Nigerians have always been afraid of the men who are paid to protect them against evil. They have deified these men, worshipped these men and become the unpaid advocates of the erroneous commonsense the presence of these men evoke. When these men paid to protect them give them an order, they follow it to it latter. When these men make a mistake they define and portray it as normal. When they do the right thing they also hail and show them love. To the mind of a typical Nigerian, the military men should not be troubled with morality. They have transcended the point from where mere mortals operate and have become Gods. Even in moments they admit the fallibility of these men, they also admit their almighty status. That is where the response from the ‘imaginary’ military vaccination is coming from.
The way we see the military, the way we see men who are supposed to be our servants, is typical of the views of a house negro. We deserve it when our backs converse with unsmiling canes, we deserve it when our minds are braided with the institutions of animalism, we deserve it when our humanity is stretched to perceive the odour of that place where the sun doesn’t shine and we enjoy the few times we find ourselves on the table eating with these Gods or being fed God food. With them, we leave lost sight of what it means to be human. We have lost sight of what we ought to get from men who are paid from our own pockets. We are lost psychologically, physically, mentally and sound intellect has eluded us.
This is why it is easy to see an oppressed man justify the oppression he received in the hands of the military. He has lost sight of his position and encourages his rape by a servant. This is why any attempt at telling him what ought to be happening is seen as a show of unhealthy stubbornness and erroneous learning. He is afraid and his respect for these men is promoted by fear. This fear is deep rooted in the experiences he’s had, the correction they have carried out on people and the legacy of those guns often accidentally discharging. His respect is not real. So, while he respects these men who ought to be his workers out of fear, once those qualities they permeate are shed off, he goes back to his human default settings.
He insults them in his quiet and meditative time. He wishes for supernatural powers to regain his manhood shredded in their divine hands. He is angry that a man with only two balls humiliated him. The respect he has for them wanes like the respect he has for robbers who visit in the night. The previous night, he asked his wife to let them rape her, telling her it is the right thing, but in the morning he cussed everyone. From the hitmen who did the job and the rudderless men in power whose ineffectiveness let that happen. He was operating by the jungle rules. He knew what he had to do to survive. He his lost faith in the workability of the system and has taken it upon himself to satisfy anyone who demands for his or wife’s violation.
Last week, the Nigerian Military were on a free medical outreach in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. They planned this to coincide with the end of the Operation Python Dance II in the region. They were supposed to deliver free medical care and service to the people but they couldn’t achieve their aim. Reports suggested that guardians and parents were informed of the attempt to force-vaccinate their wards with injections that will kill or reduce their little ones to retards. We saw photos of children running back homes, of guardians and parents banging on school gates to let them take their kids home to avoid the rumoured military vaccination.
This week, we’ve seen the same thing in Ondo State, south western Nigeria, Rivers, Edo and Bayelsa states of South Southern Nigeria, Kwara State of North Central Nigeria and the North Eastern State of Borno. Children running, parents banging on school gates to take their children home, calls and messages on social media carrying different versions of ‘truth’. On social media, some persons updated that the military came to the schools to forcefully vaccinate the children against the Monkeypox virus currently in the country. On WhatsApp and Facebook, posts were shared linking the MonkeyPox epidemic to something similar done by the military in Bayelsa prior to October 4th when the disease was first recorded.
In all of these stories, we didn’t see any photograph of the military men in the schools or around them about to begin the vaccination or immunization exercise. The only photo we got was the photo of the military in a reserved area, under a canopy, waiting for persons to come have themselves examined for free. Arguments have been put that this is because no Nigerian will dare take a photograph of soldiers in a crime scene. The argument is sound but to believe that, in more than a thousand schools, or let’s keep it at hundreds, in Nigeria, nobody could take even a photograph of these military vaccination exercises, is hard to believe. This puts a dent on the validity of the stories.
We are scared of our military but it is impossible that no one could take just a shot, even if from a hidden position, of the gun-wielding men with killer injections. It is impossible that the military will go to over hundreds or even thousands of schools in Anambra state, in Abia, in Ondo, Bayelsa, Edo, Borno, Kwara and Rivers States without anyone taking just a photograph. It is hard to believe that Nigerians who love drama so much, Nigerians who capture the gory events of jungle justice, will let this entertainment(don’t be surprise) and drama pass. The military has released a statement denying their involvement in any of such and it seems, from the evidence around, it is a figment of a mischievous imagination. Dear Nigerians, it doesn’t seem their is a military vaccination. Stop the rumours, please!
