IN Oswald Mtshalli’s apartheid South Africa, nightfall came like a dreaded disease seeping through the pores of a healthy body. And ravaging it beyond repair. In Muhammadu Buhari’s 2023 Nigeria, no one needs the cover of night to shed the blood of the innocent: outlaws buoyed by the impotence, if not outright connivance of the state decree death even under the sweltering hot sun, as the case of the unnamed hapless old woman burnt to death at the Amagu Ihube community in the Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State by the bloodthirsty hounds that co-govern the South-East illustrates most poignantly and most tragically. The elderly woman, a piece of treasure that should have been pampered till her last breath given the value that Black Africa attaches to what the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, calls the cottonhead of age, was in the residence of a retired Director of the Department of State Services, Emeka Ngwu, when the terrorists who took her life came. They razed the house to the ground, unmoved by the shrill cries of an innocent soul burnt to death for no reason at all. What a death most painful!
The assailants were intent on death and destruction and among the houses burnt were those of the Imo State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Emeka Okoronkwo, and a former Dean of the Law Faculty of the Imo State University, Owerri, Nnamdi Obiaraeri. In the season of mindless killings, the Labour Party candidate for Okigwe State constituency, Chukwunonye Iruonu, was cut down in cold blood. In Rivers State, some people’s homes and media houses were bombed just because some lunatics decided that they ought to be. In Katsina State, terrorists ambushed members of local vigilante groups from Bakori Local Government who were on their (the terrorists’) trail to retrieve the livestock rustled from their (the vigilantes’) communities. At least 102 of them were massacred by the terrorists. The terrorists took people’s cattle, then their very lives! The orgy of killing and arson is pervasive, from East to West and from North to South. Criminals hold court without challenge and dish out to their victims whatever their depraved minds dream up.
These are very testy times in Nigeria. The buildup to the ongoing 2023 general election that should have invited a sombre attitude as citizens reflected on how to reasonably and wisely exercise their franchise ended up being defined by an orgy of violence and killings. Across the country, reports of gory killings and arson were, and still are, rife, making it look like the country is at war. Life is literally meaningless despite officialdom’s promise to ensure adequate security . In the face of the effete structures put in place by the government, violence and brigandage has spiked and literally no citizen can speak of safety with confidence.
If the Buhari government wants to avoid sheer ignominy as it winds down, it must arm itself with steely resolve and address the descent into barbarity. It makes absolutely no sense to speak of a modern state when law-abiding citizens resting in the comfort of their homes can be immolated by demented killers. Doing far much more than is being done at the moment to arrest this gradual descent into anarchy, if only to show that there is still a functional government in the country, has become most crucial. The alternative, namely the complete handover of the country to violent non-state actors, is the surest road to perdition. If outlaws can get away with just about anything their evil mind can conceive, what need is there for taxpayers to keep bearing the burden of a superstructure erected on their pain called government? Is security of life and property no longer the raison d’etre of the state?
The overall effect of the climate of death and destruction on the elections already held and the ones still pending is debatable. What cannot be controverted, however, is that the atmosphere could not have been auspicious for free and fair elections. Does this, then, not make it urgent and imperative for the government to act fast and to put a stop to the season of gruesome killings and arson? Anarchy looms if the ugly situation festers.
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