The recent END SARS Protest in Nigeria brought forth a new theory of labelling that has begun to creep into our vocabulary. Nothing projects irresponsible leadership worse than duty bearers turning round to tagged segment of her youth population, apparently with unprepared future as hoodlums.
Hoodlums are street ruffians who crave for violence through the gangster-like operation. Who is more of a hoodlum than pact brokers and social contract deed violators whose actions and legendary lies have shut our youths out of the universities for nearly one year now? Hoodlums addicted to graft and kickbacks that have kept our roads in the state of the derelict.
Those that have not only turned our hospitals to mortuaries but have also turned the country to open grave – rulers whose words are not their bonds; cruel rulers in whose hands our crude oil remains crude in spite of campaign promises.
The inelastic expanding industry of Hoodlum is an express and direct image of rulers who have made the acquisition of power without purpose their passion – those who over the years have returned Nigeria to ancient Egypt; who in place of light have darkness to offer; those who offer bullets instead of bread! What is the difference between the so-called hoodlums and government that taxes bread? Those who hoard and profiteer from palliatives meant to offer relief in times of COVID-19? What else do you call government officials that hawk jobs or legislators that corner employment positions, thereby closing access to equal opportunity?
The label is up and we have rulers responding damagingly to circumstances they thoughtlessly created through immoral politics and unjust governance. In an age when leaders around the world are grooming and training their youths in perspectives and techniques of arts, science and social futurism, rulers in Nigeria continue to harvest their own for political thuggery and tool for intimidation of opposing thoughts and visions. No society get better by pretentious sanctimonious patriotism of irredeemably corrupt men and women of authority who cripple functional education, decapitate human capital development and shrink access to opportunities.
Those who rather than frankly, frontally and sincerely addressing ASUU’s concerns; as a symbol of commitment to functional education and youth development meeting with traditional rulers on how to further repression? Those who are imperial in power but fail to realize that youth’s problems are existential and not traditional? Kings that are not philosophers! Who unlike Plato envisaged of a Kallipolis that would be ruled by Philosopher-King continue to make our country space where ignorance is bliss and where illiteracy is an added advantage? Who unlike Jerry Rawlings, a very handsome man who made beauty out of ashes of Ghana continues to create ashes out of our own beauty? A nation with rulers that cannot accommodate the excesses of its youth, appreciate its energy, recognize its courage and nurture its potentials has neither tactic for novelty nor strategy for innovative futurism. She is a mere empire of hoodlums! A society that cannot create space for its youths to err has no room for progress. The state is the Upper Course of River of Patriotism. If it cannot flow from the state, it cannot quench the thirst of people at the Lower Course. Criminal labelling can only endlessly accelerate violence. When a government recklessly and carelessly tagged protestors as hoodlums,’ terrorists, among others, even Boko Haramites will think they have an advocate in power.
Causes of violent conflict are deeper, wider and lengthier than we ever assumed. Oversimplification with and overstimulation of morality are no substitutes for questions of injustices that propelled them. Without justice, the industry of hoodlums will continue to expand. As long as the state continues to create crime through anti-poor policies, social injustices and bad governance, the prosperity of industry of hoodlums is guaranteed. A State that can neither defend nor protect her citizens is a threshing floor of terror; her rulers, operators of the infernal machine! A government in enmity with technology; that loathes Science so much that it wishes its youths are still glued to chalk and slates is an ingenious creator of hoodlums. It’s outright globalization of stupidity and ignorance for people to clannishly gather in a rustic village square with the illusion of closing social media space! Rather than experimentation with a Camp David liked Strategy of engagement with youths that offers insurance against exclusion, here, we have an imperial government with exaggerated importance of self who is deep necked in phantasmagoric village square repression strategy meeting; even in a democracy.
A gang of subterranean sadists with sophisticated space for cruelty, dragging the nation through the turbulence of deliberate terror and tears, curing poverty with penury, yet, does not brook opposition! Government with officials who do not know that geriatric paternalistic approach to youth-focused governance is characteristically an exclusionist approach that is bound to amplify ancient errors and obliterate generational sensitivity. It beats my imagination why and how it does not strike these prehistoric feudal lords that abandoned direction of ‘change’ that it’s dangerous to build a wall at the turning point of human civilization, taking social media as a radio box they can tune at their own pleasure.
The Hoodlum Industry in a country ruled by anti-intellectuals who neurologically wish that we are afflicted with amnesia so that we stop reminding them that over sixteen million out-of-school children are still on the street. Rulers who do not want to hear anything about the unpopular discussion about those nineteen million Nigerian youths who are in the labour market, buying and selling idleness. Rulers who are in a desperate mood to smash on hard ground, the World Poverty Clock, which just confirmed, that 112 million Nigerians are extremely poor, living below one dollar, nighty cent. The rulers of a country, fighting corruption toothlessly, like demon casting out a demon, who do not want us to know that Transparency International has ranked Nigeria as the 4th most corrupt country in West Africa and 146th least corrupt in the world deserve our pity! A government that knows its onion will not keep onion out of reach of its people. Under the watch of libellous name-calling and character labelling government, prices of basic food continue to get out of hands, yet it has the audacity of calling those who invaded warehouses it criminally, mindlessly and wickedly kept palliatives hoodlums. A government that promised to be an effective hunter of terrorists has now become a gamer of EndSars’ protest leaders. A problem-solving government will never behave like an occupying force, with unrepentant bellicosity, using agencies to take #Endsars ‘soldiers’ as prisoners of war.
How it is difficult for this government to see an un-abating high cost of energy and fuel price as latent forms of violence in an environment of massive poverty, poor per capita income, hyperinflation and extremely high unemployment still wears me out. It continues to illogically defend economic heresy and projecting managerial incompetence. It continues to employ intellectually shallow promoters of deregulation of a product that has negligently slipped out of its hands and control. A government that truly understands economics, if not that of prebendalism, ought to have answered the question of refining its own petrol; to the choristers in its orchestra, I say stop parroting deregulation! Nigerians are paying for Naira’s ceaseless free fall; the obvious consequence of poor economic management, reckless borrowing and thoughtless scandalous fuel importation.
I hope the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress(TUC), who like children of Ephraim, prepared for war but turn back on the day of battle is now smelling roses in the latrine of their infamy! Shitty Shorty carpetbaggers! Unless we challenge unfettered tyranny of the primitive in power, society will be lost to monsters and those who believe that Ape is the father of the man.
Gbenro Olajuyigbe is the Executive Director, Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative.