Whatsoever a Man soweth By Simon-Kolawole.


Eleven years ago — to be specific, on July 7, 2008 — the title of my column was: “One Day, the People Will Rebel”. I warned that the extravagant lifestyles of our elite in the face of crippling poverty in the country would come back to bite all of us one day. At the time, kidnappings were a Niger Delta thing as militants agitated for resource control, but I was talking about what I called the “non-oil” kidnappings which I said would become the fad in the near future. I said the Nigerian elite must get the message that they could not continue in their ways and expect peace and safety. I warned that there was a lot of frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment in the land.

I wrote that when “blood relations of wealthy people are being kidnapped in exchange for ransoms, that is a clear danger signal to the elite. You have a driver. You have a cook. You have a security guard. You have policemen guarding you. They are all human beings. They see things happening around them. They hear your phone conversations as you conduct your mindless transactions. They are hearing the mind-blowing figures. They see the movements of Ghana-Must-Go bags. In an attempt to ‘redistribute’ the loot, they will resort to kidnappings and demand ransoms. It is happening already. More are in the offing, I think”.

A reader was so angry with me that he sent me this SMS: “Simon, you are sowing evil ideas in the minds of our drivers and domestic staff. You are highly irresponsible. I will never read your column again.” Typical of me, I did not respond. I had realised early in my column-writing career that those who really want to engage in constructive debates normally use decent language. I hate street fights. As a kid, I was never involved in street fights. My grandmother (God bless her soul) was always proud to show me off to her friends as a “good boy”. I would be letting “Iya Kola” down in her grave if I engage in internet street fights. So I always let attacks and insults pass — with all pleasure.

However, I am always unhappy whenever I lose a reader because of my views. I feel I have lost a potential co-evangelist in my “leadership by example” approach to the building of a nation “where peace and justice shall reign”. That reader clearly misunderstood me: I was only forewarning on a disturbing development with the sole aim of gingering our leaders to act. Growing criminality is a product of our broken social system that deprives the majority of Nigerians the basics of life such as roads, water, healthcare, education, security and jobs. I was fighting for social justice. I was warning the elite that they were not safe in their fortresses no matter how many police escorts they have.

As a philosopher said, all I did was to hold up a mirror for the society to look at itself. Breaking the mirror — as that angry reader decided to do — would not change the picture. The inequality in Nigeria has been too much for too long. In a country where people lose their lives because they cannot afford drugs of N1,000, you have people buying private jets and flashy cars not from some hard work but by feeding on the commonwealth. Our hospitals are rejecting poor patients because there is no bed space. Pupils are sitting on the floor to learn chemistry and biology in schools the governor cannot allow his relatives to attend. Such a society cannot escape doom.

In that “offensive” article, I asked, sarcastically: “What is the way forward? More policemen? More bullet-proof SUVs? More private jets? More Banana Islands? More signs of ‘military zone, keep off’?” I then replied myself: “I don’t know, but I have a hunch that more equitable management of resources could be of help. I suspect that more jobs, more housing, more medicine, more books, better roads, and better power supply would be of use. I suspect that less looting, less waste of resources would go some way. But if things continue the way they are, there is no doubt about it: one day, the long-suffering people of this country will react. They will rebel. Mark my words.”

The rebellion seems to be in full motion today as Nigerians groan under the pandemic of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, internet fraud and all kinds of criminality. Worse still, the security system cannot protect either the rich or the poor. We should ask ourselves how we got here. One of my favourite Yoruba proverbs, as oft-repeated by my late grandmother, says “when a child stumbles, he looks at his front; when an adult stumbles, he looks at his back”. Someone else would add: “Where did the rain begin to beat us?” If only we could retrace our footsteps, we will gain insight. We can then begin to sow a different seed today so that we can reap a different harvest tomorrow.

Last week, I watched as some members of the house of reps took turns to lament the state of insecurity in the country. One speaker after the other complained that they can no longer travel to or sleep in their villages because of insecurity. They are overwhelmed by the army of criminals. However, they just cannot see a link between their greed — their obscene allowances, their extortion-driven oversight activities as well as the padded budgets — and the poverty and insecurity in the land. That is the problem with Nigerian politicians: they think Nigeria is like this by mistake. They think if we are able to deploy more troops, kidnapping will stop. If only it were that simple!

Let me say this yet again: the Nigerian ruling elite need to have a meeting, perhaps a “meeting of minds”, and agree to change their ways. We cannot continue to run a system of an overfed elite minority and a malnourished majority and expect to keep travelling to the village in glittering SUVs without consequences. No. It won’t work. We cannot run a system where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and expect peace. We have been living a lie for too long. Commonsense tells us that inequality comes with a price. We cannot sustain a system that ruins the lives of the majority of 200 million Nigerians and hope to sleep and snore at night.

Although the economic downturn in the last five years and some of the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari are implicated in the current socio-political crises, the truth remains that for too long, we ignored the warning signals. For decades, the UNDP told us that 70 percent of Nigerians were living on less than $1 a day. What did we do to prevent the incoming disaster? It was all Greek to us. We spent our petrodollars as if there would be no tomorrow. Well, today is yesterday’s tomorrow. You don’t have to be a development expert to know that any country where the bulk of the youth are unemployed or unemployable is headed for chronic insecurity.

