Nigeria: A Sick Society With Unhinged Citizenry

NIGERIA is a sick country, very sick. What is worse, Nigerians have increasingly become unhinged. Many of the things happening in the country are bizarre and it takes only an unhinged population to condone the maladies.

You are wrong if you think I am talking about the importation of adulterated fuel which has grounded almost the entire country and destroyed many vehicles. In any other country other than Nigeria where there are consequences for actions of state officials, heads would have rolled by now.

The petrol supply chain was disrupted last week when the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, otherwise known as The Authority, announced that it discovered methanol quantities above Nigeria’s specifications in imported petroleum products.

Even as the queues get longer at the petrol stations, the noise has lessened and we have all gone back to our pastime – grumbling. Nothing will happen because the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, NNPC, the regulator and sole importer of petrol in Nigeria, which is busy pointing fingers of blame at four marketers, including its own Duke Oil, is the major culprit.

And guess what? The NNPC, whether privatised or not, still remains a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and President Muhammadu Buhari remains the de facto petroleum minister, a position he has occupied since May 29, 2015.

So, if anyone should be held liable for the rot in the petroleum industry, that person should be the minister. But in the midst of all the crisis, the Minister of Petroleum Resources jetted out on Tuesday to “join European and other African leaders as well as heads of multilateral organisations at the sixth European Union-African Union Summit in Brussels, Belgium”.

Sick country! When I talk about our society being sick, I don’t have in my mind the debacle of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, a man who only yesterday was celebrated as Nigeria’s super cop and had rapid promotion to show for the acclaim from fawning publics.

We now know the truth. Abba Kyari, Nigeria’s super cop, is a super fraud in police uniform. I am not talking about Ibrahim Magu, former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who was removed from his high perch by the Presidency based on allegations of corruption levelled against him by no less a person than the all-mighty Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Magu, who served as acting chairman of the EFCC from 2015 to 2020, was rejected twice by the Senate. Yet, Buhari had no replacement for him. Then, just like in Kyari’s case, one day in July 2020, drama ensued in Abuja. He was arrested, detained and finally hauled before a judicial panel of inquiry led by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, which converted Aso Rock into an emergency courtroom.

The former EFCC boss was probed for over three months and eventually suspended for allegedly mismanaging EFCC funds. To date, no Nigerian, except those in the hallowed chambers of Aso Rock knows what the issues in the macabre dance that was the Magu drama were. The panel made several recommendations but the report was never made public.

Instead, Buhari in February 2021 named Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new EFCC chairman. On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, confirmed that Magu was still on the Federal Government’s payroll as a police officer despite his suspension by Buhari, the anti-corruption czar.

Sick country! I am not talking about the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Danladi Umar, who was caught on camera assaulting Mr. Clement Sargwak, a security guard at the popular Banex Plaza, Wuse 2, Abuja, following a squabble that ensued between them over a parking space on March 29, 2021.

In the five-minute video footage that went viral, the tribunal chairman was seen slapping and kicking the 22-year-old security guard, an employee of Jul Reliable Guards Services Limited. What was Sargwak’s crime? Nothing other than having the effrontery to direct the CCT chairman where to park his car on the premises of the mall.

Till date, nothing has happened. No justice for the man who was assaulted because Danladi Umar filed a suit in court to stop the Senate from conducting an investigative hearing on the case. Sick country!

I am not talking about the case of the Taraba kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala Wadume, who was arrested by the police in Taraba on August 6, 2019. Just like Kyari, who was aiding and abetting hardened criminals, soldiers of the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Takum, Taraba State, waylaid the policemen bringing back Wadume to Jalingo, killing three of them and one civilian in cold blood.

The then Police spokesman, CP Frank Mba, in a statement on August 7, 2019, narrated what happened thus: “The policemen came under sudden attack and serious shooting by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, along Ibi – Jalingo Road, Taraba State. Three policemen (comprising one Inspector and two Sergeants) and one civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack while others sustained serious gunshot wounds. The soldiers thereafter released the handcuffed suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, who is now on the run.”

When Wadume was rearrested in Kano and brought to the Police Headquarters in Abuja, he indicted the Nigerian Army in his confessional. “I am Hamisu Bala aka Wadume, police came to Ibbi and arrested me,” Wadume said in a confessional video. “On our way, soldiers followed us and opened fire on them. As a result, some policemen were killed. Soldiers took me to their headquarters and removed the cuffs. I escaped and was in hiding until they rearrested me.”

Who still remembers the Wadume saga? Where is he now? Still on trial? Convicted? Or set free for lack of evidence since those that arrested him were summarily executed? What happened to Captain Tijjani Balarabe, the officer who led the soldiers attached to 93 battalion to free Wadume on August 6, 2019?

Again, Malami took over the case from the police but the soldiers were not brought to the court for trial. The Attorney-General of the Federation has his fingers in all the duplicitous pies in the land. On July 1, 2020, Malami denied allegations that Captain Balarabe and his partners-in-crime were being shielded by the powers-that-be.

His justification? The soldiers had not been taken to a civil court because they were still being court-martialled in line with the rules of the military. He knows Nigerians will forget. And we have forgotten. For all anyone cares, Captain Tijjani Balarabe may well be the commander of the barracks near you waiting for the next victim.

Sick country! I am not even talking about Hanifa Abubakar, the five-year-old pupil who was kidnapped and gruesomely murdered by her school proprietor in Kano, Abdulmalik Tanko.

Nor am I talking about the 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Sylvester Oromoni, who was allegedly bullied and then tortured to death by his fellow students because he refused to join them in their cult activities. Lest I forget. The Lagos State Police Command had since returned a no guilty verdict on the accused. Case closed.

Sick country. What convinced me beyond any reasonable doubt that our country, Nigeria, is sick and the citizens unhinged is the latest case in town.

I am talking about the case of a 19-month-old pre-Nursery pupil of Arise and Shine Nursery and Primary School, Asaba, Delta State, Obinna Udeze, who was tied up and flogged to death, literally, by his 24-year-old teacher, Emeka Nwogbo. When we were growing up in the village, some 19-month-old babies still suckle on their mothers’ breasts. Obinna was a baby. What crime will a year and seven-month old baby commit to earn such bestiality?

Obinna’s mother, Gift Ohanezeze, said her son was flogged to death like a goat. Three adults – the school proprietress, her son and another teacher – tied Obinna’s hands and legs with white handkerchief and gave him 31 strokes of the cane just three weeks after he was registered in the school because he committed a grievous offence.

I still can’t wrap my head around it. This can only happen in a sick country with an unhinged citizenry.