The Creeping Impunity

The Creeping Impunity
March 22 15:20 2016

By Moses Okpogode

The social media is awash with news on impunity that now pervades the society, like the Agatu killings, electoral mayhem in Rivers, and the siege on the Ekiti State government. These, you would not see published in the mainstream media because it is torn between confusion and protection of the government we installed. Such actions and inaction are, however, not new to the Nigerian political environment. In those days of military takeovers, illegitimate jackboots and coups, none succeeded without the backing of the media. According to accounts by coupists, every of their so called revolution never came to fore without the media steering the waters to ascertain the disposition and conviction of the people. The narratives even implied that media watchers could rightly predict at that time that a coup was being hatched. After such successful coups, the newspaper always fell asleep.

Those were the days when everyone’s ambition was to become a soldier boy. A period when young men only dreamt of attending the Nigerian Defense Academy or graduate from the conventional universities to enroll for the short services programme in the armed forces units to be commissioned as military officers. It was that period when notes (scribbled on pads) from military assistants and aide-de-camps open several doors of opportunities. Nobody tempers with your family if there exists even a sergeant in your lineage. Yes! That was how far we went before the rebirth of democracy in 1999. The same rhythm heralded the change of government from the People’s Democratic Party to the All Progressive Congress in 2015. We all had a stand; that stand has made it difficult for us to really perform our duties as media practitioners and change agents because we clamored for an Utopian state without studying the underlining factors that bore such conditions.

Like the dead and dying young men in Rivers State at the weekend election rerun, we all wished for change with the actors riding on our backs to achieve their aims and objectives but leaving us to lick our self-inflicted wounds sustained in exercising our right to support them while still clouded in ignorance. From the ocean end of Cross Rivers to the edges of Nigeria in Sokoto state, the same voice that cried and prayed for change is singing a recalcitrant song of disappointment in power outages, bad roads, shortage of petroleum products, high cost of living, insecurity — not boko haram at these times but that of the unknown marauders lurking around from nowhere at night in our cities, roads and villages. The distrust, both ethno and religious, and the ready answers from the government and the indifferent attitude to such yearnings of the people reverberate all over the country. The government is always quick to tell you that it is cleaning the Augean stable left behind by the previous administration of the PDP, forgetting that all successive governments in the history of Nigeria rode to power on the alleged ineptitude and cluelessness of previous administrations. None of them came on an agenda that was not hinged on the alleged lack of skills of the past overseers.

While the media has lost confidence and audacity to bark, it does not translate that the current state of affairs is the best bargain for Nigerians. Human rights abuses pervade the society with countless numbers of state-orchestrated criminality and individually planned kidnappings taking place everywhere. The government is, however, silent on these, especially when they seem to have taken place in states aligned with the ousted opposition party, the PDP. A case in point is the abduction of female minor, Ms. Ese Oruru, from far away Bayelsa, to Kano state for eight months, and the continued alleged detention of Ekiti lawmakers in the dungeons of the Department of State Services.  The federal government has not come out to clear the air on whether it has hands or not in the tragic stories of harassment by federal security agents against the Ekiti State Government and its officials. All this makes mockery of the oath-taking ritual that is now seen as a ceremony. Because elected political and public officers have never adhered to it but have, instead, treated majority of the people unfairly and favour only those considered as their lackeys or of the same ethnic and religious background, in an attempt to quieten dissenting voices that preach true change. This they do, not realizing that it is this non-adherence to the oath of office that has caused all the failures of the past.

That is the same latitude that made a group of people accused of extra judicial killings in Agatu land to go public, claiming that they were behind the attacks on innocent women and children in Benue State. They had not only gone further to downgrade their case but claimed that their actions were a consequence of the activities of local cattle rustlers who stole over 200 of their cows and killed one of their important kinsmen in 2013. Those are the sad narratives we see and listen to in this clime daily. Stories that make our land insecure for foreigners who read the negatives in our stories; yet, we pretend to want to woo them into being part of us by bringing in their funds from more stable environments to invest in our country. In any part of the country you turn to today, there is one gory picture of someone who is being subverted by the system directly and with impunity. It’s either you are denied your privileges and/or entitlement, or denied your rights by those who have sworn deceitfully to their oath of office using the Quran and the Bible. In some cases, you are indirectly punished with harsh policies of those who swore to protect you, in line with constitutional dictates. A very sad recurring decimal.

It thus calls for the government to look into the now ingraining culture of inglorious license for lawlessness in the country whether instituted and perpetrated by law enforcement officials, their allies, or the new class of untouchables whose population seems to be growing geometrically. Except in Africa, there is nowhere persons will want to see the people they want to serve killed, just to climb unto the podium of service, but in Nigeria. Alas, Nigeria belongs to all of us. We must also realize that today’s men will evolve into yesterday’s men in no time and they can only be judged by their actions of today by posterity. As for the ethnic jingoists and religious bigots, there is need for caution. They should allow peace reign in this country because Nigeria is a nation only when peace is seen as the rallying point amongst the people.

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