Writer'sPoint

Lynching the Lynchers

Outrage swept Nigeria last week, leaving decent citizens speechless in horror and grief. When did Nigeria sink so low that four university students would be lynched publicly?
When? The first part of the answer is May 29, 1999; the other is: why not?
When you examine it, there are only two reasons why UNIPORT 4, as the incident is now known, has become such a lamentable scandal. The first is that, only days before, on National Day, another astounding incident occurred in which unknown killers invaded the campus of the Federal Polytechnic in Mubi, Adamawa State, and massacred nearly 50 students, identifying them from a list.
The second reason why many Nigerians are having nightmares is that a video of the UNIPORT murder emerged: shameful footage that is now available to the entire world of four kids in the prime of their lives murdered in broad daylight and set ablaze.
Everybody has been vocal about the killings ever since. Everybody: political parties, legislatures, politicians, businessmen, organizations.
When I say, everybody, I exclude the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In view of the point that there are no contracts, no money and no power to be seized, this kind of thing does not excite the PDP even into crocodile tears for the world to admire.
Still, families mourn. Friends weep. Sympathizers grieve. The world is numb.
In the end sadly, all of our outrage is for nothing; those four boys died in vain. By the time the Federal Executive Council (ExCOF) meets next Wednesday to distribute contracts to pre-chosen allies they would have been forgotten.
How has Nigeria sunk so low that four university students would simply get beaten to death in public by other citizens, and their bodies set on fire?
The point is that the four students died simply because they have no country, no government and no law; if we had one of those in anything but name, most of the people claiming to be in charge in Nigeria today would be in jail, and they know it.
Still, there are people asking: where were the police? The answer is that the boys died despite the police; just like Nigerians who make some progress despite our pretend governance.
When you think about it, you cannot really have law-enforcement when there is no law. As we all know, the police have been in the neighborhood for many a murder in Nigeria; the police have been responsible for many a murder; and the police, as a rule, do not solve most murders. They often have more important things to do, such as ferrying important girlfriends or carrying the shopping bags of wives of VIPs.
Still, if you are asking, where was the police, then you must also ask, where is the government.
As I have said here several times, there is no government. Ours is a sham, with people pretending to be fulfilling mandated responsibilities. What we have is a ruse: the objective of being in government is not to protect or to provide for the people; it is to be in place to convert the commonwealth into personal wealth.
In Nigeria, government is a lottery won by those in it, and their relatives, friends and associates. This is why, if you are in the government, especially in the centre, you make the awarding of contracts your job-definition. Remember, some contracts are not awarded on Wednesday mornings, and they are not in cash. Some contracts are in influence: there are actually more influence-contractors in the hallways of Abuja than there are regular contractors, but both forms of contractors reinforce and service each other.
In any event, there is no contractor who is big enough who does not know the template about how to ensure that the heart of a contract is gratitude, measured either in percentages or in absolute cash. The exchange rate may be different, but the objective is always to convert what belongs to the people of Nigeria into private hands.
That is why we lack infrastructure. In the floods of the past few weeks, the Lokoja-Abuja highway was inoperable, severing the country in two.
That is why government property keeps getting “sold” to powerful individuals: ask any Permanent Secretary in the past 30 years about the whereabouts of his Ministry’s official cars. That is why members of the National Assembly keep looking for ways to obtain more privileges and allowances, blackmailing Ministers for contracts.
And that is why people and justice die or disappear. One-time governor and all-time thief, James Ibori, escaped justice in every city and every court of Nigeria, as have many other former governors.
There are other addresses in this jungle: about two weeks ago, an angry official of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) told the world that the party leadership sold the 2011 presidential election to the PDP for 100 million dollars. The ACN did not even bother to deny it.
Similarly, the Congress for Political Change (CPC) lost the presidential election largely because it lacked the most basic of strategies: national presence. Since the preceding election campaigns, nearly two years ago, the CPC has still not learnt that it cannot sit in a couple of States yet wield national relevance.
Think about the National Assembly, which has carved for itself the image of Nigeria’s greediest gang. If there are really any patriotic men and women in that neighborhood, do they speak English or Naira?
If you move down to the second tier of governance, most States are known to be ripping off the local councils, who are in turn ripping off their own people.
If you are still asking what could have happened to the UNIPORT 4 take a look at the killing fields of Maiduguri, Damaturu, Zaria, and Mubi. Take a look at the kidnapping and extortion capitals of the south. Take a look at the rotting National Stadium, Abuja, and the rotting National Stadium, Lagos, examples of whom or what we really are: a hypocritical rot in full flow.
Our reality is that we need that rot to pay for our jet image. There is no rule of law, no government, no standards, no priorities, no patriotism, and no truth. It is the kind of broad daylight in which anyone can die at any time.
That is what happened to UNIPORT 4. Aircraft fall out of the sky. Buses loaded with people fall from craters on the road in to rivers. Nobody is in charge because those that should be are elsewhere asking:
“Where is my own?” “What is in it for me?”
In the end, those four boys were lynched by all who stole money that could have been used to provide infrastructure and jobs and education and a country. They were killed by all those who made political promises they refuse to redeem.
Let us remember there are people dying in kidnappings and robberies, without video evidence. There are people dying in road crashes, without video evidence? There are those who, unable to go to hospitals in Spain or the United States or Germany, are dying in sorry hospitals that lacked oxygen or electricity or medicine.
And let us remember we have not necessarily reached our worst. The current arrogance of Nigeria “leadership” is more than capable of driving our people into the hands of extremist groups that are more volatile and vicious than Boko Haram or “unknown gunmen”. Scorched-earth groups may yet come along which preach ethical, material or philosophical cleansing of their definition. People may yet come along that, nursing only fear, and refusing to buy the same empty hope that was sold to their fathers, choose to lynch before they are lynched; to shot first and not be captured alive.
In Nigeria, the window for selfless governance, which puts the people first, is closing.
sonala.olumhense@gmail.com

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