A global village has the world become since the advent of the technological revolution and one of its offsprings, the social media, makes the dissemination of information very easy.
An incident which happened in Calabar has it that a man, whose dignified labour was accompanied by daily drenching of his clothes in profuse beads of sweat, acquired a motorcycle. He constantly enjoyed the service from his mechanical property until on Monday, March 25, 2019, a robber stealthily assailed him and tried to deprive him of it. He was activated by the adrenaline and energetically resisted the robber. Perplexed at how resilient the owner of the property was, the robber bathed him with fuel, set him ablaze and breezed out with the motorcycle. The police and others around went after him. He was caught and arrested while a few onlookers put out the fire on the resilient man and rushed him to the hospital.
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, a throng of vexed individuals stormed the police station where the culprit was kept in custody, sought him out and burned him alive. When it was inquired of the crowd, by a few onlookers, the reason behind their setting ablaze the man and not letting anyone rescue him, they explained that the man whom he set ablaze the previous day kicked the bucket thirty minutes ago and they couldn’t let him die without avenging his death. The sympathizers walked away dumbfounded.
Various media could tag those avengers. A few people think the robber got what he deserved. The law, however, could find both parties guilty.
When we look through the lens of Thomas Hobbes’ ‘state of nature’, we see that he described human life as short, nasty, brutish, and wicked as a result of man’s self-centeredness. We may be right to claim that these men were blameless going by what the robber did. It was for the value of human life, and to salvage occurrences like the one above, that the likes of John Locke and Jean Jacque Rousseau introduced the general will, liberalism, social contract, democracy and similar forms of government.
Rousseau said, “I give up my rights, all men give up theirs and we choose one man who also give up his and we give him our rights as we saddle him with the responsibility to defend us” (my paraphrase). This was the beginning of ‘the government for the people’.
Jacque further explained that everyone could opine but to build a lawful society, every community should have a representative. Trust must be found in this social contract, responsibility must be taken, and the leader must be for the people. Perhaps that’s why he asserted: “man is free but is everywhere in chains, hence the more power man has, more chains are bound to him”. For a man who understands himself a steward to the people will not parade himself with shoulders high; he rather would dutifully shoulder his responsibilities and avoid damnation.
The series of events in Nigeria leading to the 2019 presidential election ‘til this moment paints a picture of the brutish state of nature in the country where strength was seen to be inflicting pain on others, coveting what others own. Those who lacked the physical strength in the words of Karl Marx found solace in religion. The only difference as it relates to Nigeria is the masking of the ‘state of nature’ in the frame of democracy.
It is no news that citizens, in some parts of the country, express their anger through jungle justice. Maybe the government should officially announce to all that we are back to the ‘state of nature’ and that jungle justice is the real deal so that no one is taken unawares anymore; so that no one reposes trust in the legal system and security agencies only to be disappointed.
Patriotism is nevertheless a call we must all answer. For its sake, let every man in his corner, at his pace and time strive to attain the lofty heights of peace; work together to remind the government of the social contract and that breaching it has consequences!