By Bayo Fasunwon
The general behavioural display in Nigeria now is deviant. Many Police and INEC facilities are being incinerated all over the country especially in the Eastern part of the country. Irate mobs have taken to meting jungle justice on suspected criminals while rich also live in palpable fear all over the country. Almost in all local government areas, do we read of cult wars, and extermination of rival cult members? The situation is such that the level of indiscipline has heightened, and many pundits blame this on the escalated consumption of illicit hard drugs.
Unlike before, citizens now stand up to law enforcement agents, and even engage in fisticuffs. A ready example came to mind in a bus ‘conductor’ broke a bottle on the head of a Policeman. Unfortunately, the displays of aggression have also trickled into academic institutions and even homes. However, the ‘little’ forms of aggression shaking the political system have been submerged by the high scale of aggression of insurgents, herdsmen, and even proponents of self-determination. The basic truth however is that the average Nigerian is fast becoming aggressive, as a survival and coping strategy.
While many reasons are being proposed for this aggression, Social Scientists are of the opinion that aggression mostly is the outcome of frustration. While aggression is a forceful action intended to dominate another, frustration is a state of insecurity and dissatisfaction, which arises from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs. The frustration-aggression theory that seeks the explanation to violent behaviour propounds that when all efforts at achieving a goal is blocked, a person may become angry and aggressive. Sometimes, the aggression may be a tool of achieving the set goals, but in most cases, it is just an expression of anger against the resistance mounted against the seeker of the goal. The theory says that frustration causes aggression, but when the source of the frustration cannot be challenged, the aggression is displaced onto an innocent target. This displacement of aggression explains why terrorists would kidnap innocent members of a community, kidnap or kill suffering citizens as themselves, and destroy government facilities.
The average Nigerian is full of hope, faith, and resilience. Through the thick and thin of life, the Nigerian would always believe that ‘tomorrow go better; and therefore seek for ways to make lemonade out of lemons. However, in many cases, it seems that the vicissitude of life and even the government had sworn to an oath of making life difficult for the ordinary man on the street. Thus, government agencies, policies, and government officials had on many occasions, frustrated the survival moves of the people of this nation. When pushed to the wall aggression occurs, often with devastating effects. For example, while Nigerians, mostly the youths had seemingly explored all the necessary avenues to make government reform the Police, protests as a non-violent aggression had been employed. However, when the military was invited into the crises, aggression escalated leading to the destruction of many government facilities.
The judicial murder of Ken Saro Wiwa and the too coincidental death of Bashorun MKO Abiola are two deaths that gave birth to aggression in Nigeria. The death of this duo was perceived by their ethnic nationals as blockages to their political ascendancy in the country. Therefore, the aggression of the OPC and the Niger Delta militants remain fresh in our memories.
The various calls for secession by certain groups from the Nigeria alliance and even the call for the change of name of the country to an absurd nomenclature are signs of frustration. A walk through the streets of the country would show that the people are no longer suffering and smiling. Many are frustrated about personal economies, national insecurity, high cost of living, financial burdens, unresolved health challenges, and the deafness of government and Governors to their cries. When these frustrations are not alleviated, a little trigger may bring aggression into the narratives of a perceived peaceful environment. In some States of the Federation, workers are getting peeved and frustrated for not being paid for work done. The indebtedness of their principal had also plunged them into embarrassing parental failures, thus reducing their authorities in the homestead. Inflation makes nonsense of owed emoluments, even if it is eventually paid, so the frustration is unabated.
Only recently, the Vice President was reported to have expressed concern about the rising levels of unemployment among the youths, the most frustrated groups in Nigeria. This concern, put in the right words, is frustration. The Federal Government also, feeling frustrated that a tweet about Civil War forms the President was pulled down by Twitter, showed its aggressiveness by banning the social media in Nigeria. If the Federal Government could be aggressive due to the frustration of efforts, then what does it expect of the citizens? Unfortunately, while people are of the opinion that government should have been aggressive against bandits, kidnappers and terrorists, government had shown understanding in dealing with the murderous elements. The Benue State government had in frustration instructed his people to defend themselves against attackers. This is a call to war in that State.
The increased rape, stealing, assaults, and crimes in the various parts of the nation are a sign of misplaced aggression. The burning of government establishments in various parts of the country and the declaration of the threat of a possible coup plot are also signals that many Nigerians have resolved to aggression against the obstacles to their goals. Nigeria is therefore on a cliff of disorderliness and chaos.
Rather than playing to the gallery, a responsive government would make inquiry into the causes of frustration in the country. Practical and effective steps should be taken in order to placate the aggrieved and reduce the levels of frustration. While the hearings on the ‘reconstitution’ of the Constitution are a step in the right direction, other palliative measures should be implemented to reduce the negative feelings. Government at all levels may need to reduce their high handedness and enforcement of certain policies in the meantime, until situation improves. Furthermore, the level of arrogant manifestations of men in power at this crucial time must be drastically removed, because a soft answer would always prevent the display of wrath. All government institutions should realize that they were established to serve the people, and so do, without frustrating legitimate hustles. Finally, those in government should wean their ears from praise singers, hear the truth, and make amends. They should realize that the voice of the people is the voice of God.