By Austin Isikhuemen
I would like to start this piece by calling attention of the Vice President and every Nigerian to the RAPP lyrics below from the latest studio work Twice As Tall by our very own Burna Boy. It goes like this:
MONSTERS YOU MADE
If the government refused to develop the region
And continue, the marginalization and injustice
The youth that’s what coming after us
And it will be more brutal,
than what we have done
Calling me a monster, calling us fake
No way, no way, no way
Calling me a monster, just ’cause we said
We’re from the block where it rains
Where we create barricades
Keep opposition away
That’s why we are strapped with the K’s
Don’t get kidnapped from your place
‘Cause it could happen today
Not knowing how to behave
That is a sign that you make
Just lose your life what a waste
Your body found in a lake
You fucked around
And the fisherman found you drowning for days
You know we come from a place
Where people smile but it’s fake
How could they smile?
If you look around they are surrounded by pain
I’ve seen the sky turn to grey
It took the light from the day
It’s like the heads of the state
Ain’t comprehending the hate
That the oppressed generate
When they’ve been working like slaves
To get some minimum wage
You turn around and you blame
Them for their anger and rage
Put them in shackles and chains
Because of what they became
We are the monsters you made…..
So when I watched the Vice President of the Republic express anger and indignation about the atrocities of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad – FSARS for short, my first reaction was that this was coming a bit late in the day. That this public expression of indignation is coming from the Presidency, our Presidency, years after citizens have been subjected to untold barbaric treatment, theft under gunpoint, harassment, extra-judicial killings and maiming by those paid to protect them is a glaring exemplification of the disconnect between the Government and the governed. How did trained policemen, with the mandate to protect society and maintain law and order, become outlaws and more feared by law abiding citizens that they would rather face the criminals than come across some FSARS operatives? It is a long story really. Of the monsters we made….
If you want to see the living conditions of policemen and appreciate how they sometimes turn into what some of them become, kindly strengthen your nerves and visit some police barracks and take a tour. A good example, if you live in Lagos, is to visit the Police Station beside MRS Fuel Station in Victoria Island. Put on a mask with a bit of deodorant, at least you can pretend it is to prevent covid19! Then take a look. You should also take the liberty of looking across the road at the Naval Dockyard Officers Quarters gleaming in the tropical sun. Then you would get a proper definition of, and the stark contrast between, heaven and hell! The gentlemen are housed in the latter and the monsters are made in the former.
These policemen sometimes work 12 – 24 hrs a day riding rickety pickup vans that cannot easily catch up with a keke Napep tricycle. Then dey get home and cannot sleep due to noisy, filthy and unhealthy environment. They get stressed up. Then they run errands for politicians and their wives while protecting them against hired assassins, sundry criminals and political enemies. Then they see in close quarters how money, our money, obtained illegally, get moved around and squandered by our so-called leaders and their cronies. They get to find out that it is not hard work that pays in this country but shortcuts do. Having legal tools of violence called guns makes the job easy. The monsters we made but who is taking up their case?
The youth, out of school, unemployed, some made unemployable by the system, take solace in doing their hair the way American boys and successful Naija musicians do. Then they see Burna Boy in a hoodie, torn jeans and neck chains. He is successful. Davido too. It has become attractive and escapist to dress like them, even in affordable secondhand clothes. They hear that ForEx trading is a good business and in the absence of a better option, even to pay their way through school, some use their life savings to buy secondhand laptops and learn the trade. Then their protectors come along and arrest them for their hairstyle, their dress and their laptop. Even their secondhand smart phones called London-Used. Instead of being taken to court they end up beaten, injured and extorted though no crime committed. By those paid to protect them. They become soft targets to the monsters we made.
We are making more monsters today that would definitely haunt and hurt us tomorrow. We are creating an army of youths hurt by society for no just cause and who keep asking na wetin we do? Is it wrong to be a youth? Didn’t these folks pass through adolescence in the past? Why are they all tarred with a criminal brush even if an insignificant few have been found wanting?
Why is FSARS not aggressively arresting and beating and injuring those big men of our society who steal billions and are treated with kid gloves and given Chieftaincy Titles and Honorary PHD’s? Why, in the words of Shehu Sanni, are the youths treated with insecticides and the big thieves treated with deodorants?Just for the way they dress?
Many youths believe our society is unfair, unjust and not worth their commitment and dedication – even patriotism! We are making future monsters today, educated, tech-savvy monsters that will make tomorrow a nightmare. Instead of nationhood we are busy building a monsterdom.
Mr. Vice President, FSARS high handedness is a mere symptom of a deep wound we allowed to fester and now it smells badly. Instead of a drug for topical application at a pharmacist, we now need a surgical operation that requires amputation and skin-grafting done by a consortium of health experts. Now, in addition to a knowledgable co-ordinating medical expert, we require a physician, anaesthetician, neuro-surgeon, orthopaedic, physiotherapist and an expert to help manage the emotional trauma following amputation. It is this serious because of the millions of monsters we made and are still making today.
5th October 2020