Article from www.nigeriasolidarity.org --- Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria


ATTENTION: Lagos State Government Stop Wild Goose Chase

Emmanuel Adikwu


11 August 2007

If rumours making the rounds are anything to go by, then the Lagos State government must pay rapt attention to this piece of writing.

My attention was drawn a few days back to a ‘rude shock’, by residents in my community that were taken aback by the uneasy fright that enveloped the Awodi-ora community in Ajeromi - Ifelodun LGA, where I reside. Their fears were further confirmed by the uneasy calm at bus stops as ladies in trousers and ‘short tops’ are seen looking behind their shoulders for their perceived captors. Their crime is the resolve to adorn dresses that have been tagged ‘obscene’ by the Lagos government, who they allege, have drafted stern looking policemen to pounce on their victims at the slightest provocation.

Luckily, ladies are not the only target as this rumour making the rounds also covers male youth and teenagers that have the effrontery to wear dread locks, rough curls, ear ring etc. as such, these set of persons were tagged ‘rascals by the State government.’

Not only is the rumour going round, but its effect on the psychology of the mass of learned youth and other category of people is devastating, to say the least. Such brazen acts of executive recklessness, is nothing short of an insult on our collective sensibility.

One tenable reason is that the issue at stake cannot even b called a priority as far as governance is concerned at this juncture. As such, to call it a misplaced priority becomes an understatement.

As a fact, this reckless stunt is being put up at a time when Lagos State is degenerating at ‘lightening speed’ into being one of the dirtiest cities in the world; crime wave is at an all time high; social infrastructures are either obsolete, epileptic or largely non existent. Worse still, the number of unemployed people have sky rocketed; the middle class is now on the brink of extinction; inflation is steady on the rise; and the quest for qualitative education is no longer within the reach of the poor. The list of problems demanding urgent solutions is endlessly in sight.

I am personally touched by the lack of versatility of the Lagos State Government, in addressing the issue at stake. This is because we are in a world where things are constantly evolving and the mind of the individual has become a pool of sort, where resources could be creatively tapped and developed for the development of art, sports, science etc if the needed infrastructure that will aid such a worthy quest is available. With the fast pace at which science and technology is developing in advanced countries, the so called ‘third world’ countries, of which Nigeria is at the fore front has been reduced to mere dump sites, where finished products from advanced countries are marketed freely.

The industrial base of countries like Nigeria remains grossly underdeveloped, while those in government are content with the proceeds generated from oil export which they use to swell their ego as they flaunt looted wealth in our faces. Simultaneously, millions of people that would have been gainfully employed as industrial workers, are reduced to being idle minds due to lack of an industrial base, on which the economy could thrive. In the face of this reality, ‘survival of the fittest’ becomes the order of the day. Hence, the individual’s survival instinct propels them to do anything and everything possible to survive, as well as to also be able to have or acquire the good things of life.

This is because the individual has been forced to see things from another angle, no thanks to executive stealing and corruption that have long been institutionalized in the polity of Nigeria. Those privileged to occupy political positions in government and now live in opulence, while the same political office holders cannot provide the basic necessities of life for the masses as guaranteed by the constitution, despite the availability of inexhaustible wealth and resources that will be of immense benefit to humanity, if properly developed and managed for the good of all. Through acts of selfishness, these self-serving, thieving elites are sending a very powerful message to the consciousness of the masses that they only have two options: to either ‘starve or die’ in the face of inexhaustible abundance.

The situation becomes more worrisome as these thieving elites ride in a fleet of posh cars blaring sirens, live in posh houses, while also enjoying all the good things of life that money could buy without qualms. The few thieving elites that were ever caught by the EFCC have bargained their freedom or settled their way out of jail with a percentage of such loot. These things are done so brazenly that even the godliest mind will be tempted to commit one act or the other that may either affect society positively or negatively. There is no point explaining what will happen to an ordinary man that dares to steal, if caught; different strokes for different folks.

The tale of crime fighting to say the least is an impossible task, even if the police are ‘armed to the teeth’. This is because we live in a country where the prices of goods and services are constantly on the rise, thereby defying the rule of gravity, while the minimum wage is not even enough to take care of a baby. The situation becomes worse off, as the few people lucky enough to have any employment whatsoever are tied to a host of family members and friends who depend on them to survive, one way or the other. While on the opposite side of the divide, the super rich flaunt their opulence with impunity, thereby making crime and the quest for riches more tempting to the individual.

These sets of persons struggling to survive on next to nothing, cut across ethnic and tribal divides; they are also male and female; old and young; skilled or unskilled. Most of them have had one form of formal education or the other. Out of desperation some of them are made to do one thing or the other to survive, such as drug abuse, drug trafficking, advanced fraud, prostitution, armed robbery, thuggery {political or otherwise} etc.

