FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, November 5, 2018
[email protected]
UK
NIGERIA, THE RISE OF AUTHORITARIANISM AND DEATH OF OUTRAGE

ast week Nigeria witnessed two disturbing events. The army massacre of civilian shia Moslems throwing stones and a carnage along Lagos Ibadan express way.

I have waited to see how the country would responds and up till today, the response has been at best muted. I waited for the outpouring of sincere and honest grief and condemnation of the barbarism of Nigerian soldiers and so far, I have seen cold and rigid indifference.

The government has maintained stony silence and the people shrugged their shoulders. It downed on me that outrage may have died in Nigeria.

When a people are no longer moved by evil, tragedy, accidents, inhumanity and injustice, they and their country die.

When crime is explained away, dishonesty is defended, fraud is regularised, and bribery is a way of life, the people are living dead

When the tribe and religion of men and women are more important that their behaviour, values, qualifications, character and actions, the people have lost their way.

When ethnic identity and religious beliefs are more important than ability and people prefer criminals and fraudsters, who share the same ethnicity and religion with them to honest and sincere men of high moral of other ethnicity and religion, the seed of destruction is sowed.

The accident along Lagos Ibadan express way was entirely preventable. If the road safety corps focused on ensuring that vehicles are raid worth drivers maintain speed limits and obey High way codes and commercial vehicle stop over loading and mortifying their vehicles to carry more passengers than the manufacturer advised, many accidents on Nigerian roads would be prevented.

Rather, road safety staff mount road blocks extracting and extorting money from drivers with old number plates and devising various ways of using their power to extort money from road users. I experienced it during my recent visit to Nigeria in Abia state.

The massacre of unarmed and defenceless shia Moslems protesting the injustice of the continued incarceration of their leader by the government against court order is wrong, oppressive unjust and indefensible.

Armies are not set up so that leaders can deploy Soldiers to kill citizens, who protest the injustices of its actions. Soldiers are not deployed to confront stone throwing civilians in democracies. The Nigerian army is being misused to fight the personal and sectarian wars of those in power. This is wrong, immoral and unlawful.

Can we ever see courage and sense of outrage for what they are, without tinting them with ethnicity and other sectarian constructs on which our mind often segregate?

Courage, honesty, objectivity and justice are race and gender neutral. It is not our religion or ethnicity that should compelled us, but our values, principles and sense of justice as fairness. Nigerian army, shame on you.

Some time ago, I raised an alarmed when Nigeria army chief declared that the army is loyal to Buhari. This was while Buhari was sick in London. I pointed out the danger inherent in such statement and mentality.

In all democracies, the army is loyal to the nation and not to an individual leader. It is only in dictatorships that the army is loyal to the dictator. This is why I found the declaration of the army chief both objectionable and unacceptable.

Today, Nigeria has an army that is a law unto itself. An army whose professionalism has been destroyed by corruption, nepotism and sectarianism. It is no longer what people know that is important, it is who they know, where they come from and what religion they profess.

There is no other democracy in this world, which produces army generals, who retire as millionaire as Nigeria. This is the single objective evidence of corruption in Nigerian army. There has never been audit of how Nigeria defence budgets are spent.

Even the current army chief could not explain how he got his houses in Dubai. The corruption in the army stinks to high heaven.

Only a corrupt, unprofessional and despotic army turns on its people, the way Nigerian soldiers has consistently turned shia Muslims and Igbos youth in the name of operation Python dance. There high handedness, intimidation, disproportionate use of force, extrajudicial killings and extortions are not the features of a professional army in a democracy. Their activities at check points, brutalisation of those who question their actions, looting of invaded homes and disregard if fundamental human rights and the law in the discharge of its duties are evidence of its unprofessionalism.

The fact has been that Nigerian army has never really fought any real war. All they have done is kill Nigerias who ask for justice or self determination. They only thing soldiers like Buhari, Obasanjo, Babangida and co ever did in their career as soldiers is kill Igbos. Today, Nigerian soldiers are continuing the tradition of making Nigerians who demand freedom their enemies and killing them.

The Nigerian army could not stand up to Cameroonian soldiers and Nigeria gave up Bakassi. The first test of their strength was Boko Haram and they have not given a good account of themselves.

Rather, they are proud, killing unarmed Igbo youth, massacring Shia muslins and intimidating Nigerian citizens going about their business. They stand by while Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen sack Nigerian villages and make Nigerians internally displaced people in their country, and declare operation python dance once youth protest the injustices of the corrupt Nigerian state.

Today most senior positions in Nigeria army are occupied by northerners because of who they are and not what they know. Buhari is struggling to prove that he had any qualification before he was enlisted in the army.

Tactically, the Nigeria army is not near where a professional army should be. Every week, several soldiers are killed by Boko Haram, because they have not found effective tactics to confront the terrorist group.

The army employ brutality in its training and thus, turns many of the soldiers into brutes, who resort to force and intimidation in dealing with civil problems.

No serious army will start operation Python dance against an unarmed protesters, or resort to shouting stone throwing protesters, when there is an armed insurgent group, who are taking territories and displacing people.

One wonders where all the hard military wares displayed in south east were, when Boko Haram abducted the Chiboki girls and sacked several villages in north east.

Nigeria needs to have a serious conversation about how we should exists peacefully as equal nations of different ethnicity. The use of the army to pursue sectarian objectives must be brought to an end and Nigeria army supported to become the professional military that once attracted the best of us.

The status quo is unacceptable. It is time to restructure Nigeria to end the looting of Nigerian treasury and resources, abuse of power and misuse of the army to pursue sectarian objectives by the federal government.


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