Tag Archives: Nigeria

Collectivism: A Panacea to the Nigerian Conundrum

nigeria-at-atlanta-96_5o8zkuxp1eiu1x7nsplf1q8igThe maladies bedeviling the Nigerian Homo Sapiens in her struggle for survival, transcend Darwinian evolution theories of Natural Selection in the Origin of Species– It is indeed fact, being Nigerian is daunting.

It’s as though our creator dealt us a wrong stack of cards- bad leaders, bad citizens, and a truck load of bad luck. Nothing good happens. And when we try to make good of ourselves, something sinister piles up on our plate.  For example, we were sprinkled some cosmic dust of “Goodluck” (with high oil prices, awash with Foreign Direct Investments) yet at the same time Boko Haram sacked communities leaving the smell of charred flesh in its wake. The memories of Chibok and the Aluu four massacres linger, not to mention the iniquitous thievery that took place in that administration. The flicker was doused.

Enters Sai Baba, who ironically benefits from a process he truncates years before, ushering hope by his victory over the almighty PDP. Buhari came in at the time Nigerians were fed up with the draconian party at the centre. And you would think, finally, we can claw ourselves back from the pit. But with Jonathan out of the way, our luck turned for the worse: oil prices plummeted and our reserves took a hit not imagined by economists. A renewed militancy erupts in the Niger Delta championed by the Avengers while IPOB & MASSOB spark flames in the South East.  Consider this, with Buhari, there is “no corruption” (at least not as glorified as it was with his predecessor) but we have to contend with new devils compounded by a ravaging recession. Buhari’s government has no clue yet on what to do, little wonder our citizens scurry towards danger like Alice in Wonderland going after Ponzis such as MMM and ultimate cycler in other to make ends meet.

If you take the biblical account of the Tower of Babel seriously, it would suggest that all a nation needs to prosper even if their creator didn’t approve is to cooperate in whatever goal they set out to achieve.

Cooperation as a nation is easier said knowing Nigerians well enough. We never agree on anything, even obvious problems. Issues are peered through cultural, ethnic and religious kaleidoscopes.   Our moral compasses oscillate towards the satisfaction of our bellies and we have altogether lost our way (if we ever had one).

Does this mean Nigerians never come together at all? Yes, we actually do. Soccer brings us together! Remember how Rashidi Yekini, screamed out his lungs when he scored against Bulgaria in the world cup?  The country was united. Remember Nwankwo Kanu’s miraculous chip against Brazil? Yes, that brought us together too. In fact after we won Atlanta 96, people filled the streets chanting and singing, not minding the language spoken. But these sporting events are few and far between and are usually short lived. Sports are a good rallying point, but it doesn’t hold the centre for us in the long run.

 

So what else can be a unifying factor?

Famous televangelist, TD Jakes says: “Nothing brings people together like adversity”. And he is right. Death in the family brings relations from far and wide.   We see how America came together when tragedy hit them on 9/11.  America was unequivocal in its stand against terrorism the way South Africa was united against the apartheid government of FW de Klerk.

Nigeria has had her share of adversity- the Civil War; Kano riots in 91 & 2001; Jos killings; Cynthia Osokogu; Mubi; Ikeja Cantonment mayhem;  Independence Bomb blast; Madalla, June 12 and the fuel hike protests of 2013 among many others. But each time, the disasters wore a different color of interpretation depending on what religion, ethnic group, or culture you gleaned it from. We may have come together in these times but it is my opinion that these tragedies never defined us as a people the way 9/11 or apartheid did for America and South Africa.   There was no common ground. There were in fact people who blamed Cynthia for getting lured to a hotel room; others defended the Aluu killings because they believed Lloyd, Chidiaka, Tekena and Ugo were members of some cult.

There is perhaps only one event where Nigerians saw the struggle through from start to finish. It was not a political tussle, or a civil rights movement or a protest against unlawful killings. It was a fight to save and preserve our individual lives. It was the fight against Ebola.

