Life is sacred. Life is precious. Life is a gift from God. No lifeshould be taken without a just cause. The various Holy Books of ourreligions consider life sacred as such admonish the faithful topreserve and protect life. Sadly, despite the admonition by the Holy Books many people have failed to uphold this religious injunction. Men have been overtaken by greed, avarice, covetousness and love of money over life. Men in their lust for power and wealth have shown eagerness to spill blood if it can bring them power and wealth. Because we have lost our ethics and values, people now value money over life.
If not the lust for money over life, how could one explain the killings going on in Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina states, the North East and indeed all over the country? When people are not killed for money, they are killed over land. When they are not killed over land, they are killed by armed robbers, kidnappers or bandits as we like call them these days. When people are not killed by armed robbers, they are killed for ethnic or religious reasons. The land of Nigeria is drenched with the blood of the innocent, seeking for justice.
Today several highways of Nigeria have been taken over by killers of all sorts. They operate with impunity and travellers are at their mercy. How did our country deteriorate to this low? What are the remote and immediate causes of this dilemma that we found ourselves?
Who is to blame? How do we stop Nigeria from becoming a full blown failed state like Somalia or Libya where various parts of these countries are controlled by bandits and warlords who kill at will?
Some analysts have put the blame for the precarious situation in the country on poverty. They cite the poverty index in the country to back their position. Even when our economy was doing well, poverty level was still very high. The World Bank Economic Report on Nigeria released in July 2014 showed that while Nigeria had one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4 per cent, poverty still remains significant at 33.1 per cent in ‘Africa’s biggest economy.’
Four years after the World Bank report, Nigeria further dovetailed toextreme poverty capital of the world by 2018. Nigeria in 2018 overtook India as the poverty capital of the world. While India was holding this position, was the Asian country experiencing this situation in Nigeria where life has become ‘nasty, brutish and short’? Or is our own different?
Who is to blame for the loss of thousands of lives in this country in peacetime? The answer is not farfetched. The political class. They are the ones that buy weapons and put it in the hands of these killers in their unbridled quest for economic and political power by all means.
We saw the handiwork of these agents of politicians in the 2019 general elections, as they were killing, maiming, burning and destroying parts of their own communities in order to have the upper hand in the electoral process. After the elections, the killers with the guns bought for them by politicians are on the loose leaving behind trails of death, blood and anguish across the country.
Nigeria has one of the world’s strictest gun control laws, but according to the United Nations, there are over 350million small arms in the country unaccounted for. The United Nations in 2017 raised the alarm over proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, saying there are no less than over 350 million in circulation in the country. It said out of the estimated 500 million of such weapons said to be circulating in West Africa, 70 per cent of them is domiciled in Nigeria. Director of UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), Mr Anselme Yabouri, disclosed this startling statistics at the Physical Security and Stockpile Management Standard Operating and Administrative Procedures Validation workshop in Abuja in 2017. Needless to say that these small arms are the favourite of robbers, killers and kidnappers who are presently on the rampage in the country.
Then we have corruption. Nigeria’s old demon since 1914. President Muhammadu Buhari famously said that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption would kill Nigeria. Our bad roads are product of corruption. Thousands of Nigerians die on the roads annually. The money earmarked for water supply has been swallowed by politicians and public servants, as a result thousands die of cholera, diarrhea and other water borne diseases. It is not a major concern of the ruling elite. After all it is the poor that are dying.From the time of Late President Shehu Shagari to this day, most General Hospitals have remained in the words of late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, “mere consulting clinics” where the poor go to die because their lives don’t matter. Many Nigerians have died in hospitals because their operation could not take place because there was no electricity.
The money for the generation and transmission of electricity have been stolen by the elite, who have no experience in the power sector but insist the sector, be sold to them. The result is needless deaths, collapse of industries, unemployment and economic paralysis. The wasting of Nigerian lives by the political class and the killers they incubate have not been curtailed partly because our security agents are not on top of the situation, even though they often claim otherwise. Some of the security agents have even turned the guns bought for them with taxpayers’ money against the people they are paid to protect. Trigger-happy security agents have killed many Nigerians. Sometimes the security agents turn the guns against themselves when the political stake is high. A dangerous sign that we may be heading towards a failed state if we are not already there.
The Fund for Peace characterized a failed state as having the following characteristics; Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein. You can make your own judgement. What is not in doubt is that there is no reason why the life of any Nigerian should be cut short by non state actors, when the key reason why government exists is for the protection of life and property. This is the most important duty of government. This is also because life matters above all things.
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