The politics of security, change and culture

In China recently the authorities organized earthquake drills to educate citizens on how to react to real earth quakes and escape or save lives in what is a dangerous natural disaster that has claimed many lives and property and is more common in that part of the world than others. In the UK a great debate ensued in Parliament recently on the gay rights Marriage bill that polarized the Conservative party, the senior partner in the ruling coalition just as two men shouting religious slogan killed a British soldier in Woolwich in a terrorist act that saw the PM cutting short an official trip to denounce the terrorist act while stressing that Britain will never succumb to terror or terrorism. In Kenya the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission -TJRC – which investigated various political crimes and assassinations in Kenya from independence till the 2007 post election violence, found the newly elected President and Vice President in the March 2013 elections culpable, but did not recommend sanctions as the two leaders have similar charges pending against them on the matter at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. In Nigeria the newspapers were replete with pictures of the Chief Priest of a cult whose members killed over 20 men recently with the Chief Priest asserting that his god protected him against the policemen who he said had been given orders to bring him to the state capital dead or alive, but got killed instead as they were drunk on their way to destroy him.

From preparing against a natural disaster, to making laws that change the face and nature of marriage, to having financiers and executors of thuggery and violence in positions of power in a democratic dispensation or allowing a security risk to market the prowess of his clan god or deity on a national and global scene, the contention I am making today is that a cultural and religious sea change is abroad in the world as we know it today and this has great and far reaching import for the peace and security of the world as we know for now.

Let me start on a happy note even though the issue is a natural tragedy like an earthquake but it is its planned management and the foresight involved, that creates a good lesson on crisis management. The new Chinese leadership in China has identified corruptionas a target for zero tolerance and elimination in China under its new mandate. But natural disasters have no calling cards and do not give notice of appearance. China’s earthquake drill is therefore a pragmatic and innovative effort to protect lives and give people courage when such disasters happen so that people, as far as is possible under the circumstances, know what to do to keep alive or even to save lives in the process. Coincidentally a recent survey on the global perception or sovereign reputation of key nations of the world put Germany as No 1 dethroning Japan which obviously lost its enviable position because of the way it handled it nuclear plant radiation explosion in recent times . It is instructive that Germany closed its own nuclear plants after the Japanese nuclear disaster at great economic costs but in deference to German public opinion. Iran was rated the worst nation in terms of global perception not unlikely because of its quest for nuclear power on the pretence of getting electricity for which it is facing UN sanctions. In addition Iran has been reluctant to ask for expert aid during outbreak of natural disasters in which it has had more than its fair share in recent times.

My fascination with the Chinese Earthquake drill stems from the socio economic and cultural problems of armed robbery and now terrorism facing some nations especially Nigeria. People flee here at the sight of armed robbers whereas if drills can be organized the robbers would know that people in the environment have some knowledge and information on how to react to them rather than just fear and that they can thwart their criminal activity successfully. This itself can be a formidable deterrence against the current high incidence of armed robbery or rampant terrorism or even kidnapping. In the Woolwich terror killing in the UK, a lady reportedly boldly told the terrorist who was saying that terrorists would wage war on London that they will fail and the lady even asked him to turn in the bloodied knife he was wielding after killing the British soldier. Really I think drills and mass orientation campaigns to resist armed robbers and terrorists will go a long way in reducing their menace and in making our environment safer than hitherto.

On the gay marriage bill debate in London, my view is that the world is turning upside down in that part of the world and a culture shock is afloat. But the government seems hell bent on getting the bill through with the active support of the leadership of even the opposition labor party. Which really is to be expected as leftist parties have such inclinations towards gay rights and marriage just as the Democratic party of President Obama is trying to bulldoze its way through in Congress and the US Supreme Court. This is in spite of the fact that the public is getting annoyed at the redefinition of marriage by a go British government that got to power in a hung parliament and does not have a mandate for the policy it is rushing through in the UK. Indeed those opposed to the great gay marriage drive have complained that no party in Britain put this in its manifesto in the last elections and it is unfair to create such a cultural and religious change without the requisite democratic mandate. This is also unlike the situation in France where the socialists made it clear in their campaign manifesto and are fulfilling their promise although most French citizens have now woken up from their slumber and are now frowning at the development.

The situation in Kenya however is a clear case of locking the stables doors after the horses have bolted. The two leaders indicted in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee Report are now the newly elected and sworn in President and Vice President of Kenya even though they were on different sides when they commited the post election violence five years ago. Now, who in Kenya will bell the cat for their prosecution? Also given their new alliance and their running successfully on the presidential ticket in Kenya, who can say that violence and thuggery do not pay, at least in the politics of Kenya? Even though the 2013 Kenyan Presidential elections were said to be free and fair there is something suspect in a legitimacy or authority gained in an atmosphere of violence as choice is a prerequisite for true democratic power and legitimacy. This surely is sorely lacking in Kenya’s two leading politicians for now given the TJRC Report just published in Kenya.

Lastly the picture of the aged Chief Priest of the Ombatse Cult Alla Agu was on the front pages of some newspapers this week as he reportedly spoke through an interpreter when a senator from the area visited him with some pressmen in Lakyo, Nasarawa state this week. Obviously the man whose cult members reportedly killed 20 policemen had no regrets on the incident. Instead he seized the opportunity to glorify the god of his sect. Reportedly he said ‘It is the governor that asked the police officers to come here and arrest me, cut my head and take my head to him. When they came because they were themselves drunk, my god did not allow them to come to me and they died on the way.’ As reported, the Ombatse Chief Priest spoke in the presence of Senator Solomon Ewuga of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during a visit to him in his Lakyo community. Really, I wonder what the Inspector General of Police will make of this, given the high death toll of the Police in the hands of the Ombatse cult members as reported by the governor of the state. To me it is unbelievable that a man like the Ombatse chief priest is not yet in police custody at least for his own protection not to talk of the image of the police in providing security for all Nigerians including policemen. In addition, the interview has helped in marketing unwittingly the ‘protective capabilities’ of the Ombatse Cult god and this is bound to open lucrative opportunities for the cult with people looking for protection from all sorts of attacks and assaults on both sides of the law in our society. I find it thoroughly amazing that the police have not been able to find their way to Lakyo to see the Chief Priest at least to take a statement on what happened. Surely that speaks volumes on the security of all of us who greatly sympathise with the police on the loss of so many men in the incredible case involving the Ombatse Cult of Lakyo in Nasarawa state in Nigeria.


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