The fear of death from the Ebola Virus gave us a unifying language. The market woman in Kafanchan and the student in Ilorin greeted with their elbows. The prostitute in Obalende and the priest in Mbaise understood the language. There was neither friend nor foe when life was concerned. Bribes couldn’t get you into any public building without the use of sanitizers. Nigerians who would otherwise never obey simple instructions now wash their hands. Why?

Nobody wants to die

These examples illustrate how individualism (or selfishness in this context) can be used to save the community. Usually it is our inherent selfishness and lack of consideration for others that make us cut corners. We take bribes in order to stop protests not minding if the objectives are achieved. We support thieving politicians and protect them with the “our son” mantra. We inflate contracts and still never build the roads not caring that pot holes kill people. We skip queues at banks and airports by settling attendants, just because we can. And recently, to think that food items desperately needed by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have gone through so much pain can be diverted by their own kinsmen privy to their plight would make you cringe at the deep seated selfishness in every one of us. Nigerians are selfish at heart.

But have you noticed how we obey flight attendants who ask that phones be switched off before take-off? And how everyone rallies against the passenger who just doesn’t get it?

Why?

Because, nobody wants to die. We will shelve our individualism for the collective interest of everyone so long as it spares us also. Our love for self is brought to the fore, but this time for the common good. The support for the flight attendant could in fact potentially save the plane couldn’t it?

Now, how can convert these individualistic tendencies to benefit the generality of Nigerians?

In the movie, Beautiful Mind, John Nash (Russell Crow) captures this concept brilliantly when he refutes Adams Smith’s claim on the positive influence of competition (individualism) alone. Nash was of the opinion that competition is only positive if it benefits the group (collectivism). Nash adds: “In competition, individual action (should) serve the common good”.

He further explains: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. Nash’ argument was that when one does what is good for him and also for the group (or community) the system benefits more. Simply put, if our individual interest benefits the overall interest of the society, then that interest is worth doing but if it benefits us alone, it should not be done.

Going by the Ebola example, if a contractor sees himself or his loved one dying on the road he is meant to fix, he would not cart away public funds. Imagine if this were the attitude we took to our business places every day

What if major fuel importers thought they would make a better profit investing in building refineries that in importing fuel because it would benefit the country more in the long run?

What if, the solution to the youth restiveness in the Niger Delta and South East was “True Federalism?”

What if having only one chamber in the National Assembly would benefit the country more in the long run? What if our lives actually depended on this, wouldn’t we be willing to make the necessary sacrifices?

So many “what ifs”, but it is clear that focusing on ourselves rather than the group is costing us more that we can accommodate. The world is moving on, and every country is adapting and finding ways to survive as species often do. Our failure to adapt is causing the “extinction” we presently face.

Whether we live or die is left to us but the solution is clear. All we need to do is to love our fellow man as ourselves and possibly more.

 

Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

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Finding Tinapa

I took a four-day hiatus off work to visit family in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State in Nigeria.  Having never been to Calabar this was going to serve both as a family reunion and an expedition of some sort. I knew a thing or two about the place. The city Calabar served as port for transportation of slaves to Europe. Many “Cross-riverians” still bear names handed to them by slave masters.

Calabar is also home to fine cuisine. It is near-impossible to choose between delicacies edikang ikong, afang, and four-o-four (dog meat). The people also have unique, mythical characteristics; their women are said to be beautiful, voluptuous, possess magical culinary skills and are enchanting in bed. In politics, Margaret Ekpo, the rights activist, who fought for women civil liberties, gained reputation as a member of the regional House of Assembly from 1961-1965.

Calabar is one of many tourist destinations in Nigeria but unlike other tourist attractions, the state has made out a global brand. Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River played a pivotal role in making this possible. The Calabar Festival he inaugurated is the biggest tourism, leisure and entertainment programme in West Africa. It is held in December to celebrate and usher in the New Year.