My worry is further aggravated by this unwarranted attack on the psyche of free thinkers such as poets, musicians, writers, and all lovers of ART, through this unguarded action that currently prevails in Lagos State, a situation which this piece vehemently protests. It should be known that art comes from the mind and can be expressed in various ways and manner through mode of dressing, ornament being adorned, tattoos, hair style such as dread locks, rough curls, afro etc. This is because the art makes the individual unique. For some, it’s a way of life or an expression, while to others; it’s a form of protest either against the system, or against other happenings and events that the individual have cause, one way or the other to frown at. As such, all well-meaning individuals and organisations must as a matter of urgency, protest this brazen, unmitigated insult on our collective psyche, which is being credited to the Lagos State government. Such callous act is not, and cannot be for the overall interest of society.

In today’s free world, as guaranteed by series of protests that have been waged by people of all races at one point in time or the other, some basic fundamental human rights have been won, inclusive are the right of all adults to life, association, free thinking, protest, education, way of life etc, these rights have since been adopted by all free nations. All persons above 18 years fall in the category of persons to which these rights apply. Such persons have the right to do certain things and take certain decisions, irrespective of what the power that be thinks, provided they do not indulge in stealing other peoples properties or taking lives {theirs or that of other people} etc as seen to be against the overall interest of the State.

An unbridled executive just for the sake of administration cannot coerce the citizens of a State like Lagos, that has been caught up in the web of ‘combined and uneven development’ where opulence contrasts penury, while simultaneously, diverse peoples and cultures feature dominantly in events and happenings that has over time, led to its overall development. Lagos is a state that is flooded with all forms of aesthetic tastes, that are cultured in diverse ways; as such, the development of the mind and body of the individual can be said to be wholesome or not so wholesome, depending on the angle from which it is being viewed.

The State Lagos government as well as its coercive agents, should take a cue from civilized societies and learn how the fundamental rights of persons should be respected rather than being trampled upon at will, as presently being practiced at all levels of government.

As at today, people still live in make shift slums all over the metropolis, without any hope for a decent apartment. Precious man-hour is daily wasted on traffic jams due to bad roads that are left in total disrepair. Worse still, 80 percent of roads in local government areas in Lagos state have not been graded, while drainages are most times, left unattended to by the relevant authority. The few available schools are being privatized, while the few surviving ones are either left unattended to or are being under funded. Suffice to say that the list of such problems demanding immediate solutions is endlessly long.

The Lagos state government does not have till eternity to ‘deliver the goods’, if it has anything in its kitty. As such, it should distance itself from trying to further enslave the mind of the individual, who is constantly in a state of social, political and economic slavery. As a rule, the mind of the individual has to be free, if we are to make meaningful progress either as persons or as an entity.

The Lagos state government can creatively reduce the number of unemployed persons on the street by employing more social workers to clean the streets and drainages as part of an aggressive drive to rid the city of waste, while doing everything possible to invest in the development of social infrastructures so as to put the state on the path to industrial development. As part of its immediate task, the issue of developing industrial estates for the overall interest of its inhabitants should be paramount. The educational sector should be well funded so that teachers can be better paid, and more schools can be built and equipped to provide better services, so as to accommodate more teachers that will positively educate more and more students.

The issue of health care should also be accorded as much attention as that of education, so that more hospitals will be built to complement the few available hospitals so as to provide quality health care to the teeming millions of people that are daily in dire need of such services. It is my candid opinion that if more of such correctional methods as highlighted in this piece are adopted, more people will be gainfully employed. As such, the issue of crime and other vices presently haunting the Lagos state government will be reduced, as more of those idle minds that are constantly being tempted, will either be creatively employed gainfully, or be given the opportunity to acquire one form of education or the other at school.

Once again, as a concerned citizen, I urge the Lagos state government to embark on an aggressive developmental drive that will put Lagos at the saddle of industrial development, rather than concentrating its energies on a wild goose chase that brings no good. This is because; coercive force cannot be used to create a decent society. Rather, it will only worsen the social, political and economic crises inherent in society arising from the contradictions that exists within the capitalist system.

The first step towards ensuring the realization of a decent society is to ensure that the basic necessities of life are brought within the reach of the poor masses, which make up over 90 percent of the population. This, if done, will go a long way to ease most of the burdens presently being borne by the masses. As a way forward, I suggest that the withheld funds that was released a few weeks ago by the federal government to the Lagos government should be channeled towards such productive tasks, that will not only better the lives of its citizens, but, will reduce crime and other vices, thereby easing the dilemma of the State government in the long run.