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Their ecstasy, our tragedy
WHEN seven students of the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) resolved to float the Pyrates Confraternity in 1952 as a revolt against all conventions and with the “Pyratical aim of fighting all social ills and conformist degradation within and outside our midst”, they had no inkling that they were actually kindling a fire that would leave a permanent scar in the psyche of the nation. Although, a court ruled in 2009 that Pyrates Confraternity, also known as The National Association of Seadogs, is not a secret cult, essentially because it is a validly registered incorporated trustee under the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap C20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, it is incontestable that it is the precursor of campus cultism, the monster that has left many young people dead and visited untold and irreparable damage on many homes. To the founders of the confraternity, their move was in the exercise of their right of association and their action laudable, but in light of the present reality, the country would have fared much better and the future of our youth more secure without the confraternity and, by extension, campus cultism. Now, the exuberance of some non-conformist young men has turned out to be the nightmare of a nation.
When the political class in Bornu State empowered and armed members of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Ladda’awatih wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, to hound their political opponents their focus was to clip the wings of the opposition, diminish their influence and force them into capitulation. Their purpose was served and the opposition was routed and sent out of town but their shindig soon turned into a dirge because unknown to the politicians, luring the group into political matter had the similitude of holding a tiger by the tail. After dealing with the paymasters’ enemies, the group turned its fangs on the paymasters and devoured quite a number of them. Had it stopped with unleashing terror on its sponsors, maybe the country would have concluded that the terror sponsors deserved what they got. But Boko Haram has abandoned its initial brief and has set for itself a new target which has made both the guilty and the innocent its victims, a development nobody envisaged at the outset of the romance between politics and religion. Now, the unfettered ambition of some politicians has become the dread of the country.
Man, because of his limited understanding of what the future holds, often embarks on programmes that would eventually result in regret and the gnashing of teeth. More often than not, by the time the negative result of such actions come to the fore, it will be too late to undo the deed.
On August 2, 2012, a faction of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) declared its political autonomy. While making known its intention for political independence known to the world, Dr Goodluck Diigbo, leader of the MOSOP faction, said, “By this declaration of political autonomy, we, the Ogoni people, are determined to enforce the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without fear or retreat.”
Diigbo, who stated that political autonomy within a sovereignty would put an end to colonialism within the country, added that, “The reason for the urgency of self government for Ogoni is the concern that in the absence of responsive government, the indigenous people of Ogoni will continue to suffer from historic injustice.”
The initial reaction of many people, including those in authority, to the Diigbo declaration was to discountenance it and treat as the ranting of an ant. But that is a mistake that keeps recurring in the country. Here, we have a penchant for failing to nip a problem in the bud; rather, we would wait till it develops a life of its own and becomes almost insurmountable before we start thinking of addressing it.
When some gold diggers embarked on illegal mining in Zamfara State, despite knowing the inherent danger, everybody decided to look away and allowed the illegality to continue. It was not until a foreign group, Médecins Sans Frontière (Doctors Without Borders) raised the alarm that it was the lead emission precipitated by the illegal mining that was responsible for the killing of children in the region that anybody began to see it as a serious problem. Over the past two years, more than 400 children have died in Zamfara, more than 2,000 have been treated with chelation therapy, and thousands more have been severely poisoned by exposure to pervasive lead dust. To us, an issue is insignificant until casualties are recorded. Roads are not deemed due for rehabilitation until fatal accidents occur and blood flows, collapsing bridges are neglected until people are swept away, rot in our education sector does not deserve any attention until mass failure is recorded by students. The list is as long as Rivers Niger and Benue combined.
That is why we are where we are.
Given our predilection for copying things, no matter how outré, it would not be a surprise if other ethnic groupings decide to toe the Ogoni line. Let us not forget that a number of states now have their own anthems, flags and symbols, all because one of them started it. So, before the Yoruba, Ibo, Fulani, Tiv, Ijaw and the rest of them also come up with their own declaration of sovereignty within a sovereignty, it is very important that the government mortify the move and make its replication reprehensible. Declaration of political autonomy by ethnic groups within a sovereignty is an ill wind that will blow no one any good; it is a conflagration that has the potentiality of consuming the whole country. For those who love this country, this is not the time to play the ostrich; rather it is time to kill this potential country killer.Share