Monday 22 October 2012

Flood, Blood and bestiality

THE nation is currently wallowing in two types of floods and we are wondering how we got there.
Before the rain flood that has washed away hundreds of communities and displaced thousands from their homes, the land has been awash with the blood of Nigerians wasted in mindless violence. Every flood starts as a droplet.

The nationwide flood and blood and the bestiality we witnessed in Aluu, Rivers State, all started as droplets only to be sluiced onto the navel of an uncaring nation.

If, two years ago, you told many Nigerians that they would be swallowed by flood, chances are that they would have dismissed the warning as “not our portion”! Every time you warned Nigerians about impending doom, no matter how scientific, they resorted to soporific superstition.

HIV/AIDS is “not our portion” yet it continues to decimate the population. Climate change; “what is that? Abeg! It is not our portion”! Population bomb; that is controversial but “it will not be our portion, in Jesus name!”

We are geniuses at inventing ways to avoid taking responsibility. When I listen to and watch Nigerians, I see a people who strongly believe that with enough incantations, there would be a big bang from outer space to solve all our problems.

Nigerians are deliberately oblivious of the law of Karma; as you give so shall you receive; as above so below; for every action, there is equal and opposite reaction!

These are immutable universal cosmic laws. Yet, we go on as if we can conjure the sun to rise from the west and set in the north or sow oranges and harvest okra.

We assault our environment and expect that it will not retaliate. We pretentiously engage in anti-corruption war, but victimise the whistle blowers. Yet, we expect corruption not to develop a resistant strain like malaria treated with fake drugs! We institutionalise bestiality even in the highest places and expect that we will not get to an abomination called Aluu!

To be sure, the global warming that has caused this climate change is a crime committed by all nations. When I was growing up in my village in Obizi, Imo State, we never had erosion. The bushes around the village were so thick that by six o’clock the village was dark! Today, the bushes are all gone!

In Imo State, there are over 460 erosion sites! And now flood has sacked people from their homes in Oguta! Where I grew up in Surulere area of Lagos in the 60s, we used to catch fish in the gutters when it rained. Today, the gutters have been taken over by refuse dumped by uncaring citizens!

Climate change is going to get worse as the ice regions, north and south, completely melt down. It cannot be business as usual. So we must learn to take responsibility for our environment. Our leaders must show the way!

The Federal Government must ensure that the money, a pittance, it has voted for amelioration of the sufferings of flood victims gets to them. It must not be money for the boys. The government must also plan ahead for imminent food scarcity.

The Federal Government has just proposed an increase in tariff on imported rice in the 2013 budget. I wonder if that is now feasible in view of the food crisis we may face next year! Buying and storing grains in silos for this kind of emergency must be viewed as a strategic imperative.

Obscenity as a new culture

As we were lamenting the devastation of the floods, the nation was convulsed by the lynching of four students of the University of Port Harcourt. The outrage is natural. But don’t we know how we got to that? Was that the first time we have witnessed such bestiality?

I was amused when, during a debate on the primitive act in the House of Representatives, the main concern of an Honourable member was that the infamy portended a coalition of the oppressed against the rich! But do you known the truth? We are all implicated in what happened in Aluu.

The rich that oppresses the poor is as guilty as those who clapped, laughed, yelled for blood and took pictures and videoed the macabre scene as it unfolded. Obscenity has become the new culture!

When Mr. Tafa Balogun was appointed the Inspector General of Police, he declared with gusto a sanguine Operation-Fire-for-Fire! I immediately wrote that he had failed on arrival as IGP for escalating violence by his policy.

We all know how he ended! Last week, it was reported that the General Officer Commanding 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Gen Mohammed Abubakar ordered soldiers to shoot any trouble maker during the Ondo gubernatorial election! The brutalisation goes on.

Nineteen women were reportedly raped in the Internally Displaced Persons’ camp by some monsters who had no mercy for their predicament. A people once voted as the happiest in the world have become bitter and turned against itself!

The Aluu lynch mob

Let us not pretend that we are better than the lynch mob in Aluu. Even as we condemned what happened, I saw people yelling for the blood of the suspects. And given half a chance, the suspects would also have been lynched the same way.

I keep wondering if any of the suspects ever asked: What if this is my son or my brother? It is not only when we throw stones that we lynch people. There are many who maim and lynch fellow beings by the falsehood they say or write about them.

There were people who should have stepped out to stop the chilling killing but did not. Many of us would not stop to help a fellow in trouble. It is not our business and we do not want police wahala!

The morality in the parable of the Good Samaritan, as explained by Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr; was that the Good Samaritan was not concerned about his own fate if he tried to help the wounded traveller on the wayside.

The Samaritan was rather concerned about the fate of the wounded man if he (the Samaritan) did not help him!

Many of us contributed to the brutalisation of the psyche that manifested as the Aluu killing! Those who perpetrated that bestiality simply degraded themselves. But that is what many of us do everyday even as an official policy!

A nation that is so unwilling to punish crime goads the people to take laws into their own hands. It strikes me as odd that Nigerians are not outraged that we are so soft on crime.

How did the killing of the Apo Six end? Every crime we refuse to punish rebounds in more gory proportion to haunt us.

Law and order are the pillars on which civilisations stand. The crises we face today derive from our inability to punish crime. Take the newspapers and see how gluttonously we binge on the blood of our fellow beings everyday. Nobody is held accountable! We simply turn the page and move on.

Yet, we seem not to realise that something terrible is happening to us. We are in a serious decline as a civilised society.

What we witnessed in Aluu is a culmination of the un-shockability we warned against in the past. Unless we take a serious collective view of what a decent society is, and seek to attain it, we may return to a full fledged cannibalism!

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