Nigeria returning to a state of nature By Emmanuel Onwubiko

OPINION

Reading through the front pages and major news pages of some mainstream newspapers today such as The Guardian and Daily Sun brought tears to my eyes and reminded me that indeed existential philosophers were right to conclude with the founding fathers of Scholarly philosophy that in life the only permanent phenomenon is change.

You may want to know the source or cause of this upsurge in the emotional upsets I experienced. If in the affirmative, permit me to let your know that it was the photograph of hundreds of children, women and young persons in Plateau State that stood on the queue for their turns to receive plates of foods from the emergency relief services.

These were persons hitherto happily doing their farm works in their different villages in Plateau state prior to the sudden invasion by well-armed Fulani militia who slaughtered over 200 persons and drove them forcefully out of the ancestral homelands and indeed the invaders had the temerity to settle down in those ‘conquered’ territories and have begun to rename them as it suits them and yet there are both the State and Federal Governments that are silent as these unpardonable crime against humanity go on.

As soon as yours faithfully took a contemplative look at these front page photographs showing fellow citizens with plates waiting to be served food as internally displaced persons, some thought flashed through my sub-consciousness.

One of those sub-conscious thoughts was to ask what the essence of government is if the ordinary people are slaughtered in their prime and in their great numbers by some other citizens who are armed and to have some high level supports within the top echelons of government.

Another thought was to interrogate the import of government borrowing from the profound leadership philosophies of fathers of philosophy of politics such as Aristotle (384 -322BC); Thomas Hobbes (1588 -1679); Thomas Aquinas (1225 -1274); John Locke (1632 -1704) amongst others. These great men were of the opinion that the primary purpose of government is the protection of life and property of the citizenry. Thus, the framers of the Nigerian Constitution also adopted this locus classicus into the frameworks of our supreme body of law. What this therefore means is that the written and unwritten social contract existing between the people and those officials elected into offices for specific tenure is that we the people of Nigeria have agreed to donate to you the legitimacy to exercise governmental authority provided that you will abide by the primary tenet of this social contract which is the protection at all times of the lives and property of all citizens. The consequence of a willful or negligible breach is the resignation from such offices and prosecution of the officials if found to have conspired with mass killers. We will look at what some of these philosophers affirmed as the central reason for the formation of governments in human societies.

For John Locke, the essence of government boils down to the unbiased enforcement of the rule of law which to him was the basis for man to have transited from his original state of nature whereby he had unbridled freedom to do as it pleases him.

He stated that the best way to understand political power aright, and derive it from its original, it to as a point of origin to compulsorily and compulsively consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.

John Locke states thus: “A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the Lord and Master of them all should by any manifest declaration of His will set one above another, and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.”

He then proffered fundamental opinion to explain the whyness of enthronement of government in human societies thus: “But because no political society can be nor subsist without having in itself the power to preserve the property, and, in order thereunto, punish the offences of all those of that society, there, and there only, is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it”.

John further explained when there is a willful transition away from a state of nature it is because all private judgment of every particular member being excluded, the community comes to be umpire; and by understanding indifferent rules and men authorized by the community for their execution, decides all the differences that may happen between any members of that society concerning any matter of right, and punishes those offences which any member hath committed against the society with such penalties as the law has established.

The grandnorm of a human society he argued is to ensure equality before the law and to practice equity as the hallmark of exercising governmental authority over the citizens.

Thomas Hobbes puts it in a much more profound way by asserting that in a state of nature only the strong survives. He argued that in a state of nature life is short, brutish, uninteresting and infact survival is by the fittest and the strongest. Also other contemporary philosophers say that one distinction that marks out the State of nature is that ‘Might is always right and that injustice and inequity are elevated as statecraft.”

Sadly, what the serial violent and bloodcuddling terror attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen against farmers and Christians in the North represents and given the conspiratorial silence of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to these terrorism is that Nigeria is gradually returning to a state of nature and the nation is being turned into one huge internally displaced people’s camp. That the World refuses to intervene to save Nigerians from these state supported attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen makes it the more ludicrous and indeed questions the essence of such bodies as the United Nations.

Reading through a piece posted to www.eldis.org we were told that basically Nigeria has indeed turned to a monumental internally displaced person’s camp and this supports my affirmation that the Federal Government is actively working to return Nigeria to a state of nature.

The researchers explained that in Nigeria with a history of ethno-religious conflicts, the past year(s) has (have) witnessed an alarming upsurge in the level of violence and its impact on civilians.

As at three years back some researchers found out that the armed Fulani insurgency in Plateau state left possibly more than 1,000 people dead and 258,000 temporarily displaced, many of those who fled are still too scared to return.

In the executive summary of a researched paper which this reporter read from the aforementioned website, the researchers assessed the causes and consequences of such mass displacement of people. The study looks at obstacles preventing the return of people to their homes, and weighs up the humanitarian response to the situation.

The general findings of the paper include: Whilst the immediate needs of the IDPs were adequately addressed, their long-term needs have been given scant attention; Médecins Sans Frontières is the only relief agency present in the area, providing basic health services as well as trauma counseling; assistance for return and reintegration is the most pressing need of IDPs in Nigeria; help should include not only physical rehabilitation of homes, public buildings and infrastructure, but also support for peace and reconciliation initiatives, especially at the grass-roots level; the area of training for improved emergency response is therefore crucial, and should be a priority for donors; addressing the root causes of conflict-induced displacement, thus avoiding the types of humanitarian crises currently plaguing several of its neighbours, must be a key priority for the Nigerian government.

Tried as much as they could, these researchers Sri left a lacuna which is their failure to call a spade by its name and desist from attempting to hoodwink unsuspecting public that the attacks been masterminded by armed Fulani herdsmen is a conflict between farmers and herders. The violence is simply and purely acts of terrorism which amounts to grave threat to national security of Nigeria.

Why for instance should the security forces not be deployed to combat these attacks and killings of innocent civilians by armed Fulani herdsmen? There is a growing suspicion that these killers are supported and sponsored by top government officials.

By the way, under the current political disorder of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, all the strategic national security offices are headed by Fulani/Hausa Moslems who are kinsmen of the President.

The way to stop Nigeria from returning fully to a state of nature is for President Muhammadu Buhari to become not a Northern Moslem leader but to truly exercise his powers as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is bound to keep to the provisions of the Constitution by obeying Federal Character principle in appointments and to stop assigning all strategic national security offices to only one section of Nigeria in a multiEthnic and complex nation such as Nigeria.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and blogs @www.emmanuelonwubiko.com;www.huriwanigeria.com;www.huriwa.blogspot.com.

 

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