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The option before troubled Nigeria

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Accumulated glaring cases of insincerity, corruption, inept and clueless leadership spiced with poor education and absence of other requisites, dragged Nigeria to the mess it has found itself.

There comes a time in the life of a man that he has to take deep reflection to examine himself. The same applies to a serious nation and its people to take a good look at the mirror to appreciate its image. Great empires according to history had risen and fallen and even modern democracies have had to break up and go their separate ways without bloodletting.

Union of Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) broke up into dozen other countries without bloodshed. Great Britain just left the European Union but still together in business.

This is that time for Nigeria to take a second look and ask itself some basic and fundamental questions. Are we truly satisfied with the state of affairs in Nigeria today with this ethnic hatred and blowing animosity that is fuelling insecurity in the once peaceful country? Are we comfortable to remain in this carnage and bloodshed across the country with no hope in sight? Indeed, is Nigeria viable in its present temper and form? We may as customary, choose to be politically correct but at what cost?

We seem to be so emotionally attached to the country only in name and nothing more while our leaders see it as an object of fancy to exploit. The letters of the 1999 Constitution may have elegantly stated that Nigeria is indissoluble and indivisible sovereign entity but that beautiful and palatable phrase did not emanate from the sovereign will of the people. Our living together is not cast in iron. Let us not continue deceiving ourselves.

The entities and nationalities in the political space called Nigeria are unequal partners who do not share common value, ancestry, customs and tradition and no conscious effort was made to gravitate towards a coherent whole with friendship and assimilation. This is in the main because we have tribal and ethnic leaders whose first loyalty is to their ethnic groups and possibly religion above every other consideration.

No one can decree peace in a country amongst hostile entities with irreconcilable differences through the barrel of the gun. You can only have abundant peace through understanding of a shared value of a common heritage and tolerance. For as long as the federating units display arrogance of ethnic superiority over others, people will feel uncomfortable in the union and there will always be friction and bloodshed for stability.

This was the reason for the gruesome genocide of the Rwandan massacre of the ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutus during the Rwandan civil war of 1994. Let us not wish away the Nigerian experience and the 30 months unfortunate civil war in the late 1960s which had a similar tenor, we are yet one ‘Nigeria’.

The problems are still very much with us but we have been living a lie and playing the ostrich pretending that the problems are not there. Beautiful as the aftermath of the three “Rs” (Reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation) after the civil war, again, let us ask ourselves whether reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation was truly and genuinely deep enough. Whatever action we have taken in running the country has been veiled behind the façade of ethnic fear and suspicion. The mortifying characterization of ethnic groups has become an emblematic plague that at the drop of a pin we are ready to chop off the head of someone that does not share same ethnicity and religious belief with us.

The Southeast and the core Ndigbo group that constitute the third largest ethnic group appear to have been condemned to deprivation of the presidency of Nigeria as a result of the civil war. While this may be true, they have played the victim of this rogue theory and unwritten rule enough and should wake up and interrogate its post-civil war politics of their leaders and elite which unfortunately is self-centred and mercantile in nature. The Ndigbo elite see negotiation for the presidency as a make up to assuage their perceived grievances to bring them to the mainstream of the Nigerian state. Those who feel that patronage and pacification of the Igbo is the magic bullet may soon realize the opposite from the look of things.

No country or community grows on the fertility of hatred and resentment and sadly our so called political and religious leaders are the ones most of the times promoting the ethnic fault lines and stoking the ember of hatred. We are fixated on the constitution as the problem and do not want to look at other indices and variables. There can never be a perfect document and when there are leaders with supremacist mentality, even the best of document can be employed for tyranny. We saw this recently with the former American President Donald Trump, who literarily attempted to subvert the elections results through a coup d’etat using extremist racist elements in the United States.

