I must confess that I owe this adopted title to Patrick Utomi, whose article What is the Value of Human Life? on Nigerian Village Square (NVS) sent me thinking. However, I could not afford the pleasure of a long reverie as I was soon startled back to reality by yet another post on NVS. This time it was the bestial YouTube rendering of the extrajudicial murder in Maiduguri, northern Nigeria by those who have sworn to defend us with integrity and courage.
If other countries literally go to the gates of hell to protect her citizens, what is the worth of a Nigerian life. For US to send Mr Bill Clinton (a former president) to go and prostrate before North Korea’s dictator over the life of two ‘ordinary’ journalists, is nothing short of knocking on the infernal gate. The recent outburst in northern Nigeria over the Boko Haram sect (western education is a sin) has sent many Nigerians to an early party in the world down under. However, what seems sad is the little worth placed on those who were killed by religious fanatics and the fanatics who were extra-judicially sentenced to death. On both sides, Nigerians blood has flowed like an failed dam, soaking our landscape and diminishing our humanity.
What makes it more gruesome is that the state had intelligence that the pot was about to boil and did nothing. It took the outburst of kasala, which included the deaths of innocent people, the policemen who were killed, throwing their wives to undeserved widowhood and making their kids orphans, before government woke up to its responsibilities. A detachment of soldiers were sent to kill a crop of fanatics. Of course in the process, the death toll included some unfortunate innocents, whose only crime was to be found in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
As if the blood was not enough, our police took it upon themselves to avenge the death of their collegues. A sure reminace of life in the jungle, they went on a shooting spree. The recoil and arguement by Nigerians – for and against – is already captured by the NVS, and I don’t intend to repeat them. Nonetheless, I cannot but ask myself, what is a Nigerian worth?