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Body bags and the apparition of death, sorrow and blood

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This photograph taken on February 18, 2019, shows Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai as he speaks in Abuja, about an attack by gunmen on villages in north-west Nigeria last week. – An attack by gunmen on villages in northwest Nigeria last week claimed “over 130” lives, more than double the toll initially reported, the governor of Kaduna state said. (Photo by Pius Utomi EKPEI / AFP)

For Tai Solarin, that inimitable school teacher and foremost crusader for civic rights and for the efficient performance of state responsibilities by its officials, “body bags” or the latest rude entry into our political lexicon will not be strange.

Talkative Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has however found for those innocuous community service items, some petrifying or gory use in the service of a perverted understanding of sovereignty or of combative radicalism.

In his days, Solarin was bravely determined to rid some of our towns and cities of the unspeakable filth and degeneration that had become their patent.

Solarin set for himself the onerous duty of collecting for preservation or for decent burial dead bodies of persons who the irresponsibility of local authorities had left to rot or to besmear the landscape fouling the atmosphere with putrid, putrefying stench.

For all his efforts, Solarin did not have the benefit of a free-flowing supply of body bags or of any supplies at all which el-Rufai seems to be in inexhaustible provision of going by his generous offer to provide body bags for the victims of his projected mayhem.

Body bags have now become the metaphor for contemplated violence or for forcible unrestrained attack on innocent by-standers and on “busy-body” foreigners.

Vast or proficient in the use of Latin and the nuanced sociology of its native speakers, Solarin would have approvingly echoed Cicero’s aphorism to himself: “…tempora mutantur et mutamus in illis” in support of the view that “changed conditions sometimes lead to upturned sensibilities”.

He would have gone on to decry the progressively-declining leadership motif on the Nigerian political canvas.

Any foreigner who in the reckoning of el-Rufai and his ilk is too interested in the attainment by Nigeria of globally-acclaimed standard in the conduct of the 2019 elections is fit for being re-packaged back to his country in a body bag after his body may have been dismembered or given the botched Umaru Dikko-like life-threatening treatment in a crate.

It is perhaps not a coincidence that the spectre of a human body in a crate is rearing its gory apparition under President Buhari’s administration even as the Umaru Dikko saga was allegedly masterminded by the military junta under his watch as head of state.

It is an irony of history that events keep repeating themselves inexorably and with unrefreshing regularity.

The same vengeful, vindictive or spiteful spirit of the Buhari military era exemplifying itself in inexplicable deaths, unlawful incarceration, an untamed atmosphere of official lawlessness, insecurity and blatant impunity is now the pervasive ruling ethic in Nigeria.

An un-acceptable thick blanket of uncertainty and of dreadful circumstances has painfully been foisted on the destiny of the country, as if no one is in charge.

A conscious requirement to reverse Nigeria’s misfortune should be the vaunted goal or directive principle of state policy not a stubborn or foolhardy insistence on the values that have held the country down or laid her terrain waste.

Unable to combat or restrain itself from a hysterical attitude to governance, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and many of its hatchet men like El-Rufai have fallen prey to a convenient collapse of memory. They do not know or cannot recall that the United Nations charter to which Nigeria is a signatory permits international bodies the right to intervene in the internal affairs of member countries.

El-Rufai’s hysteria in ignoring Nigeria’s method for the making of treaties has tellingly drawn support only for an imagined or contrived hypothetical danger.

It is a death wish for the country’s sincere foreign friends. In 2015, foreigners were invited to observe, comment and make recommendations regarding the conformity or otherwise of Nigeria’s electoral process with global best standards. They came, observed and adjudged the process as relatively free, fair and credible. Today, for El-Rufai, the grape is sour.

Foreigners’ intervention is now deemed intolerable meddlesomeness. Coincidentally and as if the gods are to blame, the rare gift of concise and balanced eloquence has not been an identified possession or forte of the controversial occupier of Lugard House in Kaduna.

El-Rufai has failed to recognise that his party has become more exhausted in governance, in self battle and in distractive duels.

It is now thinly spread than is good for the soul of the party. It has a bad press or reputation among other deficits.

El-Rufai needs not add more to the self-inflicted foibles of a party which at the beginning was excited to invoke the prerogatives of power but has, with the passage of time, rejected the responsibilities attaching thereto.

The APC was in 2015 handed the scepter of the nation to cherish and to use. It has disappointingly thrown it into the sea of desultoriness and of untold chicanery or “lie-lie”.

The party should be concerned now with regaining the acceptance of the people and vindicating their decision to give it victory at the polls in 2015. It should do penance as an act of sorrow for its disgraceful or poor outing.

The party’s obvious leadership physical wearing down in the midst of dis-content and discouragement even among its rank and file is a sign that it is beginning to ruefully take stock of what it has lost.

Regaining the people’s confidence calls for integrity, a sense of responsibility, tolerance and clear-headedness – all of them rare commodities among a stiff necked people.


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