This our democracy has been costly if this past election is anything to go by. Add the cost of the inauguration and the price tag staggers up some more. Then again, money is cheap. And if you know anything about Nigeria, you know we have a lot of it. We’ve bankrolled far less worthy things in our history as a nation. We’ve lined the pockets of thieving politicians. There is no crime in splurging a little when it comes to the sacred rites of a democracy for which we yearn so strongly.
The cost that keeps me up at night, however, is the cost in lives, the body count that is in fact still rising in Bauchi and Maiduguri. Why do we have to climb up a mountain of dead bodies to get to our promise land? Isn’t there something deeply unsettling about how Nigerian lives are being spent so lavishly like they are going out of style? To pick a random starting point, since the independence day bombing, so many have died from ethnic/religious conflicts and post election killings that our country is slowly becoming a grave yard. We have to stop and think. I hate to sound like Prophet Doomsday, especially when everyone is trying really hard to stay positive and give JEG’s regime a chance to make good on their rather generous promises. But everyone knows that I am not saying anything out of the ordinary. Let’s do the arithmetic–Independence day bombing: 10, Suleja bombing 13, Maiduguri: 6, post election killings: 800 with 65, 000 displaced and a host of other deaths in between. Some of the dead were young men and women, recent university graduates, who found themselves in the middle of a war that was not their making. Most of the perpetrators of these violent acts still run free and unknown. Meanwhile, the violence continues.
It is not just that these lives have been lost in the most senseless of ways but that their loss continue to go unavenged and as such unacknowledged. Don’t you think it’s funny when you hear people say, “aside from the post election killings, the election was peaceful?” Since when did we become that kind of people who use idioms like “aside from,” “except for,” and “apart from” to bracket off lost lives and sweep them under the carpet like they are dried out flies. Play the numbers game, and you would be able to guess how many more people will die in the months to come and how many more of these deaths would go unaccounted for.
This our democracy is surviving but only because it is becoming more blood thirsty by the day. One day, we will get where we so desperately desire to be as a nation. But at the rate at which we are going, we can only hope that we are alive to see what that day will look like. My fear is that a democracy that is littered with unburied corpse, a democracy that is gotten at the expense of lives that we, whether we admit it or not, secretly believe to be cheap is a democracy that will haunt us forever.
Photo credit: Kate Knight