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Wicked spirits stalk the land

—Who, which people and what have they taken over?

—Don’t play dumb my good friend, anyone with a good per of eyes can see clearly that the unmentionable have taken over the land.

—I see. Tell me when did you see your health provider last?

—And what has that got to do with anything. What are you doing?

–Calling your Missus. You have to be taken back to see your health providers. The last time you were at the hospital to see them you were banned from eating pounded yam and any heavy starchy food, this time around they would have to examine you for bi-polar syndrome.

Perish those ones. What do they know? I was raised on pounded yam and have eaten it since I was born. So, who is that busy body doctor, to tell me what and what not to eat?

— Now I am certain it is bi- polar. You have to go back there.

—And what does this your bi-polar mean anyway?

—In the layman’s language, it means losing touch with reality, when the mind becomes out of sync with everyone else.

— Am going bananas, raving mad. That’s what you think of me?

—No, I don’t think so. Being out of touch with reality doesn’t amount to madness. Not, if it is arrested on time, at least so I heard some psychiatrists explain it at a seminar many years ago. Look, you walk in here and proclaim that some unmentionable beings in your head have taken over the land. What d’ you want me to think? You would think I had gone bananas too, if you were in my shoes.

—Oh! I know you cannot read my mind, but I expected you to have deduced what I meant, but with all the gruesome killings and sundry calamities happening in quick succession, one should be forgiven to think some malevolent and vindictive spirits have been let loose on Nigeria, making people behave as if they are possessed.

–Good, now I understand. The killings of some 27 students at the polytechnic in Mubi, the one at Aluu, a settlement close to the University of Port Harcourt, where some four hapless students, accused wrongly of being robbers, were set upon by some irate mob which then set them ablaze. And of course, the dawn massacre of scores of people at a village in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna state. Yes, they are gruesome but they don’t indicate in themselves a new level of violence. Already violence has become so heightened that we have all become inured to it. Is it not what we have been experiencing since the inception of this government? It is nothing new.

–No, you may have become hardened to it but are all Nigerians so hardened, so used to it?

–Don’t misunderstand me. Am as concerned as the next person on the street about the level of violence and the dimension it is taking. Of course, everyone should be frightened when jungle justice upstages the rule of law, when individuals would rather mete out their own justice on perceived offenders who have not been proven guilty by the law, as we saw in Port Harcourt as to put them to torch and burn them to crisp.

–And when jungle justice, or if you prefer, mob justice becomes the norm, when elections in a tertiary institution degenerate into a shoot out that leaves death in its trail, isn’t that a sign that something has gone terribly awry in the land. It is a veritable Hobbessian situation we have found ourselves in now.

—Now, don’t exaggerate. We have not reached that stage yet. Thomas Hobbes,  in his Leviathan was describing a situation where there is total breakdown of law and order. True, the level of violence is acutely heightened but certainly the law still reigns, at least somewhat, otherwise you and I cannot be sitting here to engage in all this discussions.

— For once, I envy your patriotism but I tell you, it is out of your refusal to see the situation as it is. You are like the ostrich burying its head in the sand. How much deeper in the miasma of insecurity do you want us to sink before the realization strikes you. Wake up my friend, our worst nightmare is upon us. And it is so because people no longer believe in certain things, particularly that life should be treated as sacrosanct. Why should every slight difference be resolved by a duel to the finish? Only barbarians do that.

–Well, at least we know the problem. But what should be done so that the Hobbessian nightmare of life being ‘’brutish, short and nasty’’ would not catch up with us? I am tempted to say that the state should assert itself powerfully more, but I might be accused of advocating dictatorial tendencies and the usurpation of private rights. I think if a balance can be found between the two—that is enforcing the state’s power to maintain law and order while at the same time respecting private rights and freedom, the crisis might soon be weathered.

–My friend, useful as your suggestion may be, it will amount to scratching the surface of the issue. If I understand you, with a mealy mouth you are advocating coercion. But that was exactly what led us to this pass–too much display of force, some would call it impunity, or naked show of power, and so everyone thinks conflict can only be resolved through force alone. It is akin to personal or communal squabbles making people go for the jugular of one another with daggers drawn, rather than finding a peaceful resolution of the matter.

—You mean the rise in violence is caused by official display of impunity and show of power which benefit no one except those in power? That people are merely copying what they see. You may not be totally off the mark, by implication you are saying a little less blatant show of power—say in the grand larceny taking place in official circles would impact beneficially on people and reduce the violence being witnessed.

–Hm! I hope this your view is not far fetched, because official larceny would be difficult to stop.

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