An odd melancholy has lingered on through my mind tonight, an untold sadness that strikes the very cords of my lowest points, Fela’s ringing voice keeps resounding in my mind “they leave Sorrow, tears, and blood, their regular trademark”.
This is about the Nigerian army and the intimidation the ordinary citizens suffer in the hands of these bullies in camouflage uniform.
On my way back home from work tonight, a scenario that I believe is a common sight throughout Nigeria played out right before me. The bustling busy roads of Abakpa in Enugu state was ever active as it usually is as of the time of the night I am putting this down, commuter buses littering every angle with the conductors searching for potential passengers. There was a slight traffic jam at the bus stop due to these activities then a Toyota SUV with the driver barking authoritatively at the bus drivers to get out of the way for him to pass came into the scene.
After a little delay the driver taxied his bus to the side of the road unknown to all, the SUV’s occupants were Soldiers who already were angry the driver did not move out as fast as wanted – the SUV drove hastily to the front, parked and 3 soldiers in uniform came down making angrily towards the bus driver who on seeing them got really paranoid. In seconds they were already holding him by the waist barking and throwing slaps on his face while he was pleading for mercy, they dragged him towards the SUV and yelled amidst the slaps for him to get into the trunk while one of them retrieved the bus driver’s car key from the ignition and left the bus with the engine still humming while the also scared and disappointed passengers already were out of the bus looking on helplessly as the bus driver was slapped into the SUV trunk and off they went.
There were sighs from every angle, sad faces more so from the fact that while everyone knew that this was wrong, all were helpless to the sad event, their faces were dimmed with fear but they all had to shrug and get on with whatever it was everybody was doing – after all this already is a tradition and Nigerians are used to it.
It is a thing of sadness and of utmost disappointment that the ordinary citizen of the country is being used as specimen’s for power craze men in uniform to exercise their power, it is something that portrays the depth of ethical decay in the Nigerian system.
Uniformed men somehow see the masses as their inferiors who can be trampled upon, abused and mistreated at will, somehow these uniformed men are God who is never supposed to be provoked even in the slightest sense or it comes with a very unnecessary and barbaric dire consequence.
It is a remarkable irony that in the Nigerian system, the military that is supposed to protect us are the ones killing us without any dust being raised about it.
It is an irony but in this case, a very sad one, the ones that are meant to protect our rights are the ones abusing, intimidating and disregarding our basic rights as humans and citizens of the sovereign state of Nigeria.
The police that is supposed to protect our properties and money are the ones extorting us more than any criminal ever did. Hustling transport workers are made to pay a certain amount at every police checkpoint, illegal extortion of the masses of their hard earned money. The police, whenever they want, can go into any poor part of the states, pick up random innocent youths in the street for no reason what so ever, detain them without cause and charge certain amounts for bail.
That is a criminal act, the uniformed men of Nigeria do more than the ones they are supposed to protect the citizens against.
Isn’t it a remarkable thing that we feel scared and insecure when we are in the presence of the police or military even when in actuality we are meant to feel secure and safe because of they ‘supposedly’ are here to help, protect and serve the interest of the masses.
I thought governments are made for the people but in this case, we the people are made for the government and the government is using us, abusing us, killing us, intimidating us, denying us of our rights at the same time extorting us.
This blatant abuse and infringement of our basic rights and the treatment or should i say the view by certain groups of individuals that there are Gods over the ordinary men – who are seen as opportunities to be tapped, helpless entities that can be abused at will and a means of cruel extortion for their own selfish gains.
This is a sinister play out, wronger than wrong and I believe can be stopped if the government of the high places wants to.
The new mantra cum propaganda of the federal government Change begins with me should be corrected to:
- Change begins with the federal government – [stop making vague promises]
- Change begins with Nass – [You are there for the good of the people not enrich your greedy pot bellies with the national funds]
- Change begins with Army – [You are here to protect us not abuse us]
- Change begins with the police – [You are here to protect our property not steal from us]
If these basic problems the masses face are not addressed in the Nigerian system, then nothing has changed and nothing can change.
The power of the military and police over the masses should be put under the radar – the purpose behind these forces is for the collective protection of the sovereign border of the nation, lives, and properties of the masses.
But the reality of things remains their trademark in dealing with the masses are intimidation, abuse, sorrow, tears, and blood.
Leaving broken spirits with their trails…