The other key feature in Calabar is Tinapa.  Tinapa was built to be a business and leisure resort meant to take tourism to a whole different level in Nigeria. The project was initiated with a dream to make Calabar a hub for business and entertainment. Duke sought to create a tourism ecosystem in Crossriver State with Obudu Ranch and Tinapa at the centre. Development of Tinapa was buzzworthy—after all it only cost over $400 million!  In fact Tinapa was to be the centre of Nigeria’s free trade zone. It would attract investors from all over.

Personally, it wasn’t a question of if I was ever going to Tinapa but when. No one could wait. It was like waiting for the first match of a World Cup. So I knew that even though I had heard and read negative reviews of Tinapa, I still needed to see for myself.

Tinapa is twenty minutes away from the city centre. Trees arched forwards towards the centre of the road on both sides of the high way, leaving huge shadows overlapping on cars. My party and I made mock videos as though we were real tourists and titled it, On the Way to Tinapa.  I expected more from the ambience on our journey there and found it to be unexciting. The streets were half empty and there were no road signs that made our destination special from say going to church. I have visited tourist attractions in London, Dubai, Nairobi and Accra and I expected more from the journey. An ominous feeling began to set in: Maybe Tinapa was dead after all.

We finally made the left turn that brought us into Tinapa. Our first stop was the Water Parks. My enthusiasm surged again. Men, women and children were present. This area of the resort was functioning though not at full capacity (sounds like a refinery innit?). A bunch of freelance photographers scampered around us in hopes of taking and selling pictures.

“Bros, make I snap you and madam,” one quipped.

I was armed with my Ipad. My wife had a Samsung phone and my mother an android device enabled with a camera. We declined their offer. We paid and went in. I was impressed to see the pools properly maintained. The Water slides were not in use but this was probably because no one showed interest. Next stop: the shopping malls!  What shopping malls?

And that was where the Tinapa cookie crumbled. It was a ghost town. There was nothing, nada, zilch. Virtually every store was closed or had nothing to sell.  Shopping ought to be the centre of Tinapa. Nobody flies from Lagos or London to have a good swim. In fact the market survey that propelled the Tinapa project forward revealed that at least 500 Nigerians leave the country on nine different flights daily with each traveller spending on average 1.2 million naira in travelling and shopping cost. Tinapa was developed to save Nigeria about N200 billion annually from capital flight.

We eventually found T-mart, a store running clearance sales (They probably were also on their way out). There was no light in the building so I brought out my phone and found the torch app to help us find our way around. It was like a scene from National Treasure. We picked some clothes and headed for the till.

At this point, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.

“Oga, abeg who get Tinapa? Na Government?” I asked the attendant. I needed to put things in perspective; I needed to know who really was, is to blame for the mess.

“Na Cross River,” he answered, his patriotism tinged with shame.

My phone rang. On the other end my friend inviting me for his sister’s wedding in Lagos.

“No problem,” I responded. “I should be in Lagos next week. I am in Calabar, Tinapa actually.”

“What are you doing there?” he queried. “That place is dead—don’t you know?”

“Now I do”, I didn’t say.

I strongly believe the situation at Tinapa can be turned around if proper planning and management is employed. Certain factors such as government bureaucracy, insecurity in the Niger Delta, and kidnappings, contributed to the failure of Tinapa. Global terrorism especially that posed by Boko Haram has slowed down tourist into Nigeria.

Some steps have been made to save the project though. AMCON’s acquisition of Tinapa may be a blessing in disguise as it has given Tinapa a new lease of life. Ebony Life TV (A black Entertainment and Lifestyle network) has taken up residence on the Tinapa Campus. This has also helped drive some traffic into Tinapa.  It is unclear how long this turnaround will take but it is a road that must be travelled. The Canary Wharf (a major business district is one of the UK’s two main financial centers) recovered from an initial hiccup and the same can be done with Tinapa.

