Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: Our future is bleeding (YNaija Frontpage)

What bothers me is how these issues will pass us by again, not because we do not feel bad for the dead in Mubi and Aluu, but because, many more will soon die in the same circumstances and we would simply have to move on to grieve with the next set of victims and their families, leaving the current ones to their own fate. When will it all stop?

Violence in Nigerian universities peaked in the 1990s. Students’ heads were chopped off and hung at school gates in Enugu, entire hostel blocks were serially held hostage in Benin City, professors were trailed and killed in Makurdi, students’ mothers were killed in their homes in Owerri, the list was endless. Confraternities had taken over and the battle for the soul of campuses across the country, were fought between rival cults (as they were/are more commonly called) on the one hand and between cults and school authorities on the other. As was the case in most schools, the authorities had pretty much lost the fight and stood on the sidelines hoping the battle between rival fraternities never boils over too quickly, too often.

While all this happened though, the one thing that struck me was how the media treated the issue. Most of these violent clashes never made news. When they made news, they were tucked somewhere in page 12 or thereabouts. It was never priority, or at least given that status. That was probably the biggest reason why heinous acts flourished for many years, aided of course by the fact that we lived in military times, when the law took a back seat to force.

Those days are not completely behind us as we still hear the random news about cult clashes in our higher institutions today, even if they have definitely gotten a lot less frequent.  I look back now at people from that generation and some things start to make sense. A lot of the young men, who have caused Nigeria the most violent pain in recent times, come from that generation. Whether it is with militancy in the south or kidnappings in the east or terrorism in the north, a lot of the people leading these groups happen to be in the category of people who were either in a higher institution at the time, or had their peers there. Basically, they have been groomed to see that violence and crime is the easiest way to get your message across, regardless of whose blood is spilled. Sadly, this generation may do worse.

Last week started on the most shocking note when on Monday, news came in about killings on a Polytechnic campus in Mubi, Adamawa State. Most people’s instincts immediately screamed ‘Boko Haram’. In one fell swoop, 28 or 43 or 44 students (depending on who you are asking) had been called out by name, brutally murdered and laid out in the open like livestock at an abattoir. Following the killings, students have come out to say that they tried to warn their colleagues when they knew the killers were on campus but the recent destruction of mobile facilities by terrorists in the Northeast had made services really poor. There were others who say they actually got through, especially to security agents. But nothing was done.

Theories are flying all over about there being a student union power struggle and that the killers were on the losing end. Some other theory says Muslim students could not stand a Christian led Student Union Government and so decided to kill the newly elected President and his team. Yet another simply says the group Boko Haram, in their ever-changing style, simply just came up with a new chilling way to make a statement without using explosives. For me, all I ask is why? Why have we let ourselves sink so low; to a stage where young men who should either be in school building a proper foundation for themselves or building empires like a certain Facebook owner who is within their age group, are instead engaged in killing their colleagues and having their dead pictures splashed all over Facebook?

As if that was not enough, the University of Port Harcourt and a host community called Aluu, decided not to be outdone. The story is that that armed robbers have held that community hostage for a while and they had been waiting for a scapegoat. As fate would have it, 5 UniPort students were apparently caught in an uncompleted building within the community. They were subsequently accused of stealing the laptops and mobile phones seen with them and immediately dragged out in the open. The pictures and videos (which I couldn’t watch) of their beating, eventual unconsciousness and final burning with tyres round their necks, are some of the most stomach churning clips you would see anywhere. What’s worse? The perpetrators laughed and joked all through with witnesses enjoying it well enough to have it captured on their mobile phones.

Jungle justice is almost an accepted form of punishment in Nigeria these days, borne out of a lack of faith in the security and judicial systems. Many have turned a blind eye when armed robbers get that treatment. But when unarmed students who ‘allegedly’ stole material worth less than the tuition at Law School, are killed so gruesomely with their bloody images splashed all over the internet, it becomes tough to keep calling it ‘jungle justice’ because taking anyone’s life, is simply murder.

What bothers me is how these issues will pass us by again, not because we do not feel bad for the dead in Mubi and Aluu, but because, many more will soon die in the same circumstances and we would simply have to move on to grieve with the next set of victims and their families, leaving the current ones to their own fate. When will it all stop?

We are grooming a future of killers and criminals who can only do more harm than good to this country. So while you shrug and feel like your nice little home is hundreds of miles away from these gory murder scenes, think 20 years from now and the sort of people who will be in charge of Nigeria…


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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Comments (6)

  1. Yomi Olukayode, it is no longer fashionable to blame anything and everything on the incumbent government…think of something better.

  2. I can't even express how I feel. This is hard…no words!!!!

  3. So well said, but really beyond our usual contributions and mentions on all platforms, this past years (2-3 years) had witnessed more jungle justice than when there was no rule of law, coupled with cluelessness of imcumbent to tackle militancy. It seems we need to help ourselves or we advocate for private people to carry fire-arms.

  4. Nigeria is on the path of destruction. What can we do to curb this criminal acts?

  5. Everyday or week, it's one news or another. I watched the video nd can't get the images out, the bystanders laughing as the lads were set on fire. I weep cos Nigeria is taking a path of destruction. May their souls rest in peace. God bless u Ebuka for this piece.

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