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Don’t take my word for it. Check the poverty and unemployment rates of countries with the least incidence of crime and you will get a better idea of what I am driving at. When young men and young women wake up in the morning with nowhere to go, they are tempting the devil. He will give them something to do. Their energies will be misused and abused as they struggle to survive. No human being will sit down at home and die of hunger. Survival is a basic human instinct. The human being will survive by any means necessary — even if it is to steal, beg or borrow. The police and the army combined cannot contain crime when the factory producing criminals has not been closed.

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. We have sown the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind. The teens and teenagers that we refused to care for yesterday have become our nemesis today. They are now in our neighbourhood and on the highway, making life unbearable for us. The security system we failed to overhaul and modernise for ages — despite security budgets in billions of dollars — is now unable to protect us. But if I may ask, what are we doing today to make sure our trouble does not double tomorrow? Are we investing properly in the future? Are we striving hard to make the country conducive in the future so that ordinary people can enjoy the basics of life? The elite must realise that it is in their own interest to make Nigeria habitable. This milking must subside.

Until the elite across board reach a consensus to curtail their greed and put Nigeria first, we cannot begin to make meaningful progress as a nation. Our predatory system will continue to breed terrorists, kidnappers, ritual killers, yahoo boys and circumstantial sex workers. What we are witnessing today would be child’s play compared to what is ahead. Nobody is safe in Nigeria, including those who think they are covered by a convoy of armed escorts. It is just a matter of time. Until we begin to sow the good seeds at all levels — federal, state and local — our troubles will keep multiplying. Nigeria will not develop overnight, but if we fail to act decisively and intelligently today, we cannot hope to reap gainful jobs, lasting peace, security and national prosperity tomorrow.


Nigeria is dying of Lagos By David Hundeyin

Now more than ever, it is time for us Lagos people to understand that Lagos merely gives us a measure of comfort and sanity that is not enjoyed by the vast majority of people who call themselves “Nigerians.” It is time to stop being blind to the reality of the country around us. It needs to become common knowledge that Nigeria is a potpourri of horrible experiences far beyond anything we are used to in Lagos. The killings, kidnappings and rapes we hear about are not just figures on paper. Our fellow citizens are genuinely suffering, and the least we can do is leave our psychological comfort zone to engage with uncomfortable realities.

