Friday 28 July 2006

Nigerian electioneering usurped by uber-thugs

Thugs for power

I cannot begin express the level of anxiety that can consume one in anticipation of the 2007 Elections in Nigeria.

Somehow, the trappings of gaining political power in Nigeria turns what nominally should be a fair contest of civilized people expressing preference for a candidate through the ballot box into a savagery that makes the tribes in King Solomon’s Mines appear like play school.

It is one thing to allow the campaigns that are usually marred with rhetoric that fuels violent clashes between brainwashed supporter thugs, but when the contest landscape is cleaned up through assassinations and murders, it becomes an entirely different matter.

Life is cheap

For some people, life is so cheap to be expendable if anyone has the temerity to rise in opposition to their electoral desires. Whilst they portend to have a following which gives them a kind of leadership status, they are just heads of mobs dressed in deceptively respectable apparel.

These people have not attained a level of maturity worthy of people who can lead such a diverse country like Nigeria.

Unfortunately, the problem is not only that of rich uber-thugs who seek office, they hold sway over jobless, drugged up, hired miscreants who are no better than a pack of greyhounds in a hunt – like hyenas in the bush, they cackle as they are directed to prey that they might kill or carcasses they might scavenge.

The bane of social disparities

The economic conditions in Nigeria where the gap between the utterly stinking rich and the atrociously dirt poor in a country that is the 7th largest oil producer in the world is as yawning as the gap occupied by the Atlantic Ocean.

It only takes peanuts to muster the kind of mob to do your bidding with impunity, their handlers being men in authority leaves the police as onlookers in general and at best the police as referees in managing civil discord in the pursuit of political office. Sometimes, it is about whose mob can shout the loudest and terrify the populace that they are paralysed with fear and foreboding.

Murder most horrid

It is on that frame that one can view the shooting, stabbing or strangling of a gubernatorial aspirant in Lagos State yesterday. A strangling is a murder most horrid in its proximity, violation and terror – nobody should meet such a death in any circumstances.

Only the night before, the police chiefs met with all the aspirants to ask them to curtail their supporters, who have for a while been involved in skirmishes, basically, they were advised to eschew violence – my point exactly.

Knowing the dangers that aspirants can be subject to, apart from having personal staff which included a cook and a PA, 4 heavily armed policemen were posted as sentry to the victim’s premises.

Six assailants still gained access to the premises, tied up the man and caused his death though one of the many means yet to be properly ascertained.

Doing real detective work

It is understandable that the exact time of death might be indeterminate, but I see no professionalism in the way the police are conducting the matter, a fundamental flaw that has left many high-profile murders including the one of a minister of Justice unsolved.

From the news stories, there is no indication that a detective is in charge of the homicide even though every ranking policeman in that region has paid a visit to the premises.

There is no indication that an autopsy would be conducted to scientifically determine the cause of death, nor do I think they have a robust coroner service and facility.

For now, the PA, cook and the policemen have been arrested as suspects and in Nigeria that is possible, just in case these protectors had been bribed to turn a blind eye to the events – unbelievable but very plausible.

Nigeria is just not safe

The bottom-line comes down to this, is Nigeria a safe place to live in and aspire for anything of worth? I have my doubts – that is exemplified in the fact that many of these rich uber-thugs do reside in Nigeria but send their whole families abroad to live large.

In this case, his family resides in the United States, distant from immediate dangers of living in Nigeria but continually anxious about the head of the family who stays to battle it out in the political blood fest that masquerades as the largest democracy in Africa.

Immediately, as the news broke, I was on the phone to my brother, just to be sure everything is fine with them. I thank God, they are all fine.


Nigerian clashes kill at least 9

Gubernatorial frontrunner stabbed to death

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