By Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia, Ph.D.
When I write about issues of fairness and justice, I hope I am not construed as some type of a moral police. Far from it, I have my foibles and I struggle every day to be the better version of who I was yesterday. But in standing up for fairness and justice, I am constantly aware of the perils of invincibility and the dangers of detachment. The idea that says anything that doesn’t affect me personally doesn’t concern me is a dangerous idea in a republic and must not be allowed to fester as has been the case in Nigeria.
far as I can remember, Nigeria has been in a state of perpetual assault on her
own citizens and every successive government be it military or pseudo –
civilian have always found willing citizens to cheer its actions no matter how
We need not look far to understand that the slow pace of democratic reforms in Nigeria is directly related to citizens’ indifference to the plights of others within the society. There is, I have noticed, a chronic adoption of the concept of “othering” in Nigeria. Many have taken this phenomenon to treat people from different ethnic group with contempt, the same applies to treating people of a different religious persuasion with derision – ditto – different language grouping. When they happen to be from the same ethnic, religious and language family, they still resort to micro – ethnic differences. There is almost always a need to find someone or something to hate.
Instead of disagreeing on ideological basis, many of our compatriots have found it convenient to treat their interlocutor as the “other” and based on this infantile notion, they will not bat an eyelid if the state descends violently on their supposed enemy. After all, he or she is “other” and does not deserve the protection of the state. You will find this phenomenon present in the treatment of dissidents and others with whom the state disagrees. A certain segment of the population will treat them as the “other” and state violence will be tolerated. As long as it is the “other” then no one cares. But eventually, what happens – when the other – is you?
This is why it is important to fight for a free, fair, democratic and just society – because if we don’t and the table turns against you (the cheerleader of an anti – democratic order), there will be no one left to fight for you.