Abnormality as the new norm in Nigeria

Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Professor Olanrewaju Onadeko, stunned the whole nation, last Thursday, when he said that some lawyers had been caught writing the bar examination for students. The DG, who disclosed this in Port Harcourt, while presenting the school’s report to the annual general meeting of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), called on the body to take action against the affected lawyers to preserve the sanctity of the legal profession.

It is quite disturbing that this ugly trend of students seeking external help to write examinations has crept into one of the most revered academic institutions in the country. It is a thing of concern that those who are ministers in the temple of justice are colluding with those being prepared for serving in the same temple to thwart the course of justice. If a trainee-lawyer resorts to self-help to scale an examination hurdle, what will he not do to pervert justice when he starts practising?

As unsettling as this development is, perhaps more disconcerting is that the Law School authorities chose to keep the matter under wraps. Examination malpractice is not a matter that should be obliged any secrecy. It is not an issue for the NBA annual meeting; it is a matter that should involve the police. Those caught perpetrating the act should have been handed over to the police for proper investigation and prosecution. Apparently this was not done. Examination malpractice, even when it occurs within the premises of the Law School, is not a matter that should be left solely to the NBA Disciplinary Committee to handle because it is not just an infraction against the ethics of the legal profession, it is an affront on the nation’s constitution and should have been treated as such.

Why should the authorities of the Law School make a matter that should have been handled by the police a subject of discussion at an annual NBA meeting? Well, this is Nigeria where abnormality is the new normal. Things have turned topsy-turvy and disorder has become the order for us as a people.

How else can one explain the arrival of kits to be used by athletes at the just concluded Rio Olympics more than 10 days after the commencement of the event such that rather than being clothed in our national attire at the opening ceremony of the event, our representatives were clad in track suits, an Olympics abnormality? How do we explain the three-day humiliation that our Dream Team VI members were subjected to as the charter flight that was supposed to take them from Atlanta in the United States refused to airlift them to Rio because of a payment gap? How do we explain the defence put up by the Minister of Sport over the messy handling of the whole saga? In Nigeria absurdity is the norm and perversion is a way of life.

Last week, for allegedly blaspheming Islam and Prophet Muhammad, a student of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata-Marafa, Zamfara State, was beaten to coma while the residence of the man who rushed him to a hospital was reduced to ashes by a mob with eight people killed in the process. While blasphemy is condemnable and should not be condoned, the act of the mob is contemptible of the nation’s constitution. They resorted to self-help instead of taking the matter to the police. The result of their action is loss of eight lives and wanton destruction of properties. But the most saddening part of the whole incident was the statement credited to AbdulazizYari, Zamfara State governor, that those killed in the mob action were not Christians as it was being reported. I am at a loss whether Muslims are allowed to kill Muslims. The aim of the attackers was to kill and they achieved their mission. That was bad enough. That the victims were Muslims was just accidental, the mob had achieved its aim.

I am sure that life has returned to normal in Talata-Marafa and everybody is going about their business as if nothing happened. The governor has not apologised for what he said. He does not see anything wrong with it. Is it not Nigeria where abnormality is normal?

Herdsmen struck again in Enugu last week killing a seminarian, ripping open the stomach of a pregnant woman, injuring many others and sacking a whole village. Herdsmen attack has become a normal feature of our national life. Whenever it happens, government reaction is predictable; a vow to arrest the culprits. But the culprits never get arrested. The people are left to bury their dead and count their woes. Nothing else happens until the herdsmen strike again.

In Nigeria, we celebrate abnormality as normal. We have been shocked beyond shock, surprised beyond surprise, abused beyond abuse and nothing matters anymore. The stage we are in is the prelude to descent to anarchy. The government needs to swing into action now and save this country before the Chinua Achebe’s prediction of Nigeria as ‘There was a country’ finds fulfillment.