By Adémólá Òrúnbon
Animal Farm by George Orwell was one of the best books of the 20th century not only because of the well articulated story line but also because of the deep political message it carried. The book was banned in some countries such as Russia, United States because it told of the communist belief and the incumbent revolution in Russia as at when the book was written. However, since Animal Farm is a free book in Nigeria, then we are at liberty to make literal comparison of Animal Farm with the current Nigeria, and Lagos State, especially with Magodo Estate Fiasco and the Governor BabajideSanwo-Olu encountered with the Police Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) based on our perspective – but I start first then leave you intelligent guys to compare and judge the rest characters.
The great works of George Orwell, real name Eric Blair on Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four, must ever remain the best classical works of fiction in the memories of every leader, the led, scholars and those in the literary cycles. Both works exhaustively talked about leadership question and even finding answers to the probing question underpinning the conundrum. However those books are acrid work of bitter satires based on pervasive, ingrain-selfish and despotic showmanship of leaders on the horseback and saddles of power and the consequences of their actions and inactions. In writing those terrible books, Orwell succinctly succeeded in importing the setting and character of his great works from the south of England in wretched Hertforshire of those days to Nigeria, the most populous black nation of the world as the “New Animal Farm”.
Every character depiction attempts to explain in lucid and microscopic details the actors both in animals and humans on the Nigeria political scene in particular and Africa and the world in general; outside what Orwell originally thought about the Russia revolution under Stalin’s dictatorship in Europe. Based on my bird’s eye view of the work, the two groups of people in the book, especially Animal Farm, represent the Nigerian society: the upper class and the lower class also classed as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and or still the haves and the haves-not. The first class represents the group of the Napoleon, Old Major, Donkeys, Cat, Snowball (the propaganda Minister), Pig and Moses, etc, are the very few Nigerian leaders that have access to the loot and treasury of the land. They are the ones that drain the milk of the cow of the nation unquestioned. The second group belongs to the old-Benjamin and the Great Boxer of living memory.
This group is only aptly called the “salt of the earth” by any definition and symbolism. They are the ordinary, suffering people of the Nigerian nation, the flotsams and the jetsams on whose shoulders lie Nigeria’s dream and hope of the present and future generations even though they are now regarded as the scum of the earth. With the wrist of sociopolitical-economic power from the imperial majesty of the colonial rule in 1960 and the subsequent Christianization of the nation’s name by the girlfriend of Lord Fredrick Luggard in Flora Shaw and the find amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914 to a single entity called Nigeria, the story had never been the same again.
To worsen the matter, with disease of acquisitive society which drives people to untamed greed, ungovernable ambition that came with capitalism and democracy, the nation’s citizenry became divided into the two groups of peoples discussed earlier in Orwell’s work as Nigeria remains under the two classes without the middle class after the 1960s.
Indeed, in our leadership story, the tales of alleged corruption swells to high heavens with odoriferous either eating, the land with unpretentious hate which the ordinary people are the worst for it. As a by-product of corruption hunger, grinding poverty, anarchy, fratricidal war, suicide mission, infanticide, gory deaths, kidnappings and many associated social vices have become the order of the day in Nigeria. Nigeria is damn crazy and lawless country, some individuals are above the law, while those under the law don’t even know a thing about the laws of the land, the legislature make laws which the NASS members don’t obey, the judiciary are confused with what the law says, the police don’t know a thing about enforcing the law. It is an abysmal state we find ourselves. Constitutionalism; means the strict compliance to the constitution of the country by both the leaders and the supremacy of the law over everyone, under this we were taught that no one is the law and the law is supreme. But, I think this law only applies to the low life. In Nigeria all these things are not in practice we are only deceiving ourselves when we talk about the rule of law. In Nigeria all you need to have is money and power, the word “constitutionalism” as it meaning says, is it really in practice not to talk of the rule.
The first reason why Nigeria is a lawless country is “POWER”. Those who are in power have the right to do whatever they so much want. For instance, we have some high individual in our country who posses power and got the right to say that their candidate will win the election and it will without any prejudice and consequences, even it got to the extent of rigging the election, they have the gut to go extra miles in winning the elections at any polls.
