According to a UN body,more than 1,500 people have been lost to cholera,in Nigeria,this year.Most of the deceased were children.This is absolutely mind-boggling.You wonder how this can happen in this day and age.This is sheer self-violence.Cholera is hardly HIV/AIDs.This is just the result of carelessness.Such gratuitous loss of lives.The UN body in question says the epidemic is driven by the lack of access to clean drinking water and hygienic toilet facilities.Obviously,it is the duty of the government to provide these facilities.Still i feel guilty,as should those of us that are healthy,and untouched physically,by this tragedy,because we have not cared enough to help as individuals or compel the government to do more.What sort of people are we?
Nigerians are good people,humane and involved.But only within the family or clan.Outside the family,we become hostage to cannibalism.Cannibalism,here,is used to describe a human condition marked by the absence of a sense of empathy:in other words,the inability to put oneself in another’s shoes.We lose our sense of fairness once we step outside the family.We cannot feel the pain of the ‘other’.We just do not care about the direction of our society,as long as our family and friends are doing well.That explains,to an extent,the level of greed and coruption in the society.We do not consider the ‘other’ deserving of the same security,economic as well as physical,that we crave for our family and friends.We are just plain insensate.
The main reason for this is that we rely on the extended-family system for succour.It is to the extended-family that you run,when you are in trouble or in need of support.And this because the state is absent.Because we cannot rely on the government for help in time of trouble,we tend to treat the state with levity,contempt even.This contempt is reflected in lethargic citizenship.We are apathetic about the state of our society.If we are to become fully engaged citizens,the state must make itself relevant in our lives.The state must become part of the individual Nigerian’s calculations.The state has to become a factor.To do this the government should establish a social-security or welfare system.
I know that some people,including myself,will argue that the government lacks the skills,competence,integrity and resources necessary for establishing a viable welfare system.I quite agree that any such scheme,right now,is likely to suffer from political calculations.Still,such a scheme should be supported for two main reasons:first,it would promote the idea of our interconnectedness.If we are ever going to achieve greatness as a country,we must sign up to the holistic idea that,together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts.We must see ourselves as playing for the same team,irrespective of tribe or religion.Second,it would create government-dependency.In a limited form,depending on the government promotes good governance.
This is due to the reflexive relationship between government-dependency and government performance.Usually, where people expect a lot from the government,the government is forced to deliver.This is an instance of self-fulfilling prophecy.When people have high expectations of the government,they exert the pressure that is necessary to compel the government to meet those expectations.The reason the Nigerian state is not working for the people,is that the people do not expect much from the government.As a result,there is no pressure on the government to perform.The absence of the state has led to a society that is so socially atomised,that it abuts the Hobbesian jungle,where life is nasty,brutish and short.