Two weekends ago, my girlfriend and I were in Abeokuta for a wedding, and we decided to pop out of the hotel to grab something to eat around 7PM. After driving around for about 20 minutes, we found what looked like a decent restaurant, so we went in only to discover that it was very much a “football, beer and isi-ewu” kind of hangout with no actual food on offer.
Famished after a long day of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and navigating around an unfamiliar city, we asked the waiter for directions to the nearest fast food restaurant. At this point, we were ready to make do with any generic jollof rice and chicken – heck even a couple of meat pies would have sufficed. He cocked his head in confusion for a few seconds as he processed the request, then he gave us an answer that stunned us.
Lagos is Not Nigeria
To our astonishment, he announced that there is no fast food restaurant in Abeokuta. No Chicken Republic, no KFC, no TFC, Sweet Sensation, Mega Chicken or even plain old Mr. Biggs – nothing. A quick Google search revealed that this was not true, but this guy and everyone else we asked had clearly never heard of any such establishment. Neither of us was in the mood for goat head peppersoup, so we decided that we would find a shop selling dry snacks and manage that for the night, before getting into the car and fleeing to Lagos the next morning. Fortunately that night, we found a local buka in an uncompleted building nearby selling some surprisingly good jollof rice, so we eventually had supper.
Back in Lagos the next day, we found ourselves eating and passing time in a packed Maryland Mall restaurant while we waited to see Avengers Endgame alongside hundreds of people. It occurred to me that despite being less than 110 km away, the experience of life in Abeokuta and life here are worlds apart. If Abeokuta – a fairly modern city the size of Liverpool with decent roads and full 3G internet coverage does not have the local economy to support general access to fast food restaurants, what else are we taking for granted about “Nigeria” that is solely based on what we are familiar with here in Lagos? What is really happening in this country outside of our little seaside cocoon?
A few years ago, I had a conversation with a family friend who is now the editor of a national daily newspaper. He described to me his experience of visiting Katsina State and buying suya only to witness
Almajiri hungrily fighting over the scraps of leftover food when he discarded the paper package used to wrap it. He made the point that Lagos enjoys a standard of living that is not replicated around Nigeria at all.
The most striking thing I remember him saying during that conversation was this: “How do you think most people in this country buy fuel? It’s only in Lagos, and maybe Abuja and some few places that you go into a petrol station and buy fuel from a pump. The majority of people in Nigeria buy fuel from people selling it in plastic kegs by the roadside.”
This conversation always stayed with me.
Lagos is strangulating Nigeria
While it is often presented as Nigeria’s economic lodestar, Lagos is in fact a big part of the reason why Nigeria’s economy is where it is. The inefficiencies of having over 90 percent of Nigeria’s trade cargoes moving through the Apapa port at the expense of other ports, are well documented. While it may be argued that this is the fault of the government and not Lagos in itself, Lagos slows down Nigeria’s economic performance in another important way.
Across the Oniru and Lekki neighbourhood, there are no fewer than four multi screen cinema complexes servicing the approximately 400,000 residents in one of the wealthiest parts of Lagos. Abeokuta’s half a million people by contrast, have just one cinema servicing the entire city. This is because anyone with capital to invest in Nigeria generally gravitates toward the concentration of wealth in Lagos, whether there is even a market in Lagos or not. This means that Nigeria’s markets do not distribute investment or innovation evenly or according to market potential, because such decisions are subjectively skewed toward Lagos, even when Lagos offers no real advantage.
Instead of engaging with Nigeria’s market of 170 million+ people and finding out ways to mutually create value within the limited economic circumstances of this market, investors simply parachute their money into Lagos, which helpfully even provides them with physical demarcations indicating where the “premium” market exists in places like Ikoyi, Lekki, Gbagada and Victoria Island.
For reference, imagine the Indian company Tata did not set out to mass produce $2,000 cars and provide other low cost solutions for India’s teeming lower middle classes. Imagine that instead of producing the Tata Nano and creating great value for shareholders and hundreds of millions of Indian consumers, it instead dedicated its capital to importing BMWs and Hondas to sell to a “premium” market of 5 million people in Mumbai. In that situation, young people who currently work in the Tata supply chain would instead have no jobs and be forced to migrate to Mumbai, placing further strain on the services and infrastructure of a city bursting at its seams.
That is the Nigerian situation with Lagos.
The afore-mentioned cinema in Abeokuta could become an invaluable tool in the fight to overhaul Nollywood’s archaic distribution system by creating a N500 cinema culture instead of a home video culture – something any Nollywood insider can tell you is central to defeating piracy and moving the industry forward. Instead of using such a low value, high volume strategy to expand the market in the long term however, Nigerian capital simply looks for where in Lagos it can attract existing cinema goers and squeeze an extra N1,000 out of them.
This pattern repeats itself across virtually every consumer space in Nigeria, as capital reflexively looks for how to bury itself in Lagos instead of making a wider impact. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the housing market, which continues to record fantastic growth in building and marketing N36 million houses that nobody can afford. Nigeria meanwhile, has an estimated housing deficit of 17 million units, in addition to readily available cheap land and labour. Rather than find a way to address the nationwide market creatively with a low cost housing solution, capital is instead deployed to Lekki to service an already saturated Lagos market.
Lagos is distorting what’s left of our democracy
Apart from the economic implications of being so Lagos-centric, another key problem with the current Lagos-dominated national discourse is that most of us who consider ourselves to be engaged, informed citizens are not in fact engaging with Nigeria at all. We are actually engaging with the small, standalone version of “Nigeria” that only exists within the tiniest and most cosmopolitan of its 36 states. We think that the conversation in Lagos can be used as a proxy for the wider Nigerian conversation, but this is completely false.
Lagos is a city founded on commerce, where the unspoken consensus is that the State has no business even holding an opinion on your personal choices such as religion, dressing, association and movement. This respect for individual agency and general air of cosmopolitanism is why Lagos has a large creative sector, and is the undisputed home of the Arts in Nigeria.
When the State oversteps these unspoken boundaries in Lagos, we set up movements like #EndSARS with results that give us the idea that our government respects our agency – as long as we shout like hell. In the case of Kolade Johnson who was killed by a trigger happy policeman , the story got to CNN, and the president’s official Twitter handle even issued something of an apology . All of this serves to strategically blind us to the reality of Nigeria’s creeping state of lawlessness and its rapidly expanding culture of repression. After all because we are in Lagos, we can send out tweets and force the government to do the right thing, so all is well.
Last week, several stories emerged describing a series of extrajudicial police raids in Abuja, targeting women who were then brutally raped in custody and forced to pay bribes for their freedom. The much-derided response by Ebonyi’s finest crime fighter and all-round ass hat Abayomi Shogunle, came as a complete shock to many of us with Lagosian sensibilities.
The idea of a police officer referencing religious concepts of “sin” and using that to justify extrajudicial detention and rape is foreign and disgusting to us, and we let him know exactly what we thought of him before the inevitable Twitter block.
In the following days however, we were then confronted with the frankly absurd realisation that Abuja – which is supposed to be the Federal Capital Territory – may somehow be subject primarily to the Sharia penal code. When national political discourse takes place in Lagos, it does not occur to any of us to ask whether a theocratic government framework practiced in 12 Northern states supersedes the constitution in the very capital of a supposedly secular Federal Republic. Since then, the truth has started to dawn on some of us that we are living in a false Lagosian reality.
Nigeria outside Lagos is really not the country we think it is.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Nigeria’s media is based in Lagos, which means that people suffering all manner of atrocities and indignities around the country do not even get the opportunity to give voice to their stories. When we occasionally hear the story of a Northern bandit victim or an Ese Oruru, or a widow forced to carry out degrading and dangerous customs following her husband’s death, we respond with disbelief or with a shallow kind of sympathy because we really cannot relate with such realities.
In 2018, I was involved in scripting a monologue about a recent massacre by Fulani herdsmen for The Other News on Channels TV. In the cringeworthy fashion of people who have no idea what is happening outside Lagos, we ended up writing a type of script emphasizing that they were fine people on both sides, on the topic of an actual real life massacre of women and children. Our lives in Lagos offered us no point of reference for the scale of injustice that had just happened, so as the well-trained and unbiased media people we were, we treated the topic with “balance.”
That is what happens when one mistakes “life in Lagos” for “life in Nigeria.”
Now more than ever, it is time for us Lagos people to understand that Lagos merely gives us a measure of comfort and sanity that is not enjoyed by the vast majority of people who call themselves “Nigerians.” It is time to stop being blind to the reality of the country around us. It needs to become common knowledge that Nigeria is a potpourri of horrible experiences far beyond anything we are used to in Lagos. The killings, kidnappings and rapes we hear about are not just figures on paper. Our fellow citizens are genuinely suffering, and the least we can do is leave our psychological comfort zone to engage with uncomfortable realities. This city is only the veneer covering Nigeria’s truly shocking state of existence. Lagos, my dear friends, is not Nigeria.

Democracy or repression as the next level By Owei Lakemfa.

Four years ago, the Nigerian social media had two major groups. ‘The Wailers’, so called because they were said to be wailing the loss of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in the general elections. The other group was called the ‘Hailers’ because members hailed all that was good, bad and ugly in the new ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)
When there was seeming improvement in power supply without the new government adding a single megawatt to power generation, the hailers attributed it to President Muhammadu Buhari’s “body language” and mystic!
Later, the government announced that power supply had jumped to 7,000 MW even when the maximum installed capacity was 5,000MW. In 2015, the new government announced the “defeat” of the Boko Haram terrorist group. When the terror attacks continued, it was said to be the “technical defeat’ but that the terror group had been so degraded that all we need do, is wait for its demise.
The third group of Nigerians who saw the politicians as belonging to the same camp with no fundamental difference, were crowded out by the Wailers and Hailers. Today, the Hailers have virtually all become Wailers as the country reels under poor governance, terrorism, banditry and an insensitive political class still busy fighting over the spoils of the 2019 elections.
After launching a myriad of “Operations” including Python Dance(s) and Lafiya Dole, the armed forces and security agencies, seem to have run out of ideas. The Nigeria Police tried in April to restore some confidence by launching the latest ‘operation’ called Operation Puff Adder (OPA) which it noisily launched across the country. Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu made a grand show of launching OPA on the Abuja-Kaduna highway which he claimed had put that road, and adjourning communities extending to Kogi, Niger, Katsina, and Zamfara states under security blanket. The Highway was later declared safe. But travelers who took the police assurances on face value, were like lamb led to the slaughter as they were packed off in their dozens by kidnappers and bandits. With this, and growing insecurity in Kaduna, the IGP did not apologize, all he did was sacrifice the State Commissioner of Police. As for Zamfara State, insecurity actually worsened with the bandits killing more people and invading the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Moriki where five persons were abducted.
The security situation in Katsina State also further deteriorated. On May 1, daring bandits invaded Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town, killed some people and kidnapped the District Head, Musa Umar who is also the father in-law of Buhari’s ADC. In January, Governor Aminu Masari who is also the chief security officer of Katsina State had raised an alarm about bandits take-over and that he himself, despite the huge security around him, is not safe.
In a sad reflection of the country’s sorry state of insecurity, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (SSS) Mr. Yusuf Bichi, speaking Tuesday at a retreat of the Nigerian Governors Forum said politicians (which included the governors) trust marabouts and ‘Babalawos’ (traditional diviners) more than the security agencies!
Amidst this escalating violence and descent into anarchism in many parts of the country, President Buhari was off the radar screen in the United Kingdom where he was on a “private visit” A man of vision, Buhari has in four years as President been incapable of even upgrading the State House Clinic to take care of his own ailment for which he frequently visits London. The Yorubas say when a man promises to attire you in rich robes, you should examine the clothes he himself is wearing; if a President with all the powers and resources of the country cannot in four years, fix the Presidential hospital so he can be treated at home, how do you hope he can fix the basic health needs of the country? If the home towns of the President, the Defence Minister, retired Brigadier General Mansur Muhammad Dan Ali, National Security Adviser, retired Major General Babagana Mongonu and Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai are under the siege of terrorists and bandits, how does the Ogun farmer, the Onitsha trader or Bayelsa fisherman hope to be protected by the Nigerian state?
The anti-corruption ‘war’ is turning into a circus show. Take the drama at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The Executive Secretary, Prof. Usman Yusuf was indicted of fraud to the tune of N919 million and was in July 2017, suspended by Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole. In response, Yusuf told the media, “Fu*k the Minister of Health” and was restored to office by the Presidency.
Months later, Yusuf was freshly indicted by the NHIS Governing Board , amongst other things, for paying consultants N508m without due process. In response, the Presidency sacked both Yusuf and the anti-corruption Board!
The primary concern of a government that cannot provide security or check the slide to anarchism, stem resurgent corruption or hyperinflation, reduce the 33 percent unemployment rate or the over 87 million under the poverty line, should not be how to install stooges in the National Assembly leadership.
Government must realize we are in a state of emergency, even if undeclared, and concentrate on how to rally Nigerians for the defence of the country. It should stop such diversions as holding hostages like Sheik el- Zakzaky and causing disruptive mass protests by his followers. It should obey court orders and stop threats of detaining people it considers its enemies. Government needs to mobilize Nigerians as a family, listen to all, tap the best brains, bring into the security leadership people who can deliver the desired results, bring close or into government, any Nigerian that can add value even if he be in the opposition and irrespective of his religion, region or beliefs. Having run a closet government with his relatives, hangers-on and Hailers, the President needs to run an open government in which all Nigerians will have a sense of belonging. We cannot have a country where some have a sense of entitlement; the mentality of a ruling class, and others feel like a conquered people even on their ancestral lands. In this wise, government has the duty to retake all lands and territories especially in Plateau and Benue states occupied by terrorists, marauders and bandits masquerading as ‘herdsmen’ and allow the farmers in those areas return home rather than be permanent tenants in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
Going forward, the Buhari administration has two options; either to run a government based on the basic tenets of democracy built on the constitution, security, peoples welfare and social justice, or a repressive one built on propaganda, rule of might, vindictiveness, intolerance and gross incompetence. Either has consequences.

