‘Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid’- Fyodor Dostoevsky
This week’s headline, let me start with a confession, is not entirely original. American journalist Michael Wolff’s book, ‘Fire and Fury inside Trump White House’, has a large influence on mine. But I find the book title fitting to describe the state of our nation today. The storms are not just gathering, they are already hitting targets. To imagine that the nation, Nigeria will be in her current state at 61 years is to be negative and retrogressive.
The worst pessimist ever would not have imagined in 2015 that after six years of President Muhammadu Buhari at the saddle, Nigeria would be so comatose. But here we are a virtually grounded nationstate. As things get messier, where are we headed? In the past, Nigeria would get to the abyss and somehow find a way of coming out of the precipice. Our resilience as a people of one nation has been unprecedented. Our tremendous capacity to recover and move on appear to have been taken for granted.
Will Nigeria ever recover from the current state of hopelessness? If you say no, you could be accused of wishing your country ill. If out of blind patriotism you say yes, you will have difficulty explaining how. For the incurable optimists among us, however, Nigeria will come out of this and be great again.
This school of thought sees the current situation as a passing phase that will be history like similar past situations that included a civil war and the June 12 impasse, as well as the Sani Abacha draconian era. Perhaps, the advent of social media this time has helped to increase the level and spread of conversations in all issues and has made the current situation wear the apparel of an Armageddon.
The fear is real that the level of bloodletting in the last five years could have far-reaching consequences that make recovery difficult. Nobody really could capture the state of the nation better than Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, in these words: “This nation is at war, yet we continue to pretend that these are mere birth-pangs of a glorious entity.
They are death throes. Vultures and undertakers hover patiently but with full confidence.” Soyinka was reacting to the last (and possibly not the end) brutal killing of three of the abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, and other killings, the latest of the many harrowing deaths in our land. A nation, whose youths turn against one another for whatever reason, should rethink its nationhood. Whether you call them bandits, herdsmen, terrorists, militants or IPOB militia…they are all young.
Both the used and the provoked, including those hiding under religion to commit mayhem, as well as those being pushed to the self-determination struggle…all are youths whose future are both jaundiced and jeopardised. As a people, our hearts get broken each time our youths are placed under such
savagery…when the nation is displaying clear incapacity to act. We recall that since the President warned and assured Nigerians that the abduction of students of the Government Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State, in February was going to be the last of students’ kidnap, more students have not only been kidnapped in the Kaduna axis alone but some of them brutally slain in cold blood. A critical appraisal of the whole issue shows the failure of the nation’s successive leaders who have mortgaged the future of the youth to their incompetence and incapacity. They have done these things shamelessly hiding under the cover of religion and tribe to elevate nepotism, marginalization, and injustice.
What we are experiencing in this country today are spinoffs of political marginalization and injustice and rather than seek solutions from the root, we are indulging in smoke screening and window dressing. The recent gunmen rampage in the South East, for instance, is a self-inflicted injury coming from visibly injured and aggrieved youths of the area. For instance, if the irrepressible leader of the separatist group, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has become a tormentorin- chief to the system today, we should look back and trace who or what created him.
Kanu was a nobody shouting with his uncouth radio station for attention until Muhammadu Buhari arrested him and turned him an instant hero…more popular today than the President among the youths. If Boko Haram has engaged the land in a mindlessly fierce war since 2009, we need to look at its origin.
Who was Mohammad Yusuf, the founder of the group before the views of characters like Isa Ali Pantami radicalized him and the others. If bandits suddenly have become a thorn in our flesh, we should not forget that they were not as rampant before northern state governors disbanded the age-long almajiri system without providing a cushion.
If herdsmen suddenly became dangerous foot soldiers clutching dangerous weapons across the country raping and maiming, should we forget the confession that the ruling party imported some foreign Fulani to help them win the 2015 presidential election and having done it, positioned them for fresh land acquisition drive which is the original aim of the 19th century Fulani Jihad? Why should the restivene Igbo youths surprise anybody? Did the late Biafra hero, Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, not warn long ago that the war-weary Igbo were giving way to post-war Igbos who will not take it that what their fathers fought and died for is still hanging on their neck.
In our duplicitous life, the same people who want Kanu and IPOB extinguished are saying that bandits and terrorists should be rehabilitated and pardoned for their youthful exuberance and even have a representative in the Federal cabinet. Kanu, a post-war child, cannot be so classified as exuberant, but Pantami is treated differently because he hails from the North. Whereas Pantami is to be supported by all ‘good’ Muslims and be forgiven, Kanu should be disowned by Ndigbo for political correctness. Imo youths are restive and they are being gunned down and the rest of the country, including the security operatives, are pretending they don’t know how they arrived at this impasse. Has the Supreme Court been able to explain its arithmetic that shortchanged the people’s franchise on who should govern them and gave it to somebody they did not score the winning vote? Should that not have consequences? Why are we pretending we are all not aware of the biggest electoral fraud endorsed by the Supreme Court? The equation that gave rise to the apex court’s ruling is yet to be determined. Pundits are wondering how the Chief Justice of the Federation, Mohammad Tanko, and his team will be feeling hearing about the disquiet in Imo.
The Supreme Court by its January 2020 bizarre ruling on Imo State gubernatorial position merely ran itself into troubled waters. Imo State since 1999 has laid a political foundation that is antithetical to peace and harmony. Out of the 22 years of democracy in this dispensation, one senatorial zone has held on to power for 18 years when it was meant to have gone round the three zones equitably.
All the states that enjoy peace in this country since 1999 are those who have respected zoning of office holding and who have thus given their people a sense of belonging. As a result of this abnormality in Imo, those who should not have been governor of the state found themselves on the seat and further compounding the challenge of the state. This was the polluted political whirlwind in the state when the apex court compounded the mess. Is there no lesson to learn from the Imo experience, even for the Federal Government who has continued to experience the death of peace because of nepotism, greed, and marginalization? When part of a whole continuously seeks to separate, it means that it’s not feeling accommodated at the centre.
If agitation for Biafra refuses to die down, blame injustice and marginalization which oils it. It’s perhaps against this backdrop that the ‘commonsense’ Senator Ben Murray-Bruce from Bayelsa State has this to say about Nigeria and Ndigbo: “The day Nigeria starts to cooperate with the Igbo man will be the day Nigeria will begin to compete with the rest of the world.”
Senator Murray-Bruce feels and backs his position empirically that Nigeria is suppressing Igbo talents, hence their agitation to go where they can flourish with their Godgiven talents, part of which they exhibited during the civil war. Whither Nigeria?