By Isaac Chii Nwaogwugwu
As I said last week, and I quote, “the build-up to #ENDSARS protest started long ago. We designed it by default. And as it were, what we are seeing now is just one tiny hole in a very big keg of gunpowder. We should be ready for the real trouble ahead. The explanation is simple; when a man sits between the devil and the deep blue sea, life and death mean exactly the same thing to him’’.
Our society has been transformed to a rotten bowel of salad that has invariably lost every taste of the ingredients that grace the appetite of the eater. This is the result of a well-designed strategy rather than a random or incidental outcome of governance. Those who were enthroned and entrusted with power by fate in their youthful ages of between 25 and 42 either as civilians or military officers have metamorphosed into emperors, royal majesties, governor generals, district officers and warrant chiefs in a post-colonial Nigeria that has ironically become their colonial empire. They are the new colonial masters.
They operate with brute force. They are arrogant and merciless. They are mean and demonic. They have ensured that they dominate the citizens that have become their subjects, emotionally, mentally and psychologically. They have conquered all spaces, institutions and instruments of governance, production and distribution (including education and knowledge), law and enforcement, protection of life and property as well as the power of rational thinking. Their actions are located at the very heart of both public and private sector organisations.
Like the British colonial masters, they chose who works with them. If you don’t fit into their plan the door will be shut against you irrespective of what your credentials are unless you are ready to be subdued, subjugated and mentally enslaved for a dismal ration of position where you will be under constant surveillance. Your surname and or willingness to be subject to the cruelty of a beast are what matter most to them. That does not make you part of them. It simply makes you their stooge They created institutions as well as administrative and enforcement units that are subservient to their interests. It doesn’t matter whether or not that duplicates or corrupts the existing structures.
It also doesn’t matter whether such actions erode the resource availability to the country. What is important is that that special interest, their interest is served. They were primarily in politics but overtime have replicated themselves in the core civil service and bureaucratic establishments at all levels of governance. They have also reproduced themselves in every sector and subsector of the economy: trade, commerce and industry, banking and insurance, military and paramilitary forces, heads of most educational institutions, departments and agencies including power (electricity, oil and gas), regulatory bodies and interventionist organisations.
They are everywhere. Their activities are well coordinated in a framework that seems to have built new partnership in external frontiers in individuals, organisations and nations. They have also ensured that their children and grandchildren get the best of education and exposure in preparation for succession in perpetuity. So, as they are stepping out, their children are stepping in. Nigeria has become their estate, their fiefdom. That is the structure they have erected. And they have ensured that it is protected even with the last drop of blood in their bodies. Their influence must not diminish. Their structure must not collapse.
They must bequeath that legacy, their inheritance to their children. They will go extra mile to strengthen the barricade that they have constructed to cut off the rest of the society. The natural consequence of those surreptitious machinations is the existence of two types of Nigeria. The first Nigeria is an imaginary functional and prosperous Nigeria for the elites and highly privileged members of the polity while the second is an overtly broken Nigeria for the rest of the populace. In the first Nigeria, everything is at the beck and call of the ‘citizens’.
High-profile housing, education in a choice institution anywhere in the world, best medical facilities, electricity is guaranteed 24/7 and there is no unemployment. Depreciation in naira value does not affect their avaricious trips and spending abroad just like inflation or high interest rate will not impact either on their consumption pattern or investment. They don’t need collateral to borrow from banks. They leverage personal recognition and state patronage. Their income is indeterminate and can assume any figure that commensurates with the lifestyle they deem suitable for their class and position. Their children can only work in the high places where positions have already been reserved for them even before they set their foot on this planet Earth.
This is the Nigeria that has exhibited and entrenched obscenity in life style and appropriation of power. It is the Nigeria that has blocked the gates against the participation of good men in politics. It is also the Nigeria that has placed obstacles in the ways of decent citizens rising to positions of influence where critical decisions are taken either in public or private sector organisations. This is the Nigeria that has been transforming good men to heartless sycophants and bootlickers.
Life is very miserable in the second Nigeria and the possibility of enhanced condition of living remains a fantasy. Unemployment is pervasive; a graduate that secures a job at a monthly salary of 25,000 naira (less than the inconsequential minimum wage) is deemed privileged, a professor with over twenty years of experience is paid peanuts of less than 450,00 per month ( smaller than the take-home pay of some desk clerks in many government departments) and he is supposed to be grateful that he has a job while some upcoming professionals with certified credentials in addition to their degrees are begging for a placement for just 50,000 naira per month.
The second Nigeria comprises outdated and abandoned transport system where buses are beautifully crowded and roads have been reconfigured to accommodate portholes and gullies as their permanent features. Those who are able to move in their second-rated fairly used vehicles are celebrated. The basic public education system has been totally destroyed in this Nigeria while the privately produced substitutes are ornamented emptiness.
The public tertiary education in this second Nigeria is being systematically destroyed while promoting the inferior and overpriced private ones which the majority of the citizens cannot afford. The provision of social amenities like healthcare, drinking water and electricity is characterised by dilapidated infrastructure, substandard and insufficient or outright nonexistence. This is the Nigeria where the youth predominantly reside. And they, the youth constitute about 70 per cent of Nigeria population. In other words, this is the Nigeria of the oppressed and dehumanised.
This is the Nigeria of those who have been shut out from the benefits of the milk and honey that flow in the land. This is the Nigeria that harbours that segment of the over 100 million people that has crowned the country as the poverty capital of the world. And this is the Nigeria that will ultimately rise against the oppression of the imperialist, the local colonial masters. This is the Nigeria that is waiting to explode. The ENDSARS protest is just a sign of dangerous days ahead. It is the elixir that will cure the conspiracy of silence and emancipate the faculties of the older generation while unleashing the boldness of the downtrodden. It will shatter the shackles of enslavement and cause revolutionary protests of different degrees and dimensions akin only to independence struggle of countries like India or South Africa.
The youth are the freedom fighters who will fight to end the SARS that exists in different forms and sizes in all our organs of administration, agencies and institutions. It is a fight for liberation and a fight for the second independence of the country. It is a time bomb. It is ticking fast. Care, caution and proactive policies may be all we need to suspend the hands of the detonators. An undue delay in doing the needful may be so catastrophic that the very foundation of the country’s existence will be shaken.
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