Nigeria is in deep trouble. This is stating the obvious. The situation has gone beyond the country being in a state of anomie which means ‘a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals’. Emile Durkheim who lived between 1858 to 1917 was a French sociologist. In 1893 he was credited with being the first person to propound the theory of anomie with the publication of his book titled The Division of Labour in Society. He said that anomie is ‘a state in which expectations are unclear and the social system that keeps people  functioning has broken down’. Was he thinking about Nigeria, a country that did not exist then?

It is 131 years since Durkheim propounded the theory of anomie; 21 years before the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates to found Nigeria in 1914; 67 years before Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960; and, 106 years prior to Nigeria’s fourth republic in 1999. The tragedy is that in spite of our best efforts our country has remained on a slippery slope for decades and has now descended to that frightful state of anomie. Centuries earlier an English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes [1588-1679] had written profusely about man and society and expounded a formulation of ‘social contract theory’. Though Hobbes is considered as one of the ‘founders of modern political philosophy’, but he was so good that through his writings he  influenced developments in history, jurisprudence, geometry, theology and ethics.

Hobbes is probably best known for a book he wrote almost 400 years ago, precisely in 1651- Leviathan. The main concerns of the Leviathan was the structure of Hobbes society or any society for that matter and legitimate government. It dealt with the social contract theory and ‘rule by an absolute sovereign’. In short, Hobbes advocated ‘the necessity of a strong central authority or sovereign to maintain order and prevent the chaos of a state of nature’. A quote from this book which has been paraphrased and sometimes bastardized over the centuries has remained poignant for generations especially for badly governed and failing countries such as Nigeria’s: “No arts; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent  death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.

What should be concerning to us is that Nigeria of the 21st Century has managed to tick all the boxes in the theories in a book written in the 20th Century and another written in the 17th Century. We are in a state of anomie where expectations are unclear, standards virtually no longer exist, and the life of our a citizen is ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’. Life in our country compares to a horror film worse than the Dracula film series of decades past. The main character of that film series was Dracula.

His ‘brutal strength, callous lack of care for others, and heartlessness are what [made Dracula] so evil’. Successive Nigerian rulers and Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu in particular approximate the evil, brutality and bestiality of Dracula in the lack of genuine concern for the plights and sufferings of Nigerians.

Ten years ago, next month, our country

witnessed the first industrial scale abduction of school children in Chibok, Borno state. An estimated 276 school girls were kidnapped from a predominantly Christian secondary school. Ten years since there had been no complete resolution of that incident that caught the world’s attention and inspired the hashtag Bring Back Our Girls. Some of the victims were rescued and some others escaped from the kidnappers over the course of time. However, many of those who either escaped or were rescued were traumatized. They led a life that could not be described as useful. Some of the surviving girls were scorned by their communities and by their parents. Some committed suicide because of rejection and being tagged Boko Haram brides. Last weekend, parents of the 98 Chibok girls still unaccounted for told Amnesty International that they felt abandoned  and that Nigeria’s government was no longer interested in their plight.

How could the government be? Between 2014 and 2024, thousands more school children and ordinary folks including travellers had been abducted. Some where actually plucked from their homes.

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Last week alone about 500 people including, again, school children were kidnapped for ransom in Borno state [200] and Kaduna state [287]. No day now passes without stories of abduction of Nigerians for ransom. And to think that many of such incidents are never reported. Internally displaced persons [IDPs] are not immune from the scourge of kidnapping. SBM Intelligence group recently claimed that more than 3,600 people were abducted in Nigeria in just one year between July 2022 and June 2023. By extrapolation it would mean that about 36,000 Nigerians had been abducted since Chibok girls in 2014. And  Nigeria is not officially at war. Those who manage to escape from kidnappers or who are fortunate to be freed after ransom had been paid had gory tales about their ordeals in captivity.

