We Applaud While Governance Keeps Receding

By Uche Amunike

Daily applauses attend Nigerian life. If you are not celebrating, you are listed among those dedicated to seeing nothing good in the giant strides of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, the perfect example of the proxy Presidency.

Are there reasons to celebrate when we are not even safe enough to mourn the dead? Anyone who claims he understands Nigeria is just stretching the joke. How would one celebrate what he does not know?

In one week bandits take students, release or free them – words we must pay careful attention to for their evolving meanings – take new captives before we can properly welcome the freed ones. Conversation around kidnapping is welcome if it is about students, and travellers on the country’s roads that seem ceded to criminals. Other demographics have to endure their plight.

Nigerian existence has cracks along region, religion, and reasoning. We havenever thought alike but the gaps have widened in the instances we thought. We are more likely to act, then think later even when the consequences are before us.

We must be the only country that commits resources to debates on whether bandits are criminals. Rather, we promote particular bandits beyond criminality. They have reasons to opt for such existence, public officials and individuals acting in specious capacities say. Should we not accommodate them or seek our existence elsewhere so that bandits can have a country where bandits are the poster boys of excellence?

In the light of these, Fredrick Nwabufo’s piece on Nigerian media and media framing: Wakili a Fulani warlord but Igboho an activist? Draws stronger attention to an oft-ignored impunity in the media.

Framing, profiling, salience, are contentious media issues. Many of us deploy them without knowing. There are also subtle versions of them that are etched on our minds.

Fulani ceased to be a reference to a group long ago. The leaders of the group appeared to be unconcerned about the ills that others ringed around their people.

Fredrick in his masterful handing of the issues however picked a wrong comparison in Sunday Igboho while discussing the woes of Iskilu Wakili, an ailing, elderly man who his accusers say leads the attacks in some parts of the South West. I am stating so in relation to profiling, not necessarily who or what they both represent.

There is a more discernible reason for Igboho fighting in South West forests. Nwabufo should have found a comparison with another fighter in another forest in his homestead.

Wakili is a victim of lawlessness, the same lawlessness that produced Igboho. Where we mystify lawlessness with salience, it also falls into dangerous framing and profiling.

Governments exist to maintain law and order. The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, Section 14 2 b of the 1999 Constitution states.

Do we have governments who observe this provision except in breach? One of the glaring consequences of the disregard of lawful engagements with society is governments losing control to Igbohos. Those who dare drive the security narratives all over Nigeria.

Profiling flies on the wings of ignorance. There is ignorance in the media even among the most educated of us. We spread the ignorance to the public with glee. Our focus is detached from poor governance which sustains brigandage in its various nefarious forms.

When the tall, lanky, bearded fellow, in flowing dress, entered the venue, everyone noticed. The previous line drips with framing, profiling, and the salience is obvious.

It is not about fashion or the built of the fellow. We can see a dangerous man who can pull a weapon at anytime. He is not from particular, peaceful parts. Suppose he is?

He is dangerous. He is of a known origin. He will cause trouble. It is only a matter of time. Everyone will pay him attention for thewrong reasons.

Back to Nwabufo, in his defence of Wakili, did he believe that one leading a war must be in front and firing the shots? If Wakili is sick and old, has he always been that way? If he is partially blind, does he see enough to know location of a police station?

I have not said that Wakili is guilty, but these are contributions to deepening the conversations about framing, profiling and salience. The more open-minded questions we ask, the more we would be able to address the challenges.

We have more to bother about in the increasing recession of governance, and the excuses given for it. Flimsy as the excuses are, they earn Section 142b commodious spaces in dustbins.