Nigeria: A case of a two country 

474 views | Sanusi Muhammad | March 20, 2021

There is no better and more ideal time to voice out the truth no matter what may be the aftermath than the present moment where continued silence in the face of glaring injustice is a politically correct choice. This moment is one of such times.

If the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. were alive, he would have no doubt considers it most appropriate to rephrase his statement about dark moments and bright stars. It was he who declared, and quite profoundly so, that “only when it’s darkest can we see the stars.” And this statement bears far-reaching significance. Darkness is symbolic, often a metaphor for a period of distress and despondency. On a bright note, it represents the calm after the storm and so there is the urge to keep hope alive with the expectations that a glimmer would be sighted at the end of the tunnel. Would Luther King be as bold to make the same declaration in a time as this when every bit of sanity is drained from anyone who is so emotionally attached to the dismal state of affairs in my beloved country?

These are dark times, and with all that is happening in our country, one is frustrated enough to accept the fact t that there is a fault in our political, economic, social and governing system.  We are gradually becoming inured to accepting an anomaly as the norm. People can just be whisked; students from their schools, travelers on their way, innocent persons in their homes, and nothing will happen. These days, no one is really shocked that a kidnapping happened. It’s sad news but no one is shocked. What comes as a shock is something different. One, the number of victims involved each time, details we are mostly unsure about. Two, the nature of ‘negotiations’ with the kidnappers, bandits, or whatever we choose to call them, details of which are utterly ridiculous from what we are made to believe.

In between the kidnapping and the ‘releasing’ or the ‘rescuing’, we don’t miss the trail of statements with a huge tact-sensitivity deficit left by those who appear to defend the aberration rather than bolster confidence in the body politic that public safety is being sought as a matter of critical national priority. We have somehow adopted the uncanny habit of justifying madness and stifling patriotic passions. We have become so adept at misdirecting state force, misplacing national priorities, and majoring in minors. We have simply developed the unbridled penchant for missing the mark.

There is no denying that these are not the best of times for our most beloved country further worsened by rising anxieties and tensions. You’ll be practically frustrated at almost every noble effort to eke out a decent life while some misguided elements who have continuously unleashed terror on vulnerable Nigerians and foreigners have continued to enjoy government attention, unabatedly. Nobody needs to tell anybody that the crisis playing out before us is a most unhappy culmination of the years our leaders paid lip service to the ideals of fairness, equity and social justice, a society where some are more equal than others, a society where a certified criminal is called by a more dignifying name because, in the words of some people who should know better, that criminal is being ‘marginalized’.

Are we now supposed to accept this ‘marginalization’ as a pardonable justification for the killings of innocent people in a country that claims to have laws and leaders? That would be unfortunate. We now defend criminals and hound those who speak truth to power. We negotiate with criminals and come hard on those with genuine grievances, and who go about expressing such grievances peacefully. Yours sincerely has lost count of attempts by the powers that be to shut the mouths of those who have dared to be critical of the government or poor performance of those on the corridor of power. This is sadly often the case with many others with whom it seems those in government have scores to settle.

With every passing day, we lose the credence to lay claims to being a sane democratic society. What kind of society is ours, where people are suddenly treated as criminals when they speak against obvious failures to deliver on the most basic expectation of every government? The other day, a whistle blower in Katsina was submitted to suffer indignities for choosing to blow the trumpet against the corruption infested government of Aminu Masari within the constitutionally-guaranteed limits. The Nigeria Police as characteristic of the organization arrested and detained the whistle blower without minding to investigate the blown allegations first. Next in the drama series, the blower was charged to court, granted bail but the police returned him to their cell. Is that action of the police not encouraging the start of a revolution? That show of force was patently misplaced and most unfortunate. If we approach the lingering insecurity crisis and many other failings bedeviling the country with the level of determination we deploy to intimidate citizens, we could have recorded outstanding successes.

A society where the vulnerable and criminal elements justified is not headed for any good place. Worse still, the posture of the leadership, and particularly the president, in the bigger schemes of things, has been largely untidy. No one seems to know what we’re doing or how when we are going to things right. There’s really no sense of direction and we honestly can’t keep making excuses for below-par leadership in a most critical time like this. The consequence is that many Nigerians, obviously helpless, have resorted to ‘carrying their cross.’ The ‘cross’, for most Nigerians, is simply not to have any decent expectation from the political leadership while they are routinely exposed to uncertain degrees of harm by criminals as they go about their daily lives.

The sense of duty of most has become so blunted by affiliations to political actors, aspirations, and tendencies rather than a commitment to the cause of the country. And by all indications, this trend would not be reversed in any short time unless through a revolution or miracle. The general state of affairs in the country, with the insecurity crisis being an awry watershed, begs for a renewed, honest reflection on the situation of Nigeria. It is becoming increasingly clear that we have two ‘Nigeria’. The first is a Nigeria created by the heartless and thieving political class for themselves; a Nigeria where all is well as long as political interests are protected; a Nigeria where the welfare of the masses of Nigerians doesn’t matter as much as the pockets of the murderous political class, and one in which the body language of the person in power is more pervasive than the patriotic deference to the spirit and letter of the constitution.

And there’s the other Nigeria where the overwhelming majority find themselves. A country where ethnic, religious and regional affiliations are more relevant than credentials of competence; a country in which the lives of most are in the hands of God rather than in social institutions that work; a country where citizens are constantly subjected to economic, ethnic and religious tensions stirred by an unpatriotic bunch to advance a deleterious agenda. The other Nigeria is one that has made living a nightmare for those with no means, where poverty, illiteracy, and deprivation are the only things many have known and acquainted with throughout their lives. Not necessarily by these names but by the unmistakable manifestation of these maladies on their lives and livelihood. The other Nigeria is the one in which you must know someone to stand a chance of becoming something. It’s been said too many times that who you know is far more important than what you know. That is the other Nigeria. The other Nigeria is sadly the place where the principles of social justice and fairness are alien concepts in reality. And as long as the other Nigeria is the only one majority of Nigerians would continue to know, we should jettison the idea that things will get better with the present crop of leaders in power. They will not. And this is the sad reality of the other Nigeria artificially created by our leaders.

Ours is a country in dire need of a salvation from the grip of clueless and inept leadership that lacks the capacity to lead but brought forward by providence and crass ignorance.

Anyone who is anything has said something about the ugly state of affairs in our country. Any attempt to gloss over the issues or look for quick fixes without a deeper look at the big picture, amounts to a waste of time and resources. The country’s best chance of ‘brightness’ is in its investment in future leaders in 2023. There’s got to be a marked departure from the usual shabby disposition to youth empowerment and the huge joke we are making of constituency project like we are doing the people a favor. We need to activate a public-spirited commitment to a Nigeria where unity and faith, peace and progress are not merely symbolic good-to-haves.

May we in 2023 have the courage to change those in leadership positions that have messed-up our country to their personal advantage and selfish interest? May we have the courage and commitment to revolt against bad leadership and chase our tormentors out of circulation for the good of our country. May we as a people see reason to unite and stand for Nigeria to greatness, and may we be blessed with leaders that can lead with passion the likes of former Senate Presidents, Ken Nnamani, Bukola Saraki, former Speakers House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na’Abba, Dimeji Bankole, Governors Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum in Borno, Sen. Bala Muhammed in Bauchi, Simon Bako Lalong on the Plateau, Nyeson Wike in Rivers, Nasiru El-Rufa’i in Kaduna, Prof. Ben Ayade in Cross River and Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues


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