The police is nobody’s friend By Abimbola Adelakun

One of the cheering news that came from the Nigeria Police Force last week was the redeployment of its head of the Complaint Response Unit, Assistant Commissioner of Police Abayomi Shogunle, to a rural region of the country. With any luck, Shogunle finding himself without a Twitter soapbox will restrain him from doing further harm to the reputation of the NPF and Nigeria via his trenchant narrow-mindedness on the Internet. I am going to let down my guards this time and even commend the upper echelons of the NPF for taking this small step at this time. Hopefully, they commit themselves to more acts of responsiveness in the future in their public affairs and realise they owe it to the public to respond on issues that require accountability and responsibility.
Shogunle personifies the many things wrong in the digital age when an individual is installed as the face of an organisation’s digital channels and they begin to purge their unfiltered thoughts into the social sphere. Even if his attitude of blocking Nigerian citizens who interact with him online was set aside along with his illogical verbosity, clapback on the #EndSARS advocacy, and the advice of speaking Pidgin English to the police as an antidote to ‘accidental discharges,’ his dismissive comments on the alleged commercial sex workers arrested by the police in Abuja night clubs shows he is just another provincial mind in a federal office.
As far he was concerned, the public outrage over the arrest was just some folk “making (a) noise on (sic) the clampdown on prostitutes.” Come on, even if the ladies were truly sex workers, are they not human enough to deserve collective empathy for the sexual abuses and physical assault they allegedly suffered in the hands of Shogunle’s colleagues? For someone who claims to be the head of “Complaint Response Unit,” he has no sense of what his job truly entails. We might as well be wasting our time sending any official complaint to his office. Heavens help the people of Nkalagu, Ebonyi State where he has now been gladly farmed out to!
Shogunle has proved himself ill-informed in a police uniform, but we should not imagine for a moment that he exists in isolation in the NPF. He is by no means an aberration that, if stamped out of the NPF, restores the organisation’s dignity and integrity. No, the NPF is full of similar folk like him, and the major difference was that Shogunle was the one manic enough to use the social media to broadcast his unlearned state. By this, I mean the NPF harbours police officer(s) who lack any inclination to acquaint themselves with the fundamentals of law and order in the society and their role as police officers in guaranteeing it. They simply put on their uniforms, grab a baton, and they are all over the place acting with the force of authority they symbolise. The irony is that those who mostly lack a deeper appreciation of what they represent and how they should take their jobs, are the most zealous. With the vacuity of not knowing, and not knowing that they do not know what they do not know comes an inevitable sense of incompetence they make up for with excessive brutality against hapless citizens.
Many of us are living witnesses to the horrible tales of the NPF’s cruelty. Starting with all the personal narratives that emerged from the #EndSARS campaign against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, one wonders if the first crime that Nigeria needs to apprehend is not the one the police agencies are legally sanctioned to commit against the people. There were gory stories of brutality, extrajudicial killings, assault, intimidation, illegal arrests, extortions, harassment and even outright torture. We have hired monsters. As horrible as all these stories of police brutality were, they were not unfamiliar. Many of us were alive when the Apo 6 incident happened at the Federal Capital Territory. We saw how long the case dragged and the wildly unsatisfying manner it was concluded without justice settled for the victims. More than a decade after that incident, we are still here and dealing with similar issues.
The NPF officers have barely graduated or become better sophisticated in their predatory behavior or comportment. They are an anti-criminal organisation that targets people for the crime of being young and displaying acts of youthful exuberances such as sagging their jeans or even acting uppity by carrying everyday gadgets such as laptops or iPhones. These officers barely operate from the level of high intelligence their job requires. Because they are not socialised to understand the ideological underpinning of their job, they do not see their public conduct as one of the many pieces of banal actions that come together to fit into a systemic whole of brutality and repression. Everything about them seems to be more about brute, force, and a display of brawn. If Nigeria were a litigious society where they get sued regularly for their actions, they would have been long bankrupt owing from the amount of compensation they would have had to regularly pay for their lack of discretion.
The bases on which we indict the police for their harshness are not just derived from the stories from their victims alone. The police officers themselves offer the best examples of their poor understanding of their job through their self-accounting. Shogunle is one example. Earlier this year, a Chief Superintendent and Zone 2 Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Dolapo Badmos, wrote on her personal social media page that those who are “homosexual in nature” should leave the country or face prosecution. No matter what your stand on homosexuality might be, we should not overlook the ignorant mindset that prompts an NPF officer to ask anyone to leave the country. When was the last time the NPF ordered corrupt public officers whose sins truly impact the society to leave the country or face prosecution? Is it not a problem when a police officer cannot separate her prejudices from the legal substance of issues?
The other day too, the Lagos State Police Command spokesperson, Bala Elkana, stated that the police harass people who wear tattoos and dreadlocks because those displays of self-aesthetisation are foreign to our culture. Elkana claimed that because most people that they have arrested for being in cults have those self-accouterments, they more or less profile everyone who either wears tattoo or dreadlocks. How did our society end up with policemen who have set themselves up as arbitrators of culture and who ascribe to themselves the right to define what is our “culture” or not? The issue at stake is not so much about an organisation like the police ascribing to itself the power to legislate the parameters of what constitutes culture as much as it is a testimony to sincere ignorance that unfortunately uses the power of deadly force to launch its own ill-digested ideas of what social virtues might be.
There have already been several solutions prescribed to the menace they constitute to the society. Yes, people have rightfully asked for a dissolution of SARS, the creation of state police, and other kinds of reforms that will moderate the excesses of the current centralised police. The nature of reforms the NPF requires is one that will more or less involve an entire re-birth of the organisation. It needs a complete overhaul of its systems and structures and an indulgence in the process of ideological re-orientation. Part of the problem, of course, includes the low-level educational requirement people present to enter the force. We are dealing with people who are ignorant in a literal and metaphoric sense even if they can use tools like Twitter. These officers need education, training, and a form of socialisation that teaches them from the outset that their job is to co-build the society and ensure its flourishing, not its extinction.

