Just as the national focus began to shift from Coza Gate, Nigerians have found a new outlet to purge their pent-up emotions. It came in the form of a video released by an online media outlet, Premium Times showing a (un)distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic physically assaulting a woman.
A lot of people have been reacting to the video differently. Being the youngest serving Senator in this ninth National Assembly, Senator Abbo seems to have finally convinced us that young Nigerian politicians are not better than their older colleagues. On his own part, Senator Abbo has come up with an emotional public apology, claiming that the incident, rather than being the norm, was actually an exception for him.
A journalist has since made a counterclaim, citing an encounter with the Senator as far back as 2014. While the police has done the needful by arresting and detaining the young Senator, a careful examination from a wider perspective will prove that the Senator Abbo encounter is actually an established pattern in the Nigerian society.
To drive home this point, it may be necessary to bring some past incidents of the same nature to remembrance. When he was Edo State Governor, Adam Oshiomole was reported to have shouted at a street hawker to “go and die”. He later made amends by giving the woman some cash reward and the promise of employment. But like Senator Abbo’s press conference, it was a desperate attempt to save face.
Some may even fail to see the connection between these 2 encounters, but there is. Our treatment of people is a reflection of our regard for them. Both Oshiomole and Senator Abbo showed no regard for these 2 women, and like I earlier pointed out, they are not exceptions, but part of a pattern.
If we have forgotten, Ajimobi’s invectives would still be fresh in the minds of LAUTECH students present at the protest where they demanded funding for their school. But what did Ajimob do that was special? Many Nigerians would probably answer anything. It is part of a treatment we are used to, a part of the ruling class’s right of expression.
What Nigerians don’t know is that such attitudes cost people their offices in saner climes. But in Nigeria, constituted authorities do as they please. One may continue citing instances, but what is the need when pieces of evidence abound all about us. The same road where Nigerians bounce in and out of potholes make no difference to politicians, their vehicles have functional shock absorbers. It really does not affect their bank accounts, since we buy it for them at close intervals.
In essence, the Nigerian masses get treated in a way that puts them below human premium. Else, why would government hospitals be starved of funds and be in conditions unfit for human use? Because the Nigerian elites don’t use them, and they do not consider the Nigerian masses who use them human enough to deserve better. We can say the same about our schools. We just are not human enough to deserve what is human enough. At least that is the way those in power see it.
So, what if Senator Abbo gets the punishment he deserves? Does it in any way elevate the average Nigerian beyond the sub-human plane the elite puts him? I think not. Because after all, it is all part of the sub-human treatment being Nigerian subjects you to.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Kayode Oyeyemi Akinwumi studied Yoruba at Obafemi Awolowo University. A music enthusiast, social observer and music freak. He writes on various interests including social commentary and popular culture.