13 Feb Nigeria and the Value of Human life
I have always said that one of the major drawbacks to moving Nigeria forward, lies in the fact that we as Nigerians do not really value the lives of each other. I hold the belief that once we as a people begin to value humanity in Nigeria, there will be a radical societal change.
So why are things the way they are?
There are many answers to this. One can argue that due to a history of insecurity, we as a people have become conditioned to receive bad news, ponder for a short time on it and then, we move on. After all, who amongst the masses in Nigeria have not been affected by the failures of institutions meant to protect us? We have all dealt (or know people who have dealt) with armed robbers, petty thieves, kidnappings or any kind of trauma from some kind of terrible event. With all the wahala that life brings your way in Nigeria, who has the time to ponder or mourn any of it all. You must pick yourself up and move.
I believe we are conditioned and part of this conditioning stems from the lack of consistent enforcement of the rule of law and accountability. What to do I mean? Consider the fact of how in some places, those who commit a crime are faced with mob justice; where some human beings are literally murdered and in some cases, those who perish are guilty only by hearsay. What provokes a community of people to do such an act? Is it because people are used to dispensing justice by themselves due to the failure of policing and the law? Is it simply an outlet for the anger many bury inside, anger created by their environment? Consider how some people are seemingly above the law when they commit a heinous act. How does such a thing affect the victims and families of victims? Consider the many ethnic clashes throughout Nigerian history, where a people felt helpless from those who swore to protect them and took matters into their own hands, launching reprisal attacks.
I argue that the root cause of why human life in Nigeria is not valued lies in the fact that justice rarely prevails. The purposeful absence of justice is a declaration to the people that “Your lives do not matter”. The effect of the absence of Justice trickles down to the grassroots. “If the government does not care for you, why should I?” This has created an environment where every man and woman is virtually on their own, literally. You create your own security, water, and electricity. You must put you and your family first before all else. You see politicians putting themselves before their constituents, pastors putting themselves before their congregation. If justice existed for all Nigerians, there would be light, water, security and accountability; laws to protect women and the vulnerable will be created and enforced and laws meant to protect your rights will be upheld. The people will begin to feel that their lives matter through the right policy set from the top. If efforts are made to unite a people rather than divide them, then people from varying ethnic lines would see the value of humanity amongst each other.
I pray the day comes and comes soon when we begin to value our lives as human beings, that we do not harm others for their beliefs, religious or ethnic background. I do wonder if we as a people can bridge this gap without the influence of government. How plausible is it that we can come together as a people on the basis of “We must do better”?
My own answer is that the environment complicates things. I am a believer that an environment can shape you. It can shape your behavior and how you interact with others. If you live in an environment of fear, conflict, and ignorance; the process of desensitization will only be fast tracked. So that whole ‘Change begins with you’ campaign by APC does not fix matters. If an environment is not conducive for social development and social growth, none of either will occur.
What do you think?