GUEST COLUMNIST By OKEY ANUEYIAGU
If today there is one thing that is profoundly certain, it is the incontrovertible fact that our country, Nigeria, has been besieged by anarchism, and has therefore become divisively dysfunctional and a dangerous enclave to dwell in. Our country is infested with the deadly disease of anarchism; a system of existence that is in direct opposition and complete conflict to the established order of things. An order that has continually become a blight, an affliction, and a scourge to its people, the state, its institutions and the foundations, destroying the ideals and ideologies that created, sustained, supported and glorified these institutions.
Anarchism in the simplest sense of it, is a sort of political philosophy or movement that is skeptical of all justifications and expectations for authority, and that which seeks to abolish the inherent institutions. Anarchy, derived from a Greek word that means “have no ruler”, panders to a system that rejects governmental authority in favour of self-governing; being synonymous for chaos, disorder, and the breakdown of civil order. These prescriptive definitions and variables, and more, are the state of anarchism besieging Nigeria today, revealing the moral nuances of the violence, that never reconciles with our existence.
On a daily basis, if not on an hourly rate, anywhere one turns, one is besieged by this anarchism. The form of this anarchism that has taken center stage in our land, is violence; a gross orgy of ugly carnage that churns one’s stomach enough to make one with even the strongest stomach, retch and throw up every single meal in the body. Our established order has been destroyed, creating unbelievable levels of human spontaneity that negates all sensibilities and sensitivities. Everything today points to a society of wickedness, of wanton lack of empathy; a people of ineptitude, of corruption, and of a rapid and declining value for life, for the sanctity of existence and humanity, and of knowing what is right and inimically refusing to do them.
You may call what is plaguing us; social, economic, political or religious anarchism, but its prevalence and portentousness have become enduring or perduring to the point of becoming impediments to our society. These abnormalities are about to destroy everything we are made of. There is not one day, that one does not pick up an item of news, be it from mainline news or social media news, that one is not confronted with misery, with the sad and gory news of wanton and savagery deaths of innocent Nigerians under the most bizarre circumstances and awkward situations.
An argument judiciously used, will point and trace the historical emergence of this anarchist trend to many periods and factors, both from within and without. This point however, looks and feels less contemptible only if one remembers that the origin of disorder and anarchy can be traced beyond and up to the period when bloodletting befell some of us from 1966 to 1970.
However, the emergence of the anarchy that has matured into a sustained national phenomenon today began right from the pogrom and massacre of the Easterners, predominantly the Igbo in the North and in other parts of the country from 1966 to 1970. Once the war ended in January of 1970, and Nigeria failed in properly reconciling the warring factions, and in rehabilitating the vanquished, leaving the Igbo and others adversely affected by that rancid war in desolation, despair and abandonment, the period and process of anarchism set in.
Anarchism was accelerated in the land, when the government of the day, and the Nigeria people invented, cultivated and executed the “scorched earth” doctrine against the losers of that war, and in so doing, got the better of their fellow citizens by refusing to be bound by the laws of reason and common sense, or by the immutable laws of nature. From this point, the Igbo and the others who suffered injustice from that war, began to express themselves in what one may term in a constipated manner; as a people refusing to be subjugated into slavery and struggling to gain dignity in an existence that should portray them as human beings.
Today, the known source of anarchism in Nigeria that can be traced logically to the sordid events of the civil war and its aftermaths, has left no stone unturned, and no area untouched in the challenge of all known norms producing harderned criminal elements both in the political and other spectrums of our lives. This has inherently, defied all standards of morality and decency in our land.
In my undergraduate years, we were taught in our Political Philosophy classes, and I was somewhat convinced, that violence through anarchism was a necessary tool needed in overcoming the obstacles erected by our political systems, and that it was beneficial for our institutional growth, stability and advancement. We were taught that some form of anarchy was needed by individuals and citizens to correct the ills in our society as it provides some form of release of energies for persons to realize the level of powers at their disposal. In other words, that anarchism is good for our society as it makes it possible for transition and fluidity of power to thrive in the instance where “the commander of yesterday can become a subordinate of tomorrow”.
This “Good Anarchy” prompted us university students in the 1970s to take the laws into our hands in enforcing what was deemed by us to be right in correcting the ills of our society. We caused real anarchy – the type that sought to change our society for the good. However, this is not the form of anarchism that we are witnessing in our land today. What reigns supreme today, is anarchism of rape, blind murder, kidnapping, and willful anachronism, causing us to drown in our own tears.
Let it be noted, incidentally, that Nigeria prior to our period of independence from Britain, maintained a relatively peaceful political atmosphere. The audacious criminality that prevails today is a result of the abhorrent ways the country has treated its citizens and the Easterners, especially the Igbo and executed that war in a manifestly ignoble manner and disdainful ways. To belabour these known facts may be an inexcusable burden on this part of our history. Therefore, as we must learn to move on from this somewhat otiose but hapless issue, we must also ponder the advent of the problems in our land and seek solutions.
As I write this difficult essay, I see my job not only as a historian (which I am not), but whose job it may be to trace the chronicles of our problem, and in so doing, give a voice to the oppressed, the vanquished, and feel the past in ways that will genuinely liken its disturbing occurrences to our present uncomfortable lives.
