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Mixed metaphor of the Jos massacre

By Kunle Oyatomi

For the second time (last weekend) in three short months the city of Jos, Plateau State capital, had experienced calamitous events around it that its people are far much worse than traumatised; they must be feeling dehumanised; and every other sane Nigerian with them must feel hard done by. We are disgraced, scandalised and made to feel like part of a brutish kingdom dominated by modern day cannibals.

By the share scale and gory nature of the massacre, those sub-humans amongst us involved have put Nigeria on the ignoble map as one of the British countries of the world where human life is regarded with contempt.

To say it as it really is, our status resembles that of terrorist nations notorious for inhuman carnages of monsterous proportion which some of us struggle to justify either in the name of religion or retaliation or both. This is part of our mixed metaphor in the strange circumstance of a country that has been groping for half a century and still cannot build a civilized community of its various peoples.

When one tries as a commentator to rationalise these events of northern killings since 1966, one becomes baffled, perhaps even confused that almost 40 years  on, this type of bizzare in humanity has not changed either for political, religious or other excuses; and why not?! I am inclined to reason that there is something strangely wrong about Nigeria; and if in 50 years we cannot figure it out and summon the courage to deal with it, Jos, as metaphor of Nigeria’s evil condition is present everywhere else. It is only a matter of time before this monster begins to consume the country. Violence has become synonymous with political power play; religious differences; bloody retaliation for perceived injustice; and ethnicity of the most uncivilized manifestation.

And in all these, people who are supposed to have control are either players in the orgies of bloody violence or they abandon their watch to allow religious and ethnic lunatics to cause mayhem in the society inflicting horror and death on helpless women and children, who are the most vulnerable in our society. This is the flip side of the Jos story:

* There is a governor who is supposed to be the chief security officer of the state, but he is not in control of any of the security agencies. “I cannot secure a fly”, he said. So when local street intelligence alerted him of the recent crisis at 9pm, on the day of the event, governor Jang could only inform the military chief who was under no obligation WHATSOEVER to listen to the governor even when doing so made a lot of sense to save lives.

* So regardless that the “chief security officer of the state” wanted the army commander in Jos to come to the rescue, the fellow switched off his phone so that those inhuman terrorists who invaded Jos villages could have their way in inflicting cannibalistic massacre on their victims. That is the monstrous nature of the Nigerian political arrangement: The security of the locals are in the hands of “foreigners”. Jos and Plateau people cannot provide their own security because they are a conquered people, under the watch of those “born to rule”, the neo-colonialists in our country.

* The bane of peace in Nigeria continues to be its structural “fault line” that undermines our democracy. It is responsible for the mixed metaphor of our inability to fashion a cohesive polity; to ingrain equity in governance; to operate the philosophy of equality amongst the federating units; and above all, to implant justice in the system.

All our failures resonates from this “structural fault line” in the set up of this tottering country called Nigeria.
With these anomalies, we can only expect many more “Jos massacres” to spread across the country.

Issues which the current incident of the gorey massacres in Jos villages throw up are very fundamental.
We have lived with it from the ‘40’s; and if in half a century we cannot find a solution, that means the problem is beyond our capability to resolve.

However, if we are serious about peace in this country; if the life of our people mean anything to us, it is about time we begin to seek help from the international community to help us out. Except we climb down our high horses to accept our total failure in organising and running a stable, peaceful and progressive country, we will stay another half century bungling, with the prospect of enacting the most catastrophic human disaster ever experienced in the history of mankind. With about 140 million people at risk in this calamitous prospect, it is probable that the spirit beings in charge of planet earth may have to intervene before the worst happens. Maybe, this is a  forlorn hope, who knows.

But what is clear is that if justice is delayed or miscarried in this Jos crisis, if impunity is allowed to triumph and set perpetrators of this inhuman crime against the weak and vulnerable scot free, then the worst is not far away – it will consume the whole place.

If you ask me, Jos is only a dress rehersal.

The politics of power and religious supremacy is waxing stronger, and while the country is at risk, some evil, people, whose souls have been sold to the devilish exercise of power, are playing hard at the game. If we as a people don’t stop them, they will make utter slaves of our souls and body.  At the moment, in the current arrangement, history and fortune has placed the responsibility of saving the nation on the shoulders of one innocent-looking man – Goodluck Ebele Jonathan – the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He didn’t ask for the job alright, but Providence has thrust it on his shoulders. Now, it remain for him to use his God-given capacity, (which up to the point he got this job was latent), to arrest the drift with a sense of urgency, and set the nation on course to reformation and transformation.

No Nigerian leader has had the opportunity and massive public sympathy that Acting President Jonathan now has to effect reform. He cannot afford to fail, because if he does, the situation is so dangerous, he, himself (with all of us) will be consumed in the inferno  that is already boiling beneath.

The Acting President must face the devil, look him hard in the face and say to him, “get  behind us, Satan.” If he allows his nerves to fail in this confrontation with evil, he will be the first to be swallowed up. Nigerians have spoken to our Acting President in clear language, we all stand behind him and like David we expect that he will move forward with the proverbial “sling” and bring down Goliath.

The first major test in this battle is how the Acting President deals with the Jos mayhem. His moves thus far are encouraging. He must press on with vigour and determination. God help him.


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