EVERY crisis provides an opportunity for useful lessons to prevent future crises. This age-old fountain of wisdom, however, seems alien to Nigerian leaders. Nigeria is enmeshed in unending crises because we repeatedly demonstrate our incapacity to learn from our ugly historical experiences.
The recent shooting to death of a newspaper vendor, Ifeanyichukwu Okereke, by a security operative attached to the convoy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, last week Thursday, provides us an opportunity to learn a few things from the “good”, the bad and the ugly sides of the sad event.
The shooting was absolutely unprofessional and uncalled for. It was an act of overzealousness that questions the quality of training our security officers receive these days.
The Speaker was not involved in any security crisis at all. It was a routine friendly encounter between him and the vendors who had a habit of converging around his convoy for financial gratification. The unconscionable shooting turned it into a tragedy of viral proportions.
Apart from the Speaker’s initial feigning of ignorance of a shooting that took place right before his eyes, he took the right steps subsequently when the social media brought the heat on. The typical response of high government officials to such incidents questions the value we attach to the lives of our citizens and fellow human beings.
Gbajabiamila not only handed over the trigger-happy personnel to the Directorate of State Services, DSS, for necessary disciplinary actions according to the laws, he also visited the family of the deceased whose lawyer was on hand to handle the terms of settlement required to console them.
A very touching human side of the story was that the late vendor had welcomed his first child seven days earlier and was scheduled to do a naming ceremony a day before his life was cut short.
There will always be incidents of this nature where innocent lives are needlessly lost due to no fault of the principal at the centre of a security convoy. It is the steps that are taken to mitigate the crisis and prevent a future occurrence that matters.
Gbajabiamila, being a lawyer from the “progressive” end of the political spectrum, demonstrated adequate empathy which helped to prevent the undue spiralling of base sentiments.
Another aspect of this incident that should not escape our attention is the culture of Nigerians surrounding the vehicles of celebrities and political office holders for money. It is demeaning to those who engage in this practice, and also waters the tare of corruption among political officeholders.
Poverty and hunger have been weaponised against the people. Nigeria will be a better place when citizens can hold themselves with dignity and demand accountability from politicians.