Tinapa faded behind us into the clouds as we drove back home.  It was less spirited; no chatter or video footages to pass time. Yes, I had found Tinapa but did I think I would ever come back?  Probably not!

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GOODLUCK JONATHAN: A PRESIDENT IN SEARCH OF A LEGACY

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Sir Winston Churchill

Goodluck-Jonathan

The Goodluck Jonathan administration is in its twilight. There is a chance the President will get another shot at the top job if he wins a second term into office. But let’s ask ourselves a question: What if he doesn’t return reelected; are his achievements impressive enough for Nigerians to remember the President for good? Right now, the answer may well be in the negative. Jonathan’s presidency has been beleaguered within and out with criticism especially because of the Boko Haram leads insurgents and incursions in the North-Eastern part of the country. Important aspects of National discuss critical to Nigeria’s development such as the economy, power, education and road infrastructure have taken the back seat.

It is unclear the direction Mr. President has taken the nation in the last four years. The transformation agenda has been more a rhetoric than a blue-print. Although the Presidency will lay claim to some accomplishments; on the whole, they are not enough to save Jonathan’s name for posterity.

On foreign policy, Jonathan’s administration has made commendable progress. Nigeria has responded promptly and responsibly to the needs of her citizens abroad. For instance: when the issue of the £3000 visa bond by the United Kingdom came up, the Nigerian government rose to the occasion. Also, after South Africa deported Nigerians for allegedly possessing phony yellow cards, the Nigerian Government responded in kind. Nigerians felt proud and a level of patriotism was palpable because we saw that the government would come to our defense whenever the need arose. Under Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria also assumed membership of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, trade ties with the Asian giant, China have been robust under the Goodluck era.  On the African continent, Nigeria may not possess the “Big Brother” mien she did under Obasanjo (in trying to stabilize other African countries’ democracies) but she is well positioned to assert herself in the committee of nations both in the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Still, the president’s progress in foreign policy is not enough and will not guarantee Goodluck’s legacy.

If there was ever any area one could call a “quick-win” for the President, it was in power. A solution to Nigeria’s power problem is sure to confer a “savior-like” status on anyone who delivers on the mandate. Nigerians have not seen remarkable improvements in this sector even after the privatization of the PHCN. A large number of people still live in darkness and have to generate their own electricity. Despite the 7% growth in GDP between 2002 and 2012 and the increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, it would be near impossible for this growth to be felt by the poor without stable electricity. The much talked about diversification of the economy through agriculture is still a work in progress. Nothing this administration his working on is complete! So here again, Jonathan will not be venerated for his efforts in the economy and agriculture or for improving power. The Obasanjo era achieved better in terms of debt relief, telecommunications and banking reforms.  As outlined earlier, Jonathan’s administration may have made some strides in some areas but these developments are too slow and too minuscule to give a long lasting legacy.

It is becoming clear that it is the security challenge that will define Jonathan’s legacy for good or bad.  Violence linked with Boko Haram have claimed at least 10,000 lives. Boko Haram have burned schools, killed teachers and raised churches and mosques. They have gone after traditional rulers and governors. Women and children have turned refugees in their own country. The physical infrastructural damage run into billions of naira while the psychological cost will not be quantified for years to come. Boko Haram is public enemy number one. This terrorist group sunk a new low when they kidnapped over 200 Chibok girls in the dead of the night. The world was aghast and queried the government in power whose responsibility it is to safe-guard the girls. Celebrities and notable figures around the world including Michelle Obama got on #BringBackOurGirls campaign demanding the release of the girls.  Jonathan’s administration floundered in its military and media response following the abductions.  World-wide criticism from local and foreign media including Aljazeera and CNN did not spare disparaging remarks on Mr. President and his armed forces. Jonathan’s already wounded image took yet another plunge.  In a self-redeeming effort, the President put up an OP-ED in the Washington Post explaining his silence over the Chibok abductions. The editorial has done little to help him because so long as the girls remain at large, it is considered another failure in his responsibilities. There is a growing hopelessness and despair about his leadership style and Nigerians and the world await any kind of good news about the girls and the security of the country.