The Diminished Value Of Human Life in Nigeria Is Dreadful By Churchill Okonkwo

I can recollect being depressed thinking of writing on the theme of the 2019 Earth Day – Protect Our Species – that is out of sync with everyday reality in Nigeria. I couldn’t, therefore, in good conscience devote hours writing about the protection of animal species for a society where human lives have been so diminished that it now appears worthless.
Buhari’s administration’s failure to reign in on the perpetrators of heinous crimes across Nigeria is depressing. More depressing though is the fact that Nigerians, by our actions and inactions are tactically supporting flimsy reasons for taking human lives.
From the political class that hire thugs to kill opponents; the bandits, kidnappers and “killer herdsmen” that kill at will; the mob and onlookers that stone a suspected petty thief to death and ethnic warlords that burn and kill for every little communal dispute, our cultural orientation appears to permit killing without a good reason.
Yet, the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) Section 14 (2b) states that the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government. Despite this, thousands of Nigerians are maimed and killed by official security operatives tasked with protecting us, armed bandits, kidnappers, politicians, and mobs. As such the daily lives of Nigerians over the past decades have been “nasty, brutish, and short.”
In the last two election cycles, the number of Nigerians killed during campaigns and post-election violence was more than 1000. The modus operandi of an ordinary election, a civic duty, is conducted under an atmosphere of sheer brutality. Does that set the standard for bandits, cultists, the armed militia of different ethnicities, kidnappers and killer herdsmen? Why are Nigerians not genuinely worried about the diminished value of human life?
Missing from the discussion of the diminished value of human life, but unquestionably the most important factor is, why are Nigerians culturally predisposed to kill each other with ease?
When the mother goat breaks into the yam store, her kid watches her. What does a society that celebrates political monsters like governor Wike and Rotimi Amaechi that use deadly thugs to maim and kill civilians expect from cultists in Port Harcourt?
The questions for all of us are; why have we accepted, wittingly and unwittingly, violent acts that are contributing to the widespread killings across Nigeria? What does a society that uses weapons such as stones, blocks, iron rods and other objects to kill during mob action or those that stand by and watch expect from the crude Nigerian police and criminal elements amongst them?
As a start, Nigerians must teach themselves the sanctity of life. A dispute between the Jukuns and Tivs in Taraba and Benue States is not worth killing for. The age-long conflict between “settlers” and “indigenes” in Kajuru, southern Kaduna is not worth killing for. The fight over who should loot the oil revenue accruing to the people of Rivers State is not worth killing for. There is no benefit in killing a petty thief by lethal fury through mob action.
Unfortunately, many Nigerians have allowed the proponents of mob action to convince us that taking the laws into our hands by killing petty robbers is not a big deal and certainly is better than handing them to the police.
But, if the petty thief were to be a politician say, Tinubu, Ike Ekweremadu, Saraki or governor Ganduje that stole billions of Naira, the mob would cheer and beg them to “settle the boys.’ They will not organize a mob to kill. So, while the poor and powerless civilians are the frequent targets of lynch mobs, thieves, masquerading as politicians are celebrated.
The benefits of capital punishment by way of mob action be it in sporadic community vigilantism are illusory. But, the bloodshed and the resulting destruction of community decency are real. It is this destruction of decency that worries me whenever I see Nigerians shearing (celebrating) images of fellow citizens mutilated and sometimes with heads chopped off.
A society that respects life does not deliberately kill human beings nor do they rejoice in the killing of fellow citizens. A society that endorses killing to show that stealing is wrong as was the case in the days Bakassi Boys were chopping of heads of suspected criminals in Aba, Onitsha and surrounding towns diminishes the value of human lives. That was the worst possible example to set for the citizenry, especially children.
We behave per what society teaches us. Citizens, who from childhood, grew up observing public and barbaric execution sees such violent spectacle as normal.
We, therefore, have a choice as Nigerians: we can either continue killing each other or we can begin to value the sanctity of human lives. When we devalue the life of a petty thief or a political thug killed in election violence, we devalue our own life.
The Nigerian government must do everything in its power to protect and advance a culture of life rather than making excuses for their failure to observe their constitutional duties. But even when we don’t have confidence in the state security and justice system, resorting to barbaric acts should not be the option.
That’s why a land disputes across Nigeria that is driving the loss of precious human lives, for example, should be seen as a diminishing of the value of human lives.
It takes more effort to forgive and resolve conflicts than to kill. The community leaders of different ethnicities that have transformed villages to “war zones” across Nigerian; should, therefore, be reminded that peace requires hard work.
The defense of the dignity and value of human life is worth fighting for and dying for. Nigerians must work together and stop resorting to unwarranted violent acts of killing as a means of settling every dispute.
Together, we can.
You can email Churchill at Churchill.okonkwo@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi

Did Buhari miss Tinubu in Lagos? By Lasisi Olagunju

(Published in the Nigerian Tribune on Monday 29 April, 2019)

The president was in Lagos some days ago but the Asiwaju of Lagos was not available to receive him. We’ve always known that lessons not learnt at home would be forced in from outside, someday. That day is here so soon for the Smart Alecs of the South West after the lovey-dovey romance of the last elections. The president did not attend the birthday colloquium of his best man, Bola Tinubu which was taken to his backyard in Abuja. But he was in coastal Lagos for Akinwumi Ambode’s stellar projects. Buhari flew down to Lagos but did not meet Tinubu, the unchallenged owner of the land. The Leader of Lagos and Friend of the President (FOP) had taken himself out of the country ahead of that visit. But did the president miss him?

