Grimot Nane Zine

Why is Anyone Surprised at the #SouthernKadunaGenocide?

Southern Kaduna Massacres are the stuff Nigeria is made of. Before anyone dismisses such a claim, we have to examine the pervasive ‘value of life’ in Nigeria to both ordinary citizens and the government as well as the cost of ‘taking life’ in Nigeria; ‘life’ here mainly refers to that of the ‘underdog’ [the weaker Nigerian by dichotomy]. Religion and oil politics have led to the biggest massacres in Nigeria’s history, including the Civil War, but life is taken daily with sudden and unexpected spontaneity everywhere in the country for innumerable reasons, some totally inane. Tragically, unless the United Nations, Amnesty International or some heavyweight foreign NGO takes interest in the matter, Nigeria’s leaders, politicians and intellectuals simply ignore the problem. The White Man’s Burden all over again, in another dimension?

In 2014, hyper-unemployment and poverty coupled with fast encroaching (but ignored) desertification / water shortages in region were the causes of the initial clashes in Southern Kaduna; and Fulani Herdsmen looking for grazing lands for their cattle, the aggressors. The photos of the massacres were gruesome and it had the makings of a national emergency. Where were Nigeria’s religious leaders, politicians and super star intellectuals then? The “begging bowls” of the President Buhari and Governor El-Rufai are already out for foreign aid to “manage” the Southern Kaduna Genocide problem and well-paid appointments to high-level coordinating quangos available. Who will fight for these cushy jobs?

A couple of years back victims and sympathisers of the Southern Kaduna Massacres untiringly contacted several leaders, administrators, intellectuals and social media voices but did not get much support. On Twitter in June 28th 2014 Onye Nkuzi (@cchukudebelu), one the most outspoken commentators on genocides, massacres and killings in Nigeria (besides other issues) on the platform made the statement “I wish #SouthernKadunaGenocide trends, but it is unlikely to. Our complacency will continue.” The message was a clear summation that the leaders had adopted a complacent attitude towards a growing and dangerous problem. However, since the White Man has taken an interest in the Southern Kaduna Massacre it has begun to trend strongly in regular and social media.

The underdog is the ready cultural whipping boy in Nigeria. Christians in Southern Kaduna are underdogs in their own state and are killed for it. Many “Super Pastors” at this time were very silent about the Southern Kaduna Genocide perhaps, waiting keenly to see if those in power will consult them for election victory in 2015 or pay tithes in their churches. Now some have resorted to making clamorous noises about the 2016 massacres like an indigent Balaam’s Ass! Day just break!

Nasir El-Rufai resorted to regulating religion later in Kaduna state as a thinly disguised tactic in the Islamisation of Nigeria. Apart from the un-Islamic nature of the regulation [Muslims are forbidden to regulate the affairs of non-believers] he uncritically chose to do so in a state with a long history of religious intolerance and violence. El-Rufai, if he wants to regulate religion should start with regulations to effectively prevent religious violence / massacres. However, his Arewa Islamic sensibilities may not permit. Nigerians should realise that religion in Nigeria is not always about salvation but money and power for its politically expedient leaders. Violence is often necessary for achieving money and power even in religion. It’s just as profitable to be a victor as a victim in the realm of religion as long as you plan your game well.

Looking elsewhere, an irreparable damage of military rule in Nigeria was the advent of the “Mad Dog Syndrome” which entailed the unrestrained and indiscriminate massacres, killings and beatings of defenseless civilians for mostly trifling causes by the military personnel. This was carried out with absolute impunity. Learned helplessness which falsely looked like ‘acceptance’ was the reaction of the public to the mad dog syndrome. Furthermore, a corrupt implementation of structural adjustment programs decimated the judicial system and police personnel were encouraged to carry out extra-judicial killings in the backyards of police stations because the government was heavily cutting the costs of prosecution and imprisonment. The gross and net outcome for the ‘rule of law’, especially as it applied to violent crime, was it faltered quickly. Taking the law into one’s hands rapidly supplanted formal justice routines.

The emerging decrepit state of rule of law enhanced a deeply entrenched ‘culture of lynching’, largely ignored but happens in multiplicities every day in Nigeria. One gets the feeling that massacres are worse than lynchings because the latter entails small numbers of people and that they perhaps deserved. Bianimikaley! Apply the same rule to massacres; is it not possible that a large number of people deserve to be savagely killed because of differences in the way of life? NEMA even has the nerve to claim that “only”, yes “only” 204 people were massacred in the recent Southern Kaduna Genocide not 808, as if the differing magnitudes make it more acceptable. If citizens can tolerate and justify lynching why should they complain about the heinous Southern Kaduna massacres? Maybe, it is just because the White Man is interested.

Political assassinations and killings at election time are also commonplace in Nigeria. Depending on the party one supports, political assassinations and killings can be seen as good news in the eyes of the partisan. Sometimes political assassinations unquestionably decide the outcomes of elections but the victor will announce “God Did It! Youths are increasingly the targets of political assassinations but since Amnesty International is silent about it, Nigerians will rarely talk or protest about it. Violence is politically profitable in the ‘democratic’ landscape of Nigeria. Then why is the Southern Kaduna Genocide so surprising?

We can evidently see Nigeria is a very violent nation but it is silently very violent. In fact, it would be appropriate to surmise that ‘killing the underdog’ has become an integral part of Nigerian culture and that the successive leaders of the nation are absolutely responsible for this truly bestial state of affairs. If the White Man does not take an interest in the violence and massacres in Nigeria and offers aid to help or impose sanctions, can its leaders not take necessary action to stop it? Independence has become a dirty word in Nigeria.

Grimot Nane

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