Category: Opinion | Posted date: 2020-11-17 02:17:24 | Updated date: 2020-11-17 02:19:50 | Posted by: Mark Patrick
To improve and strengthen governance in Nigeria, restoring confidence should be a prioritized goal of the current and subsequent administration
Outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has placed huge constraint on global socioeconomic and political progress. In fact, to some experts of international relations, the outbreak of the coronavirus poses a threat to true globalization. The ravaging impacts of the virus are unprecedentedly devastating. Worrisomely, the outbreak of the pandemic has heightened citizens’ repulsion and total loss of confidence in their governments most especially in fragile states such as the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Bad governance and malicious coronavirus effects are gradually brewing threats and grave tension in Nigeria. Bad governance is a serious issue in the country with its negative attributes traceable to the early years of Nigerian independence.
Extenuating proliferation of coronavirus cases had attracted diverse precautionary measures including nationwide lockdown. This precautionary measure implied the total restriction and closure of socioeconomic and political activities—total prevention of physical interpersonal activities that could lead to the easy spread of the contagious virus. However, implementing this precautionary measure amid extreme poverty, unbearable inflation and massive youth unemployment in Nigeria without palliative measures put in place stemming its harsh effects connotes an enforcement of a structural violent policy. It is of no doubt that through the lockdown precautionary measure the unemployment and poverty rates in Nigeria pullulated exponentially as many means of livelihood truncated. This economic frustration was soon brought about vandalizing and looting of provision shops, and other forms of robbery attacks.
Compounding citizens’ anxiety and frustrations arising from the ravaging coronavirus is the perpetual perpetration of brutality by security operatives. During the first two months of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, number of innocent lives that were lost to Nigerian Army Police brutality were more than deaths occasioned by the coronavirus itself. Most perturbing was the long years of brutality unleashed by the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) against Nigerian youths. SARS was a unit of the Nigerian Police Force established to combat armed robbery in Nigeria. On numerous occasions, SARS operatives had been alleged of violating human rights, gruesome killing and extorting young people gravely.
The obvious outcome of the cumulative heinous acts of the Nigerian Police most especially against the youths is the agitation and campaigns by the Nigerian youths since 2017 demanding the Federal Government to scrap the notorious SARS unit. Recently, violence against youths by SARS operatives provoked massive peaceful protest both home and abroad against the unit.
Despite the long obvious brutality, the government remains reluctant in protecting the rights and saving lives of the young people in the country. The most recent incident that showcased the government’s insensitivity to the demands of the Nigerian youths was the unjustifiable killings of young peaceful protesters by the Nigerian Police at Ojoo, Ibadan in Oyo State and also the Nigerian Army killings of protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State in October 20, 2020. These gruesome killings further escalated into riot and violent confrontations between the Nigerian Security Forces and the youths which led to loss of lives on both ends and properties. Numerous viral video clips on social media captured scenes of youths gruesomely killed and injured by security operatives while government and private properties were set ablaze by hoodlums among the youths.
It is disheartening to note that the Lagos State Government, Federal Government and the Nigerian Army, in a disjointed drama of shames, have publicly denied the killings of the #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate. The government has equally refused to admit that killings of several young peaceful protesters took place in other states. Few hours before this massacre, information gathered that lights at the tollgate were switched off while CCTV cameras that would have provided evidence of the genocide were removed.
Similarly, in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, it was reported that thugs were brought in with Federal Government SUVs vehicle and other buses to disrupt and attack the #EndSARS protesters marching peacefully on the streets of the city. This disruption later turned out to a tribal crisis as the thugs were alleged to have attacked and destroyed properties belonging to the Igbos.
On the 21st of October 2020, in what seemed to be a reprisal attacks on Hausas also took place in Rivers State. Insensitivity of the government towards the demands of the youths almost dragged the nation into civil war or what could be described as a state of anarchy. As the peaceful protest was disrupted and hijacked by hoodlums, there were jailbreaks on the Correctional facilities in Edo and Ondo states where several inmates reported escaped from the lawful custodies.
Till date, the Federal Government has refused to empathically address the Nigerian or the Nigerian youths and as well express an attitude of regret towards the massacre that took place between the 20th & 21st of October 2020. Recently, the Inspector General of Police, Idris Adamu, also debunked the Amnesty International allegations of police shooting and killing protesters. The Nigerian Army and Police killing peaceful protesters can simply be described as a gross violation of human rights which is condemnable under local and international criminal laws. October 20, 2020 will remain a remarkable day in the history of Nigeria. It is indeed a Black Tuesday Nigerian youths will never forget—as the day they lost their comrades in the hand of their wicked fathers.
Lekki Tollgate and Ibadan killing have further uncovered the inhumane and heinous acts of the current political administration in Nigeria. During the heat of #EndSARS movement, several warehouses housing tons of Covid-19 palliatives that were meant to be given to the masses during the Covid-19 lockdown were discovered and looted by angry Nigerians whose means of livelihood had been truncated by the coronavirus outbreak. At the peak of the lockdown, these palliatives and other billions of naira donated by individuals were falsely claimed to have been distributed to the entire populace by the Nigerian government while the palliatives remained kept in secret warehouses in the whole 36 states of the federation.
Most perturbing is the lack of transparency and accountability grossly eroding governance in Nigeria. Basically, it is impossible to talk about Nigeria politics and governance without making reference to immense corruption. However, the height of corruption under the current government of President Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd) seemed unprecedented. Under this government, real beast—snakes and gorillas have been alleged of stealing public funds while public offices housing financial documents of public funds have also been raised in strange fire incidents. The recent alleged gargantuan embezzlement and mismanagement of public funds of the Niger Delta Development Commission and the expulsion of the EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu serve as a good example. Despite the establishment of a board of investigation to investigate into the looting of billions of naira in these public offices, the investigation hearing yielded no meaningful result. In what seemed a drama, the chairman of the board was equally alleged of nepotism and corrupt practices.
To improve and strengthen governance in Nigeria, restoring confidence should be a prioritized goal of the current and subsequent administration. It is of no doubt that citizens have lost confidence in the government and institutions that provide citizenry protection, security and justice. Restoring confidence is a gradual process that requires the support of both local and international partners. Transforming of institutions is also a germane process of restoring confidence to strengthen good governance in Nigeria. More so, prioritizing the African Union’s and United Nations Youth, Peace and Security agenda are imperative policy frameworks that should be adopted in restoring confidence.
In conclusion, the rights and security of young people should be well protected without infringement, and also given adequate representation in governance. Lastly, young people should be given enough space of participation in decision making process particularly in the area of sustainable development, peace building and security.
Mark Patrick is a Political Scientist and member of the Nigeria Youth for Peace Initiative (NYPI)