Throughout the history of humankind, people fight for certain ideals often at prohibitive cost only to discover that what they fought for is not what has actually prevailed. If their back is broken by the discovery, if their will is stymied by bitter disappointment, it will be left for others to continue the struggle. Even in wars, victory may turn out to be ultimate defeat, while revolutions often revolve into something totally unexpected and unanticipated.
Today in Nigeria, there is palpable anger all over the land courtesy of reports of the various investigation bodies on atrocities committed by past leaders and still being committed. The rising tide of fury and discontent is such that one is afraid things might topple over at short notice if required measures are not applied. Nigerians are angry with their past and present leaders that may sooner than later attract mob action for a bloodless or bloody revolution depending on the cause of revolt.
The ruling class has proved that rational calculations and enlightened self-interest are not its particular forte. But there are enough danger signals in the polity to give the jitters to even the most obdurate and obtuse of political elites. We are not even talking of regime collapse or violent change but something more fundamental and nation-threatening.
Crooks and rogues bastardized the economy to an extent that basic amenities cannot be ordinarily provided by government with ease. They have stolen too much from the commonwealth which they can plough into any disastrous undertaking to protect their interest.
Despite the hype and hoopla about amnesty and the pacification of the tribes of the lower Niger, it is obvious that the elite consensus which formed the bedrock and the political basis of settlement in 1999 has completely collapsed. As it happened in 1965, 1983, and 1993, a nasty spirit of vengeance and resentment has descended on the land.
One can feel the fury in the air. One watches the angry, sullen crowds roiling in the bitter, homicidal rage of dispossession and one feels it is only a question of time before the bomb explodes.
Never in the history of Nigeria has there been so much murderous hatred for public servants as being witnessed today. Public servants are seen as the ready-made tools used to steal and support corruption to thrive. The surface below ordinary polite conversations is seething with rage and resentment. Let no one deceive himself. There is no discrimination or differentiation of culpability, no refinement of malice in this mass categorization of the Nigerian political elite as an abominable breed. Everybody who is well-off or appears to be well-heeled is summarily blacklisted. Your executor may well be the house boy or a member of the domestic staff or even part of the family.
Yet because the Nigerian political elite have lost so much authority and ethical legitimacy, this bleak fury in the land cannot be channelled for the revolutionary transformation of the nation. For the same reason, neither can it be canalized for higher political purpose. So, what we have is raw, untrammelled rage which is neither transformative nor infused by a nobility of purpose.
When the dam of this unstructured, freewheeling and deregulated anger breaks, it is going to be messy and bloody anarchy the like of which no one has seen before.
This no-hold-barred distemper speaks to the temper of the times. But more than that, they speak to a total disconnect between the aspirations of the generality of the people and many of those parading themselves as leaders.
One can also feel it in the marrow that if these disillusioned and distraught people should lay their hands on their so-called leaders at any given opportunity, it is going to be mayhem day indeed.
It is not only in a particular segment of the country one sees this ferment, this burgeoning social rebellion. In one segment, the normless political theatre and perpetually unprincipled leadership has turned the place into a vast coliseum of unhinged gladiators baying for blood. In another, their leaders are booed by a disappointed mob for failure to provide good leadership over the years.
After former President Goodluck Jonathan exited from office, Nigerians got to know the level of theft and corrupt practices that took place within five years. Criminals had field days. Criminals were piloting the affairs of Nigeria. Criminals were managing Nigeria’s security. Criminals were in control of everything. It was a bazaar.
Take for instance the probe of arms deals under Jonathan’s watch. Several arms dealers, military chiefs and other officials who served under the late General Andrew Owoye Azazi were questioned over alleged inflation of N3billion contract for the supply of 20 units of K-38 patrol boats to the Nigeria Navy by the disbanded Presidential Implementation Committee on Marine Safety, PICOMMS.
EFCC, the investigating and prosecuting agency under the leadership of now suspended acting chairman, Ibraim Magu made a breakthrough in tracking how some of the N2billion arms votes and extra-budgetary funds were withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria on orders from the top.
EFCC also quizzed the former chairman of PICOMMS, a retired Air Vice- Marshal, Salihu Atawodu for a N600million scam.
EFCC said, from records so far, Nigeria was shortchanged over N2billion of the total contract sum, “In an instance, N620million was withdrawn from the contract sum, changed to American dollars and shared by some officials of PICOMMS in a day”. These are the leaders that piloted the security affairs of Nigeria and were expected to defeat better-armed terrorists who were committed to achieving their devilish objective. Were those crooks not really in support of the success of terrorists against their defeat? Were they not agents of the devils in the armed forces? Further investigation needs to be carried out or Nigerians be encouraged to apply jungle justice on those vultures who survived on human flesh from the guns of terrorists.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues