By Gbenro Olajuyigbe
‘When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it’ – Frederic Bastiat
There are many titles I could offer as a substitute for the title of this article. For example; how we got here!, how State prepares the violence that people perpetrate! And even Structural Analysis of Violence.
All are befitting substitutes for evils that people hide under power to perform and enforce! Power could be the foundation of violence. More than often, it is! It could be that of peace too, if used to remove everything that stands against justice! Power is all that is needed to achieve control, even without legitimate authority.
The thirst to control others and enforced one rules over them is at the root of the shrinking spaces for liberty, justice and equality.
These elements are ingredients of power-over, the unbridled megalomaniac attributes that turn society or state to mere bread in the hands of any brute that acquires power, and makes manipulation of structure possible in the race to assert control over people and resources.
Going forward, God willing, this year my thoughts and writing will dwell much on Structural analysis of violence so that people can understand how excessively corrupt and compromised structures and systems throw up cartels of incompetent, cruel and criminal compradors as rulers.
These are persons whose agency is to engineer structural dysfunction that promotes rentalism, politics and governance of prebendalism that prioritize their buccaneer-principal’s interests.
The ubiquitous wild urchins with the subculture of violence and compulsive capacity for soft robbery you see at Bus Stops across Lagos, masquerading as agents of Road Transport Workers are creating of manipulation of structure for political gains at the expense of law and order.
It is possible today to have judges who seat on cases in Court but whose judgments are written for them by influential powerful law illiterates that manipulated systems and structure to get them there.
They are more accountable to their benefactors than to society that is desperately in search of justice. A compromised justice administration system will close access to justice and leave the poor unconnected or unrelated persons to lick the gall of vested interest-serving justice administrators that are unleashed on society for selfish ends.
Today, rather than having a society with open employment opportunity, particularly in public service, we have a severely manipulated system, where recruitment into ministries, departments, and agencies have to come from manipulative lists of corruption, soaked legislators, government officials and other privileged members of society, leaving the qualified but not privileged applicants to the cruel fate of exclusion.
How can such a society be free from reigns of mediocrity and violence? Have you heard of sons and daughters of justices surreptitiously getting initiated as judges? Agberos and engaged violence hawkers suddenly becoming kings, sons and daughters of governors immorally and illegally becoming their father’s aides against the dictate of oaths of office and in violation of conflict of interest rules?
How do those with executive power perforce judicial appointments and select members of Parliament? How people are fleeced and the proceeds of crime are used directly or indirectly by their votes and influenced their political behaviour? How do we have an entrenched powerful criminal enterprise to contend with? How nations become ultra Violent and oiled wheel of violent extremism.
Governors are swearing in their wives and mistresses as judges while loyal loafers, Street urchins, Carpetbaggers and men of shady characters are becoming Obas and chiefs because of prebendal relationship with Capons and political gladiators.
Communities are now forced to bow to the sacrilegious rule of fraudsters who have neither decency of doing justice nor dignity of civility. Structure, culture and legal norms have become a tripod of injustices, tyranny and enslavement; a triangle of tragic emasculation of rights, rules and the ruled.
Structure, culture and norms are penetrated with tools of corruption, power and position which confer the capacity for coercive violence on the wayward persons in places and positions of authority. However, one should not lose sight of willful accomplices of people who de-activate their citizenship in exchange for pecuniary benefits, thus, conferring legitimacy on fraudulent rulers through compromised electoral systems and fraudulent elections.
The impotence of the structure to deliver justice becomes obvious when cases are moved to a compromised judicial system whose personnel are often appointed by the same corrupt rulers with cases in Court.
Their cardinal duty is to canonize and venerate powerful criminal elites, using the instrumentality of laws and positions to strengthen their penchant for impunity! The pervasive social injustices, expressive lawlessness and complete state of anarchy seen today in Nigeria are issues that flow from compromised system dysfunctional structure that fails to respond to questions of equity, equal opportunity, lateral and horizontal development, citizenship, identity, liberty and justice, particularly social justice.
Obviously, there are works to be done and nobody will do that for us. As Thomas Paine affirmed, ‘those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, just like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it. The hope left for the people now is to organize and take their country back.
It means enhancing community’s and people’s resilience, not resilience to cope, but resilience to move from adaptive and absorptive capacity to transformative power that can trigger system and structural change that is development focused and people led.
There is a need to undertake and conduct a strategic system and structure review.
The underlying activities should be designed to understand the current phase of ethnic mistrust, violent conflicts, violent extremism, identity crises bad and unjust governance at all levels of government. There is also the need to understand past interventions in order to inform present and future interventions by various actors at different levels and strata of the Nigeria-society.
We must commit to building synergy and strengthening coordinated response in order to rescue and save our nation from the precipice of disintegration and absolute state of anomie. National dialogue and round table meetings on issues will assist us to generate first-hand experiences, perspectives and ideas from components; ethnic blocks, communities, groups, institutions, organizations, associations and unions that reflect unfolding dimensions of our diversity.
This will help to prevent escalation of violence while we focus on facilitating national reconciliation and transformation through restructuring and system reconstruction. We must come together to chase out entrenched vested interests, powers, principalities and demons that have taken our country from us. C.S Lewis forewarned us that ‘of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive…..those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience’.
We must never surrender to tyranny no matter the name it is called. We must together move against it. In the words of Martin Luther King ‘to ignore evil is to be an accomplice to it’!
GbenroOlajuyigbe is the Executive Director, of Emergency & Risk Alert Initiative