FANNING THE FLAMES OF MAYHEM


By Akin Ojumu

Dark clouds gather over Nigeria. The signs in the skies are ominous and they portend tumult. Rage and evil, like a pot of simmering sulfur, seethe restlessly beneath the surface in Africa’s most populous nation. A long dormant volcano is rumbling and grumbling, signaling an imminent eruption that will unleash searing hot lava of destruction of unimaginable proportions, the type of which the world has never before witnessed.

Some belligerent Nigerians are asking for war, and they don’t seem to realize it. They are plunging down a one-way cul-de-sac that ends in utter destruction but appear not to care what’s at the end of the road. Unwittingly, these arsonists set sail for a place no sane person would dare go. Yet onward they march singing and shouting, “Ship ahoy!” 

Outraged over losing political control, these bellyachers have hopped on the vehicle of senseless bellicosity, a vehicle powered by an engine that runs on poisonous manipulation and spurious propaganda.

Sadly, we’ve seen this movie before. It happened in Rwanda between the Hutus and Tutsis. It played out by the Janjaweed genocide in Darfur. The Nazis did it to the Jews resulting in the humanitarian catastrophe of the Holocaust.

As these ethnic chauvinists corrupt their minds with the infuriating commentaries and watch videos that arouse in them emotions of fear, resentment, and bitterness, they are unwittingly fanning to flame the consuming fire of genocide.

In the cacophonic blusters characterizing the current election cycle, Nigerians are witnessing the 10 stages of genocide unfold.
 
1. Classification
It starts with the “us versus them” grouping of people by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: Ibo versus Yoruba, Yoruba versus Hausa.

2. Symbolization
This is the use of labels and/or symbols to classify and identify people e.g., “Ngbati ngbati,” “Okoro, omo nna,” “Aboki,” etc.

3. Discrimination
This occurs when a dominant group uses laws, customs, and political power to deny the rights of other groups. The powerless group may not be granted full civil rights or even citizenship e.g., they are told they don’t belong and can’t become governor or president.

4. Dehumanization
This occurs when one group strips the other group of their humanity, and they are equated with animals, insects, or diseases e.g., cockroaches, rats, etc.

5. Organization
Genocide is organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur). It can be decentralized (terrorist groups e.g., Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or thugs e.g. areas boys and motor park touts). Plans are made for genocidal killings.

6. Polarization
Propaganda is employed to amplify the differences between groups. Interactions between groups are prohibited. The moderates within groups are intimidated, silenced, ridiculed, arrested, or killed.

7. Preparation
The victims are identified, separated, and forced to wear symbols. Deportations, isolation, and forcible starvation. Death lists are drawn up.

8. Persecution
Properties, businesses, and means of livelihood of the identified targets are confiscated or burnt down.

9. Extermination
The mass killing begins, and it starts quickly and rapidly and spreads widely.

10. Denial
The perpetrators deny they committed any crimes, and often rationalize and blame what happened on the victims.

The very thought that this dam is about to burst wide open to flood Nigeria with its deluge is petrifying. What’s even more terrifying is the caliber of people complicit in driving along the process of genocide. These are supposedly enlightened, educated, thoughtful, religious, and otherwise non-violent men and women in the society. 

With their inflammatory utterances and provocative rhetoric on social media, these folks are inadvertently pushing Nigeria down the rabbit hole of genocide. Their careless utterances and incendiary commentaries are poisoning the well of goodwill and brotherhood that exist among Nigeria’s ethnic groups.

These cowardly saber-rattlers who are pushing Nigeria to the brink of tribal warfare have no clue what war is. If they did, they wouldn't be spewing the nonsense you see them post on their various social media platforms. 

Those blowing the embers of hate and war should understand that neither they nor their family will be spared from the resulting inferno.

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