By Ken Meju
Theyhad the crumbs given to them by slay kings instead of the crunch. A morsel waspresented to them in lieu of bread to keep them hungry while abundance smilesaway into the pockets of the bourgeois to keep them fat and satisfy their soul.They savour with relish the caste system they willfully created that is repletewith deceit and lies against the masses.
Thiscow of Bashan has negated the social contract between them and the commonersand consequently, eat up the grasses and trample underfoot; the remnant withutmost disregard. The food of the lot is looted by a few.The above aptly describes the Nigerian State whichhas turned the majors into minors, the majority into a few. The leaders rode to power on the ladder of the masses,bolted away with the vault and from their exalted positions, stealthilylegislate to pass laws that feed their personal desires, fatten theirentitlements and keep them enthroned in the helm of affairs at the detriment ofthe masses. And smartly keeping the masses away from their God-given commonwealth, they have steadily turned them into beggars. A choice-less one for thatmatter; an aftermath of their corruptactions.
To further their cause, they exploited nepotism andtribalism which helped usher in a big divide culturally and economicallywithout regard to the structure of the country, promoting in its wake,mediocrity and incompetence, all of which have contributed to the sorry stateof affairs in the country- a jumble of greed, waste and unimaginable corruptionin an economy sucked dry.
A failed system produces a load of by-products andfor Nigeria, a retinue of beggars and its deadly consequences it is. Everywhereyou turn today, there is a huge mass of unemployed youths waiting to be engagedand with the failure of government to provide needed opportunities they becomereadily available tools for societal destruction. Failure to educate and engageyouths in the North East made them easy recruits for Boko Haram insurgency. Allthe Boko Haram leader offered to draw a multitude to him for the cankerwormthat has ravaged the North East for years, were wheel barrows, something to putfood on their table and, for as little as N5000 with the promise of enjoyingvirgins when they die, the helpless youths whose leaders jolly in designer carsand private jets, offer to commit suicide in the name of jihads.
In like manner, unemployed and tired of watchingothers drink from the oil in their backyards while hunger and diseases threatento exterminate them Niger Delta youths took to militancy. With kidnaps andblasting of oil installations, they managed to get the fattened cows ingovernment to recognize that they too belong to Nigeria. Now cattle herdsmencarrying AK47 are terrorizing communities, highways and farms all over thecountry, killing, raping, kidnapping and demanding unimaginable sums as ransom.
This wave of restiveness which our government isunfortunately finding hard to control is a by-product of corruption and glaringdeceit by our leaders whose development plans are always in the pipeline andhas snowballed into a ricocheted action known as ‘Beggars Strike’. While theweaker set opt to stretch out their hands to beg food off the fattened cows,the more boisterous have taken to the power of the metal to take their want.The unfortunate and underprivileged who before were fed the crumbs from thetable of decision makers, the public officers serving selves rather than thepeople, in disgust and anger, have decided to turn the table and are nowfighting with arsenals within their reach-drugs, guns, machetes, etc., to maim,rape, kill, steal and destroy causingwidespread violence and hitherto unheard of atrocities.
Unfortunately for women and girls, the mostvulnerable segment of society, the weight of this anger is resting upon them asthey are targets for assault, rape, forced prostitution, kidnap and the widowedor care-givers if their spouses are lucky to escape unhurt. Married women arebeing raped on the highways and on their farm lands with dire consequences fortheir health and marriage.
A set of school girls were abducted in Chibok 16years ago, some killed in transit, some forced into unholy marriage while LeahShaibu is still in captivity for refusing to convert from Christianity toIslam. Every country is obliged to protect its citizens but this is becomingalmost unattainable in Nigeria. Fear is now the lot of women and girls. Justlast week news broke of a daytime abduction and violation of a 13 year schoolgirl in Ahaoda, Rivers State by a man in his 40s. Many such cases abound andare mostly unreported. Yet Nigeria has a law, Child Right Act to protectchildren; Violence against Persons Prohibition Act, as well as being asignatory to the UNSCR 1325. The UNSCR 1325 specifically seeks to protect andrehabilitate victims of violence more so from armed conflict but happenings inthe country do not point to the application of these organs of control andprotection from harm.
Girls are forced to marry cultists in thecommunities and cities out of fear of molestation and attack on their families.There have been cases of families losing members from bullets released by angrycultist boyfriends of runaway partners. Teenage pregnancy is on the increasewith more girls dropping out of school as the economy becomes tougher and morefamilies move into camps for internally displaced persons as a result of risingcases of communal conflict. Poor education means increased poverty and Nigeriais already the world capital for the extremely poor with a staggering 93, 769,233 (47.7per cent) of the population in that category according to the WorldPoverty Index Clock. Also, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-schoolchildren in the world with her record of 13.2million children, most of themgirls according to the United Nations Children Fund whereas one of theSustainable Development Goals target for education is, “By 2030, ensure thatall girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality education leading torelevant and effective learning outcomes”.
The rights ofthe girl-child have thus been vehemently attacked by circumstances that a sanersociety could have checked. The law enforcement agencies including thejudiciary have not done the needful to save this endangered species. Onlyrecently, an old man who raped a five-year old was set free by the court. Theshame rather than go to the violator, becomes the burden of the parents of thatgirl and a warning to others in similar predicament to keep silent. This isunsafe for our today and tomorrow as the culture of impunity is growing in thearea of corruption which continues to deny the masses development and theatrocities being unleashed from the angry violent masses in reaction tocontinued poverty, unemployment.
The justice system should be structured to stand up for women, girls and children as demanded by UNCSR 1325 and it should be devoid ofbottlenecks while the police should be enlightened on all existing laws,resolutions, conventions and policies on women and girls’ protection.
Protection of women and girls from all forms ofabuses should be granted priority by community based organizations,non-governmental organizations, the ministry of Women Affairs, and human rightorganizations.
Security agencies should also step up efforts while government at all levels should paypriority attention to ways and means of wiping out atrocities in society bypromoting good governance, providing opportunities for youth employment,providing basic infrastructure like power, water and education and recreationalfacilities to improve living among the masses. The commonwealth should be spenton making life meaningful for the generality of the people not stuffed inindividual pockets of public officers. And to restore sanity in governance, theEconomic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and ICPC should dispassionatelybring to book anyone found working against collective interest in this regard.
#Gender And Accountability
*KenMeju is a Port Harcourt based journalist