The allusion to Richard Wagner’s music drama, Gotterdammerung – the twilight of the gods, in this article is simplistic and only invites a simple attribution relative pointedly to the Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition of “Gotterdammerung”: as a collapse (Downfall).
It is in this context, that one must wonder, if at all, in the light of the revealing optics, following in the wake of the #ENDSARS protests, whether we are witnessing the twilight of our Nigerian gods!
For better or for worse, 60 years on from independence, the Nigerian ruling elite have manifestingly enthroned themselves as gods – taking tributes in the form of arbitrary treasury looting, whilst being unaccountable to the subject people and sternly meting out dire punishment to recalcitrant subjects who dare question their god-head.
When the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti sang: ” when I see say our lives dey roll like one yeye ball wey one yeye wind dey blow from one yeye corner” – one can very well deduce that the ‘yeye wind’ depicts the ceaseless, unrelenting inimical machinations of our ruling class!
As the very obvious “yeye wind” unleased by some of our gods in infusing the destabilizing influence of thugs into the #ENDSARS protests swiftly gained momentum in stronghold areas of the protests and began to dovetail into more distressing violence and destruction, I hypothesized that someone, somewhere, was ingeniously trying to adapt to reaching an end goal of halting protests in a 2020, social media – globalized world.
Having witnessed the SAP riots and June 12 protests, I submit that our Nigerian gods are still the same and in their element. This is 2020, and they have come face-to-face with the reality of social media. If the protesters think they can employ novel ideas, so it seems can the authorities.
Moving away from the normal overt deployment of brute force, some smart alec, I believe, came up with the idea of employing a limited scorched earth policy, such that in the end even the original protesters themselves will clamour, as would greater sections of the public for a truce to bring law and order to the streets. I do believe now that the introduction of thugs to infiltrate the #ENDSARS protests and the shock impact shootings in Lekki, were well considered plans of action to reach a desired end.
Alas, following from the Lekki shootings, no one took into account the extent of pent-up rage and frenzied lash out the most ignored, vulnerable, preyed on sections of the public, allied to the most enigmatic rogue elements were capable of unleashing!
Like many Nigerians, I have wondered why the Nigerian security apparatus have not come out in force as is their wont to terrifically terrify a rampaging citizenry into submission! Whereas some onlookers and commentators have come to hasty conclusions that the Nigerian security apparatus seemed overwhelmed and indeed some sections of the security apparatchik have sold out that line – I beg to differ somewhat!
Looking closely at the patterns – at the beginning of the #ENDSARS protests, as it gained it’s legs, there was a noticeable scramble by authorities to isolate and tag leadership of the growing movement which without needing mind readers was in keeping with the age long tactic of seeking compromisers.
The disillusionment from that quest coupled with the growing daily threat of the protests led to a change in tactic by seemingly acquiescencing to the 5 point demand and announcing the dissolution of SARS.
At their wits end, with protesters evincing to see through this tactic, increasingly desperate at their inability to fob off these protesters much like they accomplish seasonally, intolerable to fluid situations they cannot control – a different dimension of disinformation, discrediting and disruption was introduced.
Far be it that the Nigerian authorities were helpless in bringing order to the streets, afterall we are talking about just a handful of States. What happened very simply, is that the gods momentarily became jittery and disoriented!
Allied to the hitherto prevailing widespread insecurity in the land, they have watched pop-eyed and slack-jawed as bastions of security personnel have come tumbling down! They have watched as security personnel have ran on the streets away from mobs lugging various sizes of bags as though they were fleeing their service!
They are mindful that security personnel of all strata are largely underpaid, insufficiently motivated and ill equipped! They have looked on as raging mobs have cruised around in seized security vehicles and paraphernalia, brandishing various types of weaponry, seemingly in open revolt!
They have watched as palatial mansions they have reclined in, have been despoiled and citadel’s hitherto guarded by sentinels laid waste! They have looked on balefully as hoarded up palliatives have been unhoarded by streaming masses of people sometimes joined by security personnel who themselves are impoverished!
They think it wise and prudent to bunker down and manage these localized outrages by a very negligent component of the population, their minds unsettled by the unnerving spectre of other segments of the public ever deciding to take a hand!
But they are sufficiently calm and methodical. They have seen the dossiers and cryptic evaluations – Nigerians are the happiest people on earth afterall, and so they move on, reinforcing and employing time honored divide and rule tactics passed on from British colonialists to indigenous inheritors.
Sadly, our elite actors have been steeped in their ways for far too long. Emboldened by an inherited god like heritage that suffers no illusions – they cannot really see, cannot really hear and so can never really understand why the people cry.
Where mortals have come to possess belief through long standing application that indeed they have assumed the status of gods made manifest amongst men, to shorn them of that most venal illusionary bug is almost always an impossible chore, hence the repetitious historical recordings of oppressive rulers, whose demystification and correction process more often than not in the unraveling is summary and a painful watch!
The Police – subjects and victims of our ungodly gods, (as well as everyone else), must with deliberate intent and purpose be put back together. They have largely carried the can and been the expendable whipping boys for all the oppressiveness and impunity of our strutting gods. The avarice and depraved conduct that has come to be associated with some personnel of the Police are derived values gleaned from wicked gods!
Anarchy is an all consuming hydra-headed monster as seen in the terribly sad and unwarranted loss of life of citizens and security personnel alike and the vilest and wicked attacks on critical government and private infrastructure and belongings. In the end the Innocents and most vulnerable are ultimately the ones most exposed to losing life, limb and livelihood.
My avowed and fervent hope is that if ever the day dawns when the Nigerian people are sufficiently stirred to bring about the downfall of our debauched pestilential gods, it will be through the instrumentality of the democratic process.
Consigning our gods and their “yeye wind” to permanent repose using ballot bullets will be a task of the ages, considering their successful weaponization of poverty, illiteracy, ethnicity and religion, but it is a task that must be undertaken – the sustainability of the Nigerian enterprise demands it!
Victor Ikhatalor is an activist and Good Governance advocate. He tweets on @MyTribeNigeria. Email: [email protected]