Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Ombatse - Making Backward Progress

analysis

The reason I guess motorcars have reverse gear is that inventors envisage the user may get to that level when going forward is no longer desirable and a backward movement is a preferred. Apure stroke of ingenuity by car makers. After 52 years as a nation, it is obvious that Naija is not moving forward as a nation. But don't tell the politricians who live on the deception that. They may put you down before you have the chance to profess your innocence. Truth is not a defence when these people's source of subsistence is threatened, so caveat emptor.

For so long, the people's backs have been pressed against the wall but they have never stopped dreaming of a way of escape. It would appear that the oppressor's grip, annihilating as it is; is not totally asphyxiating, thank providence. And so, in the intervening period when the oppressor relaxes its grip on the oppressed, they find the occasion to reminisce. No matter how benign oppression may seem, the oppressed always thinks of a better world. How come three young women, kidnapped and held against their will for nearly a decade still thought about escaping at the slightest opportunity? It is because the fatted cows of oppression are not half as delectable as the lean meat of freedom.

In our beleaguered nation, things are happening, ranging from the obscene to the bizarre. Reason has taken flight and the weirdrules. The actions and activities of government are bizarre. Phones for farmers, loans for private airlines and other obscene ponzischemes that shufflesmoney into areas where those who appropriated them can return to harvest them. The government is always right, the critics are always wrong and the people are ever short-changed.

Everywhere, people have lost hope in the uncertainty of the future and have engaged the reverse gear, burrowing into the crevices of the past. Little wonder then that talks of Biafra is the sweetest seraphic song in the mouths of those who only heard of the horrors of war through the garnished tales of survivors savouring the taste of thesecession they only marginally lost. Did not the epic exploits of the Agbekoya and Operation Weti e lead to the birth of OPC? Or the inability of the police to protect lead to the founding of Bakassi Boys.

What is religious Boko Haram if not the failure of state enticing the young to search the scriptures and covet that time in medieval Middle East whenreligion was state and the state provided for all - jobs for the idle, shariah justice and crime deterrence based on the will of Allah. Stands to reason that when the state fails, God is everyone's last resort.

Thus, a curious group - Ombatsehas emerged in Nasarawa. Despondency has led them to a moment in history when the land was 'cleansed' of all evils - excessive alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and joblessness - these pollutants that causefitna - total breakdown of law and order.

In all these, the people see their helplessness against their true oppressors who ride in long convoys, or fly over them; live in gated houses amidst heavy security while they are naked, hungry, angry, tired and exposed to the brutal elements. The oppressor hardly shows except when it seeks a renewal of mandate, even then, it shows up only in a huff and disappears like vapor.

Today, as a friend said earlier in the week, every village has formed a back to basics militia fighting wars based on their understanding of where the shoe pinches. The victims of their attack are the organs of 'state' closest to them. They may be prisons or warders, government offices or its registered vehicles or banks. They turn their anger against policemen who are no-show when they are needed to curb crimes or soldiers they now blame for being AWOL when they are required as shields against attacks by rival militia or gangs of marauders.

Poor security officials, two-times victims. Oppressed by the oppressor, being denied of the basic training they need to be effective and relegated to the status of houseboys; rejected and repressed by the people who naturally should idolize them. In this dilemma, the state continues to huff and puff, more sound and fury, but signifying nothing. People die because government failed, government reacts by sending troops to restore order and the people turn against them because they think these ones are the heirs of the oppressor. The organs of law and order turn into mad dogs annihilating the people. We helplessly watch the fabrics of our unity breaking down daily.

How long this can continue is anybody's guess. But the confusion gives room for looting and stashing at a scale unprecedented in our nations history. The international community is complicit in all these, eyes on the nation's abundant natural and intellectual resources, it is to their gain that the state collapse. For in a Hobesian state, the resources are in no-man's land. In a few months, a semblance of democratic campaigns would be unleashed on us, replacing the prevailing lawlessness with diversion and subtlety. With the people so united by their chains and yet so divided by the maverick schemes of their oppressors, they won't see their messiah, even if he is dressed in kingly apparel and floating down from the skies.

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