From the north to the south of Nigeria, death is no stranger. Trails of blood mark the nomad’s path, and three hundred putrefying bodies swathed in multi-colored pagnes cover the earth at the bottom of a crudely dug grave. A mass grave for the nameless corpses from Nyher, Ruku, Exland and Bachi District of Southern Kaduna. From Boko Haram to the Fulani militia, terror is a shared virtue. The Global Terrorism Index in 2014 listed the Fulani militia as the fourth deadliest terrorist group. Sweeping around Northern Nigeria like a raging forest fire at the peak of Harmattan, they have left thousands of bodies in their wake as wanton collateral in their single-minded aggressive quest for farm lands. Nigeria, scattered in tiny shards of misshapen political and ethnic sentiments, has become a theater for these bloodlusty vagabonds.In a country where the government is the only one with the authority to license the possession of assault rifles and military grade weapons, Fulani herdsmen carry automatic rifles in the pretext that they are protecting their cattle from rustlers.
Nigeria is a country at the crossroads. A state on the fringe of violent disintegration. The country is teetering on the precipice of an explosive outrage. On one hand, the economy is stifling. With plummeted oil prices, and at a contraction of 3.2 percent, the World Bank reported that Nigeria’s economy is confronted with the ‘worst recession in four decades’ and unemployment statistics, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in the second quarter of 2020 have risen to27.1 percent, while underemployment is at 28.6 percent. The picture is dire and the political climate is not at its best. As the state is at its weakest, the resolve to win the war with Boko Haram is fraught with insincerity and corrupt deals. Military brass hats divert money meant for the purchase of weapons and play chess with the lives of soldiers. With the opportunistic interests that abound in the big business of insecurity in Nigeria, the Fulani militia prowl the forests of the country, abducting people and demanding vast sums of money. At other times, they kill, rape and torture because they can.
Nothing describes Nigeria better than the metaphor of the Hobbesian state where might is right, and where the powerful are the only ones entitled to the protection of the state. The state is failed because it should never have been. Within Nigeria, there are about 371 tribes and over 520 languages. The resentment that Nigerians harbor for each other over ethnic and religious issues has always been a weak point that politicians have exploited to keep the people from insisting on their accountability. An interesting point about Nigeria that has confounded observers and political scientists is that, even as the country expands in its conceptual assumption of hell, and the politicians say, as a matter of fact that hell is a place that can be coped with, the people grumble a little bit and then they accept it as a reality. The relentless long-suffering of Nigerians has been experimented on countless times to the satisfaction of politicians who think themselves lucky that the people know no breaking point.
These images capture as their essence, a problem that has been felt in even the most obscure parts of the world in the form of the Nigerian running far from home, trying to forget the nightmare of existence in a home that has long transformed into a deathtrap. ‘Everything in Nigeria is designed to kill you,’ that statement which has become an automatic response to Nigeria’s excessive and mostly violent dramas of incompetence, corruption and murderous self-interest is the social media mantra for Nigeria’s disillusioned millennials who consistently need to remind themselves that they must struggle against the inertia that Nigeria’s weak passport confronts its holders with. They must remember to leave against all odds, even if they must feign love with lonely, sexagenarian white women. To resolve Nigeria’s mind boggling political and economic problems, it must first be unbundled from its artificial statehood. A state with a future should never have people who are perpetually thinking of how they will pull it apart. The hard truth that many Nigerians are reluctant to hear is that the state has no future in its present arrangement. It must be broken down to fit its natural aspirations. In its unbundled state, provincial problems will be better appreciated where those problems belong, rather than shared with other people who don’t understand the cultural exigency of the problems. Another point is that, in their unbundled statuses, regions can follow up on their common aspirations with the single-minded energy that only a homogenous nature can inspire in a people.