Opinion | Nigeria: Of Heroes and Anti-Heroes

By Sam Amadi

Nigerians are myth-makers. They are also very religious and sentimental. They are always looking for angels and don’t have the patience to wait for long. A little whiff of pseudo-celestial smoke and fiam, they embrace an angel.

Celebrity cop, DCP Abba Kyari (Left) replaced with DCP Tunji Disu (Right) as Commander of the Nigerian Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team.

That is how we got Saint Buhari. That’s how we have Mr. Peter Obi. That is how we got Malam Nasir El-Rufai. Recently, that is how we got supercop Abba Kyari. Of all these Nigerian saints only peter still has his hood. We hope he keeps it for a long time.

Apart from the fact that we deeply long for a saint, we also lack the basic intelligence to really assess people and situations before we canonize. Take Buhari for example. He was here before and basically showed tremendous disregard for rules and logic. And intelligent people think that a person who disregards rules and logic to achieve whatever high-sounding social ends would pass the elementary test of anticorruption. Intelligent Nigerians read a different text on corruption and canonized Buhari as an exemplar of anticorruption.

Abba Kyari is a well ‘decorated’ police officer. In Nigeria, you should second-guess any honor anyone gets, even if from University of Ibadan or University of Nigeria. Everywhere, honors are three for one pence. Either it is brought or procured by ill-informed media frenzy. Yes, Abba Kyari is very decorated. But how about those allegations of brutality, violation of human rights and outright theft leveled against him? Did any of the praise-singers bother to investigate or even personally review the stories? No. It is very inconvenient. Such reviews and rigorous thinking undermine our disposition and urge to always canonize someone.

In our land of numbing mediocrity and even disheartening failure, we must look for one of us to drag to a height higher than us. Abba Kyari has a knack for bursting complex criminal rings so it seems. It also seems that, like the other sullied saint, he has a capacity to transgress all rules and logic of public leadership. He has incentive to do because he trusts the public and its megalomaniacal quest for heroes and disclination for rigor and retrospection. We don’t bother to crosscheck against credible standards.

Welcome Cop Disu. The path beckons: crack the skull of one nauseous criminal and none of us bothers whether you mindlessly kill the only son of a widow or despoil her remaining inheritance. You are supercop. You are a hero.

Dr. Sam Amadi is former Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Civil Rights Attorney, Law Professor and Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts.