The Oasis Reporters
February 10, 2018
Samuel Ortom of Benue state is the best governor in the history of Nigeria so far. He told Benue people to defend themselves. He told them what they have not heard before and which they ought to have heard, which is the fact that the people have no protection beyond their two fists, and where their fists are useless, they are dead. Ortom brings the good news to every one of us; that we are on our own. He brought the good news, the gospel of death. Nigerians, essentially, are on their own. And the earlier we realize this, the better for everyone.
Samuel Ortom’s sincere declaration to his people provides us with a physical variable to test our state theory. The world over, the European philosophy that locates the origin and necessity of the state in the protection of the individual takes a firm root. Social contract is a notion that politicians and social analysts chew in the mouth when commenting on obligations of the government to citizens. That the state exists, primarily, to protect the life, body, property and liberty of persons is standard argument of social contract theory, a paradigm that forms the basis of modern democracy. This is the justification for the extraction of obedience and taxes from citizens by states. However, the happenings in Nigeria calls for a revision of this theory, or even its total abandonment.
In the wake of Benue killings and the failure of the government of Nigeria to arrest the situation, the claims on the other side of state theory that the state is completely unneeded comes beautifully in a compelling light. And as it were, Ortom, by his declaration to the people, is a proponent of anarchism. For what does the anarchist say? “The state is not needed for anything, not even for the protection of life and property. The state cannot, and has never protected any life and property. People can protect themselves by voluntary cooperation rather than by coercion.” And what does Ortom say? “Defend yourself.” “Any lawful means you can adopt to defend yourself in Benue State, just go ahead.”
It is curious that Benue, as a state, cannot deploy the law to secure protection for its indigenes and residents, but the carrier of the sovereignty of that state is telling the common people to defend themselves with ‘any lawful means’. What are the lawful means and where do they come from? The Federal government that owns the Supreme Court of the land has not deployed the law to protect the people, yet you are telling the common people to defend themselves with ‘any lawful means’. What are the lawful means and where are they obtained? Where are they obtained; who are their guardians?
Rather than being sympathetic with Samuel Ortom over his frustration in trying to secure a federal protection for his people, our intellect and passions should be ignited around the idiocy that his statement stands for vis’ a vis’ the urgency of rejecting the Nigerian state, if not states generally. For Nigeria has demonstrated that the state does not exist to protect the people; that the state cannot protect the people; and that the state will never protect the people.
The leader of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, has shown a despicable lack of concern over the killings of people around the country and the destruction of their property, namely farmlands. He has heard about the boastings of the spokespersons of the killer-race but has not ordered those people invited and interrogated. He has heard about the mass burial of martyrs of ordinary living and no arrest has taken place. No serious policy has been put in place by any serious security agency of government. The Nigerian state has shown the world it does not exist to protect the people.
It is clear that Ortom’s statement was a surrender. The statement was a formal abdication of the duty of government by government. Under no circumstance or guise whatever must a state tell the people to defend themselves. The state cannot say this and still remain. It is a complete absurdity.
One wonders why Ortom is still in government. One wonders why there is still a government in which Ortom operates as a governor. If any mouthpiece of government is willing to abdicate the role of government, they must be willing at the same time to abdicate their position. For it becomes very hard under the circumstance of Ortom’s call, to understand why Benue people should continue paying taxes or obeying Benue laws. Ortom should not see himself as being on the side of the people; he should rather see himself as a part of the crew sailing the sinking ship called Nigeria. None of those in the helm of affairs in the governance of Nigeria today should see themselves as fighting on the side of unprotected Nigerians. All those who know that Nigeria cannot protect Nigerians and yet expect taxes from Nigerians, they are all partners in the grand conspiracy against unprotected, hapless citizens.
But there is a merit in Ortom’s call. It is a clarion call to the people to reject the Nigerian state. If the Nigerian state is incapable of being arranged in a way that will make it protect the citizen, there is no need for Nigeria. And I say, there are two options: restructure the Nigerian state with the protection of life and economic development as the fundamental goals; or let this state die. Nothing gainsaid, I will not be a citizen of a state that will never protect me.