It is glaringly evident that the evil that now besets our land flows from the past and present men’s purposes, desires and beliefs, and derives also from some fundamental wickedness and ignorance. The killings, the rape, the beheading, the kidnapping, the burning, the looting and all the senseless destruction – all occurring simultaneously all over our country, are clear signs of anarchism.
I am tempted to list a few of the anarchisms in our country, but where can one start and where can one end? Is it the case of the Chibok school children who were kidnapped and extinguished, the many innocent citizens in their hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives to senseless murderous anarchists, criminals and vandals, or the vandalization and sacking of prisons, churches, mosques, schools, markets? What about the kidnapping and beheading of a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly? They cut off his head, hoisted it on a pole and paraded it on the streets of this man’s hometown. What about the revered Head of The Methodist Church who was kidnapped or rather captured, as it appears that we are at war? They took the man of God into the jungle, tortured and humiliated him while extorting huge amount of money from his congregation. Again, what about the absolutely horrific recent incident of Catholic priest, Father Isaac Achi, who was burnt to death in his rectory – the sanctuary of God? These frightening occurrences are anarchisms of the highest order and dire consequences.
The most scary thing about this issue, is that government is helpless and hopeless. There are myths and there are dogmas, and there are so many other reconstructed views and contrasts about these ugly occurrences, but what is abundantly clear is that we are all in trouble. It appears that there is not a single answer to the catastrophe, and that no amount of any ingenious attempt of those who lead us now can resolve these problems of cataclysmic bloodshed and destruction.
Today, a groundswell of discontent and anarchy has become the prevailing norm of our life – it is now a moment of shame for every one of us as we stand at a crossroad, and witness a moment of great challenge. Our country is at war, a battle of lugubrious licentiousness, our economy is in turmoil, our planners are in peril, and anarchism rules the land.
An honest confrontation and reflection with our past history, I believe will liberate us, at least if from nothing, from the moral burden that should free us from the shackles of our many national tragic stories in order that we might create ourselves anew. Specifically, the senseless killing of Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Samuel Akintola, Okotie Ebo and other politicians in the January 15, 1966 military coup signaled one of the early waves of our deleterious and repulsive bloodletting. Then entered another perniciously and cowardly marked period in our bloody history; the gruesome assassination of Aguiyi Ironsi, Adekunle Fajuyi and scores of other military officers of mainly Igbo extraction and of Eastern Nigeria origin.
As if these killings were not enough, the entire North from Makurdi to Jos, Sokoto to Maiduguri, Kano to Katsina, Zaria to Zangon Kataf, Kaduna to Kafanchan, Bauchi to Malunfashi, performed the worst kind of holocaust in the history of mankind when the people from these zones conducted the pogrom against the Igbo and other Easterners maiming and killing hundreds of thousands mostly children and women – even pregnant ones and their unborn babies. What followed these sordid events became even more gruesome; the Biafra war, where the blood of over 3 million innocent people were used to irrigate the fertile land of Eastern Nigeria.
The rehashing of these tragic histories, should not be a recriminatory one, but should serve as a trace of the beginning of anarchism in our land, and should question if Nigeria is ready, or need to pursue the opportunity to shatter the myths and denials that seek to secure our innocence or guilt from these sins and evilness. In doing so, I reckon that we must all repudiate the injustices of the past, and face the consequences of our ignoble actions, otherwise we will all remain impaled on an unseemly history of deadly anarchism.
Try as I may to tell a different, better story about how we arrived at where we are today, we must exorcise the ghosts that will never leave us alone, because we have not atoned for our sins, and have refused to admit to, and confront our problems directly by working hard for a better Nigeria and by putting aside our old hate, our tired fears and the histories that justify them.
Our government’s infestation with cronyism, ineptitude and corruption encapsulate its error-proneness and its congenital incapacity, or its reluctance, one may think, to deal or cope decisively with these problems and the exogenous awe and shocks these anarchisms present. Averse to these tendencies that aggravate our vulnerabilities, our leaders hem in their ignorance and their overbearing inflexibilities in dealing with these repulsively grotesque killings and anarchy that have bludgeoned us into total submission.
Similarly, the impetuous inclination by our politicians to ride on the crest of these anarchists in furtherance of their mindless political agendas, has become part of these chronic instabilities. After all, we have been told that the deadly Boko Haram terrorist group was the creation of certain known politicians who are now, inconveniently, riding in the bilious bellies of the vicious tigers they created.
As I write about these inconvenient truths, I am sure that many, due to premodial reasons do not see any value or sense in my essay. Even for those who do not see the sickening evilness and vileness that have befallen us, can they not at least appreciate the catharsis my pacifist positions bring to our sepulchral situation in a country overtaken by anarchism?
Admittedly, there is statistical evidence to prove that our country has become a dystopian nightmare. We have lived to legitimize anarchy and treated this demonstrable destabilization of our fractured land like they are worthy of the same consideration as normalcy.
What is clear, is that after over 50 years of our consistent pharaonic decline, the Nigerian people earnestly yearn to recapture the civilizational glories of our past. But what is not clear, is who in our political landscape would do this revival, the reconstruction and the recapturing?
Nevertheless, my interpretive gaze at this situation, provides a perspectival shift that acknowledges that we have made our beds full of thorns and scorpions, but that our redemption may only come from our collective voice of conscience speaking from a universal point that is motivated and driven by love and kindness towards one another.
Dr. Okey Anueyiagu
Is the Author of the bestseller:
Biafra, The Horrors of War