Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian novelist, says there’s a feeling the country could burn to the ground under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The 43-year-old writer gave this opinion in an article on New York Times on Thursday — hours before Buhari addressed the nation — and on the back of the attack on youths protesting police brutality in Lekki, Lagos state.
On Tuesday evening, videos had surfaced showing men in army uniform firing at unarmed protesters during an attack, with several persons feared dead and others confirmed to have sustained different degrees of injury.
Adichie, who made reference to operatives of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS), the police unit that prompted the protest, also spoke of Buhari’s delay in addressing Nigerians after the incident.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has long been ineffectual, with a kind of willful indifference. Under his leadership, insecurity has worsened,” she wrote.
“There is the sense that Nigeria could very well burn to the ground while the president remains malevolently aloof.
“The president has often telegraphed a contemptuous self-righteousness, as though engaging fully with Nigerians is beneath him. Twelve hours after soldiers shot peaceful protesters, Mr. Buhari still had not addressed the nation.”
The novelist added that the federal government “has turned on its people. The only reason to shoot into a crowd of peaceful citizens is to terrorize: to kill some and make the others back down.”
“It is a colossal and unforgivable crime. The brazenness is chilling, that the state would murder its citizens, in such an obviously premeditated way, as though certain of the lack of consequences,” she wrote.
Chimamanda also narrated an ugly encounter between her cousin and operatives of the now-disbanded police unit.
“SARS officers once arrested my cousin at a beer parlor because he arrived driving a Mercedes. They accused him of being an armed robber, ignored the work ID cards he showed them, took him to a station where they threatened to photograph him next to a gun and claim he was a robber, unless he paid them a large sum of money,” she added.
“My cousin is one of the fortunate few who could pay an amount large enough for SARS, and who was released.”
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