This letter, written by Funke, a friend of The Afro Beat, is a wake-up call addressed to our "democratically-elected" leaders to get up and do something about the plight of the people as it is THEIR JOB (for which, they are paid rather handsomely indeed) to see to it that their constituency is able to attain a certain (let's even call it a universal minimum) standard of living. She focuses on the dire security situation in Lagos but really, this applies to all parts of Nigeria (except maybe Abuja, feel free to correct us on this).
The Price We Pay for Democracy - Funke
The recent and recurring spate of armed robberies in Lagos poses a serious threat to the security of life and property of its residents and makes our existence in this state a mockery. Lagos is under siege by armed robbers, hoodlums and thugs and our politicians pontificate. People are being traumatised on a daily basis and no one feels roused enough to take action. People have lost property that was hard won and cash that was hard earned and still we have people swaggering about, claiming leadership. People are dying and the cries of the dead fall only on the ears of their loved ones. The commercial nerve centre of the country is being targeted and the state turns its back while the lobbyists and apologists hold centre stage.
How many must die, lose their property, remain in fear and apprehension and cower under this reign of terror before action is taken, before resources are put in place, before the choice of the people reacts?
Fear. Apprehension. Terror. Trauma. Insecurity. Loss. Death.
These are some of the symptoms of a Hobbesian existence, where the state of life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” This is the regrettable and tragic state of life in today’s Lagos.
I say tragic because, according to Thomas Hobbes’s theory and philosophy, the role of government is to prevent people from their inherent selfishness and evil, which if left unchecked, would result in a constant state of anarchy and chaos. He believed that a people needed an authority figure to provide direction and leadership but also that it was important to have such a leader’s powers curtailed by a group representative of the people and their wishes. These theories are what have evolved into what we now know as democracy and the rules that bind civil society.
Now I ask you – when a people have elected individuals to lead them and other individuals to support that leader in ensuring that the people’s desires and expectations are met, and it turns out that those desires and expectations have not been met, are not met and perhaps never will be met, where does that leave the people? Exactly where they did not want to be when they elected leaders – in a constant state of anarchy and chaos. This is our tragedy.
Let us analyse each of the words in Hobbes’s famous quote one by one and apply it to the state of life in Lagos. 1) Solitary – means being by oneself, alone, lonely, or without associates. Lagosians today are in a solitary state. We have to fend for ourselves in a society and under governments where even the basic amenities of life are not provided. Each person or family unit is a city in its own right, providing its own electricity and water and their own security. 2) Poor – means with little or no possessions or money, to be pitied or of low quality. We have little or no infrastructure to speak of and what there is existing is pitiable and in shocking states of disrepair; we find it almost impossible to own property or acquire wealth given that most people are even struggling to feed themselves and their families and keep a roof over their heads, and finally, attaching the word quality to life is inconceivable. 3) Nasty – means something bad or disgusting. We exist in dire circumstances but call it life and the fact that those who are in leadership over us insulate themselves with the wealth and resources of other people’s toil and sweat is frankly disgusting. 4) Brutish – means resembling a beast, bestial, showing lack of human sensibility. People here have become bestial in nature as a direct result of the hardships they are facing, the absence of human comforts and niceties in society, as well as the decrepit state of tertiary and continuing education. The leaders in turn have repeatedly shown a lack of care for the plight of the people; after all they are in power to further their own needs and self interests. 5) Short – simply put, our average life expectancy has been considerably shortened by stress, hardship, turmoil and for most, not even the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the sweltering, stinking tunnel.
The collective senses of the people who granted you the right to reign and rule are affronted. Do something. Prove our votes right!