I watched the video of the speech MC Oluomo gave to the Tea Noobu crowd yesterday.
He told us that it’s the turn of Yoruba and everyone should support Tea Noobu.
He was emphatic that Peter Obi and Atiku were wasting their time.
He mocked the EndSARS protest, asking for the bodies of those who were killed.
After I watched, I mused to a friend that a victory for Tea Noobu in 2023 is another step forward for someone like OluOmo to expand his territory and entrench his ethos in the country.
It’s public knowledge that this guy cut his teeth on the streets of Oshodi as a violent enforcer, electioneer, and tax collector, extorting transporters and small businesses in the state.
I asked my friend what it would take for people like Oluomo to lose their influence, and he made a point that I have often heard others make on this issue: Getting rid of the street activities of Oluomo and his goons would lead to an unsafe Lagos.
That kind of thinking is not uncommon. In fact, it is not unique to Nigeria. I remember that in 2014, during the penultimate capture of drug kingpin El Chapo, more than a thousand people marched in Culiacan (a town in Mexico) demanding his release. They said that he had stopped extortion and kidnapping in the city.
Al Capone, the American gangster, used to feed 2,000 people a day in his soup kitchens in Chicago. He kept the peace in the city.
Pablo Escobar built an entire town for the poor that still carries his name to this day. He kept the town safe.
These are self-preservation activities. They needed the peace to carry out their nefarious activities.
Somalia is ruled by gangs who have their own well-defined territories. It is necessary for them to keep the peace in the community so they can thrive.
Somalia is not an outlier. Almost every third-world country has pockets of territories that law enforcement is afraid to claim because non-state actors have made them their own.
Yet, every paper that has looked at the effects of gang activities has found that these groups have a net negative effect on the economic growth of their areas.
The biggest conclusion people need to draw from people preferring gangs to law enforcement regarding justice is that, clearly, the people feel that their government is unable to provide for their safety and wellbeing. My friend and others like him aren’t ‘apologists’. They are victims caught between a rock and a hard place, maybe something akin to Stockholm Syndrome.
As long as there is a sense of eerie calm, the thinking is that it is okay to take advantage of businesses, raise transportation costs, make it hard for people of other ethnicities to do business, and do other things I don’t want to name.
We, as a people, can do better with our voting privilege.
Law enforcement can work.
It just needs to be under the right leadership.