One of the escapees from the latest [it certainly will not be the latest by the time you are reading this because kidnapping has become a daily fare] Kaduna state incident, Sani Abdullahi, narrated what happened thus: ‘l resumed to the school today [Thursday, March 7] at exactly 7.47am. l entered the Acting Principal’s office and signed. All of a sudden, the Acting Principal asked me to look at my back and when l turned, we discovered that bandits had surrounded the school premises.

‘We became confused, we didn’t know where to go. Then the bandits asked us to enter the bush, so we obeyed them because they were many and the pupils, who are about 700, were following us. So  when we entered the bush, l was lucky to escape alongside many others. l returned to the village and reported what happened to the community… At GSS Kuriga, 187 students are presently missing. In the primary school, 125 pupils were initially missing, but 25 of them escaped and returned home’.

The above has been the typical story and experience of many schools in the north at least in the past 10 years. These stories are usually followed by whoever is the president at the material time issuing marching orders to the security agencies to ensure that the kidnap victims were swiftly rescued and the terrorists arrested and punished according to the law. The experience is that rescues are hardly effected and kidnappers seldom arrested and punished. In a matter of days, in some cases hours, the incident is crowded out of the news headlines by yet another mass kidnappings or sundry heinous crime  or a staggering act of stealing of billions of Naira from government’s coffers by government officials. And then we move on. We are now sufficiently inured to shock. About 40 years ago, the late celebratory journalist, Dele Giwa, had written that Nigerians were unshockable.

We have collectively lost our power for outrage. As if kidnapping for ransom is not enough trouble for Nigeria, foodlums who the federal government now tag as hoodlums are on the rampage. About this time last year, some of the people the government now derides as hoodlums were courted as voters by those who jostled for various elective offices. Since the politicians have gotten what they wanted and failed to deliver on their promises to the people, voters have turned into hoodlums and looters.

l did not create the word but many of the citizens that the government now regards as hoodlums and looters are actually foodlums who are seeking for where their next meal will come from.

Many Nigerians have been so pauperized by the policies of this regime especially the sudden removal of the so-called petrol subsidy and the flotation of the Naira in quick succession that they have been turned into beggars and reluctant thieves.

The news that now competes with banditry and kidnapping for headlines is the routine waylaying of food trucks and the storming of government’s grains warehouses. These actions are prevalent in the north and surprisingly in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

In spite of widespread hunger in the land, there is, however, no justification for ambushing food trucks and looting warehouses. Those who may whimsically justify the looting of government warehouses by foodlums are incapable of seeing the bigger picture and the wider implications of such actions. The danger is  that if foodlums are allowed free reign, they will ultimately invade markets and companies, break into the warehouses of private concerns and traders to loot their wares. Those who revile the Igbo who are derisively referred to as traders by some other Nigerians will revel and indeed tacitly encourage the looting of private warehouses. This will be a good cover for the erstwhile demolition of markets and the expropriation of the Igbo in parts of the country since after the bitterly contested elections last year.

The temptation is to ask the federal government and those at the sub national levels to address the poverty and hunger ravaging the land. But this will be of little use. The Tinubu regime at the centre is either clueless or has a different agenda or suffers from both. It is obvious now that the regime is preoccupied with the Yorubanization of the strategic sectors of the society from the security services to  the ministries, departments and agencies of government. Virtually every appointment made by Tinubu in the past 10 months has been Yoruba-centric with a sprinkling of elements from parts of the north. The gifts in appointments to the north are grudgingly made because Tinubu has his eyes on the 2027 elections.

The affliction called former President, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, started the pernicious act of nepotism in appointments and winner-takes-all and Tinubu is proving to be a more vicious person in that regard. If Tinubu did not need the coalition with the north and the Muslim-Muslim combination, he probably would have given the north a bloodier nose. There are Yoruba who take umbrage at the clannishness and bungling of Tinubu. There are others who never supported his ambition and slogan of emi lo kan. There are Yoruba who are still stoutly opposed to his presidency. And  they are many. So, therefore, they will feel offended by the generalization of the Tinubu Yorubanization agenda as used here. But we will be the first to make amends were there to be a better categorization of the provincialism of Tinubu.