Thursday, April 17, 2014

Okafor’s law and the rest of us By Collins Uma

Published:

 “There are other entities in Nigeria that also think they have us wrapped around their little finger and can do with us whatever they want”.

 

 

I was going to write on something entirely different from this but, as I sat down to write, news filtered in about a massacre that had happened at Mubi, Adamawa State, in Nigeria’s North-East. I chose to pause that and see if I could get more details on the massacre and address the issue of the senseless depletion of our productive workforce and the perceived determination of our Commander-in-Chief and his lieutenants to do nothing about tackling the menace from the roots besides issuing frequent press releases condemning the ‘dastardly acts’ and pledging in front of cameras to bring the ‘perpetrators to book’. Over forty (40) students from different tertiary institutions in the state had been rounded up gunned down in cold blood one after the other after the gunmen called each person’s name.

That there was a list means that this killing was deliberate and planned. It would make no sense here to rehash what other commentators have said about the lack of crime prevention capabilities by our security agencies. The facts are as glaring as they are heartbreaking. I was interested in the Mubi story because the mountainous Adamawa State happens to be one of the least educationally developed states in Nigeria and, according to the 2007 Canback Global Income Distribution Database (C-GIDD), the state is one of the poorest in Nigeria with a GDP of $4,582,045,246 (compared to Lagos state’s $33,679,258,023, for example). So, killing off any number of its bright minds in institutions of higher learning is an act that is bound to set the state and, by extension, the nation, back by many years.

While we were still reeling from the shock, horror, and heartlessness of that, the social media in Nigeria went agog with news and pictures of young men lynched in Rivers State after they were reportedly arrested by local vigilante following a robbery. The state is not one of the educationally less developed in Nigeria and according to the C-GIDD, oil rich Rivers State has the second highest GDP in the country ($21,073,410,422). Question now is, if Northern Nigeria has become a killing ground because of poverty and illiteracy, what would the lynching of the youth in Rivers state be blamed on?

There is an invisible thread that runs through these two killings: frustration with the status quo. Both the Mubi and the Rivers’ killers each took on the roles of Counsel for prosecution, Judge and Jury as they summarily passed sentence on their victims who, to them, represented the structures and processes they, the killers, were up against.

The incidents mentioned have exposed how we have become our own worst enemies.

The ruling PDP did not kill these Mubi and University of Port Harcourt students. Nigerians killed them; Nigerians killing Nigerians.

We were not like this. There was an interplay of various factors, the end result of which is our present state which is no different from that described by Thomas Hobbes as living in ‘continual fear, and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’. Chief among the factors that worked to ensure Nigeria’s retrogression into these doldrums was our election of incompetent leaders. The incompetence is so gnawing that most Nigerians have tacitly withdrawn the liberty and individual rights they ceded to the state as part of their obligation in the social contract and have proceeded to become governments of their own, taking laws into their hands. This is the ugly truth. We were fooled in 2011, shame on us if we are fooled again in 2015.

This is where Okafor’s Law comes in. It is a law that is believed to govern the degree of continued interaction between a man and a woman between whom a relationship had existed. The origin of the law and how it got its name remain unknown, the things we learn from the World Wide Web. Anyway, it states that a man who has been involved with a girl for some time and whose performance in the bedroom was commendable can always go back and sleep with her again whenever he wants no matter what situation arises (break-ups, different lovers etc). I do not know the veracity of this claim but I think President Goodluck Jonathan seems to believe so much in it. He has done it before; he will do it again; if we let him. Nobody wants a perpetuation of the status quo and, for this reason, 2011 is a mistake we must never repeat. We are the young damsel and Mr. President is the Don Juan that thinks he is the best thing since blue biro. Okafor’s Law must not apply to us come 2015.

There are other entities in Nigeria that also think they have us wrapped around their little finger and can do with us whatever they want. For now I will only mention the South African giants, MTN and DSTV. Nothing else explains the ridiculous ‘Win an Airplane’ promo by MTN and the capricious hike in cost of service by DSTV in spite of the poor services rendered by these two. As Fela said, we are suffering and smiling while they use us again and again, like fools. Okafor’s Law in action. Are we going to allow it? I do not put the blame on Nigerians though. We have bodies created to regulate the high-handedness of companies like these, the Nigeria Communications Commission, for MTN and the National Broadcasting Commission, for DSTV. According to the NCC, their mission include the ‘consistent enforcement of clear and fair policies that protects stakeholders, ensures efficient resource management, share industry best practices and deliver affordable, quality telecom services’.  We know they do nothing like that except, maybe, ‘resource management’. We know what that means in Nigeria. How about the National Broadcasting Commission? They say their functions include ‘Receiving, Considering and investigating complaints from individual and bodies corporate, regarding the contents of a broadcasting station and the conduct of a broadcasting station’. Don’t tell me there have been no complaints about DSTV’s excesses.

We are our own problem. Our redemption therefore will begin whenever we choose to look the government and all these other entities in the face and say “enough is enough”. I am not talking about ranting on social media from the comfort of our homes. I am talking about face to face, offline engagement. We are our own solution. Until then, however, we will continually be pushed to the brink where bestiality and barbarism hold sway. Like Mubi. Like Aluu.

For online engagement, the writer is on twitter @CollinsUma

GTBank SME MarketHub campaign