How the heck did we come to agree that terrorism is just about twelve years old in Nigeria?
Most of us born after Nigeria’s independence have been terrorized all of our lives; we just did not realise it. Between 1960 and 1999, when the heavily bearded General from Minna graciously handed over to a civilian, Nigeria knew civil rule for just nine years! Some would even swear that what happened between 1999 and 2003 was military rule in babanriga.
So our lives were literarily militarized by men who forced their way in. Even as we speak, authority in Nigeria is still largely a show of force and brawn. Little sense goes into what is done in our public life. No government lives up to its duty and when we dare to speak up, they bring out the men in uniform to shut our mouths. And as we have come to realize that a life with breath still has hope, especially since no one knows what awaits them in the world yonder, we pack our mouths back into our rooms and climb the bosom of our wives, where life and fun is assured. Who wan die?
So impunity has taken throne here. Decisions are taken without an iota of respect for the common man. The executive oppresses us, the legislature abets them and the civil servant who was part of us until some appointment came through just yesterday, lords it over us.
Now tell me, exactly how much difference exists between untamed military rulers, their inheritor civilians, power drunk civil/public servants on one hand and a group of lunatics misled by a chief lunatic?
The plain truth is that the Shekaus of today only took a cue from those who terrorize us in official capacities. They are the whirlwind harvested from the wind sown by our leaders, a direct fallout of the militarization of souls, the failure to provide basic education for millions of Nigerian children and the general lack of care for the welfare of the populace. It is the corollary of the failure to do well for the citizenry and the deliberate frustration of the personal efforts of private citizens.
Such brutish misuse of office is currently playing out between the Nigerian Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and producers of the cinema adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of A Yellow Sun. Without much assistance from government, the film industry in Nigeria is worth about N9trn.
Informally known as Nollywood, the industry is believed to produce the second highest number of films annually. Even then, participants in the industry suffer unimaginable frustrations. Tax laws do not favour them, funds are hard to come by and distribution is impossible. Yet, the resilient spirit of Nigerians causes practitioners to get by.
Half of A Yellow Sun is one of such extraordinary efforts. Investment Banker, Yewande Sadiku, after countless nights of tears and sighs, mobilized the equivalent of N1.6billion of private funds for this effort, which is the highest filmmaking budget ever seen in Nigeria. The sheer audacity of shooting the film signifies a new era for filmmaking in Nigeria. Although this budget would most likely be considered low in an industry like Hollywood, the figure and its source exposes the possibilities available within Nigeria. However none of these would come to fruition without Half of A Yellow Sun recording a resounding success at the box which would boost the confidence of investors.
It is the hope that filmmaking in Nigeria would build on the success of this phenomenal effort by Biyi Bandele that terrorists at the Patricia Bala led NFVCB are trying to stifle by their blind refusal to issue the movie with a rating certificate about six weeks after a request was made for same by producers of the film.
Most appalling is the arrogance with which this body carries on. Until this moment, the board has hidden under a blanket, “certain aspects of the film have some unresolved issues, which have to be sorted out in accordance with the law and laid down regulations.”
Not only have these issues remained unsorted, Bala and her people have left us all to speculate about what these issues might be. While some have suggested that it might have to do with nudity, others have conjectured that some part of the film might incite violence.
Really? I reckon that on the contrary it would, by showing how harrowing war can be, discourage rabble-rousing politicians spilling bile all over the land while showing what the future holds for Nigerian filmmakers.
We, therefore, need to speak against these killjoys. As it did Shekau, the latitude we are allowing them will embolden them, make them thirst for more blood and seek more dreams to terminate.
That is a prospect we must not allow to come to pass.