Taking Society For Granted!

by Abiodun Komolafe
nigeria chaos

Whenever a section of the society wants to embark on something new, it’ll first fly a kite. To sane minds, flying a kite is like testing the waters. If the society is gullible enough to ‘collectivise, objectify, even sacralise’ it, then, it becomes the norm. Unfortunately, societal norms tend to grow organic; and continue to evolve that, very soon, people may not even remember its origin. Such is the interim national government plot by some political gladiators in Nigeria.

While it is no longer in doubt that the call has again added flavour to the political vocabularies available to the country, one may wish to ask: interim national government for whom and in whose interest? When the idea was first initiated by the military junta, it was aimed at forestalling the possibility of a total breakdown of law and order due to the uncertainty that accompanied the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. That was then! But, even at that time, it was … declared illegal; consequently short-lived! So, how appropriate is an interim government contraption to Nigeria’s current situation? If some cabals just thought of it, should it be foisted on Nigerians while yet in a democratic setting?

Sad that some people have taken society for granted! And that’s what they do! Lest we forget, this is the same way former President Olusegun Obasanjo brought 3rd Term agenda which would have sailed through but for the patriotic and timely intervention of the Ken Nnamanis, the Ibrahim Mantus and a host of other patriotic Nigerians who resisted the sinister move. Had it been a success, the interim national government would have become another toxic addition to the lexicon of public administration in Nigeria.  It therefore behoves Nigerians to kick against the arrant arrangement which has in the last few days become a popular topic of conversation. In saner climes, identified culprits would have been sanctioned to dissuade others from even mooting a political arrangement which only showcases parochial self-interest in the garb of national interest.

For those who equate society with the masses, here lies the shocker! From the Marxian perspective, the masses are just the proletariats; they don’t have much power. Since they are always at the mercy of the bourgeoisie, it is always believed that they (the bourgeoisie) can control the masses! And, whereas societal forces are triggered by the dynamics of the collective contents of the norms and values of a given society; and unless one is a deep thinker, one may easily miss the brass tacks of the narrative.

‘Masses’ refers to the normal crowd while society drives the masses. In other words, it is the society that prescribes the norms and values. The more reason it cannot be taken for granted. Whereas masses have no order, it is also the society that provides order for the masses. That’s why if a woman appears nude in a market, the first impression is that she has gone mad, simply because it is against our norms and values in this part of the world. Talking about symbolic interactionism, when one also sees a man and woman enter a room; shut the door; switch off the light; and, suddenly, everywhere goes hushed, the most probable thought is that they are copulating. Again, this is rooted in the norms and values in the society; otherwise, it has no meaning! Over and above all, it is because the custodians of the social values in the society have not sanctioned (the) political rascals that the business of overheating the polity still seems to be flourishing.

By the way, ‘mura si ise, ore mi’ (work hard and work smart, my friend) was supposed to be a society-handed-down value. Nonetheless, the sad truth is that people have abandoned this great value. Hence society’s lack of ability to apply sanctions, where appropriate! Obviously, that’s why it can now be taken for granted. Besides, that people hate being controlled is no longer news. Man has always been like that! That’s why he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden!

There is a Yoruba proverb which says: ‘ilu ti ko si ofin, ko si ese’ (In a town where there’s no law, crime is non-existent). Without doubt, Nigeria’s major challenge is how to identify those who are actually the custodians of her norms and values with a view to sitting down and resetting the button that can truly move this fractured social institution forward. From the look of things however, only God knows where they’re now plying their trade. Take, for instance, the traditional rulers who are supposed to be in that class have already taken sides, with some of them already dancing uncontrollably in support of particular governors. Some were even installed by political bigwigs. So, how can they now be trusted with the sacred responsibility of holding firm the normative use to our norms and values?

This percolates down through the family structure. Geographical spread and spatial distribution of population are also in this group. Ditto for media, peer pressure and the culture of the workplace! In the olden days for example, everybody knew everybody. But now, we have gone so impersonal that family ties have become weakened. In the university, where professors are supposed to serve as (the) in loco parentis to the students, times and things are no longer normal. Added to these setbacks are corruption (which has eroded our culture) and the vicissitudes of life (which have consigned tradition to the dustbin of history). What’s more? These days, nobody teaches honesty again because many are not honest! The father at home is not honest. So, he cannot teach honesty! The governor of a state is alleged to be a forger. So, how can he or she teach honesty? The Bishop or Chief Imam is believed to be a renowned trickster. How can he preach honesty?

Let’s get it right, a society that lacks order, or means, or mechanism for control will soon become something else. How do I mean? Had our society been efficiently managed through social mechanisms and control, nobody would have suggested interim national government as a one-size-fits-all cure for an election that’s widely adjudged to be an improvement over previous exercises in the country. As a matter of fact, an anathema like that would never have even come into a debate in the first place. Well, if a thug could become the second governor in a state because he has the control of power and/or the monopoly of the use of force which is also equivalent to that of the state, it means the government has failed totally; that the state is no longer relevant. So, anarchy looms! And, in that situation, the loss will be unquantifiable. But then, is decapitation the antidote for headache?

What we are saying is that, once the mechanism of social control becomes terse, with no firm grip, then, trial-by-error tales become a way of life. For all intents and purposes, once there’s a breakdown of control in the societal realm, the floodgate of inanities is unlocked. It is what has led to calls that President-elect Bola Tinubu must not be sworn-in on May 29, 2023, when indeed the constitution has already spelt out how aggrieved persons can seek redress in court. It is also the reason dear fatherland has been turned into a wounded and sick entity, desperately in search of who will revive it. Again, isn’t this where we have found ourselves?

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!

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