By Kunle Sanyaolu
The word ‘anomie’ or ‘anomy’, depending on one’s preference, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, is used to denote in societies or individuals, “a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.” The word became a household name in the 70s following Wole Soyinka’s book A season of anomy. The authors of the encyclopaedia further inform us that:
“The term was introduced by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his study of suicide. He believed that one type of suicide (anomic) resulted from the breakdown of the social standards necessary for regulating behaviour. When a social system is in a state of anomie, common values and common meanings are no longer understood or accepted, and new values and meanings have not developed. According to Durkheim, such a society produces, in many of its members, psychological states characterized by a sense of futility, lack of purpose, and emotional emptiness and despair. Striving is considered useless, because there is no accepted definition of what is desirable.”
Having regard to the close affinity and applicability of this explanation with the current happenings in Nigeria, it is difficult to think that we are in Christmas period, a time to commemorate the momentous intervention of God in the destructive tendencies of man. With only a few hours to the D-Day, the entire country, save perhaps for a handful of people, is downcast. The people are visibly strangulated by economic adversity, manifested in no money, no jobs, no (electricity) light; and now, no fuel. To say Nigerians are going through hard times is a gross understatement.
Nigerians have a natural penchant to be happy, but the prevailing conditions are weighing down on them heavily. They are stranded; and when they eventually move, it is at great cost. They either spend inordinate hours to buy some litres of fuel, or they go through the hassles and huge expense of public transportation now reflecting in rising cost of basic goods.
Besides fuel scarcity which has shot petrol price from the approved N145 per litre to between N180 and N200 per litre, many other issues trending in the country are demoralising. They are depicted in scary headlines such as: “All passengers in a bus die in accident along Lagos-Benin highway”, “Ekiti local government chairmen sue federal government over $1b deduction from Excess Crude Account to fight Boko Haram”, “Niger Delta militants warn Buhari over $1b withdrawal”. “10 killed in Ogun crash”, “Osun workers embark on indefinite strike”, “Nigeria’s unemployment rate worsens to 18.8 percent”, and “Badoo: Police declare oil magnate wanted”.
One is at a loss whether the headline regarding the approval by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha of about 16 days Christmas holiday (December 22, 2017 – January 8, 2018) for workers in the state is a matter of joy or sadness. But it, at least, marks an exception to the other horrifying headlines. If it is any consolation, President Muhammadu Buhari is conscious of the sufferings of his people. He assured Nigerians, particularly his supporters, that their suffering, as well as the sacrifices they have been enduring would be rewarded by posterity. He also blamed the situation on the past abuses of governance.
The truth, ultimately, is that the country is in a season of anomie, totally incongruous with the spirit of Christmas celebration. Whether one wishes to celebrate Christmas loudly in proclamation of the essence of the death of Jesus Christ, particularly how he redeemed mankind; or one wishes to observe it in sober reflection to ponder about the massive and alarming human failings, vis-à-vis the teachings of Christ, one does not find favour in the present situation in the country.
It may be easy to simply blame the president for this travail. But this is neither realistic nor helpful. Where are the other leaders –governors, council chairmen, senators, ministers, other legislators and heads of government agencies? The president may be over-burdening himself by retaining the Petroleum Minister’s portfolio, but can one blame him if doesn’t trust anybody to do the job? The country is still writhing from what past ministers and leaders in that sector did. And fuel crisis, particularly in yuletides, has almost become a norm over the past two decades.
These are not meant to be excuses. It is for everybody with a duty of facilitating smooth distribution of petroleum products to rethink their selfish and inhuman strategy, and work towards making Nigerians happy. The whole essence of Christmas is to love one’s neighbour as he would himself. More significantly, no one should take the resilience of Nigerians for granted. The bubble may burst sooner than expected.
●●Sanyaolu, a lawyer, is Chairman Editorial Board of everyday.ng