“Education is the catalyst that brings order to civilization”.
This was a thoughtful statement I made spontaneously while in the heart of a very critical discussion with a friend sometime ago.
The thread of our discussion bothered on “the role of education in stemming the rising insecurity in West Africa”.
Well, this how I choose to welcome you to the chronicle of one retired army general popularly known as OLD SOLDIER.
OLD SOLDIER is a dubbed name for any ex-serviceman, particular the armed forces.
This very OLD SOLDIER is one of those retired army generals who successfully meandered his way through the ranks to become a general even without a waec certificate.
Suffice it to say that he was one of those [un]fortunate stark illiterates that were conscripted into the army when there was need to do so.
Until his retirement, he had fought several wars both locally and internationally, making his country proud in most cases.
But his lack of adequate formal education had been the bane that limited him as a mover and shaker in the comity of generals.
However, upon his retirement, in order to immortalize him the government gave him a national honour plus the latitude to choose one of two federal institutions to be sited in his village.
The institutions were a federal polytechnic and a military barrack to house one of the military regiments, both to be named after him.
Without hesitating, OLD SOLDIER opted for the military barracks.
His unthoughtful desire for a military barrack was granted asap.
It was built in his village and named after him while the school was taken to some other smaller village.
Whatever may have informed his decision for his choice, is still unknown.
There is an extent to which that should surprise you.
What do you expect from a retired general without a waec certificate, eh?
Were you expecting sound judgement or a well thought-out plan or decision?
Ah! O wrong nau.
The man didn’t go to school.
He’s bereft of the sanity, orderliness and tranquility education brings to civilization.
He had been with the barrels for decades and believes every thing in life zeroes in on the barrels.
Please, permit me to make a detour.
Currently, countries all over the world that are ruled by former military or serving military leaders are deteriorating quickly towards a “failed state”.
Worst case scenario are with those nations who have the ones that are illiterates ruling them in a democratic government, every thing “goes south” naturally.
Such rulers would once and again visit the military archives in their hearts and bring out brutality against their citizens.
They make statements publicly before even imagining the consequences of such utterances.
Because of the bundle of bizarrely war experiences they had while in service, the loss of lives of innocent citizens doesn’t matter them.
They lack empathy and are immuned to emotional trauma that should come from seeing the destruction of innocent lives and properties.
While some are utterly clueless, others allow religion and ethnic sentiments to becloud their reasonings.
They unleash terror and mayhem on people from other religions and regions but see their own as “sacred cows”
All they want is to hold unto power and make themselves unquestionable demigods.
They misuse and abuse power with impunity and utter disregard for the Constitution.
Back to my tale.
Like I would always say, “time is the processor of lifes’ events”
Ten years later, the little village where the school was taken to had developed to become a popular town.
The presence of the school had attracted amazing social amenities such as public water supply, electricity, good roads, mobile networks etc.
Also, other complimentary institutions and infrastructures such as hospital, banks, markets were built and there was a sharp surge in population density.
That little village that wasn’t on the map, is now on a fast lane to becoming a mega township.
Meanwhile, for ten years, OLD SOLDIER’s village had be ridden with abject poverty.
His army barrack had brought absolutely nothing developmental to his village.
Rather, his kinsmen had been sentenced to a life style of fear and had had to cope with the continuous harassments and intimidations from the soldiers.
Their daughters and wives alike, had been victims of physical abuse and sexual molestation from the incurably wild aliens in their land called soldiers.
What a life.
This situation had more than once led to an altercation between the soldiers and their lessor, which had led to the killing of many locals, particularly the youths.
It’s very vexatious seeing the military turn its weapons against the citizens it swore to protect.
Sadly enough, such misgracing treatment from the military had become the order of the day in a country like Nigeria.
One of such incidence which can never be obliviated from the minds of Nigerians occurred on the 20th October, 2020 which was coded [20.10.20].
When the Nigerian army viciously turned its weapons against some peaceful and unarmed youths during the #EndSars protest in Lagos.
Could this be the reason why soldiers are called “zombies”?
They have heads but don’t think with it.
Some other fellow thinks for them and give them orders to shoot at their own brothers and sisters, and they obey.
Such is abominable and barbarous.
These are the kind of things you see and hear in a nation where a retired military general is allowed to rule.
More hassling is the increasing rate of police brutality against innocent and armless citizens who go about exercising their constitution rights.
Then the statement “police is your friend” is just a reminder, that Judas was the disciple that betrayed Jesus.
However, wether or not you like OLD SOLDIER’s choice of siting an army barrack in-leu of a school for his people, the deed had been done.
The consequences of his choice are now glaring and are here to stay for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Now, I really understand this saying, “soldier go soldier come, barrack remains”
Today, OLD SOLDIER is marking his 98th birthday anniversary.
Please, a word for him in the comment section.
Thanks for reading through patiently.
ODAFE Austin Johnson
© Copyright 2021