The avoidable violence in Shasha area of Ibadan on Saturday, 13th February, 2021 over rotten tomatoes, is a graphic representation of the mutual distrust, ethnic suspicion, frayed nerves and broken nationality amongst all the configurations in the country.
To say that the country is sitting on a keg of gun-powder is to put it mildly. Tempers are really high. Mutual love is absent. War cries are dominating public discourse. War mongers are all over the place threatening to bring down the roof.
From Miyetti Allah to Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Amotekun to Eastern Security Network, the country is fatigued and over-burdened from the cacophony of voices that is threatening the very foundation of a country that is patently rudderless.
Nigeria is trenchantly troubled, and apparently in a state of perpetual flux, with broken tongues and tribes all struggling to find accommodation at a time of skewed allocations and imperialistic nepotism under a Buhari’s feudalistic presidency.
For sure, President Buhari has lowered the bar of leadership at a time that the country desirously needs forward-looking leadership that could alter the present orgy of poisoned narratives across board. The present political temperature is further compounded by a docile presidency that keeps silent in the face of tyranny.
When monologue rules the affairs of a nation, the numerous voices are insulated from the real challenge that desires urgent attention. President Buhari sits inside the Aso Villa, feeling good and almost uninvolved in what is happening across the country, once he delegates responsibility.
The country is becoming lawless by the day. Court verdicts are not enforced, since the Attorney General says the Federal Government is at liberty to respect or disrespect court orders, while unconstitutional extension of tenure is granted to the Inspector General of Police.
The country is largely ungoverned and unpresided. The president is unable to decipher how to unknot the knotty issues that have put Nigeria on harm’s way in recent times. Is it difficult for Mr. President to make a categorical statement banning the Miyetti Allah Association since all fingers seem to be pointing in that direction?
Why has the presidency become deaf and dumb on the insensitive pronouncements of leaders of these trade associations that are gradually leading the country on the path of war? Do we truly have a president duly elected by Nigerians? Do we have a responsible ruling party with internal mechanism to rein in a dithering presidency?
The Ibadan incident is enough to light up this country into avoidable conflagration more so, when the leader of the country is sleeping on duty. The cause of the Ibadan orgy violence is a ritualistic representation of the state of affairs in Nigeria: rotten tomatoes. Just like the name denotes and connotes, the country has become rotten tomatoes, no longer suitable to drive our national narratives.
Our collective and individual endeavours are suffering in the hands of bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and other crimes and criminalities.
The mutual distrust has become endemic and the fabric that hitherto binds us together has been weakened by ethnic chauvinism, religious bigotry, nepotism, cronyism and leadership failure of unimaginable proportion.
We have never had it so bad, so sickening. Imagine rotten tomatoes becoming the subject of our national discourse in a rotten country whose leadership prefers to maintain undignified silence in the face of obvious threats to our nationality.
I am truly wondering why the president often prefers to remain quiet and silent when the threat of war stares us in the face on a daily basis. When the crisis enters into reprisal mode, the concatenation of responses from the different geopolitical zones would be damningly destructive.
We pray it doesn’t become a Rwandan scenario with cake of crimson. Ethnic crisis wear a long time dirge. They continue to haunt and torment for a longer time, wear down the moral armament and destroy the very fabric that should have helped to cover up our differences. Nigeria is troubled, but President Buhari is not. Nigerians are hungry and poor, but Buhari is not.
Nigerians are living in fear and trepidation daily as they go out to eke a living, but Buhari is not, he remains cocooned in the Aso Rock protective walls.
Nigerians are wailing and wailing, calling on their president to show grit and leadership at the most auspicious moment, when all seem hopeless, but Buhari is not, enabled by a palpable silence that does no one any good. Nigerians are wondering if this is actually a president that was elected by majority votes, or one that was rigged in to deal with our “stubbornness”.
We are agonising, waiting with bated breathe, to what will happen next. We are like a flock without a shepherd. Even cows that have become the central character in our tragedy of errors, have shepherds who have taken over the forest.
They flourish in AK-47 and other lethal weapons to “protect themselves”, according to the Bauchi state Governor, Bala Mohammed, leaving the rest of the country in their hands. Miyetti Allah Association and its leadership are boasting of being forest owners in a country of geo-political peculiarity.
They threaten and threaten, and the presidency relishes in its quietude, a monologue kind of, as it watches the country descends to an abyss of helplessness and hopelessness.
There has to be a country first before you can talk about a presidency. If this country implodes, as it is obvious presently, those who think they own our collective destiny, may not be alive to tell the full story. President Buhari must rise up to the occasion and provide leadership.
This standoffish posturing or deliberate aloofness is not a familiar road to travel. His handlers often say he is a “listening father to all”. We are yet to see that persona. His charisma is badly affected, his aura greatly poisoned by his taciturnity.
His carriage conveys the symptoms of lameduck leadership, unable to provide a roadmap for national rejuvenation. I hear they are organising town hall meetings across the land with messages that tend to assuage the feelings of the people. What manner of town hall meetings, when the elected president has gone numb?
What message are they going to tell us? A sure-footed presidential speech with a statement of action is all that is required to calm frayed nerves. A presidential speech that is blind to sectionalism, ethnic solidarity and nepotism, is what we require to put the house in order.
The president needs to fire some people, retool the system and show cause on why we should continue to live together. What stops the president from visiting Ibadan, assemble all the South-West political leaders together, dialogue on the issues, take positions, and back them up with action. Do same for South-East, South-South, and other zones, within a week, and you would see a different feeling across the land.
The people want to hear from their president, whom they elected, to speak to them and buy in to their collective aspirations. President Buhari must arrest this war knocking at his presidential door. No one prays for another war, but the reality on ground is pointing in that direction, and very rapidly too. President Buhari must wake up from slumber.
He needs to lead and show direction. He must speak as a statesman and not as an ethnic warlord. He must speak out rather than allowing his body language to fester dangerous rhythms. Even though nepotism has become the most visible operative subject matter of the Buhari presidency, the president, for once, should pretend to be a nationalist and lead us aright.
He should be a Nigerian patriot and not a northern hero. He should be an elder statesman not a provincial statesman. He should be able to connect with the country, and not be detained by ethnic jingoism. He should be conversational and not be a monologue.
His present under-performance has left some of us wondering if this was his agenda, when he kept contesting to lead the country since 2003 until he was “gifted” the presidency in 2015. Did he plan to balkanise the country and create an entity within his ethnic conclave?
Was he aware of the enormity of the challenges facing the country or was just interested in being called a democratically elected president with no enduring legacy of hope? How does President Buhari feel each day blood flows from the savannah grassland in the North to the Mangrove forest in the South?
What goes on in his heart of hearts? Rotten tomatoes of a country has become a metaphor for inhuman pollution and destruction. We are now acting like unfriendly strangers tilling same courtyard. We are destroying the physical as well as the spirituality of our mutual existence. We curse. We swear. We lampoon. We agonise.
We sermonise. We raise our tempers to high heavens, as we plant hatred and irrigate intolerance in our farmland. Some say, nobody can stop their business of cattle rearing in a 21st Century world, they prefer to remain in a business with crude methods.
They use their private businesses to disturb the peace of the land, saying, if you strike one cow, don’t go to sleep because they would come back to strike whoever. It is like forcing their phlegm down our throat, generously enabled by AK-47.
And the security agencies look the other way, rather than take action, you often see posting signals of Police officers to other locations. We are disturbed. We are worried. The president should wake up, wake up. It is day break. Leaving the pythons in the roof as you go to sleep is a dangerous reality that can consume us all.
Once the president is able to show cause of action, be rest assured that Nigerians would follow. That intending war must be arrested, right now. Tomorrow might be too late.