I am certain the Chibok abduction would define President Jonathan’s administration forever. He has done well in trying to galvanizing international support in fighting terrorism in Nigeria. He has also sought more funding (about $1 billion) from the National Assembly to fight terror. As much as Nigerians want Boko Haram stopped, we are also skeptical to believe the money would be utilized for what it is voted for given our antecedence with corruption. It would indeed be sad if this money find its way into private pockets. While we await the findings on the $470 million invested in the procurement of CCTV cameras in the FCT and Lagos; we are yet to highlight a single crime that these cameras helped prevent since their deployment.

Although Boko Haram is the obvious threat to our dear nation, corruption is the cancer that has made Boko Haram’s activities thrive. Aside from security issues, our inability to prosecute corruption has undermined Jonathan’s efforts to transform Nigeria.  It is fact that the EFCC is no longer revered like it was under Nuhu Ribadu. Under Late President Yar’Adua, Farida Waziri lead the arrest of ex bank chiefs accused of corruption. There was ‘sanitation’ of the banking sector that saved Nigeria’s economy from taking more damage from the global melt down. Under this administration, Nigeria has had to rely on the British Justice System to bring her citizens to justice. This President has also pardoned crimes that bother on corruption. It is the prerogative of the President to pardon whoever he wants, but he pardons send a clear signal to the world that President Jonathan’s anti-corruption mantra was a tale for the moonlights.

A television advertisement has tried to draw a parallel between President Jonathan and great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and President Obama. Our President must know that these great leaders are praised for actual achievements and not for campaigns.  These men stood up for something or against something and these defined their legacy. Mandela stood against apartheid and stood up for the rights of black South Africans. Lee Kuan Yew grew Singapore from a just another country to one of the most developed in Asia. And of course President Obama brought a new meaning to the word-change- when he defeated John McCain in the stiffly contested election to be the first black President of the United State of America. It is a good thing that President Jonathan has set such high standards for himself and aspires that his name be called in the same breath as such great figures; but this can only be done if he achieves the mandate he was actually voted for and not with foreign PR firms helping to launder his image.

Whether he likes it or not, President Jonathan’s actions or inactions regarding security especially the return of the Chibok girls will be the defining moment for him. Winston Churchill will forever be known as the man who in war time rallied the support of the world especially President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United State, against the evil Adolf Hitler. It is clear that the war defined Churchill’s legacy. President Goodluck can do same and can be that man who will lead Nigeria out of the doldrums of terror. He can be that man if he decides to face the battle headlong devoid of political interests.

Nigeria has had more than her share of killings. The security problem has claimed innocent lives and the blood of the innocent knows no religious or ethnic cleavage. There is no Christian, Moslem, North or South divide when it comes to life. The air we breathe has no color or race or religion. President Jonathan must be that man to bring Nigerians together and win the fight against terror which has tried to change the way we live. He can bring his people together like President Bush did after 9/11. He can show us who we are as Nigerians. He can inspire faith in him once again and it has to begin with bringing the girls home. Gandhi did it, Mandela did it and Obama is doing it. President Jonathan, can also achieve greatness if he will just put his personal ambitions aside and put Nigeria first. That is the only way he will succeed. Nigeria will work someday, I am certain of it, but whether it will be Jonathan who would lead the people from the wilderness into the promise land, time as they say will tell.

 

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A TALE OF MASSACRES: ALUU FOUR, MUBI AND A TICKING BOMB

As a young boy, I watched the torture of Samuel Doe on VHS. I may not have understood what made so many people angry with him at the time nor had I an insight into the political nuances that led up to the civil war in Liberia; but even in my naivety, the grotesqueness of the video was palpable. I considered the video a horror movie like The Living dead or Idi amin because my mind could not conceive violence of such magnitude as fact.

