Hundreds of years after Charles Dodgson, the conservative English Mathematician introduced the world to a fictitious fantasy of a Wonderland; a vast number of persons are still deeply enthralled by that very adventure of the Young Alice. But unknown to many, there is a rather realistic although bizarre wonderland in the human world today. Ironically, even the wonder portrayed in the land of wonders called Wonderland, cannot be measured with that occasioned in this land of many wonders called Nigeria. Although it might be surprising -if not perplexing- to many, how a native man with no civilized exposure like Nigeria could be more elegant than the modern man of the Wonderland. Of course, this is only a taste of the uncommon wonders that is materialized in this Land of many wonders.
Like Alice, those who understand the nature and structure of the wonderland would absolutely agree with the fact that there is never a mundane or monotonous moment in such territorial space. Rather, it is a terrain where different fascinating, intriguing and inevitably, perplexing things happen. Just like the name simply whispers, in such terrain, there is always a wonder to behold for every sighting, and another to behear for every listening. If it is not a set of ‘moneyvorous’ Monkeys and Snakes feeding on millions of dollars meant for the common man with mysterious untraceable hands, it is a set of lawmakers entertaining the nation to a free boxing bout show on a live television broadcast. For this and many more, Nigeria is really the land of unusual wonders.
But all these are only small wonders when compared to many other disheartening inexplicable and damning insoluble manifestations defining of this nation space. Perhaps, what seems to be the real McCoy reason why this many perplexing and pernicious wonders are not accorded due recognition in non-fiction literature is the frequency and rampancy at which they occur. Expectedly, even wonders, when they occur overly frequent and incessantly persistent become wearisome for the experiencers. Indeed, there are manifold stories to be recounted about this land of many wonders, but space and time will only allow for the narration of one particular ‘wonderful’ tale about three classes of persons who occupy this nation space, namely, the wretched, the poor and the wretched poor.
Let us begin with the wretched. Unlike what is pictured of in a typical terrain of wonders, the story and reality in this Wonderland is unequally agonizing. Here, suffering afflicts the land, poverty affects and suffocates the masses, insecurity raids and reigns in the community and sadly, with such a reality, Depression and Death are just like Bread and Butter for a number of common citizens. Of course, it is saddening to know that even in such affliction, the rich grows richer, the richer grows richest and the richest automatically earns the accolade to be called and treated as ‘gods’. For many of them, the multiplication their riches enjoy is the toil, sweat and even blood of the common man who they have transmogrified into implements of servitude and slavery.
Not to be confused, possessing riches is not the yardstick, by which the wretched are identified, but rather their wickedness and inhumanity. In essence, the basic identifying hallmark of the wretched is their ability to act and make policies that cast the common man into the chains of suffering, suppresses his mental ability and reasonability and unthinkably, oppresses everything about his existence. With no intention of restricting identification, this set of persons abounds in political and even nonpolitical space. Just like their counterparts in some other countries, they fervently yearn for the elimination of the common man from the face of the Earth so they can have all the space and riches to themselves.
In rubbing pepper to this wound of the affliction of the common man, those of them seated at the helm of affairs complicate this many misery by making irrational and barbaric decisions that subjects the average man to a life of everlasting anguish and agony. Rather than utilize allocated public funds for community and national projects; building infrastructures and constructing basic amenities, such allocation is rather starched away in private and foreign accounts for self and kin’s benefits alone. Anyway, this is only a spin-off of a barbaric thought nurtured by these individuals that the common man was created only to toil, suffer and eventually, doomed to death.
When elections bells are jingled, these persons intentionally and forcefully feed the people with impossible promises. Generally, their usual and evidently doltish approach is promising the common man Paradise, when all they intend for them is Prison; Heaven, when all they have for them is Hell. Whilst this is usually their evil wiles, there are still some who prefer the wolf in the sheep clothing machination by constructing white elephant projects to entice the people. When it comes to improving the living conditions of the people, they ridiculously expect praise for merely rehabilitating roads, await applauds for building medical centers -even when there are no medical apparatus- and ludicrously boast about making provision of jobs even when all that the workers are paid is a paltry amount that can hardly sustain them.
Horrendously, as one of their desperate and deadly schemes of guaranteeing electoral victory, the youths whom they have rendered jobless, uneducated and unproductive are massively employed by the wretched as weapons and instruments of election thuggery and violence. Inhesitantly, they are ever ready to sacrifice everything -even the priceless life of the people- on the altar of their inordinate ambition. For the ‘sympathetic’ ones who would rather not rely only on forceful takeover of power, they express ‘love’ and ‘concern’ with the provision of stomach infrastructure, majorly of exiguous cups of Rice and miserable bulbs of onions for the average man whom they have abandoned since the last election campaign. This they believe is all the common man deserves due to status in life
Unlike those who hold dear the belief that Education is the best Legacy, the wretched here believes that that legacy is only the entitlement of the Rich man’s offspring. As such, they have bastardized educational institutions and further transform them into implement of mental enslavement of the young ones and ambition suppressor of their potential dreams. Even when millions of Naira is budgeted for the development of educational institutions, the wretched seek delight in pocketing and partitioning such funds among themselves to send their wards to top-notch institutions in other developed climes or expend it on their luxurious living.
