains the illusions of going through the motions of elections, is, at best, an insult on the collective sensibilities of Nigerians, and the constitution of the federal republic.
His bravado is as astonishing as the fact that the man is still walking free and had not, at any point in time, been quizzed by security operatives. Well, it would have been astonishing in others climes where logic prevails. But this is Nigeria.
If the president’s henchman and Special Adviser on Amnesty, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, speaking in the US, actually said that there would be total chaos if Jonathan is not re-elected and his boss did not bother to call him to order, then the implication would be that the president is assenting to these blatant threats against Nigerians whose worth, in the first instance, does not amount to much in the eyes of their leaders.
For how else would one explain the wanton killings of Nigerians and the often lame condemnations of such atrocities by the government, condemnations that are not worth more than the paper on which the press statements are issued? The tragedies of Baga and Boston are pointers enough. Where the American government vowed to bring the murderers of three of its citizens to justice, and did so within a short time, the Nigerian government in its usual manner ‘condemned’ the massacre of about 200 of its citizens and has proceeded to protect the perpetrators of this barbarity.
While it is unfair to make comparisons between the two countries considering the huge difference in resources between them, one cannot help but ponder the obvious lack of political will to address these issues in Nigeria. Our approach to acts of terror targeted at the ordinary citizens is to mount inexplicable checkpoints that inconvenience the victims of terror or ultimately obliterate entire communities besieged by terrorists; or have the government acting as a mouthpiece to terror groups, exonerating them from crimes they have publicly admitted to; or at best, in moves that will shock the entirety of the nation, hire Isreali spies to spy on Nigerians. It is indeed baffling that when other sane countries expend resources and commit men to keep away foreign spies, Nigeria is actually inviting them in and paying them tax payers’ money to come. Only in Nigeria!
And now we have arrived the point where this illusion that operates under the guise of democracy in Nigeria has reached the abominable level of who has the biggest dog. While the militants are threatening everyone else with President Jonathan, whose gilded accomplishments in office seem obvious only to them, Boko Haram is busy trying to dictate how Nigerians live and breathe and what God they should worship, and in precisely what fashion. The police seem preoccupied with mounting indiscriminate checkpoints and barricading public roads, accepting tokens and waving on motorists, whose trunks might just be laden with explosives. And then, of course, on nights when soldiers decide to go on rampage, God help you that your neighbourhood is not the target.
And where exactly does all this leave the average Nigerian whose earnest desire is to escape the vicious jaws of poverty, have shelter over his head from the ravages of the elements, and do other things that other normal human beings in normal climes do?
Disenfranchised. By those who, because they have guns, presume they can take away the one illusion we cherish, even though it is killing us, the illusion of being able to elect our leaders and hold them to account, the illusion of running one of the most expensive governments in the entire world that, ironically, doesn’t give a damn whether we are killed by thugs chanting god’s name or that of some marine spirits, or glorified Goths in uniforms.
When the CIA made its 2015 breakup theory, what did the Nigerian government do? Issue condemnations and call the Americans names. Now it would seem that Nigerians, not minding the help of Gaddafi in training and planting Dokubo and his likes, and Alqaeeda and certain Nigerian politicians for generously contributing BH to the mix, are working very hard to bring this prediction to pass.
There must be a reason for all this. The succession of ineptitude that has been our leadership; the massive corruption that has characterised our administrations without exception, and our daily lives as ordinary citizens; the total disregard for the worth of each other, all these have contributed in no small measure to making Nigeria a kingdom of bloodthirsty goons.
But regardless, I believe that whatever change we want to see, will have to start with us, as individuals, then as communities, then as a nation. Only then can we tell goons like Shekau and Dokubo and Kuku, and whoever else, that you can’t presume to dictate how we live or what choices we make.