SARS: EMBLEMATIC OF NIGERIA’S OUR MANY TROUBLES
By Ubaka Okofu
It’s common saying in Nigeria that if you pushed a Nigerian to the wall, he or she would react by pushing back at the wall and not the assailant. The reason is for him or her to quickly find a leeway out of an imaginary danger. It’s a settled matter that a typical Nigerian hardly fight back, even at the brink of death. Some other person may want to disagree. But, all that is history now. At least, the older generation of Nigerians can breathe again that their children had picked up the gauntlets and courage to confront a systematic tyranny, barefaced nepotism, arrant mediocrity, asphyxiating herders’ menace, gross financial impropriety, arrant extra judicial killings, and so many misnomers of the Buhari administration.
ENDSARS Protest or anti Buhari’s monotone is euphemistic of all that had gone wrong with Nigeria since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari was first elected as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and this will go down to change the Nigerian narratives for good. One is awed at the explosion of the protest, particularly the speed with which it is currently sweeping through the South south, South west and South eastern regions of the country-we hear that Plateau state and a few middle belt states had joined the protest. However, we do not expect much from that region considering the violent disposition of northern youths who might misconstrue the protest and put the fragile peace in that region in serious jeopardy.
The recklessness of the Special Anti Robbery Squad so known as SARS and the unprofessionalism on the part of men of the Nigerian Police is only a fragment of the many woes which we have to deal with as Nigerians. Who is not perturbed at the rate the government of President Buhari has been going about borrowing and putting the economic future of the country on a cliff? Who would have imagined, least to say comfortable with a government that had averred to fight corruption yet, there are glaring evidences putting this administration up as the most corrupt administration in a Nigeria where a vast number of the population live on, or under $ 2 per day. The aphorism that Nigeria is the world capital of poor nations is beginning to dawn on some of us who are too apprehensive and conscious of our middle class status.
Severally, the Buhari’s administration had been caught pant-down in corruption. One need not mention the school children feeding scandal under the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadya Farouq. The fact that Ibrahim Magu, the suspended EFCC’s boss and Justice Abubakar Malami are both steeped in some kind of allegations bothering on corruption is a clear indication that something is fundamentally wrong with the Buhari government.
There can’t be any justification for police officers who stooped as low as going about with Point of Sales machine (POS). In countries with working systems, the Inspector General of Police would have immediately engaged undercover police officers to fish out such bad eggs. But, IGP Mohammed Adamu paid deaf ears to such criminal conduct, the same way he didn’t see the need to reform the entire policing in Nigeria in line with best practice.
No officer can rise to the very peak of policing in a country with over 200 million people if the officer does not have something upstairs. It therefore that Mohammed Adamu couldn’t have been a mediocre! He must have been among the very best of his set. So, how come he allowed SARS to degenerate into a ‘special anti-peoples’ squad’ ? Corruption! Those who are corrupt do not have the temerity to accuse others of corruption. Biblically, you should be able to remove the log from your own eyes to see the spot in another person’s eyes. We hear of how money meant to run a divisional police station is cornered by the Divisional Police Officer, (DOP) such that many a times, police vehicles are grounded. These days, stationeries are luxury in police stations.
After victims of police brutality and excesses, the next person who may tell the shameful stories of a debased Nigerian police are lawyers. Lawyers are enemies to the police. Accused persons are severely punished for calling in their lawyers. Some lawyers are reluctant to take briefs which may need them to make stops at, and work from the police station. The reason is the rot which takes place there. A learned colleague once said to me: ‘show me an honest police officer and I will show you a Nigerian who sleeps with both eyes closed’. I didn’t know that Nigerians only sleep with one eye closed and other open until the stories of herders killing a quarter of the entire population of a village was told.
It’s true that Nigerians had never had it this bad. Pundits are of the view that successive administrations should also share in the blame for the presently parlous economy. Including those in the 1970s who failed to invest excess dollars generated from the various windfalls in the sales of crude. Let me quickly add here that the greatest undoing of those leaders is their failure to design indigenous templates for national development. The question remains, can’t we do things differently? Of course, yes! Must we continue to copy verbatim from Britain and America? God forbid!