The false narrative in social media regarding the police action in Magodo Estate Lagos confirms that indeed, the media can be truly manipulated to mobilize citizens against authorities especially by those who have the means and the power to do so, like I said in above, like Nigeria, like Animal Farm. The insinuation that the police were in Lagos illegally or that the scene wherein Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu personally went to question the presence of policemen in Magodo Estate in negation of his role as the Chief Security Officer of Lagos State, and a confirmation that indeed the Nigerian structure is defective, does not apply itself to the facts of the matter. It’s a matter I have taken time to research on, and I dare say, the Governor of Lagos is an interested party in the entire shameful display of lawlessness in Magodo, because of those the Lagos State Government sold the illegal lands to, despite the fact that judgement creditors have Supreme Court judgement at hands. By obstructing the police from executing a valid order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, it is clear that the big web of conspiracy to hinder law enforcement from carrying out its job, which would never give up. It is the height of our collective descent into anarchy. This is what I know of the matter and why I made the statement above.
A military governor in the 1980s forcefully and deceitfully evicted lawful residents and landowners in the Magodo area of Lagos from their ancestral lands under the cover of public interest, claiming that government wanted to build an International Hospital in the land. No compensation was paid. The victims watched helplessly as the government instead converted the land to a Housing Estate, shared among friends and families of their cronies and elites. The victims approached the Court to seek redress. The Court issued an injunction to stop all parties from further development of the land during the pendency of the matter. Lagos State government then (as usual) ignored the injunction. Development of the land into Magodo Estate continued until the matter was finally settled by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2012.
In the final judgement, the Supreme Court restored the rights of the Magodo Landlords Association over the land and awarded cost against the Lagos State Government. It also directed the litigants to repossess their land. Mind you, Supreme Court is an apex Court which the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Inspector General of Police must abide by it judgement, why now blaming and castigating the duo?
This judgement of the Supreme Court was ignored by Lagos State and the illegal occupants of the Estate continued to stay. The Landlords Association, unable to execute the Court directive, went back to ask for help from the Supreme Court.
Rather than obey the last court in the land, Lagos State similarly further went to a High Court to initiate another process to stop the execution of the order of the Supreme Court. The government went further to invite the judgement creditors for a negotiated settlement. It offered them replacement land in Epe LGA. The creditors refused the offer and insisted that the order of the Supreme Court should be obeyed and Magodo should be vacated. Lagos refused to give effect to the judgement . There was a stalemate.
At the Supreme Court, the litigants further approached the Supreme Court and the Inspector General of Police was directed to enforce the judgement to enable the litigants repossess their land.
Above is the reason policemen were mobilized from police force headquarters Abuja to accompany the judgement creditors to repossess their land in Magodo. On getting there, the occupants of the property who by the Court order are presently deemed as illegal occupants, staged a fierce resistance against the police. They barricaded the estate, mobilized themselves into a strong army to resist attempts by the police to enforce an order of the Supreme Court. They have feigned victims and are using all sorts of tactics to stall the execution of the order. We have to note that the same residents previously used their connection within the society and government at different levels to stall the execution of the Court order from 2012 to date.
And if I may ask, what sort of country would we have if a judgement of the Supreme Court – the highest court in the land, cannot be executed because powerful people are involved? Between the illegal occupants and the restored owners of the property, who should indeed cry of being wrongly treated? Did we take a look at that old blind man on the television? He must have been lucky to be alive. Others I learnt have died seeking justice over the Magodo matter. The police are absolutely right to have gone to that place to give teeth to the order of the highest court in the land. Unfortunately, those who illegally coveted the land are the ones crying victim today while the police who are doing their job is being hounded.
The only remedy available to the Lagos State Government is to relocate the illegal occupants of the Estate to another place so that the judgement creditors may take their rightful property.
Òrúnbon writes from Abeokuta, Ogun State,