In a world where equality before the Law is a strict code for many nations, here, law and legal institutions have been programmed and paralyzed by the wretched to prey, predate and plunder the poor and his possessions alone. In defiance of the sacred principle of the rule of law, they violate laws and disregard legal institutions with absolute contempt. When it comes to law making, they decide the fate of the common man in their secret gatherings through establishment of unfavourable laws and only observe the eyewash legislative process by examining and enacting it in front of the camera.
As though this were not enough, these laws are subjected to incessant violations by the wretched but must never be disobeyed by the common man. When in political offices, they will rather purchase hugely expensive cars and automobiles of all sorts and even take jumbo pay when the poor man on the street has nothing to eat and the economy is being consumed by the woes of recession. In justifying this prodigal spending, they are quick to cite as reasons –even though evidently illogical- the exacting nature of their duty when all they do is enact laws that cast the average man into penury and privation.
In terms of security, rather than provide the common man with adequate protection, they’ll rather create many inefficient law enforcement agencies and watch helplessly when the people are maimed and murdered by rogue Fulani Herdsman and the merciless monsters of Boko Haram and ISWAP. Even when the reality is glaring, they deceptively console the masses with fallacious information that these monsters are being contained even when they continue to devour the people and destroy their possessions. At such moments when these monsters of terror are maiming the citizens, all they do is appeal to the victims of this brutal terror whilst they continue to arm themselves and their kindreds with all available security forces in the country. Behold, what more wonder could humanity ask for?
As for the Poor, they are the helpless ones who are the greatest and only victims of the oppression of the wretched. Treated as though they are some sort of higher beasts, they have been abandoned, casted into shackles of suffering and descended into the pit of poverty by the wretched. Sadly, even the decisions and policies purported to be made for their benefits only exposes them to more and manifold suffering and danger. For quite a number of these individuals, reliable source of income is more of a fantasy than reality. So long as they are not in any way connected to the powers that be, the only fate that awaits them is a brutal relegation into poverty and a perpetual habitation in penury. As for the few who are provided jobs whether by public or private organizations created by the wretched, they are only paid ridiculous stipends that is hardly ever enough for their survival.
Dispiritedly, even their progeny and wards are provided with no qualitative education. For understood in the context of the wretched, education is wrongly believed to be a privilege and not a right for the common man. As a means of expressing and manifesting this ridiculous and barbaric thought, many of the educational institutions created for the attendance of these young ones lack basic teaching equipment and facilities for learning and even sound Teachers to educate them. In all reality, the education they are provided with is that which enslaves rather than emancipate them, that which regresses rather than progress them. For quite a number of these kids, they have had to resort to self-development and learning to cut the mustard in their journey of life.
Even in public tertiary institutions which were created to educate the offsprings of the financially weak, such has now been transmogrified into an implement of societal retrogression and degradation, no thanks to an educational structure which ensures the incessant ritual of labour strike almost every academic session. In order to live up to the inescapable duty of self-survival, many of these young ones have now resorted to cyber and common crimes to make ends meet for themselves. Having being denied access to every chance of profitable education, the future remains bleak and blank for a handful of these young ones. In a world that is swiftly changing, the only thing most of these young ones still hold on to is, hope!
If wickedness and inhumanity is what defines the wretched and the poor are defined by maltreatment and oppression; then, what defines the wretched poor? Surprisingly as it might sound, the wretched poor are a class of the common man whose pattern of existence bears a saddening –if not a more disastrous- similitude to the actions and lifestyle of the wretched. To express this in simple terms, they are persons whose actions directly inflict more suffering and greater agony on the poor than the policies and actions of the wretched themselves could ever be. Unfortunately, they are even the greatest enemy of their fellow oppressed. In a societal structure like Nigeria, these individuals are often encountered in all aspects of any day-to-day transaction.
In the area of Education, they are those Teachers whose only duty is await salary whilst their primary responsibility of impartation is neglected. In here, they are of two types. The first are those who would never set their feet in the School premise until a special occasion demands for it whilst the other are those who will ensure their presence in School but would never impact anything beneficial on the students. For a vast number of those in the latter categories, their pastime is to sell wares to colleagues, exchange unimportant talks or worse still wallow in the misery of taking unending naps when it is apparently work time.
In Hospitals, they are those staffs who would resume work either late or never at all. For many in the categories of the former, their only penchant is exchanging casual talks with colleagues just like their counterparts in the educational sector. Sadly, the neglect and nonchalance exhibited by some of these individuals is the only reason many families and friends have prematurely lost their loved ones to the disaster of death. I once had a personal experience of such in a government medical Centre in the country. When hundreds of patients were already waiting in queue since dawn to have a moment with the doctor, the so-called Doctors only made a shameful and disgustful presence some hours to close of business. Unfortunately, they were not even queried or questioned on their arrival. Just as this event was unfolding; a patient sitting adjacent mumbled to her friend how each and every one of those Doctors were only just resuming from their various private medical enterprises.
