By Adekunle Adekoya
RIGHT now, I am an angry Nigerian. Angry, because I still cannot fathom how my beloved country got to where she is now, what with the plethora of problems that each and every citizen has to contend with on a daily basis. As a journalist, it is distressing, excruciating and extremely tormenting to produce a newspaper carrying stories of conflict from front cover to back page, day-in, day-out, without respite.
If kidnappers have not abducted schoolchildren or travellers, ritualists have murdered a girl, or boy, while unknown gunmen would have burnt down one INEC office, police stations and killed policemen. Rape has become such a common occurrence that we’re almost completely unmoved by it. I mean, it’s like the traffic, which doesn’t move, or electricity, which is never available, isn’t it?
If I were a child of the 90s, I’d be in my twenties, and rightfully think that the country had always been like this, believing that stories of a secure, progressing Nigeria are fairy tales spun by older people just to ginger younger ones to attempt the un-achievable. But I am a child of the 60s, the Independence generation that grew up in a Nigeria where the Post worked, the hospitals functioned with doctors and had drugs, sanitary inspectors (wolewole in Yoruba) ensured clean environment, teachers did their jobs, and generally, a Nigeria where everyone was his/her brother (and sister)’s keeper.
What happened to that Nigeria? As I write, there is anger everywhere. There is disappointment. There is fear, indeed, anxiety. Those going out of their homes in lawful pursuit of one endeavour or the other are not sure, in fact, do not know if they will get to their destination. If they get there, they thank God. After doing what they came to do, it is also not guaranteed that they can get home.
There are kidnappers. There are ritualists. There are unknown gunmen. There are cultists. When they get home, if they do, they thank God again. Others are not so lucky. They are waylaid. They are abducted. They are raped. They are killed. They are robbed. In short, we are unsafe in our own country. The basic pillars on which a society desirous of progress, where life will not be “nasty, brutish and short” is built are law and order. Where is the law now?
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Growing up in the 60s, if you want to scare a little boy or girl, tell him or her that “Police is coming.” Fem!!! The child clams up. Say that to a child now. He or she will roll in uncontrollable laughter. In our country, after 1972, we drive on the right, with left hand steering. It was the opposite before then when we drove on the left with right hand steering, just as it still is in the UK and some 12 other countries.
On our streets, everybody drives where they see a way, all rules of civilised road use thrown away. If you can’t take care of small things like these, bigger things will descend on you. Since there are no more traffic offences, how can kidnapping, banditry be offences? Little wonder we are no longer safe. Again, where is the law? I remember how a convict who was already in prison was brought back to court and granted bail by a judge, in the early years of our return to democracy! The felon simply vanished thereafter.
If you remember that case, you know. If that can happen, then we were on the road to this pass a long time ago. What is galling is that these things are happening and the power elite seems unperturbed that things are going south. The Nigeria Police Force often sends its officers and men abroad on international engagements. Most of the time, they return with medals for sterling services and conduct. Why can’t they win medals at home with exemplary policing that they give other people? Since 1999, we’ve seen how many cases of corruption failed at the courts because of lack of diligent investigation and prosecution.
What happened to the Police and policing? To worsen things, there is hunger. Now, this is really unnerving. Prices of foodstuffs are rising in geometric progression. If you’re a man, and married, you should know. If you’re single, you can see it. If you’re a student, you’re affected. If you’re a woman, married, you don’t know how to tell your husband that his allocation for food last month can not last longer than two weeks this month.
If you’re a single woman/ girl/lady, your food budget is running a deficit. Whoever you are, wherever in this country now, making food available for one’s mouth and dependents is getting harder than ever. We’ve all given up on pipe borne water; everyone now has his/her own ‘water corporation’. Of course, from failure of the public water system arose the “pure water” industry, now a source of employment for hundreds of thousands, and governments shamelessly make money from it through regulation and taxation!
As Nigerians struggle with these challenges daily, what is uppermost in the minds of those in the corridors of power is how to remain there, or for those aspiring, how to get there. Schemings, meetings, wheelings and dealings now dominate every activity, geared towards who will be where in 2023. But we must all be alive, in good health, with a nation that is running well if those dreams are to be realised. The power elite must pause and ponder the situation of those they are governing.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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