by Saatah Nubari
We are on the edge, dangling our feet, and we have no idea.
I read in the news that 4,700 Nigerians were forcefully evicted from their homes in Otodo-Gbame community in Lagos State, in one single day in March of 2017. According to the same news report, about 30,000 were earlier evicted in November of 2016. Now, according to the government, they are doing this to pave the way for “developmental projects,” but that is balderdash as we all know the people who will get those lands. But you are not afraid, and neither are you angry.
Mercy Abang wrote an article for Premium Times on the planned destruction of one of the last remaining forests in Calabar—if not the last—to make way for a $3.2bn superhighway project. 185 communities will be affected, and approximately 50,000 people will be displaced for this grand “developmental project” to be executed. A 76 years old man who she interviewed said this to her “I am not leaving, they’ve destroyed my means of survival, and I am waiting for them to come for my house so I can die with the bulldozer that day.” Elder Okon James Ukpong will be beside his soon to be bulldozed house, wondering where he went wrong. And maybe, just maybe, he will realise, before the bulldozers get to work, that he is piss poor and powerless, which happens to be a criminal offence. But you apparently cannot feel his pain, so you are neither angry nor afraid of what he can do.
In a piece I read recently, Betty Abah, the Executive Director of Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) mentioned that many children of school age do not go to school in Makoko—a slum in Lagos—because their parents cannot afford the fees, which happens to be as low as N30 or N50 in some cases. You think the amount I gave must be a mistake. I thought so too until I read the last word in that article/interview. So to put it in a way that will be easy for a lot of us to relate to, and maybe apply some imagery to; there are many parents in Makoko who cannot afford three pure water sachets (N10 each) as school fees for their child(ren). But you are not afraid of what someone who cannot afford N30 can do for N10,000, and neither are you angry.
In February this year, an 18-year-old Amina was arrested by men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. She was paid N200 by members of the Boko Haram sect to carry out a suicide attack. N200 is equivalent to one bag of pure water. Now I want you to let it sink in that a human being has been stretched to the point where he or she can decide to end his or her life and that of many others just for N200. But you are not afraid, neither are you angry. In the same North Eastern part of Nigeria ravaged by Boko Haram, the UN humanitarian coordinator Peter Lundberg had this to say: “Our assessment is that 14 million people are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance.” He also went on to warn that 75,000 children might die in the months to come. My bad, I forgot to add that this particular news on the North East was four months ago. The situation in the North East is such that Bono of the music group U2 has visited there. If you are wondering, of what significance his visit is, let me just say it shows the situation is worse than bad. And to top it all, we have now been grouped with the likes of Somalia and Sudan because of the humanitarian crises and famine going on in the North East. But in the midst of this, the Secretary to the Government was accused of embezzling monies meant for the IDPs and nothing happened. But yet you are not afraid that people who can kill you for N200 are with you, and neither are you angry.
Some few weeks back, the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics released its report stating that in 2016 alone, 3.67 million Nigerians lost their jobs. Now, let us assume each person in the 3.67 million fends for about three other people, it brings the figure to 11.1 million Nigerians affected. I have had to retweet and share pictures of missing and kidnapped people this year, more times than I have done or seen in my adult life. But yet you are not afraid that most of the people around you have nothing to do, and neither are you angry.
In Zaria, the Nigerian government killed over 300 of her citizens—including women and children—for something as flimsy as blocking a road. And then went on to bury their bodies in unmarked mass graves. The people of Southern Kaduna cannot be left out; theirs is such that equal measure is being put in killing them as is being put in silencing them or preventing them from crying out for help. The IPOB have had their own fair share of the brutality of the Nigerian state, as hundreds of their members have been executed and buried in unmarked mass graves. Now the IPOB are having meetings at ward levels and we are not paying attention. That these different groups of wronged and rightfully aggrieved Nigerians are yet to retaliate is scary, but you are not afraid and neither are you angry.
In all of these, the 2017 budget as fraudulent as it is has not been passed. The 140 page Economic, Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which is supposed to be a “plan” is just a piece of advanced poetry or prose or both. The Nigerian Senate on the other hand is having an egotistical battle with Magu and Hamid Ali, whose men have tuned to the mafia, killing innocent Nigerians along the border. Like that isn’t enough, same senate had enough time on the 14th of March to read a letter from the Adamawa State governor asking for support on his nomination as Leadership Man of the Year award.
We are on the edge, dangling our feet, and we have no idea. You should be very scared. You should be very angry.
Saatah Nubari is a Data Analyst/Activist. He is on Twitter @Saatah and can be reached by email [email protected]