Nigeria is presently composed of three different sets of people, the weak, the neutrals and the wicked. The lines of division have never been glaringly evident as it is now. In one swoop, it is easy to take in all the contradictions that reside in the continual existence of the three categories of people.
Sadly, while the weak continue to reel in subjugation as a conquered people, the neutrals regrettably stay aloof and apathetic while the wicked ubiquitously revel in profligacy and hedonism. Some people have argued that since the new democratic dispensation, Nigeria has never been polarized with a decimated weak populace like in the current era.
The population of weak people among us continue to swell every day, the unprotected, those who die in the hands of the wicked. Any Hollywood film maker inclined to horror films, macabre dance of death and scenes of physical brutality will easily win an Oscar capturing the Nigerian experience in the last few years. Decapitated heads, dismembered limbs, sundry gory sights, disembowelled human figures and mass burial have become the prevailing scenario in our country’s famed socio-political narrative.
It is Benue and Kaduna today, it could be Lagos tomorrow, Ibadan or even Enugu might be the next point of bloodbath. Call it ethnic cleansing, operation python dance or Jihadist war of annexation; they occur with more sophisticated machinery which calls to question the nature of security architecture in the country.
The weak in Nigeria continually live in morbid fear of death. Those saddled with the responsibility of security are either confused, frustrated or accomplices in the raging tragedy. One is inclined to ask, is there any hope for the weak in Nigeria under the subsisting machinery of power? The blood of the weak in Adamawa, Abia, Benue and other places where Boko Haram, Nigerian soldiers or herdsmen make a feast with human life will continue to haunt us. Indeed, Nigeria has been a parcelled territory of terrorism incubated and nurtured by unseen hands and like the Ogbanje or Abiku child, these terrorist groups continue to reincarnate. Their peregrination is marked by particularized idiosyncrasies towards plunder, agony and death.
It is only the weak who die while waiting for their pensions to be paid across Nigeria. It is only the weak who die in the hands of the police and soldiers through mindless acts of sadism and extra judicial killings. It is only the weak who die on bad roads after contracts had been awarded to repair the same roads. It is only the children of the weak who die due to lack of medicare in a country where people daily display obscene wealth. The blood of the weak that die in this way will constitute a moral strain on our collective psyche.
The second categories of people are the neutrals, those who by virtue of education live a life they consider comfortable. A few thousand dollars and a few million naira are a constant in their bank accounts; therefore they see no reason to get involved in the whirlwind of Nigeria’s socio-political milieu. Their inclination to purism and egocentric consciousness detaches them from the violence and horror going on in their country. They are primarily concerned with themselves and the safety of their families. When they show any form of concern towards the polity, it is to spread propaganda and hate speech on social media. They crave for excessive funds, promotion at work and success, which confers them with extravagant titles; Chief, Dr, Professor, Sir, Barrister, Engineer, MD/CEO and other such hollow labels. The neutrals are in millions. They keep silent and watch. They are the self-styled intelligentsia with muted voices. However, they forget that by their failure to speak and act, they are implicated in criminal complicity in the sweltering crucible which the weak are exposed to in their own country. They fail to understand that the boundaries of the geography of victims eventually extend to embrace those who think they are safe and protected by position, money and its transient comfort.
The last categories of people are the wicked; those who make decisions that determine the fate of millions of people in our country but are arms struck to do the needful. They are wicked because through policies, through actions taken or not taken, the blood of the weak continues to soak the streets of Nigeria in various soul wrenching dimensions. The wicked has no conscience, feels no pity and endlessly seeks personally glory. He is committed to several things, amassing wealth and transmitting same abroad, deploying invidious machinery to control power and entrench it, and create a larger-than-life image around his personality so that the weak will continue to cringe at his rancid presence. The wicked is that man of means and property who derives immense pleasure from increasing house rents and plunging the lives of fellow citizens into despair and unease. The wicked are those who deny their country basic infrastructure by misappropriating funds meant for same. The wicked strives for political grandeur and financial harvest even if it means sacrificing the lives of fellow citizens. The wicked is innately greedy, established in treachery, double standards and acts of subversion. But looking back, one is consoled by the often quoted maxim, ‘there is no peace for the wicked’.
Wicked men among us also include some people who style themselves as God’s representatives on earth with different accolades such a pastors, general overseers, bishops and evangelists. They brainwash the gullible, who part with their money as tithes and offerings. Dishearteningly, members of the church grovel in agonizing conditions redolent of the economic privation in the country. It is an act of wickedness for a pastor and his family to luxuriate in opulence and wanton splendour, ride in a private jet, yet the worshippers are united in severe penury. The master, Jesus Christ, never encouraged this kind of inordinate ostentation or propagate this kind of exploitative campaign.
An employer of labour who won’t pay workers’ every month is a wicked person. Anyone who drives against the traffic thereby causing a gridlock is a wicked person. A woman who has extra marital affair is utterly wicked. Anybody who subjects another person’s child as a house maid under conditions lower than bestial is wicked and perfidy resides in the person’s heart. A man who spends his money on girlfriends, abandoning his wife and children, your middle name is wickedness.
If you live lavishly in the city while your parents and members of your family welter in poverty back home, wickedness is your fate. If you manipulate people around you, your friends, your boss, your colleagues, your wife or your husband with black magic and witchcraft, you are a 21st century cloning of wicked Jezebel. Given the way wickedness pervades our lives, it is sheer travesty that our society is clutched in the stranglehold of religious piety. People present a facade of piousness in public while behind the scene they manifest intrinsic wickedness. The three categories of people in Nigeria will surely be equated and reconciled by posterity.
Adiele writes from Department of English
University of Lagos via [email protected]