Before The Next Bombing

by Paul Ogwu Okwuchukwu

We are indeed in deep trouble. This is because we have a penchant for learning and perfecting all the negative trends that we come across. Be it armed robbery, fraud, corruption, ritual killing, Pentecostalism, religion, forgery, kidnapping, act of deception and lying we have learnt and perfected these acts. All these have contributed in giving our country a battered image that would take extra-effort for us to rebrand and polish. How did we get to this sorry state? In whose interest is it that such slide is controlled and curtailed? If these trends continue, just as other crimes we copy are anything to go by, we are finished as a country. We need concerted effort to stop these dangerous trends, as it is also capable of consuming and destabilising a country that is already in a shallow foundation.

Armed robbery as a criminal activity appears to be ordinary in the Nigerian parlance. I doubt if there is any body in Nigeria that have not been a victim of this crime. It only shows that the government and our leadership over time have failed to take care of one of the basic requirement of government that is the protection of the citizenry. This is in the state principle rather we are in a society where everybody is in a prison yard. The difference being that we are in a self-imposed prison yard. Apart from the fence we erect, which unfortunately is a prerequisite to live in our society; we are all unsecured because we are conscious of every movement we make. We are indeed an endangered society. These armed robberies started initially like the bombing but it is already now part of our collective psyche and national acceptance. This is not peculiar only to armed robbery but other vices mentioned above.

Kidnapping was until recently a rare phenomenon .I bet most Nigerian before 2000 do not even know the meaning of the word. However, it took the happenings in Iraq before the militant in the Niger delta adopted that as a means of protest. Guess the next option; it has taken over by criminal elements that in the process perfected the act. We deserve the trophy of being the kidnap capital of the world because it is no longer the preserve of the militant but now a political and economic tool of settling dispute. At a stage, it was one of the most lucrative business venture people engage in. It is no longer a secret that some Nigerians cannot visit their ancestral homes and are holed- up in their enclave or prison called home for fear of been held hostage and made a trading commodity. Where someone will haggle for price and market forces determine the price. Kidnapping that started just not long ago is now a national malaise. Apart from Kidnapping, other crimes also took the same form.

Drug peddling or selling drug is a global phenomenon. However, we as Nigerian national are stereotyped abroad as drug peddlers’ .Our society seems to operate that once we learn anything every body will be fighting to take part in the new game in town. There is the possibility that 80 % of the Nigerian population that travels out are suspected to be drug peddler until proven other wise. This is why we are constantly picked -out for searching. What started as a trade for a selected few has turned out to be a national past time. We are not a known consumer of the drug. Most Nigerians have not really seen any hard drugs but are stigmatised as not only a transit root but also one of the major supplies of hard drugs. We learn very fast and tend to accept any form of making money as a legitimate way of making money. It is not only peculiar to drug but also some other known organised crimes.

We are generally known as a country whose nationals engage in fraud, that the name 419 or email scam is now a world wide name, but the truth of the matter is that it did not originate from Nigeria neither is it the preserve of Nigeria. It is a global phenomena and the people with such character and who engage in such acts can be seen everywhere in he world. We learnt the act and democratised it for our youths. At a stage, most of our youths see that as a form of employment and means of breaking even. This fraud crime was encouraged by a society that have lost its moral foundation and whose aim is only to make ends meet no matter what it takes. In addition, it was as if 419 was the greatest employer for the teaming unemployed Nigerian youths. When you interact with people from other countries, it seems that this is one of our greatest exports. Export of goods we neither created nor developed but we have accepted to hold it and export it to the world with the attendant negative consequences that goes with it. In every one fake millionaire, two to three thousand others are suffering for the consequences. We are stigmatised because of this act of some few individuals. We appear not to know the difference between good and bad. Our sense of ethics and morals are at its lowest ebb.

Not minding that we are a deeply religious society where almost the general population claim to belong to one religious set, group or the other. It is amazing that with this religiosity we are still a nation with flawed value system. Somebody will expect that we would be serving as an exemplary society to other countries because of our religion. Religion as a voice of reason and a social engine in which the psychological and economic ills bedevilling our society would have been reduced to a minimum level. It is unfortunate that this form of social engineering have been taken over by some groups of charlatans who use it as a means of enriching themselves and inflicting on the society a culture of laziness, hope without any base and misinterpretation of the religious virtues. We kill because of religion as if our God cannot fight for himself. The current trend is bomb blasting or terrorism. This is the latest in town. We are gradually extending that to another level.

Bomb blasts is now in our Nigerian lexicon. We have copied this trend from other countries that use that as a terrorist act coated in a political tool. The government and the citizenry should tackle this before it turns into a national past time. We are a fertile ground for this because of our legendary issue of religious rioting and disquiet. Our own form of religion seems to encourage and make it normal to take another persons life. The security agencies should make it a point of duty to investigate all the theories (legitimate and conspiracies) surrounding the recent bomb blast and security breaches rampant in the land. I believe the government have enough security experts that will advice her on the way to tackle the problem but they need to do the essential things that include initiating and passing an enabling anti- terrorism law. In addition, it needs to work through the religious community leaders to help educate people on the dangers of allowing themselves to be agents of devilish and terrorist acts. In addition, people should feel the impact of the law and know the consequences of their action. The government should stop playing games with people life and show enough political will to investigate ,prosecute offenders not minding if it is politically correct or not. They should be a way to curb the trend, as this will continue unless drastic actions are implemented against the crime.

We are gradually cultivating and encouraging a culture that will consume everybody including the perpetuators. It is time to act .We do not have option and the issue cannot die quietly because of the kind of society we live in.

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