It is scary, these things that we have now become. Last year I had written a piece on this same column titled In Nigeria We Die Cheap. That was an effort at highlighting how the failure of governance evidenced in the collapse of public healthcare and ancillary utilities has succeeded in making human life so cheap in these climes. Of late however, I have gradually come to the conclusion that all the ills that years of failed leadership has dealt us does not quite measure to what we have done and are doing to our selves every day.
At this point I am pushed to resound the question Black Eye Peas asked in their hit song where is the love? Really Nigerian, where is the love? What has snapped in us that has not only robbed us of our humanness but also of our values and respect for the sanctity of human life? What has reduced us to savages and fit only to be described as beasts?
I grew up in these climes. It was those years when things were already going bad with the economy grappling under SAP and the gap toothed one dribbling everybody into confusion. Even then, we were taught to look out for others. If a report got to your parents that you fought another child in school, your mother first beat you well before asking what happened. Every elder was a parent to every child. Back then when we heard stories of kidnaps, they sounded like strange distant occurrences. When someone dies there was genuine hurt and feeling of depression by all. Human life meant so much and the universal brotherhood of mankind reigned supreme in our hearts.
I recall what huge news the Otokoto Hotel ritual story sometime in the mid 90’s was and how many families sat glued to NTA on many Nights (mostly Sunday Newsline) to get updates because of the strangeness of it. Today that episode will hardly make headlines in comparison with what we now live with. There was the Clifford Orji ‘madman with a cellular and human parts’ story which also made national headlines and in some way gripped the people with fear…fear that we had amongst us people that could possibly do such stuff on such a scale. Today we see that Clifford Orji was like an apprentice in that trade which has now gone to become like a norm amongst us.
Sometime in August this year I read about two brothers who killed a third brother in their house in FESTAC, Lagos and harvested his body parts which they sold not for organ transplants but for rituals. The duo didn’t think the remainder of the cadaver of their brother needed burial. It took the complaint of neighbours, whose nostrils were being harassed by the offensive smell to get law enforcements agents to discover the crime. Have we degenerated to that point?
Scary bizarre stories abound of kidnaps. Not for ransom now but for –I hate to use the word again- rituals. We are inundated with near death experiences of folks who make it out of thick forests where they were billed to become by some voodoo mechanization, ATM machines. One minute they were in a cab in Lagos and the next minute they found themselves at a shrine. Do those stories give you goose bumps? Do they keep you awake at night?
There is an accident and the first set of responders instead of helping the victims, saving those who can still be saved and getting emergency services to help focus instead on looting. Even plane crash victims are not spared. One begins to wonder how much lower can possibly go seriously? What more can the word ‘inhuman’ possibly mean?
A group of otherwise handsome and decent looking young men lured a girl from facebook to Lagos, drugged, robbed, raped and killed her. Another set earlier on had in ABSU gang raped a fellow student filmed it and released it to the world to watch free of charge.
And while we are still trying to come to terms with things like suicide bombing and senseless attacks on innocent people by religious rascals who have turned the North of our country into a theatre of bloodshed as well as the related Jos indigenes vs Fulani herdsmen Tarka-me-I-Daboh-you overnight slaughtering of women and children which now hardly elicits any emotions from us some characters in Aluu community in Port Harcourt decided on treating us to a home video on savagery. You already know the details. And guess what? There were many camera men and women standing by, snapping and filming and doing nothing.
And what could be more absurd? Heavily armed daredevil hoodlums invaded the Crowder Memorial Primary School Onitsha where over a thousand flood victims were being camped and made away with food items and cash donated to them. The word ‘wicked’ feels inadequate.
So I ask, what is this thing we have become? How have we degenerated so much that brazen absurdities are now common practice? What has happened to our conscience and the milk of kindness every man in endowed with? No, we cannot wait for the government to fix this one. It is up to us to rediscover the things that make us human and uphold them. We either arrest the trend now or soon we all will be consumed.