It is funny that the dogs are out so soon to give life to the eerie omens of the immediate past. What obsesses you is that which will always dominate your thoughts and talks. Kidnappers and bandits may continue to rule and ruin villages and cities, the power elite won’t stop dreaming big about Abuja and about tomorrow and its spoils. They are already talking about the next elections – even before this year’s are concluded. The Northern flank is slamming its massive iron door against its southern allies forgetting that the one who slaps his mistress immediately after a sizzling bedroom act would soon have another erection.

Alhaji Junaid Mohammed and Babachir Lawal some weeks ago formed an unusual armoured combo. They said the South should forget a shift of power in 2023. I also read old Balarabe Musa blasting the whole South over calls for a restructuring of the Nigerian nation. They were joined this last Saturday by their infantry men, the notorious Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF). These no-nonsense brats appear positioned for a mop-up that will soon follow an almost certain shellacking of the southern ex-concubine. Hear Gambo Gunduju, president of AYF: “The year 2015 is in the past. What about 2019 general elections? What votes did he bring to Buhari? I hope you have the statistics of the votes which Buhari got. Would you say that what Buhari got is what he expected from Lagos?” Again, listen to Abdullah Bodejo, president of Miyetti Allah: “If Tinubu is recognized by the Yoruba people as their leader, why did Buhari score 50 per cent there? Why did he not ask them to give him like even 60 per cent at least? Tinubu has failed and that is the truth. Or are you telling me that Tinubu did anti-party activities by telling the South West to share the votes 50/50 to APC and PDP?” These gentlemen are flogging the wrong horse. In war and in peace, overfed leaders always lose the Yoruba field.

Tinubu’s allies have started playing anti-South 2023 presidency numbers even when the final rites of the 2019 polls are still on. “The South should forget getting the presidency in four years time,” they are saying this daily, almost in a chorus. Buhari’s North is refreshed, renewed, back and bold now even with the ship of state sinking in their hands. The Speakership position of the House of Representatives is no longer even sure for their friends in the South West. The North Central is their choice. They are now preaching justice after roofing their reign with shining sheets of inequality. They’ve invented ingenious arguments with a snide at history: “You can’t have the VP and the Speaker at the same time.” But ‘they’ can have all the arms of the government and head all our security forces at the same time. That is their definition of justice, fairness and national cohesion.

But can you really blame them? Even in the South West, the currency of political engagement is injustice. In the APC Federal Government, Tinubu’s Lagos State has 39 appointees; Ibikunle Amosun’s Ogun State has 43 while Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states individually have less than five. Today’s south west is the classic case of eight masqueraders ogling six bean cakes. Only the closest to the kitchen of the APC power men gets a full meal.

Now, why would Buhari visit Lagos when Tinubu was out of town? Or why would Tinubu choose to be out of town when Buhari was visiting Lagos? The president has also moved out of the country “on a private visit to London.” When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49BC and entered Roman Italy, he discovered that his ex-ally and now arch-rival, Pompey had tactically moved to Greece. Caesar did not wait for the rival; he went for him and his men. What Caesar had for Pompey and his legions stationed in Spain was pure scorn. He derisively announced that he was “going to Spain to fight an army without a General, and then to the East to fight a General without an army.” His impression of Pompey was that of a General with “no idea of how to win a war.” And both used to be allies. Between them, they levied wars against the senate, bought votes into consulship, set the rabble against nobles, even respected Cicero got exiled for opposing their alliance. They were united by the unstated desire to take Rome out of its prized republican politics. Their ambition was to be the unchallenged Masters of the State.

Buhari’s first term was about winning a second term. And so, he shoved Tinubu’s body in and out of bed -and then, back to bed to get satiated. The deed is done, the second term is here already and it is about winning Nigeria forever for himself and his ‘people’. The imperial president won’t share his loot with anyone and so, last week, he left Nigeria on a private trip with the key of the state in his breast pocket. He did not transmit any letter to the National Assembly on this because he is the sovereign and can rule us from anywhere. There will be fights, rough and tough. These friends will war and will drag stupid us into their coming pig fight – and we will all be sorry for ourselves. We won’t know that the fights we will see around us would be for the politician to possess and pillage the land, not to nourish it. It was so with former friends Caesar and Pompey. Cassius Dio paints the picture so elegantly in his ‘Roman History’: “Because of the insatiable lust for power” by these former allies, “Rome was being compelled to fight both in her own defense and against herself, so that even if victorious, she would be vanquished.” And at the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, Caesar saw the end of Pompey, his former ally. He won and got the whole of Rome as his prize. But did that translate to victory for Rome and its people? The war and its outcome ultimately set the stage for a series of events cascading imperial Rome from republicanism to dictatorship, to a further turmoil, and, finally, to decline and decay.

