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[Opinion]: Nigeria is becoming more chaotic, anarchic - Daniel Omale

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Since the beginning of this year, this country has been at war; unconventional warfare by unknown attackers, insurgents whose motives are unclear. Human life has become worthless in a nation that is supposed to be beaming with law and order. Anyone can get killed at any time, and since it has happened many times, our reaction to news of hideous crime is that of apathy. Last week, 60 residents of Birni Gwari, Kaduna state, were senselessly murdered by some unknown assailants, purported to have migrated from Zamfara state, another lawless enclave.

These days, news of incessant murder and abduction of civilians in the northern and middle -belt regions of Nigeria fill the airwaves, with inattentive law enforcement officers. The colossal loss of life and property in a sovereign state like Nigeria makes it hard to understand why anyone should feel safe here. Everyday, in some parts of northern Nigeria, some people are irrationally killed with impunity. No law enforcement, no question asked.

The government seems inadequate, unprepared to combat this anarchic situation. If there is a central authority that is entrusted to make laws and enforce them, why the ambivalence? Clearly, the law enforcement agencies are submerged in corruption that the only thing worthy of their attention is money. No human life is worthy of protection. What is most scary is the fact that with impunity, anyone, anywhere in the country can get killed by a person or a group.

There is no law and order, and no authority in this land to sanction or prevent such mayhems. Of late, we have heard of the Fulani Herdsmen, some mysterious invaders from the neghbouring Niger, and or Chad. Yet, no arrest or detention of these imaginary insurgents. Most countries rely on the law enforcement agencies – the police, the military, or the state security services to protect everyone within a polity; it is the reverse here.

Corruption has become the main structure of our society.  With stolen funds, the rich erroneously feel they can buy safety and protection. In countries like Somalia and Syria, there are obvious signs of war or civil disobedience that mitigate the existence of peace. But Nigeria, with a supposed elected and functional government, has become more unsafe for some residents.

A state could be said to “succeed” if it maintains, according to philosopher Max Weber, a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. When this is broken (e.g., through the dominant presence of warlords, paramilitary groups, or terrorism), the very existence of the state becomes dubious and the state becomes a failed state.

The difficulty of determining whether a government maintains “a monopoly on the legitimate use of force”, which includes the problems of the definition of “legitimate”, means it is not clear precisely when a state can be said to have “failed.” The problem of legitimacy can be solved by understanding what Weber intended by it. Weber clearly explains that only the state has the means of production necessary for physical violence (politics as vocation).

This means that the state does not require legitimacy for achieving monopoly on having the means of violence but will need one if it needs to use it. Typically, the term means that the state has been rendered ineffective and is not able to enforce its laws uniformly because of (variously) high crime rates, extreme political corruption, an impenetrable and ineffective bureaucracy, judicial ineffectiveness, military interference in politics, and cultural situations in which traditional leaders wield more power than the state over a certain area. Other factors of perception may be involved.

A derived concept of “failed cities” has also been launched, based on the notion that while a state may function in general, polities at the substate level may collapse in terms of infrastructure, economy and social policy. Certain areas or cities may even fall outside state control, becoming a de facto ungoverned part of the state. While those in power fight to remain in government and loot the treasury, they fail to realize that even with their enormous wealth, they must keep fighting to remain on top to be protected. What a paradox. Nigeria is in a bad situation because our values are enshrined in the system of corruption we have created. The quality of a man depends on how much looted funds he has in his pouch.

Therefore, everyone, at all cost, must get rich to be idolized or respected in the society, irrespective of the source of wealth. A law enforcement officer will conspicuously abandon his duty and responsibility to gain some illicit financial leverage. This is what makes the whole system dangerous. The level of corruption in Nigeria today has never been attained in the history of this nation. Derived corruption is manifested in various variants and everyone is caught in the web. A driver must cheat his boss while buying petrol for a car he drives—his job. An Okada rider would carry as many as four people on a small Jinchen motorcycle designed for two people; and standing nearby, is a police officer, whose duty is to prevent such lawlessness. But he would not act or react because he has been paid by the Okada riders association to look the other way.

With nearly a million school leavers dumped into the unemployment market every year, and a staggering 50 per cent unemployment rate in the country, Nigeria is sitting on a time-bomb. The search for the characteristics or traits of leaders has been ongoing for centuries. History’s greatest philosophical writings from Plato’s Republic to Plutarch’s Lives have explored the question, “What qualities distinguish an individual as a leader?” Underlying this search was the early recognition of the importance of leadership and the assumption that leadership is rooted in the characteristics that certain individuals possess.

The result of last week’s All Progressives Congress (APC) ward congress exercises in the country is a prelude to the general elections in 2019. President Buhari’s efforts are being marginalized by his trusted lieutenants. We are slipping into chaos, anarchy.

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