On the 13th of May 2021, a video, showing the vandalized Itakpe-Warri rail track, was circulated. The vandals cut this rail track at different places and also loosened some bolts. Pictures of this vandalism that later emerged showed where the vandals removed some of the components, including rails and sleepers. But fortunately for Nigerians, the officials of the Nigeria Railway Corporation saw the vandalism before it could throw the nation into mourning. So far, some arrests have been made concerning this criminal act but details about who caused it and why they did it have not emerged.
Itakpe-Warri rail track is not the first government property that has been vandalized. But this vandalism would have led to a very fatal accident if it wasn’t discovered on time. People were shocked by such an act because no one believed that anybody in his right senses would have the mind to endanger the lives of others. Apart from that, the rail track was newly rehabilitated and inaugurated in September 2020. Why then would someone want to destroy what was given to him to make his life easier and his businesses thriving? This is why it becomes necessary to discover why people engage in vandalism.
Vandalism is the deliberate destruction of public or private properties. It is not done accidentally. Yes, an accident can cause the destruction of a property but that doesn’t make the person involved a vandal. Hence, people that vandalize things do so intentionally; they have no excuses for their crime.
Nevertheless, several causes of vandalism have been discovered and acknowledged. So far, unemployment is the culprit everyone blames. It is believed that no one that has a gainful job will consider destroying what belongs to others. Some people claimed that it is not just unemployment that causes this but also poverty. People that favour the latter argument will remind you that it is only a poor expert that can vandalize properties such as transformers, high voltage wires and accessories, and rail tracks. These people argue that if the economy becomes good, vandalism will be eradicated. But if we consider unemployment and poverty as the causes of vandalism, what then can we say about the persons that can afford the equipment that cuts and moves rail track components? If they can afford those equipment, can we say they are poor or unemployed? Can a poor person afford the cutting machine or can an amateur cut the tracks? These are some of the questions begging for answers?
Other major causes of vandalism are anger and frustration towards the victim(s). Examples of these were seen during the violence that accompanied the ENDSARS protest. Many public and private properties were destroyed by the agitators while the other Nigerians cheered them on. The anger was on the government but some were transferred to individuals that were considered beneficiaries of the government.
But many of these protesters went too far to the extent of vandalizing private business premises and properties. We cannot say that this was caused by anger towards the government or frustration for the state of things in the country. Many of the acts of vandalism that happened then, and even the ones happening now, were caused by envy and malice. Yes, vandalism can be carried out because the vandals hate the progress of the victim(s).
One thing people seem not to remember when discussing vandalism and its causes is that many vandals have the primary objective to steal. For instance, some of the participants in the mentioned ENDSARS violence were thieves looking for opportunities to break in and carter away what belongs to others, including corporate organisations and emerging entrepreneurs. The vandals of the Itakpe-Warri rail track were also thieves and so were many others. However, no patriotic individual will destroy anything that was built and/or owned by his country or fellow citizens in the name of agitation, poverty, theft, envy, and so on. This is to say that the chief cause of vandalism is a lack of patriotism and neighbourliness.