I here retell the story of a male naval officer named Lieutenant Felix Olanrewaju Odunlami whose car was, on July 25, 2005, hit from behind around Ikeja, Lagos, by a motorcycle operated for commercial purposes by Peter Edeh.
In a premature admission of guilt, and unaware the ‘offended’ person was a naval officer armed with a gun, Edeh, on his fours, sought forgiveness. But, out of some inexplicable rage buoyed by false sense of own superiority, Odunlami brought out his pistol and shot the motorcyclist in the mouth! Edeh died on the spot, drawing instant condemnation of outraged bystanders who promptly pounced on him, as he schemed escape in his car. He would have been lynched safe the intervention of the police. Odunlami, upon prosecution, consequently bagged life.
The interest in recalling the gory saga is not only the often disastrous consequences of having real guns in certified hands of official security agencies. It is the tragic similarity in the way uniformed officers frequently misemploy gun-animated force to enforce disorderly orders and how political office holders apply their ‘executive’ offices much like guns to pervert processes and subvert collective interests.
The malady to pass maximum judgment on another person or inflict on him whatever injury, however inexcusable, did not just come upon the Odunlamis of our day. Edeh committed an error which he instantly admitted by kneeling to beg the offended, but the latter, rejecting appeals, sentenced ‘wrongful’ Edeh to gun-full death. So, Steven Magee was right to admit surrender does not indemnify still against being shot by an armed officer! Odunlami got attracted to killing Edeh for possessing a material which often conditions false sense of superiority to others without it!
Witness how daredevil bandits reduce whole neighbourhoods to pliant buffoons at the sound of AK47s! ‘Who wan die?’, my pidgin potentates would quip.
Where and whenever the gun secures barest legitimation of authority however, the pervert, in prowling about on bogus duties, gains fair enough field to commit despicable deeds with gratuitous glee. This has been the situation in our communities where men of the forces, especially those of the police, often vamp allegations against the hapless to foist and validate wrongs, assuming, in the immediacy of circumstance, incredibly mean status of all-devouring prosecutor-judges! So far, this is a story about Nigeria as served across conventional and new media platforms on daily, agonising regularity!
Sorrowful, how the few in privileged positions have routinely applied such like guns to shoot the masses into discomforts in the manner of official conducts! Indeed, when conducts are not constitutionally tethered, they turn guns in very practical sense, aiding such apocalyptic gluttony as should cause worries if these were indeed not atavistic outgrowths from the crevices of the Futa Jalon mountains! What better explanation today for vanished jobs and gridlocked economy between our so-called young democracy and our malformed hearts?
From the lowest to the highest, political offices in Nigeria have worsted into one vast killing field for politicians in quotidian looting expeditions. In virtual absence of whatever coercive conditionalities and being answerable to only themselves, they get infinitely vantaged to corner trailer loads of the country’s wealth through award of phoney contracts that barely connect the citizenry. From millennium Schools, parks to ultramodern offices, markets, flyovers, alongside such other highfalutin white elephants massed upon our terribly disregarded psyche, the extreme irrelevance of ‘common’ Nigerians gets stridently affirmed. Nothing calls into question leadership’s sincerity and genuineness of purpose than unending constructions and renovations, even as unpaid year-long salary arrears have reversed the labourers in regards personal/nutritional, marital/connubial, parental/filial. Buildings and offices look robust, but its human occupiers rot and pine in penury. How can we conscientiously justify the logic of placating the gods of the non-living at such heinous cost to the living?
Indeed, it may be more sanguinely thinkable to prefer physical killings and other maladjusted treatments by a handful uniformed sociopaths of just few hundreds of defenceless citizens to underhand sentencing of millions of entirely hapless humans to economic fiascos by occupiers of political offices who have ceaselessly unleashed such horrendous acquisitiveness as often excused in grandiloquent, if inane, verbiage, drooled by dark mouths in the continent of the dark! But, as hatred now deservedly recompenses hatred, as humans invalided in the backyards of insensate jobbery of politics have accessed the control rooms to release destruction levers, we lament the spilling of the milk, while in the looseness of our conducts and lascivious hedonism of perverse leadership, we release its glass jar upon the rocks! Largely, the people’s collective wealth has mostly serviced individual businesses of the country’s mercantile quislings, who through their private estates, declare Q1 profits in billions, while Nigeria as a corporate business has remained perennially unviable!
Nigeria indeed needs being dragged the way of strong institutions, if only to bulwark it against gun mentalities. Gun mentality is not consequent upon only unjust treatment received daily in the hands of uniformed officers; it is equally a metaphor for corrupt conducts by individuals in public offices. As things stand today, even if Angel Gabriel led other angels to rule the country, they would be attracted into pilfering, as there virtually are no conditions opposing the ill! Strengthened Institutions would help assure minimum, irreducible performance standards, as foundational coercive undergird to insulate the system against abuses and corral especially public office holders into operating within morally urged and socially prescribed ethical boundaries.
Just as Odunlami, for recklessly truncating someone’s precious life, has been awarded only life sentence, those who have stolen Nigeria dry, perverted every known precept in credible governance procedures, have ceaselessly gotten away with a slap on their wrists! To kill corruption, it must be lawful to execute the corrupt. Extra-judicial shootings have brought unjust deaths, just as corruption in public offices brings deaths in sure, certain instalments. The two deserve punishment by death! This logic was recently canvassed by Yoruba Council of Elders. Death for perpetrators of graft, though strict, is very condign deterrence measure. Nigeria needs to borrow the lesson from China, the exampler in this regard.
Gun mentality proceeds from unmonitored impunity nourished by executive permissiveness. This is the war being fought by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari through the much vilified anti-graft campaign. NAFDAC went into coma upon the exit of Dora Akunyili, just as EFCC slumbered in the interregnum that were the Goodluck Jonathan years. Institutions have to be wakeful, irrespective of persons and personalities. The mastermind of the awakening is doing the unusual, stalking terrains never trodden, querying suspect actors, retrieving trapped patrimonies. Nigerians must rally supports now!
Salawudeen wrote in through email@example.com