…How Much Is A Nigerian Life Worth?

naijariotA man who has only a hammer in his tools bag is bound to see every problem as a nail. Once more, we have set up another panel, this time to look into the election triggered violence that erupted in parts of the North and Akwa Ibom. I will want to say very categorically without a fear of contradiction that this will be an exercise in futility. For many reasons some which I will draw our attentions to some we already are aware of.


No matter the terms of reference or the terminology used in describing the few days violent orgy of killings. The following remain the obvious. Persons of Northern descent attacked Southerners, whether they are miscreants, CPC supporters or ghosts.

Churches were burnt and Christians attacked in some parts. In Kafanchan it was the opposite, as Muslim communities were attacked, mosques burnt down too. In other areas, the rampaging youths attacked their own.

In the end analysis, it takes us back to the delicate balance of our ethno-religious existence, fuelled by an obvious disparity in social circle and mutual suspicion and a disconnect

Between 1999- date, one is beginning to lose count. It seems that our diversity in ethnicity and religion is posing the largest threat to our mutual existence apart from our asthmatic political allergy as one other factor.

It is strange how all these happen in a nation with all the security apparatus. It’s unthinkable how the ordinary man can smell these crisis yet our state security services only spend more money purchasing dark goggles.

In the Jos September 2001 Riots, it was a girl, crossing the road while prayers were going on, in 2006; it was a teacher that seized a Quran from a student… In Kaduna it was ‘ba na so’ (we do not want) shariah. In fact it seems we are just doomed, in 1987 (Kafanchan Riots) it started in the College of Education and centred around such issue as misquotation of the Holy Quran by a Christian convert from Islam.

Bauchi Riots 1990 originated from a misunderstanding between the Sayawa ethnic group and the local Hausa/Fulani, Muslim community in Bauchi. The misunderstanding led to the murder of many prominent leaders of the Muslim community. The Zangon Kataf Riots 1992 was just a continuation of the Kafanchan one.

In these places we have witnessed one panel or the other and almost same number of crisis, shortly after a panel is done with its work, another killing occurs.

Now it is CPC, it is not CPC, it is PDP’s fault, no it is the miscreants, as usual in few hours we are left with the carnage, and by Nigerian culture we do not count dead bodies, so we rely on the AFP figure of 800 dead.

This nation is one of deep seated grievance; the issue of conflict always has to do with perceived cultural, political, economic oppression and marginalization. No one bothers to look at the relevance of these crises to the polity and society. This is no longer a flirting phenomena, it is becoming permanent. The deployment of violence has merely acted as an agent in recycling violence.

Our leaders through these panels continue to invest in poverty, death, and ignorance. We have not seriously analyzed the content and substances that precipitate these killings. Instead we do a confused labelling of very direct issues. No one of us took the decision to be Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba; we are Nigerians who happen to be Christians, Muslims and pagans.

I never forget this analogy; it was from a book called disappearance it was divided into two parts. Part one was an imaginary account of a world in which men wake up one day and discovered that all women had vanished. All the women! The rest of that first part talks about how men tried to survive on their own. The second part was a vice versa, our women woke up and discovered that the men had disappeared from the face of earth. The speaker asked us to imagine both scenarios.

Would life be easier for Christians if we woke up and found that all Muslims have vanished? Would life be easier for us Muslims if we woke up and found all Christians gone? like waking up to find PDP is no more, all the crooks have vanished… these questions sound a bit silly, but they are the true test of our appreciation of our slaughter house mentality especially in the North, the Niger Delta and the nation as a whole. Does the killing of one another bring back the already dead? No, it only berths a circle of revenge, vengeance, retaliation, retribution and the madness continues.

President Goodluck Jonathan, the panel and its members cannot or do not have the will to ensure the diligent prosecution of all the suspects who had been arrested by the Police and other security agencies for their alleged involvement in the civil disturbances. And in stating these I mean the real suspects not the miscreants.

Iam not one that does not see any good in every government action. Jonathan’s government has compensated the families of the slain Corp members, it is not enough, but a start…there are those that lost their lives, properties and are not corp members, what will happen to them?

As reported by Juliana Taiwo, I ask that we judge:

Merit Elliot Adowei, the one-year-and-four-month-old third child of the late Elliot Adowei, was oblivious of the happenings in the Council Chambers inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

She kept chuckling away and interrupting President Jonathan’s remarks to families by demanding one thing or the other from her teary mother.

Yes, all present, including the President tried to keep a straight face, but it was obvious to all, including the pressmen, some of whom couldn’t hold back tears, that this was one occasion they would rather avoid if they had a choice.

Tessy, the wife of the slain Elliot Adowei, came with Merit and eight-year-old Evans (the eldest of the couple’s children) to honour Mr. President’s invitation. She was heartbroken and not even the announcement by President Jonathan of N5 million monetary compensation could assuage her broken heart.

Tessy said, “I am relieved that, at least, we have been remembered and have been given N5 million in bank draft…In Nigeria
of today, N5 million is nothing if I am to give my children the kind of quality education my husband and I dreamt of, in no time it would be exhausted…”

All these do not make up for the loss, and as we keep promoting a culture of self waste, we set up panels, and commissions, reports are submitted, yet to no avail. These crises without doubt benefit some people up stairs, so the people downstairs can as well continue to die. We have raised a new breed of conflict entrepreneurs. There is an uneasy calm…what do we really want?


Prince Charles Dickson

Editor, burningpot.com


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