Now, take a deep breath to consider the constant news items in Nigeria in the past three months and you will discover that insecurity, insurgency, ethno-religious attacks, kidnappings and banditry are the major headlines you hear and read whether in the print, electronic or social media. Our diversities have been magnified and mismanaged, more than ever before by the Muhammadu Buhari APC-led government who make mockery of inclusiveness in government. The President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria no doubt is, overwhelmed by the outcries rocking the country resorting to strong-arm tactic as a solution and selective justice.

There is no department of state bureaucracy that offers hope of any kind. The economy has not received any face lift as the country runs on a wheel of debt and government has gone berserk on borrowing from all corners of the globe. The country is not running on any consistent economic model to give vibrancy to 21st century growth. We still have huge infrastructural deficit. Our road networks are in state of disrepair and unemployment has remained unabated. Schools and homes are unsafe for living and government hates to tolerate criticism no matter how objective but responds with fascistic sinew. This is the stark reality that we try to pretend does not exist while government is talking down on Nigerians as ingrates.

The National Assembly is unfortunately, largely peopled by men/women with weak intellect and jelly foot without soul of their own. Look at it, the Senate President is said to possess a doctorate degree and once a lecturer in a tertiary institution but his native state of Yobe is an epicenter of insurgency while the Speaker of the House of Representatives is touted as a lawyer with a Masters Degree (LLM) and had practiced law in the United States, and yet, the National Assembly remains a mere talking shop occupied by quasi-contractors, praise singers of the presidency and regular visitors cup-in-hand to federal ministries, departments and agencies for crumbs. It’s unfortunate!

The APC led federal government has literarily given up on the security situation bedeviling the country when the president himself consciously declared that they have done their best in terms of security and we should as concern citizens resort to prayers. But the solicited prayers are to be channeled to whom? If we are to pray as shortchanged and malnourished citizens that are consciously denied access to affordable living, we can only pray backed with dry fasting for positive change in 2023 from top to bottom to save our country from total collapse.

Even if we run a theocratic state which we are not, security of life and property should not be left to ecclesiastic intervention and prayer warriors, Babalawos and marabouts.

The politicians and elites seem fixated on 2023v elections and political transition and peaceful handover to one of them. Elections and peaceful transition of power is not a pressing problem to most Nigerians at the moment. The self-styled secessionist leader, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in Kenya and ferried to Nigeria. But his arrest and subsequent trial may not pose much threat to national unity and cohesion as the government would want us to believe because the problems that birthed his ‘offences’ may be bigger in nature and government is to be blamed.

Going after one hooligan called Sunday Igboho, in my sundry opinion is a huge distraction as he is just a product of a failing system recruited by sadistic and devilish politicians. If you run an inclusive government devoid of nepotism, bigotry and ethnic arrogance and preferences, everything got to fail in steps. But this is not the case with us presently.

Notwithstanding circumstances of the creation of Nigerian State, a peaceful, harmonious multi-religious and secular Nigeria was possible but for the misfortune of medieval rulers with flawed vision of a modern state.

The fundamental problem of the country since amalgamation in 1914 is the irreconcilable cultural differences between the ethnic nationalities which have calcified. We have therefore become all the more intolerant and sensitive to religion and ethnicity more than anything else ennobling to bind people together. We should always be honest enough to admit that the ethnic nationalities of the federating states in Nigeria do not have shared values in culture and tradition and also in ideology.

We have ethnic characterizations that fuel resentment and animosities and this often shown in the way we live away from our geographical regions.

For instance, we have Hausa quarters in most places in the south where northerners reside while non-indigenes in most parts of the north also reside at Sabongari, Igbo quarters, Bayangari etc.

Today, the choice before Nigerians is to first address the fundamental question whether we want to remain as a nation living together as we are and on what terms. Enough of those cleavages of Northern Governors Forum, Southern Governors Forum, Southwest Assembly, Arewa Youths, Oodua Youths, Ohaneze this and that which promotes mediocrity and which are all foreboding omen that we are not united as one. Let’s understand our differences and sort things out amicably as said by Governor Bala Muhammed of Bauchi State than turning the country into a grave yard.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues


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