A call to “Bring back sanity”

As we systematically strive to prevent our nation from slipping into a cesspit of chaos and anarchy, we need to begin to reflect candidly on how we got here. As I look back at the sequence of events that led to the current quicksand we are in as a nation, I can’t but blame every one of us for where we are.

Being sane is a relative term. Hence, we have to tell ourselves the truth that some of our actions have been treading on the brink of insanity. How else can we describe the scenarios we have been seeing? Better still, we need to tell ourselves to critically give considerations to the likelihood of us being a people that are not so good, with the potential for being terrible human beings if situations or circumstances permit. Irrespective of our educational, political, religious, ethnic, professional, or other affiliations; within each and every one of us is the potential for being vile when we are likely to get away with it. From the non-vocal cheerleaders, twitting and urging the protesters on, to the social critiques devoid of practicable solutions; from the political elite, living in their cocoons with a distorted reality of the needs of the populace; to the apolitical majority who refuse to register to vote or pick up their voters cards thereby (legitimately) removing themselves from contributing to any legitimate means of changing a seemingly non-performing government. We have all been bad people!

We are people that are “wise” enough to keep doing the wrong stuff with the expectations of the right outcomes. When the wrong outcomes of our actions materialize, we then begin to trade words in playing the blame game. We blame everybody, from our ancestors to the future generations. We blame the colonial masters and our past leaders; we blame the sun, the moon, and the stars. We even blame God!

As I type this, I keep hearing gunshots being fired intermittently in my neighborhood as professional thugs keep trying to fend off potential attacks on the house of a politician in my neighborhood. The boys in the hood got information that part of the covid-19 palliatives has been kept in the house. Yes. It’s related to covid-19. It’s been a highly “covidic” year!

Who keeps palliatives beyond the period of palliation? Who keeps stuff that has been given freely to be shared among persons who need those stuff? Yes! You are right. It is only someone who is vile and evil who does that; someone who has some degree of loss of touch with reality? We are not even sure of the truth about when and how the palliatives got there, simply because they never told us in clear terms what they wanted to do with the stashed palliatives. Forget all conspiracy theories. The truth is that the people don’t have any information in the public domain about the intentions of the government, leaving room for speculations!

How did we get here? Which one came first, the hen or the egg?

We wanted an end to police brutality. #ENDSARS…..From Lagos to Abuja, Benin City to Port-Harcourt. Our young people have been brutalized, dehumanized, and even killed, all in the course of maintaining law and order. In the midst of the countless tales of misconduct of our police, (particularly the Special Anti Robbery Squad Unit of the police (SARS)) nobody was speaking of the possible good deeds of the majority of the police force. The police force itself couldn’t package a positive narrative about itself through its public relations office. It was as if the police itself had issues with the SARS unit. Maybe there are really issues with the unit in most parts of the country. Otherwise, why will there be no tales by moonlight of their heroic acts in tackling armed robbers in recent times?

I ponder upon the possibility that we made SARS what it was. We allowed them to violate the rights of criminals, hailed them as they dealt with “suspected criminals” until they began to cross the line to “plausible” suspected criminals. Until their idleness ( in the face of limited armed robbers to fight) pushed them towards plying their trade on anyone available. Eventually, the SARS unit completely lost touch with reality. They began to see themselves as being invincible and untouchable. They began to practice outside their code of conduct. The government allowed them to continue to believe that they could get away with breaking the law because they were the law!

When the people began to spontaneously protest against SARS, across the nation, and in Diaspora (as usual) we blamed the government, and all blameable players. The government blamed the protesters for making life difficult and threatening the economy. As usual, the federal government passed the buck to the state government. The federal government asked the state government to solve the problem created by a federal government agency, The FSARS.

Any right-thinking Nigerian who knows how Nigeria works would have spoken for an exit plan for the protests like 2 weeks ago. Not because of our being cowards or backing down on our demands, but because we don’t want things to get out of hands. The handwriting was on the wall when peaceful protests started experiencing pockets of pilfering, molestations, attacks, and counterattacks. Then we kept blaming the government. We failed to see that, we can’t have a crowd without crowd control measures and not experience violation of the rights of others. Two or more wrongs can never make a right! We can’t fight wrongdoing by doing wrong; neither can we fight injustice by being unjust. We must begin to explore lawful and legitimate means for getting what we want.

The inhumane acts of the army, police, and other security agencies (particularly the incidence at Lekki on 20/10/20) have all been perpetrated by Nigerians! It’s the basic logic of using what you have to get what you want.

The criminal aftermaths of the #ENDSARS protests were not instigated or committed by the government, religious fanatics, or ethnic bigots (depending on whatever bigoted label you want to assign to them). They were committed by Nigerians.  All these appalling actions and reactions were all made in Nigeria for Nigerians by Nigerians! They were carried out by fellow Nigerians who worked from different sides of the divide to concoct a recipe for anarchy! Nigerians who believed that they could get away with lawlessness!

I want us to begin to focus on good Nigerians and their good deeds. If only we can begin to remind ourselves that irrespective of our affiliations, we all have the potential to be good or bad; holy or evil. If we have a group of good citizens coming together, we can restore sanity and goodness into our polity and change the narrative about our nation.

Enough of these disorganized and potentially dangerous means of trying to make a change! Enough of this ideology that someone’s blood has to be shed before we can have a better nation! Persons who promote this ideology don’t lead protests; neither do they ask their children to come out on protests. I pray that my generation and that of my children will not have to pay the costly price of anarchy!

The people’s agitation is a product of the Government’s failure. We still (realistically) safely need that failed government to solve the problems that we have created by our actions and inactions. The elected government still remains the only legitimate organized leadership that can keep us together, pending the time when we have another opportunity to make a change by putting other Nigerians, (we believe can lead us rightly) in the right positions.

Let’s let go of our selfish and bigoted sentiments. We are truly better off as a strong united Nigeria, once we select the right Nigerians to lead us.

Until then; stay safe and sane, and help others do the same!

 

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Ola Ibigbami

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