Murder on the Campus

Posted on 17/10/2012

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Murder on the Campus.

Let’s play out a likely scenario. You alight a bus on Adeniran Ogunsanya Street in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria, Suddely there is pandemonium all around, and before you realise it there are hordes of people surrounding you, all savagely yelling, “Thief! Thief! Ole! Barao!” You are a stranger in the area on a business venture and it takes sometime before it dawns on you that you are the object of attention. By some sick twist of fate the culprit they were seeking had managed to abscond by jumping into the same vehicle you had just exited. Possible? Certainly probable! It is not hard to catch a fire in Lagos – have you noticed that you can find at least one discarded tyre at every thirty metre distance? In Nigeria, you don’t need to be an X-Man to become a Human Torch. And you still wonder what happened at Aluu?

What happened at Aluu has happened before. It will happen again. It is a familiar occurrence at our motor parks, on public highways, in the market squares, and wherever masses congregate. Nigerians have learned how to solve their own problems by themselves. When we catch a petty thief the average Nigerian has found out that it is needless reporting to the police, because Mr. Thief is a ‘regular customer’ at the police station. Policemen have a term they use to describe this kind of criminal – they call him ‘bad market.’ You wonder why? Simply, no one is ever willing to post his bail, so the police is responsible for his feeding, lodging and welfare, and medicals, if he ever gets hurt in jail, which is more likely than not. Perhaps that’s what the villain bargained for in the first place – someone who picks up his tabs. No surprise why this rogue is walking the streets as early as the day after! If you are still calling it ‘jungle justice’ then you do not know how to be a Nigerian. I should refer you to Nigerian author and journalist, Peter Enahoro’s 1996 satiric take at his fellow compatriots, “How to be a Nigerian.”

Did you ever get to hear that yarn about the Police station in Festac Town where a woman who had just been robbed, and raped overnight had gone to report the incident the following morning? Just as she was about to lodge the report, she sighted one of the hoodlums who had assaulted her on the front desk through the window, in the full regalia of a Nigeria Police inspector. She quickly made a u-turn and backed out of the idea, resorting to suffer her ordeal in silence. To prove it was he, a different patrol of officers visited her house that very evening to enquire about a robbery report they had received. She had made no such report!

Nigerians have learned to become their own security officers. Have you seen the huge walls and barricades we build around our houses, barbed wired, windows with steel bars, electronic security, CCTV et all. We imprison ourselves in our own abodes. No wonder many poor souls have been lost in flash fire incidents at home because they could not escape the barricades they had built around themselves for protection. It is true what is said that that thing which we fear most, could be our best friend.

The average Nigerian has learned to cater towards his needs. For example, the Nigerian man, or woman has learned to operate as a personal local government council. Check this out:

Electricity: Each average Nigerian household has at least two or three generating sets made to operate through a shift system at different times of day, either daytime, overnight or weekends. The brand or capacity of generator need not apply. Check!

Water supply: in the absence of public water supply the Nigerian has adapted well to a few options. If you own the house you have already made provisions for your own uninterrupted supply by digging a borehole. If you use a rented apartment you may choose to install a water pump to ensure the pressure is maintained. It would be a grave error to live in a house that is not equipped with overhead tanks. Be lucky if you can also depend on your reliable water bearer who strolls the streets regularly with his eight or ten 25litre kegs of the precious lifesaver. Some families even stock their houses with stacks and stacks of pure water sachets! The Nigerian has a solution for everything! Check!

Waste Disposal: Although the trend is fast disappearing in the Lagos area, Most Nigerian families are responsible for their own waste disposal methods. Traditionally, waste was burned. More reliable are the mobile disposal vendors who stalk the streets at designated times to dispose of your waste at a cost. But be careful – many of them have also been known to be gun- runners for robbery gangs and criminal upstarts. Check!

