Dysfunctionality in simple terms connotes abnormal behavior, malfunctioning and outright decay of the social strata. A dysfunctional state suggest that the state is in a state of stand-still, meaning that the state is devoid of steady progress and the arms of government are more realistically crippled and cannot function as expected. Dysfunctionality suggests the operation of the government below expected standards which eventually manifests in the economic, political and socio-religious conscience of the state.
To understudy the dysfunctionality of a state, we must consider the features of dysfunctionality in itself and leverage these features with our current reality. I do not intend to give a list of what I consider features of a dysfunctional state, I simply intend to state the obvious and allow you be the judge. I chose to close my eyes against the seeming dysfunctionality of my beloved country Nigeria in the past and hoped millions of Nigerians do the same if such petty and innocent actions will not question our patriotism. Do not blame me, we have been taught to hope and pray under the pragmatics of “e go better” until we found out recently that under this philosophical view-point, it will only get worse and that we cannot but speak through our pencils and inks since the ‘gods’ have not permitted some of us to carry placards.
What do you call a state divided against itself across ethnic and religious lines, such that the citizens has become sworn enemies? I start this discourse from the citizenry as against popular opinion that would probably prefer I start from the leadership. This is so because I choose to come to terms with the fact that the leaders were selected from the citizens, the quality of leadership is often as bad as the quality of the followership. There seems to be huge conspiracy within and between ethnic and religious lines to frustrate governance, peace and peaceful co-existence. From Boko-Haram, to Niger Delta Militants, to Fulani herdsmen, just name it, it all seems to me like these platforms are a huge conspiracy fueled by religious and ethnic hypocrisies and bigotry. Qualify it with an adjective you choose, I just cannot find a better one than dysfunctionality.
What do you call a state where the citizens will shout and raise support for someone who has raped their treasury? The thundering praises the political class receives cripples my heart, the praise and applause is nothing short of the hosanna shout that characterized Christ’s entry into Jerusalem even when it is so open that these people mean no good. I seek to question this consciousness of “brown-envelope” that has enveloped our socio-economic development as a people, the consciousness of rice, bread and crested clothes that has clothed us with nothing but retrogression. What do you call a state where the judicial system is as corrupt as the system that put them there? One would have thought that the judicial system would ensure sanctity. Sanctity here, is like a king that has been dethroned and banished never to return; this reality faces us each passing day as it shoves heavy morsels down our throat and sadly eats deep into every nook and cranny of our social structure like beans weevil.
What do you call a state where constituted authorities refuse to be accountable to the authorities that has constituted them? A state where you need to be more afraid of the security operatives than armed robbers? We hear of these things each day, except we choose to keep mute. So I bought a laptop computer in 2013 and a security operative expects that I carry my receipt with me to buy bread or visit a friend down my street in 2017? Amazing is what I can say. How awesome is our God who would make my careless self, keep a receipt for over four year just to carry it on the streets for the rest of my life as evidence of not being a cyber-fraudster! What do we call a state that drown herself in cold waters by paying jaw-dropping amounts to her legislators who are there to service personal interest and stack-up allowances when majority of the population lives below a dollar per day? Corruption has become excellently rewarding, electoral rape, prejudice and partial judgment, the bad is speedily becoming the new good, what do we make of this? Economic rapists are celebrated, given awards and honorarium when the true heroes are never mentioned. The massive turn out and the stampede at the 2014 immigration recruitment is a tiny percentage of the reality of unemployment in this space that makes no provision for her youths; the alleged leaders of tomorrow. I hate to be a prophet of doom, but in all sincerity it’s only a matter of time before this hungry population take to the streets to question the comatose state of their beloved state.
Studying diasporic literature as an undergraduate, I remember learning the adventures of the black slaves who were made to work under harsh and terrible conditions, faced the demeaning nature of rape, and killed their own child just so that child does not experience or feel the stench of slavery. In all of these, it is important to this discourse to state that these slaves still found comfort and solace in the church. If not for Styles photo studio in Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, the church was the only place hopes were restored and revived. For them, the church was very symbolic. The opposite is what obtains in today’s reality. The church refuses blatantly to offer comfort but continues to squeeze out the little hope that lies stagnant in the congregation. It sometimes seems to me like the political class is in some sort of agreement with the ‘men of god’ to frustrate the populace. After a fruitless endeavor of the week that has already made you felt less of a man, you return to church on Sabbath to give the little that is left of you only to see that the ‘man of god’ is to travel out of the country the following week with the loathful creatures that sucked the economy dry. The church is gradually becoming a theater for staged plays with the emergence of these thespians that come in the guise of ‘men of god’ with their whoa! miracles; I bet a lot of them will do better than Olu Jacobs, Jide Kosoko, Richard Mofe Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji and their ilks in front of the camera. What a shame!
Just before I rest my pen as I am running out of ink, let me ask if you see the Nigerian state as dysfunctional and what personal efforts do you make towards change? Again, I want to opine that every single person owes this state a responsibility of being responsible for her growth, development or otherwise.