After watching what now is considered the “Aluu four” massacre video, there was no confusion as to whether it was fact or fiction. What was puzzling this time around were questions I had no answers to: How did we get to this point in Nigeria? How did the threshold for violence lower so much without notice?  Who are the parents of these murderers? How did they bring up their children as killers and what went wrong in their formative years? How will the parents of the slain ever find succor having watched their sons hacked to death in such brutal manner in their own country?

Children are usually taught to “rat” or tell-on their siblings in acts of misdemeanor. It is a system employed by parents to know when things go wrong in their absence. A child, usually the youngest is the designated whistle blower. If truly the society is an offshoot of the family, it is worrisome that no one in that crowd ran to the police to report? No one felt compassion enough to do anything about it. Instead they cheered on and acted like children angry at lizards which simply refused to die after stoning them down from a tree.

In July, Miss Cynthia Osokogu, a 24 year old entrepreneur was raped and murdered for sexual gratification.  While some blamed the poor girl for being of easy virtue, the bulk of the criticisms went the way of the murderers. It was perhaps only Idowu Akinlotan, a columnist for the Nation Newspaper in his essay titled, “The Cynthia Paradox”, that captured my sentiments on the matter.  I strongly believe that we need to pay more attention to why these things are happening in the country rather than on the actions themselves. Violence has taken a new dimension in the country. Violence has taken off her clothes and danced naked in the village square while we watch in astonishment. Violence is now the cancer ravaging us from within. Treating the symptoms is tantamount to putting a band-aid on a diabetic foot in the hope that it would heal. It is not enough to set up committees of enquiry. It is not enough to parade suspects on NTA and force confessions out of them. Something lies beneath.

While we slowly came to terms with Cynthia’s demise, a group of youths slaughtered over 30 students in Mubi, Adamawa state. The names of the victims were called out and they were summarily executed. Some reports suggest that their bodies were chopped into pieces. Yet again we wailed and cried and set up more committees of enquiries. The investigations were still ongoing when all of a sudden in Aluu, Port-Harcourt, another violent incident erupted. All these acts have one thing in common; they are carried out by young people and targeted at young people. Be it in the north, west or south-south, the trend is evident-the youths have turned on themselves.

I remember a time when we young people used to boast about togetherness and camaraderie. We collectively agreed that it was the older generation that caused the denigration of present day Nigeria. Youths make up more than fifty percent of the general population, so when there is a dysfunction in the way youths think, then you know we have a serious problem. So what exactly has caused so much disconcertion, disdain and disarray amongst us?

A plausible explanation could be our overexposure to bloodshed over time. We are inundated weekly by wave after wave of violent acts across the Nation and little by little we have lost the human connection God put in us. News of Boko Haram bombings; killings in Jos and Eboyi State are just headlines to us now. I too am guilty, because after hearing about a church bombing recently I was grateful to God that the death toll was minimal. I praised God it was just one person that died as if that one person didn’t have a family. It didn’t occur to me at the time that that singular human life could have been a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a breadwinner and an uncle to someone else. It now takes a large death toll to get our attention.

In addition to the over- sensitization to violence, the present economic hardship in the country has not helped. The youth are frustrated, jobless and restless. They are full of energy and will react quicker to situations. They willfully expend such energies even if it is against the society.  They are also more impressionable that other age groups. We, youths, have also noticed that crime is hardly punished in Nigeria. We see no point in going to the police. For instance, when we perceive that oil subsidy thieves are shielded from prosecution, it breaks our hearts. We have seen that Farouk Lawan has remained in the house of representative even after his obvious complicity. We have witnessed people like Dimeji Bankole use inane techniques to stall court processes.  We have seen youths kill in Jos, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano and yet walk free after jamboree committees’ met. We have noticed that a man was killed five days after his wedding in Lagos by men suspected to be members of the police force yet no answer has been forwarded. One doesn’t have to be a genius to deduce the repercussions of this. When there is impunity even for seemingly small crimes, disaster looms. This is why the killings have increased in intensity and have gone unabated.