Third republic Senate President Iyorchia Ayu in an interview in the Sunday Tribune of April 14, 2019 described Bola Tinubu’s current allies in the North as the most reactionary of the Northern conservatives. That sounds very much like the old Kaduna Mafia. This victorious army of the elite don’t take prisoners. They pulverize all who won’t crack- friends and foes. Ayu said Tinubu won’t profit from his investment in this cavernous friendship – his nose will be bloodied. You don’t deal with possessed people as these ones without a Plan B. He and his wisemen were told this before the elections but they were too power-seeking to listen. It does not appear there was any other plan beyond making their bent backs available for a ride to sweet power by the mafia. Hungry, ambitious political allies are demons. We’ve been told by J.D Brown in his Daughter of Eve series that the rules for demon engagement – and slaying- are simple, and they are just three: Never tempt a demon with a promise you can’t keep; never trust a demon; never save a demon’s life. That hungry tiger you saved will come back to hunt you. Caesar did that to Pompey.

Nigeria’s future through the eyes of its youth by Aliyu Nuhu

Look at Nigeria’s future through the eyes of its youth and you will know the country has no future. First the Nigerian child who will be the Nigerian youth in twenty years to come is not attending primary school. About twenty million Nigerian children are roaming streets without attending primary schools,according to UNICEF figures. The Nigerian youth from age 30 that make up half of the 182m population are either illiterate, half baked graduate or unemployed. They are putting a severe strain on a nation that is suffering from a slowing economy and declining revenue. Nigeria is failing to provide enough schools, employment and health facilities for its most important demographic group.

Truth is the Nigerian youth is poor,desperate and hopeless because the system made him so. There is no free and qualitative education in Nigeria, so the youth ends up either not going to school or coming out as half-baked graduate. The Nigerian youth cannot start business because the banks will not give him start up capitals. There is no electricity to power the business. His business plan must include a generator that he cannot afford.

By contrast,the Nigerian old man has been lucky all his life. He was born to a system that was working. He had free and quality education within and outside the country. He received immediate employment after graduation. His wealth is not about brilliance or hardwork but being around for so long to understand the system and exploit it to his advantage. Almost all Nigerian rich made it from the country’s weath, by stealing its money to the exclusion of Nigerian youth.

The rich kid

The Nigerian youth born by the Nigerian rich man is a lazy child not prepared for the challenges of modern life. He is born by thieving parents that pampered him with all the luxuries of life. He has nothing to work for and has nothing to contribute to Nigeria. If he gets into government he wrecks and steals the treasury. The salaries of civil service is below his status. What will a child that receives pocket money of N5m do with a pay package of N70,000 a month? He simply adopts the lazy approach of waiting for his father to die and inherit his wealth, a wealth he wastes through vanity and ostentation.

Nigerian child raised in a good system contributes to the growth of his society, his adopted country.

Example we have seen the Nigerian child born in US or UK that went through excellent educational and occupational system that sees him excelling in various fields of human endeavors.

The Nigerian David Oyelowo,the Selma actor and black James Bond was born to Yoruba parents in London, England. In his 20s, David enjoyed a very successful career on the London stage, receiving his formal training from the London Academy of Drama and Music Art.

John Boyega, Hollywood’s new kid on the block was raised by Nigerian parents in Peckham, South London. He started acting in school plays from an early age right down to his late teens when he trained at the Identity School of Acting, Hackney. Before his huge breakout role in the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise, he acted in the film adaptation of Half of A Yellow Sun, written by fellow Nigerian, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Notably, he was an acquaintance of Damilola Taylor, the Nigerian schoolboy in England who was gunned down in 2000.

Duro Olowu, the US First lady Michelle Obama has this talented Nigerian-born designer to thank for her signature flowery prints. Duro was raised by a Jamaican mother and Yoruba father in Nigeria before being shipped off to a boarding school in London, England. He was a huge fan of fashion from an early age, but his parents were against it as a career. Fortunately, he won them over, and has enjoyed major milestones in his career ever since – a partnership deal with popular US brand, JC Penney in 2014 and the honour of designing the White House in 2015.

There is Oluchi Onweagba-Orlandi. After winning Nokia Face of Africa competition in 1998, the black beauty has graced the covers of Italian Vogue and ELLE, with features in Nylon, Marie Claire and Allure magazines. She is considerably one of the most sought-after models of her generation, and now manages upcoming talents with her agency, OModels in South Africa.

Hakeem Kae- Kazim spent the early part of his life in Lagos, before moving to London for training in the Briston Old Vic Theatre School. He went ahead to act in a range of well-known movies like the thrilling Hotel Rwanda, Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End and X-Men Origins.

There are thousands examples of Nigerians that made it from young age when exposed to a system that is convalescent to success. The mentioned success stories would have ended up hawking satchet waters or selling groundnut on Nigerian traffic but for the intervention of superior support systems outside the country.

Our country Nigeria is too harsh,too dangerous that was so raped by its leaders for the youth to make any meaningful headway in life.

If the Nigeria wants its child to excel,the template is there from other nations to copy. Dehumanizing and Insulting the Nigerian child will not make them succeed. Denying the youth education and employment will destroy Nigeria in the long run.

All the violent crimes manifested in kidnapping, terrorism, banditry, armed robbery are committed by the Nigerian youth. He commits the crimes because he has been abandoned by the society he lives in. Nigeria has no future because its youths have no future. Things will always get worse in the coming years.