But why were such stories created? Why did the people buy into it? Why is their a kind of unison in asserting that a story of such magnitude, without pictorial or video evidence, is true? Why will any group of people even fabricate such story in the first place? Why will another group help in sharing the word with their social media handles? Legacy and trust issues, I think. It is human nature to easily agree that an untrustworthy person, with the legacy of a despot, is trying to commit another evil. It is not illogical to assume that evil is more likely to happen from the hands of a person known for mischief. It is not too hard to see why a toddler detests that uncle that spanks it for the least of offences. That is where Nigerians are tapping from. But that is not the full story.
The military on their part didn’t make enough awareness about the exercise either. Official and nonofficial spokespersons for the army have made claims to the contrary. They hold that the people were informed on the matter in various quarters. Considering the majority didn’t know exactly the scope of this medical outreach or where and when this orientations was done, that is hard to believe. The exercise couldn’t have been for vaccination against Monkeypox(as some persons claimed) because the disease has no known cure or vaccine. And even if anyone has the cure or claim to have discovered any cure, some processes must be satisfied before its use is sanctioned. The closest vaccine to mitigating it, the Smallpox Vaccine, has been discontinued since the eradication of smallpox. Considering the mayhem that preceded the operation, it was also easy to assume the medical outreach was intended to work within that scope. People are not stupid but they are also emotional. They watch, analyse and draw conclusions.
The same fears existed in Northern Nigeria about some years ago and still do in some quarters. Some of the persons then taught that the immunization and vaccination exercises been carried out by the Ministry of Health at the time, was an attempt to depopulate the people. Some carried the story that because of the South’s disgust for the high level of polygamy in the north and the overpopulation, an electoral might, the government of the day was hell bent on taking away that advantage. Some carried the story that vaccination and immunization for simply being vaccination and immunization were wrong. These fears are legitimate and a people shouldn’t be mocked for showing this fear in any spiritually heterogeneous republic.
Can a government try to kill her people on purpose? Is it possible that a government voted into power by a people could turn around and try to have their heads for breakfast? The events in war torn countries have shown us it is possible. We have seen the crises in South Sudan where Rick and Salvakiir are using their people as shield. Burning down everything that conflicts with their idea of peace. In Central African Republic(CAR) we saw, and still see, how the Anti-Balaka militia and Seleka forces murder their own people since 2013, because of power. If Jammeh had been left alone when he resisted in Gambia, we could be having another picture. Man has shown to be many things.
If this had happened in the previous governments will people respond the same way? A bunch of rephrases will help. If this happened before the men on camouflage killed over 348 Shia Muslims simply because they blocked the passageway of the Chief of Army Staffs, will the people respond the same way? If this had happened before the herdsmen madness were taken to new heights in Benue, Plateau, Enugu, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Kaduna, etc., without any arrest and perceived military protection, will the people see it the same way? If this happened before the military men unleashed mayhem on the citizens of eastern Nigeria will this story even exist? Could the response had been different if our sufferings and brutality in the hands of the military were not elevated?
I honestly don’t think so. Nigerians fear their military but the fear they have always had have never had this face. They always knew not to mess with their military but only few persons and conspiracy theorists saw the military as a tool of conquest or domination. It was easy to be dismissed in the past due to the diverse military chiefs we had, the level of the herdsmen madness and the lack of presidential tacit or overt bias for crimes from certain people in the country. The people are scared that the only way this current government understands and quell trouble or stubbornness is by subverting the very law that gave them mandate to rule. And this, they’ve often seen, in the use of the military and illegality in civil and legal matters. They have a point.
The reason the people are afraid and rumours are spread about a military vaccination is because the men on camouflage further stretched that difference between them and the people they were meant to protect. They stretched it when in the name of Operation Python Dance II they butchered stick wielding citizens of Abia state. They stretched it when they shot down over 348 Shia Muslims simply because they blocked the passageway of the Chief Of Army Staffs. They stretched it when they were quiet to herdsmen violence in Taraba state but responded to the killings of Herdsmen in Mambilla in the same Taraba. They stretched it when they they opened fire at Pro-Biafra youths simply celebrating the victory of Donald Trump in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. They stretched it because their was someone at the top pretending he doesn’t hear the drumbeats.