In the city of Nuremberg, Germany, Nigeria’s former Deputy Senate President Ike Ikweremadu went to celebrate the New Yam festival with his kinsmen at the Second Annual Cultural Festival and Convention. He came to his own, and his own rejected him. A video circulating on social media shows Senator Ikweremadu being shoved, his clothes torn and beaten. A treatment given to thieves and criminals was dished out to a Nigerian senator.
While some have condemned the action as assault and violence, other Nigerians have called for more of such beatings to be meted out to their leaders. Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil producing countries is equally the centre of poverty. 91 million people are in poverty, and many more are expected to tow that line.
In the context of Nigeria, where public universities have been left to ruins, government hospitals are under terrible conditions, doctors are overworked and the country is basically on a life machine, what happened to the Nigerian senator could easily become a trend against the ruling class. But there are also those Nigerians who demand respect to be given to leaders, regardless of who the leaders are and what they have done.
"Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has kicked over the attack on the former Deputy President of the Senate Ike Ekweremadu by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Germany. pic.twitter.com/RmVEmyHJ5c
— Philip Obin (@PhilipObin) August 17, 2019
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson in their book Why Nations Fail say, “countries such as Great Britain and the United States became rich because their citizens overthrew the elites who controlled power.” Unfortunately, Nigerians are in love with their oppressors. When human rights activist Yele Sowore who has been in detention for the past 19 days called for a protest tagged #RevolutionNow, Nigerians focused more on the term revolution. They refused to join the protests because it was a call for a revolution. While every Nigerian would tell you their leaders are doing nothing but stealing money, they also are unwilling to change those leaders, either through elections or protests.
A country like Nigeria is ripe for a revolution. The lawmakers embezzle money and do bogus projects while the ordinary man barely survives. Who then should defend the Nigerian? The experience of Senator Ike Ikweremadu is the same treatment a man who steals less than a dollar is killed for. While Nigerians are quick to met jungle justice to the poor, they never hold the elites accountable for their actions or inactions because they are leaders.
In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, when Okonkwo kills the son of an elder during a funeral procession, he is immediately banished for seven years. Despite his chieftaincy titles, his wealth and affluence, he is not spared from this punishment. If Okonkwo were in today’s Nigeria, he would only need to contribute a few tubers of yam and kola nut and say sorry and all would be forgiven.
Examining Achebe’s work from a socio-political perspective, regardless of influence, among the Igbos, the concept of accountability was entrenched in the society. Not just the Igbos, but also many other African societies. “The reason that Britain is richer than Egypt is because in 1688, Britain (or England to be exact) had a revolution that transformed the politics and thus the economics of the nation,” Daron and James say.