Back Page Columnist

‘The road to the graveyard’

I am taking my title from Bishop Kukah’s trending treatise to a nation in darkness. The erudite and ever consistent Bishop stated that “the roads to the graveyards are busier than the roads to the farms”.

 

That statement, to me, captured in very lucid prose, the orgy of bloodlettings and killings that has become our permanent neighbour, as we wake up everyday to the vagaries of bad governance and poor leadership. Bishop Kukah is not saying anything new or strange.

 

He has just captured the prevalent themes flowing across the country; theme of blood and death, of economic cauldron and deprivations. Bishop Kukah is not known to be flippant.

 

He is not a politician seeking for votes from the famished lot. He is not seeking appointment from a gullible system driven by nepotism, favouritism, cronyism and selective amnesia. He is not playing to the gallery to be noticed by those villa scoundrels looking for ‘unemployable’ and ‘unappointable’ candidates without credentials. I do not see him as a religious bigot, blinded by the dictates of rent-seeking audience and ‘eye-service’ warlords.

 

He understood perfectly that a nation that is built on the pillars of national cohesion, solidarity and consensus is better appreciated than one resting on the feeble tenterhooks of nepotism and northern hegemony. Nigerians now travel more often to the graveyards than they do to their farmlands. The burials are ubiquitous, coming in quick succession, quick pace, some mass burials, while the mourner-in-chief, President Buhari, has become an expert in writing condolence messages. The bereaved are often helpless because the nation is in captivity. No shoulders to cry on. No one to dry their tears. A nation that is on a quick march to the graveyard is a nation dominated by blood and death. It is a statement of fact that President Buhari is nepotistic, no thanks to his limited circle of friends who are predominantly from the North. I do not envy President Buhari. His presidency has been a troubled one full of blood and death. And it is all due to lack of capacity. I also empathise with the scenario captured by Bishop Kukah, the inimitable, activist cleric, who has become the alternate voice for the voiceless. His perspectives are a reflection of the darkness that hovers around us occasioned by failure of leadership.

 

Rather than caution Bishop Kukah, I thought the government of the day would have cautioned itself against the ugly realities that may bring down the roof of a house that represents our collective sufferance. Nigeria is going through its worst moment in its history. Nigerians have never been this helpless. The Police are tired. The military are fatigued and over-stretched. The other security agencies are watching from their cocoons.

 

We have a president who is unmoved by the unsalutary happenings across the country. His handlers say he has a style of less work, less talk. He rarely speaks to Nigerians. His interventions are often a repetition of the same old stories; “we will do something”.

 

These days, President Buhari has taken the spiritual route, asking God to intervene and take charge. The God we serve did not stop Buhari from taking result-driven decisions that would yield productivity. I am not aware God told him not to visit states to see for himself the level of carnage and destruction that has befallen us.

 

When leaders are unable to deliver on promise, they seek the cover of God. Leadership is about taking the right decision to address a problem. Leadership is what drives the engine of governance and stimulates all other factors of production to deliver on timelines.

 

If you invoke God in your leadership emanations, and unable to do the needful, the problem will remain unsolved. From the North to the South, the roads to the graveyards are busier than the roads to the farmland. Kidnapping has made farming unattractive. Banditry has compounded the business of farming, particularly in the North, where farmers have to pay ransom to be able to access their harvest.

 

While government talks about agricultural revolution, the people are yet to feel the impact due to banditry revolution. Bandits have become kings of the roads, of the farms and our environment. The fear of bandits is the beginning of wisdom. Even governors surrender to the dictates of the bandits, let alone the ordinary folks.

From Chibok, Dapchi to Kankara, it is a metaphor for our collective failures and the dysfunctionality of a system that appears grossly unmanned. When the Kankara abducted boys were released, government apologists sang hosanna music, thumping its chest for a job well done, but the real failure is the success of the abduction.

