Am sure most Nigerians have been shocked by recent protests by the youths in most parts of the country over human rights abuses by the Nigeria Police, especially the unorthodox practices of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of that establishment. Like I have already said many of my fellow country men and women were surprised at the development but a critical segment was not. For people in that group, it was expected; it had been simmering underground for a very long time, waiting for a spark to burst into an inferno.
What we just saw is a dress rehearsal, the big one is coming. It can only be averted if the leadership can do introspection and understand that the situation is getting out of hand. We make money and draw huge budgets yet at the end of every year no one can say where we put the trillions of Naira earned by the country. Inflation is running riots, it is beginning to look like a case of total destruction with no solution. Millions can’t afford daily meals. They are dying from diseases induced by malnutrition. The health system is almost going moribund. The roads are in such horrible state. Electricity supply has gone from epileptic to total seizure. Governments are not helping citizens to stand strong because as of now the mantra is, “government has no right to be in business”, that government’s responsibility begins and ends with providing the “right environment.”
You hear this jargon and you wonder where they got this idea from. You wonder if those parroting such misplaced concept ever went to school and if they did, whether they make out time to read history of nations that made it. We are in this new pass time of borrowing funds from all over the world, particularly from China. That country is happy to lend because it has built up itself and is thriving; lending to unthinking people like us is good business. Now our leaders are too blind to see that the China miracle was and is still being driven by government. Here government is running away from core responsibilities and holding to a privatisation initiative that is producing negative results, collapse of the economy, job losses, stunted growth, dislocations and citizens untimely demise.
In the space especially recently it has been stated and restated that an uprising can occur irrespective of the highhandedness that stokes the land. We have been enlightened that when government chokes the people with lack of vision and bad policies that go with it, the citizens would naturally take it up to a point, but when their back is against the wall, reaction is inevitable and it won’t matter if the oppressors has troops. Hasn’t it happened? Am sure our leaders were thinking when the people get angry it would take the form of past reactions where celebrities led people to gather in a particular point to sing, dance, make speeches and abuse. This is not what we have seen. This time the youths we refer to as the leaders of tomorrow took over things by themselves and poured into the streets.
They are not just youths, these are well educated, clean and sophisticated; they cared less about their lives. We saw blood in their eyes, and for what it is worth they were ready to pay supreme price. There is unique angle to this development: if any one looked carefully, such a person would have observed that women were taking over the task of demanding a face for our society. What does all this tell us? Revolution is brewing!
The youths made human rights abuses their focus but for anyone with deep insight what is at stake is far more than that. It is a revulsion against a system that is not working. This is the pure truth. We look at the reactions. The authorities pretended as usual that nothing serious was happening. Later they woke up to the reality that what is happening could be unusual and serious. Then the predictable patter of releasing security agents against citizens. It didn’t work, then acknowledgement that things are bad in that regard, which is most sensible approach in this circumstance. Then disbandment of the dreaded police unit and quick creation of another. A case of poor sense of judgement. It was like selling your dog to buy a monkey in which case you were still left with a stooping animal. I will leave further talk on that and just observe that we got to this sordid point because we like shortcuts to addressing serious issues. We didn’t need to create a special unit to handle robbery, the police training should naturally encompass all that. We had the more civil police and Mobile Police unit that approximated the military. This unit went for tough assignments but in legal way. Who killed it and for what reasons?
Who brought the idea of a ragtag police unit and let them loose on citizens. If this unit were meant for robbery cases, how come they invaded highways, creating checkpoints, extorting and maltreating citizens? How come one could not make a distinction between them and the armed robbers they were meant to checkmate? Northerners and their governors want the disbanded police unit, they should have it and those who don’t, want it freed from their menace, it is echoes of federalism pulling on us.
It is just that the north has been stalling national growth in particular in this area of national security. Centralization of national policing was never part of the bargain, north never wanted it. It became centralised as a result of military intrusion into power and they wrested advantages from it. There ought to be community and state policing. Corporations, establishments, hotels, faith based-organisations and the like should have private armed security guards. Our leaders travel outside and know that is what obtains. Police men don’t guard hotels for instance, it is done by private security companies licensed to carry arms. Individuals bear arms. We know this but won’t do it because some groups want to conquer others.
Arms alone don’t bring security, rather healthy economy and education help a lot. It is absurd to churn out graduates without avenues for them to ventilate their knowledge. We have straight jacketed tutorship; our lecturers no longer mould character and consciousness. The effect is with us. We see how our children behave, do much brawn little commonsense. We can use enlightenment campaigns to curb crimes, nobody is doing that yet we have the National Orientation Agency running on huge cost.
On security, the army should be taken away. We don’t address a challenge by fear and running away from it. The police as presently constituted is not acceptable. I have seen how they operate, it is just reprehensive. We should have an elite police. This is not rocket science, it can be done, the problem is just that we are yet to have leaders who can reason, create a vision and run with it. What we have are money guzzlers. True!