Opinion

All the ways in which Nigeria is lawless

By Ralia Maijama’a

All around us these days we here the expression: “Nigeria is a failed state”. Only the proverbial ostrich would disagree. Anybody with a half a brain can see the utter rot that characterizes the Nigeria of today – senseless killings, kidnappings, banditry and terrorism; money rituals and cultism; corrupt politicians and despicable delegates; thieves and robbers in high offices; filthy environments and hungry masses; failed judiciary, failed security, failed military, failed government.

Everything that can go wrong with a country is wrong with Nigeria. It’s OK if you want to take a moment here to cry; you are not going crazy. Nigeria’s biggest problem? LAWLESSNESS. Lawlessness manifests in several different contexts – in society, in nature or in religion. Google lawlessness and the definitions given for its types and you will see that Nigeria has every item on the menu. Let us take them one by one.

The first is “anomie”, a term popularized by the sociologist Emile Durkheim. Durkheim argues that society has a role in regulating the passions and expectations of its members; and the institutions that implement this social control are education, religion, family and tradition among others.

Where these institutions fail, there is no check on the individual’s desires, resulting in anomie, a situation in which the individual loses a sense of limits and loses all regard for the concerns of others leading to the breakdown of moral values. Such individuals show signs of derangement and an insatiable will.

These two traits are more than evident in Nigeria’s looters and thieves; people who use their office without conscience to rob the country blind with no sense of how much is enough. They steal far more than they could ever spend, but they keep at it – keep on stealing – because they suffer from what Durkheim calls “the malady of the infinite”.

The second term is more common: “anarchy”; a situation in which a society has no hierarchies and so everyone becomes a law unto himself. This situation is caused by an absence of government or a rejection of an existing government and what it stands for.

There is no endeavor to peaceful coexistence and armed criminals roam freely with impunity. Extra-judicial killings, non-state actors imposing curfews, murder videos shared on social media – the killers confident in the knowledge that nothing will be done because the system is a failed system, rampant kidnappings, a general disregard for law and order, disdain for authority etc. Is this not the Nigeria of today? A third term is “civil disorder” which is also called “civil unrest”, “civil disturbance” or “social unrest”.

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In this case, people who are engaged in civil disorder are those who teach or demonstrate to other persons how to use or how to make firearms or explosives, or any other technique capable of causing injury or death to persons while also knowing that these will be used unlawfully to cause harm or disrupt commerce; also anybody who transports or facilitates the transportation of firearms or explosives or incendiary devices knowing that they will be use unlawfully to cause civil disorder; and any person who commits or attempts to commit any act to obstruct or impede or interfere with any law enforcement officer who is lawfully engaged in performing his or her duties.

This brings to mind all the disturbing cases televised by the Nigerian police of men and women skillfully concealing firearms and other explosives within their goods, under motorcycle seats, on their person, in gutted car seats, etc.; transporting these firearms all over the country.

This is not to mention the activities of terrorist groups like Boko Haram, ISIS and militant wings of IPOB. So, Nigeria checks all the boxes. Our society has degenerated into one without morals. All the cultural values that we used to cherish since ancestral times are slipping away from us.

We lack any proper code of ethics – everybody is looking for an opportunity to lie and cheat. What we used to call “common decency” has since packed its bags and fled our shores. We diligently perform the rituals of our religions – praying more than anybody else – without actually living our lives according to our religious teachings.

Ralia Majiama’a

We have turned our back on God and God has, in turn, turned His back on us; and we can only blame ourselves.
Murder, rape, theft, dishonesty, indecency, immorality, unkindness and wickedness coupled with a desperate greed for material things has come to define Nigerians more than anything else. By and by we are losing touch with our basic humanity.

I cry for Nigeria, but we must not give up on our dear country. If we unite, and each one of us makes the conscious choice to become a responsible citizen, we can turn our country around. We all know what is right; we simply need to choose to do the right thing at all times. For, despite everything it has become, Nigeria is still my home and I love it; and as sure as I breathe, I know that Nigeria will be great again!Naija people no be joke.

•Ralia Maijama’a is a member of The Trumpet Editorial Board.

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