Chude Jideonwo: One nation under fear

by Chude Jideonwo

protest

 

Here, politicians drop their decency at home and lunge at one another even before the tears have dried from our eyes, throwing accusations that have nothing to do with empathy or decency – only the urgent grab for more power. Here, no one loses his job for doing it badly, even if it has to do with life and death.

 

Jet the heck outta that country biko. Aren’t you tired?”

I felt a slight, stubborn chill as I read this tweet a few minutes ago – it sums up the feeling of doom and gloom across social media in Nigeria as I write.

It is a Thursday evening, and another bomb has just gone off in my country. This bomb just went off in Nyanya, in the center of the nation’s capital, the same location of a blast that took the lives of at least 100 people barely two weeks earlier. At least seven people are already dead this time.

Isn’t it normal protocol in responsible countries around the world, where the lives of the people are regarded, that when violence occurs in a place, in the absence of a failure of governance, security is immediately beefed up at that spot – even if for the sake of appearances?

Not Nigeria.

Here, we don’t even pause to mourn the dead, count their number, or prevent another. Here, our President goes off the next day to a political celebration in a nearby state and tweets pictures of rented crowds singing his praises. Here, federal ministers go about their daily business, contracts continue to be awarded at council meetings, with our leaders studiously ignoring the reality of our desperation.

Here, politicians drop their decency at home and lunge at one another even before the tears have dried from our eyes, throwing accusations that have nothing to do with empathy or decency – only the urgent grab for more power. Here, no one loses his job for doing it badly, even if it has to do with life and death.

Here, business leaders move on like nothing happened, because to speak about the collapse of governance puts your enterprise at risk, a needless act of aggravation, they believe, in a country where tragedy is, after all, common place.

Here, citizens will weep and gnash their teeth, but they will not come out in their numbers to demand a better government – because this  is the reality we have always known; no respect for human life, no shock at tragedy, no sense that we deserve better.

Here, more than 200 girls were kidnapped, and the government expects it to quietly go away, the President keeping ominously quiet, in the hope that the world will not notice, and business can go on as usual, in a country where problems grow old, but never die.

Here, another bomb goes off. And nothing happens. Nothing ever changes. We just hunker down and wait for the next one.

We know that when our president says the “perpetrators will be brought to justice,” it is a promise he will not keep. We know that when domestic terrorists taunt us with videos celebrating the murder of Nigerians, they will do it again. We know, as surely as the sun rises in the East, that in a matter of days, or weeks, maybe even hours, more Nigerians will yet die in what has become a routine. And I know, as I type, that there is no sophisticated structure, no system, no effort, that exists at this moment to keep me safe, to keep me alive, that I can trust.

So another friend just says to me she is afraid to live in Abuja, where she has called home for at least two decades. And I have no comfort to give her. Because I too am afraid.

I too will be on my way to Abuja next week – and I will be terrified. Terrified because one is going to a dangerous place, but alas there is no guarantee of security even in Lagos where I live. Or anywhere in Nigeria – where planes drop off the sky, bad roads take our young and hospitals have no spare blood.

One can only feel truly safe when one is safely away.

But how does one get so scared of living in one’s country – when it is not at war? How does one live in a state of perpetual fear – when we are supposed to have a fully functional government? How does one give in to such despair, such despondency?

How does one lose hope, when hope is all we have?

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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