There is no denying the fact that following the British amalgamation of its northern and southern protectorates in 1914 and their consequent independence from them in 1960, the ‘geographic expression’ called Nigeria is yet to attain its dreamt potentials – to the locals, nay their colonial masters. Hence the arrival in many a fora, following a studied tour of our travails ever since, that the greatest hindrance to that achievement of the great nation of our dream remains the impunity with which wrongs are perpetrated in high and lows places of the nation. No doubt, this is made possible because the authors of these iniquities know full well that there would be no repercussions – come heaven or high water.
Yes, because time and again even when panels are set up by government following public complaints after another of them is uncovered, these come to nothing all the time. Even when these avenues for providing jobs for their boys – as these panels end up passing for – do come up with indictments, their findings are more often than not only swept under the carpet to the chagrin of the people. Dating back to the colonial days, the first, second, third and fourth republics as well as the military interregnums that abbreviated them, well-known scandals have waved and passed without any culprits brought to the book.
Yet, this has in no way dissuaded the people from trying. Perhaps, most pertinent in this regard is the fact that it is this never-say-die spirit that served to bring the present ‘corrective regime’ to power. Their campaign mantra aimed at bringing to a stop the corruption that was perceived to have ravaged the land for the more than the decade-and-a-half of the previous party in power has occupied the helm of the country was what led them to electoral victory. As is still traceable from the populace, not an inch of support has been subtracted from the many in favor of their on-going anti-corruption war. Not even after the desperate attacks from its very few detractors who would rather the status quo ante returned for, no doubt, not unselfish reasons. Yet, there is no magnitude of impunity in Nigeria that can be more worrisome than the rampaging Fulani herdsmen killings of innocent Nigerians without the government making a single arrest. Another disturbing display of impunity and anarchy on parade is the recent ultimatum by sixteen groups in the North backed by the Northern Elders Forum that Igbo should vacate their region within three months. And government cannot raise a voice against these drummers of war.
However, like some have had the temerity to posit, most of these impunities are mostly made possible when people that committed those as heinous as high treason are let off the hook unpunished; only for them to want to incriminate committers of minor offences subsequently. Specifically, time and again in this space, routine democratically-elected civilian governments have had cause to be toppled by an aggregation of our armed forces with the slightest fear of any repercussions ever after. Only for them to effectively ban the constitution and proceed to rule by decree – consequently imprisoning people for offences as mild as trespass, as it were.
While it is good that the ‘currently corrupt’ in the land are chased out from wherever they are hiding with their loots, we are also certain that it will be worth its while if other offenders of even more heinous crimes against the nation are penciled down for prosecution even centuries after they committed the offence. This way, a well-known major offender in the past cannot afford to come back reformed in the future to hound, perhaps, his former enemies. Indeed, it is most noteworthy that no less a person as our immediate past president, Mr Goodluck Jonathan, has reiterated the call for an end to the impunity on display in the land. Though his regime has recently come under flak for same, in a recent speech he gave to the members of the United States Congress House Sub-Committee on Africa about such burning issues like the Niger Delta and the ethnic and religious tension in the land, he unequivocally called for a change of heart if we wanted to see an end to our troubles. Invited to give the address in his capacity as Chairman, Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, the meeting – according to his spokesman – was part of the effort to fulfill the foundation’s mission to ‘promote peace and prosperity’ in both our nation and continent. In the speech proper, Jonathan minced no words in identifying impunity as the factor that contributes to recurrence of such evils like the current religious violence ravaging Southern Kaduna in the recent past.
He stressed and we opine that if only those behind the previous occurrences of religious and ethnic violence are let off the hook with no prosecution, indictment nor punishment, others are bound to be encouraged to follow their footsteps. The ex-president also used the occasion to lend support to the recommendation by the 2014 National Conference organized under his watch for the setting up an Independent Religious Equity Commission whom it will be part of their duties to apprehend, arrest and prosecute identified perpetrators of ethnic and religious violence. All said and done, The AUTHORITY believes that the future greatness of our nation that we so earnestly yearn for can only be actualized if those in authority are able to fashion out a way to end the rampaging impunity with which the country is being ravaged by all and sundry.