In finding solutions to these “uprisings”, we may need to look at the Aluu incident more critically. We need psychologists (the Nigerian government is not interested in such things) to investigate the upbringing of the perpetuators. What went wrong in their childhood? I believe that there are certain people who are prone to violence and crime-an infinitesimal few. For others-the majority- they need to be pushed to the wall to commit crimes like armed robbery. Around the world we hear about misguided persons such as Timothy McVeigh, Andres Brevick, and James Holmes, committing mass murders. In such instances, the perpetuators acted alone and in the case of Brevick, his sanity was questioned.  But when a group of “sane” people champion killings and go on to record it on video, you begin to fear. When a group of young men lure a lady Lo Lagos in order to rape and kill her, you sense a depravity. When bandits connive to kill 30 students in peace time, you are terrified for your children yet unborn. Even in war, soldiers’ sometimes suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of the things they do and see.  My argument is that the community of people that killed these four boys are sick.

In order to prevent this from reoccurring, the law must be seen to function. The perpetuators’ of the act must be punished severely. Those that gave the order, those that supervised, and those that executed the order must be punished. The Mubi killers must also be punished.  If eventually the law finds them guilty and capital punishment is employed, their executions must be made public. This should be done to elevate the sacrosanctity of the law.  The law needs to make a statement that it exists. Executions even in the US are made public in some states. Sadam Hussein’s execution was made public. Even in primitive societies, the hang man (representing the state) performed his duty in the full view of the public. This was done so that people respect the law.

The Goodluck Jonathan administration has experienced an unprecedented wave of bloodshed. In 2010, I wrote then that I hoped we would never come to a point where suicide bombers would be employed.   I actually thought I was exaggerating. In 2012, suicide bombing is no longer news. It seems funny that the President made a speech three days after the Aluu incident and the four boys did not get a mention. Perhaps he forgot, or it wasn’t on his agenda for the speech. I was disappointed. The President should have called for national mourning. Flags should have been flown at half mast. If he didn’t consider it a national tragedy, then it probably wasn’t so important.  Flying flags at half mast is a call for national re-awakening. It sends a message that the incident must never repeat itself. By not given it a mention, he has tolerated it. He has in avertedly agreed we have the capacity to deal with such things.   I have been extremely slow in criticizing this President because I think that we as citizens abdicate our own responsibilities sometimes. But why are all this things happening under his watch? Is it all a coincidence, or is there something he is doing wrong? Where has he gone that he shouldn’t have? Where should he have gone that he didn’t go? There has been too much bloodletting under him.

In conclusion, we all must know that violence begets violence. The law of sowing and reaping is in motion. The bloods of the innocent have been spilt time and again. We cannot claim to have heard the last of the Jos conflicts.  If your family member was maimed during the Berom and Fulani fracas, do you think you will forget? Would you live happily ever after with those you know killed your spouse? Will the parents of the slain four ever forgive the Aluu community for this action? The truth must be told. Many families have been hurt. They have not seen the state provide the justice required to keep them at peace, so they wait simmering, hoping for the perfect opportunity to strike back and shed blood. The cycle goes on. What we need is to break the cycle. A holistic approach must be sought. While we work assiduously to bring perpetuators to book, we should also target the next generation. We must begin to teach those coming after us to respect life. Parents have a huge responsibility here. The body is a function of cells the way the society is derived from a family. If we miss it at that level, then we will fail. The state must enact laws to compel people to plant trees and keep pets. There must be stiff laws for killing animals. If you go to prison for killing a dog, you will think twice before killing a human being. It will take time but it will work. If the little children love life, they will preserve it. They will in turn teach their children and one day we will have our beautiful land once more.

©2012 Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

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