By Malachy Uzendu
There is this notable saying: ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. It depicts the prism from which men and women of the media profession are appraised globally. They are known to speak truth to power and expose the societal odds, no matter whose ox is gored. This aphorism has been turned into a nonsensical statement. It’s no longer statement of fact.
It is not in any doubt that people who are hired and paid with the tax payers’ money, as well as the vast nation’s oil resources have proved that the barrel of the gun is the ultimate. In Nigeria, activities of operatives of our security agencies, have left no doubt that ‘the pen is not up to anything’ not to compare with being mightier than the barrel of even an unloaded gun. Some people have ridiculously pooh-poohed the pen as having lost that capacity. Some say the pen can only decorate pages of papers on which it is put, be it newspaper, magazine, note book, text book, or whatever so called.
Otherwise, if the pen is strong enough, or mighty as alluded, why should Nigeria persistently make a mockery of the pan? I recall, as a greenhorn reporter in early 90s, we deployed our pen to chase out the despotic military regimes of that era. I recall vividly, we gave the gap-toothed General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, the Evil Genius, a run for his ‘maradonic’ administration. We followed up on his gerrymandering and unending transition programmes, describing those for what they were: mimicking of the superlative acts of the renowned football legend, Diego Maradona. Babangida engaged the country on endless transition programmes with his military cohorts, which eventually foisted a terrible democratic process on the nation.
With the pen, journalists gave the late Gen. Sani Abacha a good run for his jack-booth administration. We successfully put paid to his attempts to transmute to a life president. He was met with stiff resistance by the tip of the pen.
While journalists and other writers took all the rough tackle, majority of our self-acclaimed modern day democrats went on self exile; they believed more in self preservation. Journalists remained behind in a no retreat, no surrender hide and seek until we midwifed what our self-acclaimed democrats today emasculated. Majority of these so-called democrats were either in exile, were engaged in double speak, promoting all the rallies and concerts hosted by the infamous Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha and other infamous groups, or were simply engaged in what we then described as “Sidon Look”.
Terrible as it was, it was obvious there existed high level discipline by operatives of the nation’s security agencies. Not once was there any report of police officers refusing to carry out instructions of their Inspector-General (IGP) as is happening nowadays.
Infamous stories of escapades especially among the police were unheard of; they were complete anathema. For instance, how can an IGP literally be on his knees for his subordinates to implement nationwide ban on inter-state movement arising from covid-19? How could an IGP be begging them to stop collecting bribes from motorists, to the ridiculous extent that even the kindergarten rain abuses on policemen as they turned every road block to points to extort motorists and okada riders? The IGP struggling without any success trying to convince the populace that his officers and men had gone through the drills, yet we witness an avalanche of extra-judicially killing of innocent citizens?
In those days, knowledge of the pen was the beginning of wisdom for everybody, including our highly corrupt civil servants. But, that is no longer the case, even the Force Headquarters nowadays struggle to extricate their operative caught red-handed in acts of misdemeanor. Instances of these abound infamous act abound. Did we hear that the DSS broke into the residence of Supreme Court justices in the dead of the night like armed robbers and rough-handle them? Did they know the pen was somewhere around the corner and would chronicle such infamous activity? Yes, of course. But, in the end, has any lessons been learnt? None that I know of. Rather, even a smaller masquerade side kicked his boss and that was how former Chief Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, lost his career. Shame of a nation, and the pen died!
How on earth could one imagine a Military officer collecting bribes along the highway? Go through the length and breadth of the nation’s highway, what is happening in this regard is an eye sore. Yet, the pen is writing, photographs and video evidence of the military collecting bribes, engaged in extra-judicial killing, in brazen electoral fraud, even in the killing of operatives of sister security agents abound, yet, it seems no lessons learnt.
The sad tale of citizen Wadume in the brutal killing of operatives of the IGP’s Special Tactical Squad is still fresh. Were these not captured by the pen? Have the victims received justice yet?
What of the shameful terrorism attacks, herdsmen killings, banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, repeating same modus operandi. Yet, the pen wrote about these severally; nothing is happening, so we believe. In fact, insecurity is getting worse. Escalating incidences of rape, of the minor and the elderly? All these have been chronicled by the pen, yet, it is proven that the pen in not mightier than the sword.
The paradox is that the sword is occupying a premium position. That is why corruption is growing like a collosus in Nigeria. The unbridled corrupt tendencies of some public office holders have been reported. but it appears that it makes no difference. What with the series of secret employment and worse still, nepotism and lopsided manner of piloting state affairs. The pen reported all these. Has anything changed? A capital NO. Is the age long cherished civil service procedure or recruitment, passing through the ranks and retirement, not abused. Several retirees have been recalled and so, the career of serving officers are stunted and in all, has the pen not written?
All the convening of seminars and workshops, seeking remedy for what is in our “shokoto” in far away Sokoto is bunkum. We know where our problems lie. The pen is not the issue, our leaders are. If our leaders continue to believe in jack booth style of governance, then, the pen being mightier than the sword shall remain an illusion. Making Nigeria great again is in the hands of our political leaders. they are holding the long end of the stick. The led are the victims and unfortunately, those holding the pen, will continue to weep. But, I say, “weep not child”.