Education: Most parents with school-going children rely on extra tutorials at home to ensure their wards excel in class. Funnily, most of the home lesson tutors are actually the same school teachers. Why don’t they just teach the kids right in class in the first place, you wonder? Even the school authorities are getting in on the act, by organising official school lessons after class. The kids get no time to play in the evenings no more. Nigerians have learned to fend for themselves. The value and importance of education has been serially neglected by subsequent Nigerian governments since the seventies budgets when it used to take the largest percentage. It is worse off these days as most budgets reflect recurrent expenditures. Check!

Health: Every Nigerian household has a local pharmacy shop that has taken the place of the hospital. Nobody takes prescription drugs, without doctors’ prescriptions like the Nigerian. Most mums know all likely symptoms. If it is not malaria, it must be typhoid. Solution: Paracetamol, chloramphenicol and Artesunat. If that doesn’t work, try Alabukun and Chinese Balm! The only time the Nigerian finally gets to the hospital, he’s nearly dead! Check!

So, over the years, Nigerians have learned not to complain because nothing ever really happens when you do. We are fond of celebrating with yells every time the electricity returns after a blackout. We rejoice when we finally get to buy a Gerry can of fuel from the filling station after waiting three days for petrol supplies. We hold parties when our kids gain admission to schools after we had ‘settled’ the school authorities to ‘secure’ such admissions. We fill the newspapers with adulatory words when our relatives, or kinsmen, or friends of friends, get appointed into government. We keep quiet when even our rights are trampled upon. We have stopped demanding and insisting on performance. In places like Lagos, over taxation and even extortion seems to be the order of the day, yet we pay all our dues, real, imagined or otherwise, diligently and obediently. We have learned not to protest. How much do residents pay at the Lekki – Epe tolls per trip? How can that be morally correct, or even legal, by any means? “What is the joy in being a hero, jare? All our heroes are dead!” That is a Nigerian speaking.

The average Nigerian believes in the expression, ‘turn-by-turn government,’ which simply implies that today it is your turn, tomorrow it could be my turn, so why upend the cart? Sadly, in this process we have also lost our sense of morality. We have become inhumans, animalistic, brutes. Some describe this Nigerian so-called ‘spirit of resilience’ in flowery prose. These ones have certainly been hoodwinked. In reality all Nigerians are yellow beneath, lily- livered, spineless, selfish bastards. And before you send expletives my direction, I am one of you; I am also flesh and blood Nigerian!

As more people continue to express outrage over the gruesome killing of four Port Harcourt University students in Rivers State, and the prior massacre of over fifty students in Mubi, Adamawa State, and the unmitigated scourge of Boko Haram inspired bombings in the country, one thing comes to the clear. These are the same symptoms of failed States where people take laws into their own hands because governments have shirked their responsibility to the citizenry. We have seen it before in Sierra Leone, Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan…Nigeria cannot afford to be on that list, for the sake of the soul of our nation, the struggles of our forefathers and for regional stability, at least. Security is only being reserved for the rich, connected and powerful.  The best education is deserved by the children of top government functionaries – outside our shores. Nigerian hospitals are ill- equipped, the more reason why the wealthy prefer the designer clinics in Germany and Dubai. Housing estates exist for the rich only. The majority of our people are poor, and there is no food to eat on their tables. Hungry men get angry and desperate. The government of the day must call itself to order and become more responsible to its people. Recently the government itself has unfortunately become one huge blooper, making blunder after blunder.

The  day must come when we wake up to the fact that we actually can demand good governance from our official representatives in government.  When will we understand that the power of that decision belongs to us? How long will it take for it to dawn upon us that we, the people, are actually the government? When will we finally realise that all it takes to remove an erring official, an irresponsible governor, or an under-performing government is to simply say “No! No more! Enough is Enough!” I do not wish to predict future doom, but it must be said- this  will not be the last Mubi, or the last Aluu. We just don’t know the next place, or the next names on terror’s hit list. Pray that it doesn’t affect your household. Amin.

God’s guidance, always.

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Posted in: Essays, Features, Politics