Recent stories from across Nigeria indicate that the country may be in more trouble than it actually realises. It also rings the alarm that unless the political elite who are currently engrossed in their seasonal scramble for power comes to terms with the harm they have foisted on the country and retract with alacrity, the horse may indeed soon bolt away from Nigeria’s stable of sanity.
Last week, news filtered in from the Delta State that the Nigeria Police had arrested a gang of young men involved in the kidnapping and murder of a female student of the Delta State University, Abraka.
Elozino Ogege, a particularly brilliant 22-year-old 300-level student of Mass Communications of the institution was said to be in need of accommodation outside of the university, which is unable to house all its students, as is the situation in so many institutions in the country. She approached someone one would consider a most safe prospect, a security man with the school. He promised to help but only ended up leading her to a permanent place of abode in the great beyond.
The security guard, Onos, apparently working with a kidnap syndicate, presumably including his supervisor whom he claimed posted him to the university to arrange for the abduction of girls, lured the poor young lady to his accomplices who sprinkled a substance that instantly rendered her insentient.
A report in the last edition of Sunday Vanguard quoted Onos as volunteering the following heart-rendering confession: “The next day, they brought a Toyota Corolla and when Elozino came, they used something on her face which made her unconscious. We took her to a bush where we first plucked out her eyes while she was still alive. She was even crying and begging us to forgive her and let her go, but we plucked the other eye, removed her breasts and her heart before she died.”
That is a sure embodiment of the state of a soul that has given itself to the devil. But there is a very sad irony; the crowd of people like this grows by the day in Nigeria.
As a matter of fact, this newspaper report told of three other equally frightening incidents that occurred in different parts of Delta State over the past couple of weeks. One of these accounts was that of an unidentified young lady whose dead body, devoid of some vital parts, was dumped at the Summit Junction end of the Asaba-Benin Expressway penultimate Wednesday. She was clearly another victim of ritual killing!
And in the Warri area of the state, ladies are now said to live on the edge gripped by fears that their underwears may fall into the hands of ritualists who require them for money. The report claimed that one single pant could be purchased by ritualists for as much as N250,000 and as such ladies have devised all sorts of methods to ensure that their panties do not fall into the hands of those who have now been tagged, “Yahoo-yahoo boys.” When some of these girls take the spiritual route of anointing their panties, others would dare not spread theirs in the open after laundry. A lady said she had formed the tradition of sitting with her undies until they got dried while many girls, now actually go about their daily routine without panties not being sure of what man to trust! All of this is because some young men have arrived at the point where they consider wealth as the ultimate and are ready to achieve the status by all means possible.
And here the natural tendency is to come down heavy on the youth and the pervasive get-rich-quick mentality of this generation. While that may not be totally off the mark, it is unhelpful to refuse to acknowledge the fact that these desperate young men have some forbears, who hold various leadership positions in the country and have not just shown but also run their posts in life with the mentality that you are dead without money.
Take a start from the political class. Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, with all its appropriation of progressive credentials asked presidential and governorship aspirants to purchase expression forms for a whopping N45m and N22.5m respectively earlier this year and nothing anyone said impressed the party into reconsidering its position. In doing this, the APC has not just suggested that opportunities are only available for the highest bidders and excluded aspirants without the outrageous resources it asked for, it has also given the impression, even literarily shown itself as abetting the widely known tendency for public officials to recoup their financial investments on elections and acquire personal dividend before settling down to the business of governance.
A corollary is the obvious imbalance in the distribution of the resources of state by the same leaders whose ostentation twerks with the people’s sensibilities. So, with the enormous resources of the state at their disposal, they pontificate about the importance of education, do nothing significant to improve quality and access at home but send their children to choice institution abroad. They pay lip service to the development of the health sector but cannot wait to jump on the next airplane for medical checks out of the country. They eat fat on the state with their family and friends, drive the best cars with endless convoys and go to parties where they display affluence like it would go out of fashion while the large proportion of the people who are poor and deprived watch on, imagining how to help their own destinies! Unfortunately, education, which liberates the soul of men, is the first victim of the weaponisation of money by the ruling class and so, this country has become a free-for-all survival field where virtually everyone is prepared to do anything to get by.
Nigeria has passed on the message to its children that wealth and possession fulfil all human desires and determine the quality of life, yet it fails to tell them about the sanctity of human life and recommend the virtues of hard work and conscientiousness.
Money has become the god that Nigerians serve. And that is not a bad thing in itself, as money when deployed with love for humanity is indeed a good messenger, capable of wiping off the grinding and widespread poverty across the land and reduce the scourge of disease. But the Nigerian seeks money just to feel powerful and oppress the same people from whom they profiteered and made this humongous means. The Nigerian makes money to perpetuate their social status and ensure that those who are on the lower levels of the ladder never ever make it close to them and their descendants. This is the gap that the Yahoo boys and so many others attracted to crime crave to fill by the desperation that they show.
Therefore, every Nigerian, starting with the leaders, must probe their minds and free themselves from the bondage of inordinate acquisition. It would also be dangerous to imagine that the problem is peculiar to Delta State as the most recent incidents have shown. All over Nigeria, there are desperate money mongers taking on jobs as nannies or drivers just to have access to children for kidnapping; there are people selling their own children or wives to ritualists who claim powers to making money.
This is exactly where the rulership of money takes a people. A people willing to do whatever it takes to make money do not care about the need to build or maintain self-respect, they do not care about their own integrity or the humanity of others. They hold society hostage and make everyone a slave of their own desire. This is the abyss that Nigeria is tending towards but no one seems to notice.