“A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones” -Nelson Mandela.
By Denrele Animasaun
The horrors that permeate the nation have been going on for far too long. The uncomfortable realisation is that gruesome deaths have become common place, a voyeur’s delight and used cynically at any given opportunity for political capital. There is a vacuum, a loss of humanity, of respect for the sanctity of life, the glue that binds us.
People are at a loss of what to do, they feel helpless, hopeless and like sitting ducks are very powerless but praying that the same tragedy does not befall them. Time to get real, time to get off the knees, stand up and demand a change to safeguard the safety of every Nigerian.
The indifference in reactions to such tragedies is not normal, nor should it be, no matter how often it happens.
It shouldn’t happen but it did and continues to do so, with more deaths to follow as it does. The government is slow in taking stringent actions to prevent such repeated tragedies and people have become numb to such horrendous deaths.
This behaviour has become part and parcel of the Nigerian psyche; we stand by and watch, then feign shock and horror as people are slaughtered by monsters in human flesh. There is no justification for taking the lives of innocent and defenceless men, women and children. This is cold blooded murder. One death is one too many and yet, every time, we gasp with incredulity as the deaths of innocent people are beamed on social media and TV, we do nothing.
Responses are often the same; prayers, more prayers, conspiracy theories, gas lighting, did whistling and political capital and then people move on; until the next disaster. For those who have lost their loved ones, their lives are destroyed, it can never be the same, unable to fathom the barbarity of these murderous psychopaths, they become traumatised and a life blighted forever. They are no means for after care and support by public health agencies. It is unacceptable, yet it happens.
Herdsmen, or no herdsmen, hundreds of innocent people died and unless the government acts and acts decisively then, their deaths accounts for nothing. As a nation, their deaths become the nation’s burden and responsibility.
The country and the people would have failed the dead and console those who witnessed it to a traumatic and living nightmare.
When is enough, enough? When do we as a nation reach saturation point? What can be done to address the mass murder of innocent people? How on earth can these miscreants attack with such impunity and ransack eleven villages in three local government areas – Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Jos South, burn down over 50 dwellings, it does not make sense.
How on earth can this happen time and time again? The trauma will take generations to heal and the sadness and shame is for all to bear, because what happens to one happens to all.
Thousands have fled from the area, lost livelihood and stability in a country where others are living like if everything is normal. This denial is shallow and superficial all is not well. Nigeria has indeed reached saturation point. The usual pretence no longer cuts it, people have got to face reality and change the mind-set. It is too little too late, when the state and government react once the bandits have massacred hundreds.
The Governor, Simon Lalong of Plateau State placed a dusk-to-dawn curfew around the affected local governments, it did little to stem a repeat in the past so they better go back to the drawing board or seek federal government help with longer term solution; establish a garrison and airtight security to ensure a safe place for the locals to return and rebuild their lives. It is a long road to recovery but the government have to invest security and boots on the ground for a long period of time.
The president also has come out to reassure the nation and that the Federal Government “will never rest” until the killers are brought to book. This is little comfort to those affected and this has been heard before and this horror has happened too many times. Time for action now, not for words of comfort. Nigerians need more than prayers, it is enough time to stop the horrors from happening again and again.
Can the federal government tell the people of Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue that they are safe and they can go about their lives without fear of ambush and loss of lives? It will be difficult to believe that they can.
These herders are not above the law and like everyone else, there are consequences if they break the law.
Everyone suffers and the economic costs of the killings affects all Nigerians; there is high cost of living, extortionate price to stake food, transportation, displaced communities ,deterioration in physical and mental health,crime and high infant mortality rates. Right now Nigerians can ill afford further suffering and abject poverty.
Nigeria has the most extreme poor people in the world
Far from been the bearer of bad news, but the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end extreme poverty by 2030 is unlikely to happen now.
The latest report by The World Poverty Clock indicates that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. India has a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s. Please make of it, what you may but it is apparent that majority of Nigerians are living in abject poverty.
In spite of what the politicians promised, they have failed to deliver and life for majority of Nigerians is very tough indeed. In the intervening years, successive governments have convinced the nation that they will lift people out of extreme poverty. They failed to do so and have so far taken for granted the goodwill of the people. And every time, they come out to ask the people to believe in them to deliver on their promise and every time they renege on their promise.
Instead, billions of dollars was siphoned and they mismanaged the trillions of dollars made from oil proceeds from grand theft and corruption.
Presently, 86.9 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty this represents nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million population. Let that sink in: half of the population are in extreme poverty! A third experiencing some level of economic struggles.
On the other hand, Nigeria also faces a major population boom—it will become the world’s third largest country by 2050—it’s a problem which will likely worsen. With little or no access to welfare, education, health and social care. With displacement of people, lack of opportunities, insecurity, violence, insurgency, high unemployment, or investment in young people.