 

How can over 300 school children be abducted without confrontation, in an environment that is heavily policed, with all the operation akpatuma, python dance and crocodile smile? Why do we like to deceive ourselves?

 

Rather than choose prosperity and productivity, the Buhari presidency appears to have chosen blood and death. My sentiments against this government started manifesting when the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai reportedly mauled down members of Shiites in Zaria, who were carrying out their annual procession. Till date, the scars of that bloody exercise remains in our hearts.

 

The leader of the Shiites movement in Nigeria is still in captivity, having lost two of his children in that act of infamy. What did government do about the sordid act?

 

Nothing. Despite the human rights violations, what has been the response of government? When we cautioned government against militarising the system by applying iron fists on Shiites protesters, they looked the other way. Today, it is obvious we are witnessing a fallout of those ugly experiences.

 

What Bishop Kukah said only re-emphasised what we already know; what has dominated public discourse for a long time. The only spice is the quality and status of the messenger, to drive the message home and raise public consciousness on all the dislocations that have become our second nature.

 

We have been shouting about all these shenanigans. We have chorused in condemnation, the volume of blood being spilled on a daily basis. We have raised our voices above the rubrics of public discourse, to alert our president about the cracks in our system. We have organised workshops, conferences, talk shops and situation rooms to generate ideas while expecting government to back its own processes with prompt action.

 

Just when we thought the bloodletting is abating, another untoward carnage would sprout from the ashes of incompetence. Burial upon burial, tears upon tears, fears upon fears, trepidation, suspended animation, palpable threat, all hovering in our villages and communities, waiting for another bubble to burst. A country generally unmanned is at the mercy of criminals and criminalities. Travelling on the highway has become eyesore with gruesome experiences in the hands of kidnappers and armed robbers.

 

The roads have been abandoned as if the Minister for Works has given up on his responsibilities. The roads to the graveyards are littered with blood of the guilty and the innocent, those who have been drained by bad leadership, drained by hunger and poverty. The road to the graveyard has become a more familiar trail, if you are lucky to have your lost ones buried.

 

The farmlands are littered with decomposing bodies of victims of insecurity and insensitivity. The kidnappers kill wantonly once ransoms are not delivered on time. The anger and audacity of these gun-throtting felons when the ransoms are not being delivered on time tells one that the industry has become another government unto itself. They dare. They shoot. They holla.

 

They intimidate and torture their victims. They kidnap policemen, kidnap soldiers, kidnap the rich, the poor and the helpless. In a season of anomie, gun-shots become a familiar dirge. Voices are wailing. Tears are rolling down. The stomachs are famished. The throats are thirsty. The bones are weak and ageing. The torture is benumbing. The volume of Nigerians in internally displaced csamps are growing. People are dislocated from their homes.

 

Jobs are scarce to find. We live for today because tomorrow is not assured. Children are crying for help, starving and hungry, because the farmlands have been surrendered to bandits. Cost of food items has skyrocketed. We are just existing like flocks without direction.

 

This is the plight of a failing nation, a country in distress. If nepotism was a solution to our skewed structured, Nigeria would have progressed. If selective amnesia has a therapeutic effect, we would have advanced. If cronyism has its advantages, they would have been so obvious to heal our wounds. If favouritism is the solution to our problems, President Buhari would have been decorated in ornamental gold.

 

Nepotism, selective amnesia and favouritism are the minuses that have dragged us backward in recent times. Each time we complain, they grab their graph to show us the curves. Nigeria is failing. Nigeria is gasping for breath, but if you dare tell the president to reduce the frequency of deaths, his handlers would almost maul you down. But we must not stop complaining.

 

We must speak out. We must continuously remind the president that the roads to the graveyards are getting busier than the roads to the farm. He must act or quit. My warm regards to all my readers who have stayed the cause this year despite all the COVID-19 madness.

 

We pray to see a better 2021 with flourishing opportunities and breakthroughs. Remain blessed

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