It is a simple law of potential & progression: A government that lies against the people with such impunity will turn the military on them without blinking.
Remember where you were that New Year’s Day afternoon when you first heard—and disbelieved—the news. Initially it was like a terrorist attack no one was willing to claim responsibility for. And then the truth hit home, hard. Our government had successfully stolen the shine from Boko Haram, and exploded a bomb in the pockets and psyches of already longsuffering Nigerians.
In the weeks that followed, Nigeria burned. Armed with lies, intimidation, condescension, and (eventually) soldiers, the government waged relentless war against the Nigerian people. “The subsidy has to go. No going back! Nigeria cannot afford this. It is for the good of the people; we’re doing this for your future!”
Never before in the history of Nigeria had so many been condescended to, by so few.
They cooked and threw figures at us; flung promises as loud as they were empty. The President created 370,000 jobs in one speech (a probable world record by any standards), and with a straight face ‘paid’ civil service salaries on the 20th of every month. They also ordered “palliative” buses after the fact – incontrovertible evidence of the fact that their DNA is imprinted with contempt for the people they pretend to lead.
Now, with the release of the fuel subsidy probe report (the credit for which belongs to the Nigerian people, who put unprecedented pressure on a government unfamiliar with the concept of accountability), the chickens have found their way home—shorn of the feathers that long shielded their anuses. This moment in history, if not for the inherent tragedy, would have been a perfect ‘we-told-you-so’ moment.
For me the issue has always been clear, as follows: Under Mr. Jonathan’s watch, fuel subsidies rose (at least) three-fold. Instead of looking inwards, finding the reasons for that, taking responsibility, and punishing the implicated criminals, the government chose the easy – and unconscionable – way out: it turned its anger on a hapless people, and blamed them for its sins.
It’s one of the worst things any government can do; in my opinion nothing short of “crimes against humanity.” I have not used that term lightly or thoughtlessly, and by using it I am not in any way trying to equate the January crises with, say, the Rwandan genocide, or the sufferings of Syrians under the brutal Assad. No. Indeed a lone hit-and-run fatality and a survivor-less plane crash can both share the word “tragedy”, without the ‘smaller’ tragedy triggering accusations of seeking to devalue the resonance of the ‘larger’ one, and of the word “tragedy” itself.
I look at what the government did in January, against the backdrop of the revelations from the probe, and find it consistent with the patterns of governments that commit crimes of genocide against their people. A government that could do what it did – all those lies and emotional blackmail – all in a bid to avoid taking responsibility for its failings, will go to any lengths anytime it finds itself on the wrong side of the people’s wishes.
And of course we saw that happen on the day they crushed the protests – they deployed armed troops to the streets of Lagos, and then tried to frame Governor Fashola by saying he requested for the deployment.
It is a simple law of potential & progression: A government that lies against the people with such impunity will turn the military on them without blinking. And a government that turns the military on its people to crush protests against its lies is at any point in time merely a few steps from where Mr. Assad currently is. Let’s not forget that people died protesting last January!
Now that the truth is out, and it has emerged that the Nigerian people are not the parasites their government painted them to be (parasites sucking the life out of the Nigerian state through their addiction to ‘cheap’ petrol); now that it’s clear who the real parasites are, and that the aiders and abetters of parasitism are the same ones who were loudest in defence of the subsidy-removal; the least Mr. Jonathan, his henchmen and henchwomen can do is tender an unreserved public apology for their countless crimes against the Nigerian people.
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.