Irrational impulses are not surprising in the stress and tension that characterize a demented society. In an atmosphere of violence, reason is sometimes abandoned and humanitarian principles forgotten. The inflamed passions of the time lead men to commit atrocities. But the concern here is not with the psychological pathology of those who commit atrocities but rather with what has turned our nation into a slaughterhouse where human beings are daily killed with intimidating alacrity. Throughout modern history, atrocity propaganda has often mesmerized readers thousands of kilometres from the scene of the crime. Often, the improbability of the actions described suggests that the stories were little more than fantasies concocted for diverse reasons from even more diverse sources.
But the reading public in Nigeria has invariably evinced a morbid absorption with the most nightmarish aspects of this national aberration. It is indeed fashionable to observe that material which should create a moral aversion to the cruelty of our present times often produces a perverse fascination instead. There is, candidly speaking, an alarming rate of mockery killings in Nigeria, especially under the Buhari administration. There are gruesome stories of rapes, mutilations, perversities and child and mother murders. An extremely partisan and sympathetic public is willing to read and believe almost anything, if it were tinged with sadism. It is hard to explain why the change promised Nigerians by Buhari and his yea Sayers has come with enormous burden including death. Much of the savagery connected with our current bloodletting could be explained in the violence inherent in the characters of the buccaneers who have misruled us for all these miserable years.
If truly democracy is preferred to military rule all over the world, why are Nigerians going through this hell of experience in a democratic dispensation? Why is the government turning a blind eye to the holocaust and pornography of violence going on in Southern Kaduna? If Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna state’s revelation that: “the Fulani herdsmen who are killing Nigerians are from other West African States”, is true, why are his government and the Federal Government allowing militants from other countries free access to slaughter other ethnic nationalities and the Christian communities in Southern Kaduna? Why are Nigerians objects of intimidation, genocidal massacre, annihilation, rape and abysmal extermination in their country? Why is the Federal Government exonerating itself from responsibility and complicity in the bestiality in Southern Kaduna while claiming that the state government is capable of managing the situation in Southern Kaduna? If the marauders are invaders from other countries, why did el Rufai pay them ostensibly to halt the killings?
It might sound alarming to articulate that all criminals are victims of the attempt by the ruling class in society to maintain hierarchy. For, any other conclusion denies original innocence, or, in effect, advances that men are criminals before they are born. But we are often the unconscious prisoners of our type of society, of the conflicts occurring in it and of their hegemonic nature. Yet, we are not able to articulate and state thoughts which would liberate us and would help our institutions out of their vicious circle. Where is that Nigerian who does not know that the real criminals in our midst today are those who force themselves on us as our rulers? There is no gainsaying the fact that even the function of our contemporary penal system is to maintain privilege. A history of the growth and transition of punishment and correction offers the clearest possible linkage between privilege and the manner in which societies suppress classes of individuals who are considered threats to the status quo or the existing social structure.
The dimension of the current spate of killings and political assassinations shows a high level of greed, complicity and injustice even among members of the sadistic ruling class itself. Consequently, it is necessary to strip from the social institution of violence its ethnic, religious and ideological veils and juristic appearance and to address it in its real relationship. It is the relationship between crime and privilege. Nasir el Rufai’s arcane theory that the killers of Christians and minorities in Southern Kaduna are from other countries in West Africa needs forensic examination. Is he giving the “foreign” Fulani herdsmen free hand and even financial motivation to kill those Nigerians because he believes the Nigerians killed some Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna sometime ago since he (el Rufai ) believes that any Fulani killed any day would be avenged no matter how long it takes?
It would, of course, be absurd to deny that government is responsible for the carnival of anomie that has enveloped this misbegotten country. Let me repeat: only demagogues and abstract doctrinaires with limpid hypocrisy can deny that a great number of abominable crime is daily being committed by governments across the world. Amidst considerable chaos and confusion, our predators are still walloping in affluence and under the best security system one can think of. El Rufai is presiding over the worst form of divide-and-rule system in Nigeria. The National Assembly must be alive to its responsibility, otherwise, the people of Southern Kaduna might be forced to resort to self help. It hardly seems a time for timidity and restraint!