Umar Farouk and cult of violence

Farouk himself did not help matters by his insistence that what he did was right—a remorseless attitude that was certainly foolhardy and unnecessary. Indeed he used a four minutes address to repeat that he was ‘’avenging the attacks on Muslims.’’ Perhaps if he had climbed down from his high horse of unbridled arrogance and showed some penitence over the souls that almost got killed, but who escaped deaths because his deadly contraption refused to ignite, he may have come off a little better off. May be, he could have got off considerably lightly with a reduced jail –term, particularly considering the extenuating circumstances of the alarm raised by his parents aimed at putting the world on notice of their son’s impending escapade.

According to reports, he even turned down requests by his parents and members of his family to visit him prior to the judgement, which leaves one to imagine how harrowing it must all have been for them. As parents are wont to do, they must have been wondering where they had gone wrong and that for all their pains all they are getting is a firm rebuff- much like being gored to death by an unappreciative son.  At 25, a life time in the slammer would be a long and harrowing experience. As an Engineer, his is a structured mind, and in moments of introspection he would contemplate his present reality and wished he hadn’t taken the road that has landed him where he is now. The scion of a well respected businessman and banking entrepreneur, Farouk could jolly well have retained his deep faith while at the same time ease himself into a lifetime work in business or construction and thereafter follow a more sedate lifestyle beneficial to himself, family and society.  One doesn’t have to be related to him to agonize on his behalf about the tragic trajectory his life has taken.

Yet, Farouk may have targeted his anger at other people but the trail he blazed has caught on like a bush fire threatening to consume everyone in its wake. No day passes without a bomb going off somewhere in the land. Recently, Kano metropolis was hit by a serial bomb and gun attacks that would put to shame many of the violent make believe depicted in celluloid from Hollywood. A less audacious but similar act was targeted at a well fortified military outpost at Kawo, a neighbourhood of Kaduna a week ago, which itself was followed by another bomb deliberately planted to go off at another strategic location in the city. Indeed, a bomb disposal policeman was blown off while in the process of deactivating it.

It is therefore fair to conclude that there is an increasing fascination with and strange romantic glorification of violence quite unprecedented in the country. Why, it must be asked would otherwise sane human beings espousing religious notions continue to undertake heinous violent acts against innocent people?  There has been no shortage of proffered solutions to the violent phenomenon. A government that does not want to look weak in the eyes of the people has said it is ready to dialogue but at the same time it has continued to accentuate the campaign to root out the perpetrators of violence summarily. It should be very evident by now that the nation is up against a deep-seated disaffection, some would say, alienation which is being expressed in this new found attraction to mindless violence.

Endemic poverty existing in the land has been ascribed as the cause, which when juxtaposed with the wealth being callously flaunted by the newly rich is capable of creating envy and blinding anger for those that consider themselves to have been excluded from the scheme of things, including the teeming unemployed, who may now have been attracted by notions of helping themselves in the only manner left for them:- violence. True, creation of jobs has always been underscored by every government as a priority and there are a plethora of agencies charged for achieving this, the reality however is that the jobs have not been forthcoming. Yet these agencies are allowed to continue to gulp down huge funds in an assignment they have not been able to perform.

Unbridled violence, of whatever origin, can constitute anathema for any society, therefore it must be quelled. Right now it is being confronted with the force it demands as the Joint Task Force (JTF) is doing,  hoping that ultimately it will allow the state to regain the high ground it has lost by not being able to protect its people—a sort reaffirmation of the supremacy of the state. It is however about time to begin to entertain the idea of a constitutionally enshrined social safety net that would provide for the poor. It has been recently acknowledged that even when Nigeria is growing economically, more and more of its people are falling into poverty—some 60% of them have been certified poor.

A situation where a few are rich but the majority is poor is a fertile ground for social anomie, disaffection and anarchy that could surely feed this veneration of violence being experienced now. A social safety net in whatever guise would create a more humane society that would cater for those left behind and also discourage social estrangement to turn into bitter frustration that is then acted out through mounting a vicious war against the polity. Rather than be seen as encouraging the weak, the laggard and those sponging on the society, the safety net policy may very well become one way of bridging the ever widening gulf of disparity that is tearing the society apart.

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