Sadly, this is not only the pattern of things in Hospitals but also in several other places of critical business. Some years back, a crony once informed me how a High Court Judge resumed work at 2 o’clock in the Afternoon without any expression of remorse or apology. Repugnantly, he even informed the awaiting litigants and counsels that he was quite tired and they would all have their cases adjourned till the following day. When this happening was being relayed to me, I just couldn’t imagine what would be the expression and reaction of those individuals who had sacrificed their time, efforts and other important things on that particular day just to be in Court.
With a high degree of certainty, virtually every Nigerian has had one unpleasant encounter or the other with the men in uniform, -be it members of the Police Force, the Military or any other law enforcement agency that operates in the country. Based on our classification, many would even label these classes of persons as the only wretched poor existent in the country. The reason behind this is not in any way owning to their duty as Law enforcement agents, but rather due to the rancid and repugnant means by which they execute that duty. Sadly, the repulsive attitude and habit emitted by many of these officers antagonizes not only logicality but also legality. From harassment to brutality and even criminality, many of these officers can rightly be classified as the real threats to societal peace and orderliness.
Just few weeks back whilst in transit, I encountered some police officers who threatened to batter and brutalize a law abiding auld commercial driver. Perhaps, the first question would be what was the driver’s offence? Has he violated any traffic rules? Negative. This patriotic auld Nigerian even had all his legal papers and particulars intact. Ridiculously, the old man’s only offence was that he had refused to grease the palm of these corrupt police officers on illegal duty. Not long after they began exchanging words, a rather more witless officer threatened to hit the auld driver with the butt of his gun if he continues to question them. It was not until there was an intervention from a military officer who was also in transit that the Driver was allowed his leave.
Unfortunately, all these incidents are neither new nor novel in this territorial space. Every day, there are diverse, different and manifold cases of Police harassment, LASTMA exploitation, SARS brutality and even Military torture in every nook and cranny of the country. Sadly, when those who ought to serve as a shield from harm and danger becomes the sword that destroys and kill, then peace and progress certainly becomes elusive concept in such a society.
Perhaps, the most dangerous epidemic of this sort when it comes to Law enforcement agencies perpetrating illegal duties is the case of SARS officers. Sadly, many of these agents are the greatest manifesters of illegality and criminality. At every possible moment, they arrest -or to use the right term, kidnap- young ones on the street, illegally search through their mobile phones hoping to label they a cyber-criminal and when they forcefully gain access to those phones, they plant incriminating apps and softwares on them. When this is done, they immediately label these young ones cyber criminals and frogmarch them to ATM centers only to empty their accounts. Those who protest or hesitated in the obedience of these evil commands are perhaps now telling their story from behind bars or the world beyond.
In such unthinkable manner, these trigger-happy individuals are ever quick to cut short the lives of any one who challenges or confronts them in the course of this evil duty. Just this year alone, there have been manifold cases of illegal execution by SARS officers in different parts of the country; this includes a young footballer of Remo FC who was killed by members of this same force in such a brutal way just few weeks ago. Sadly, these are not robbers, bandits or kidnappers but rather individuals who the Law has behooved with the duty of protecting lives and property. Just some days ago, a young adult who also was unprivileged to also have such brutal encounter with these SARS officers was frustratingly informing his Friend how every youth in the country must soon begin to arm themselves with Guns before this brutality and banditry can stop. If this writing on the wall be read rightly, then, this is a nation on the verge of anarchy.
Whilst we all could agree that the failings and failure of this colonial conception abounds and grows at the wake of every new day, in all sincerity, we all have played different role –both consciously and unconsciously- in its desecration and degradation. From the oppressor to the oppressed, the exploiter to the exploitee, the ruler to the ruled, the rich to the poor, there is absolutely that angle at which we all have failed. Concretely, the home truth remains that no nation can ever perceive not to say attain progress or development with such a summation of inhuman and oppressive citizens on the one hand, and oppressed and exploitative citizens on the other hand.. The product of such equation will forever be gall and grim like we have it Today, if not worse.
In all truisms, it is not until this nation space undergoes a true fundamental reconfiguration and reconstruction before the pedal of progression can be propelled. Essentially, the effect of this reconfiguration must be a territory where even though we might not be equal in riches and wealth, we are still equal before the Law, where although we all might differ in religious beliefs and ethnical backgrounds, and yet still be united in peace and tolerance. In all reality, such a world is possible but how ready are we to work towards the realization of that reality? Are the wretched ready for restitution? Are the poor ready to forgive? Are the wretched poor ready to amend their ways? Certainly, this choice is all ours to make, but we must not only make it aright but timely. At this critical time, delay really is Danger.
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Terinwa Adesipo and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)