The Nigerian state: Things fall apart

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst,
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand…

-The Second coming; William Butler Yeats

I find it funny to read in the news daily as one Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo begs the newly-constituted body of Niger Delta militants, popularly known as Niger Delta Avengers to lay down arms and stop destroying oil pipelines. Few years ago, when Tompolo and his cohorts, Chief Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo started blowing up Nigerian pipelines, they probably never thought of the repercussions of their felonious acts.

These shenanigans, claiming to agitate for the emancipation of the local people in the creeks, got juicy contracts and Abuja assets from the corrupt government ran under then President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and vanished into thin air. The same militant warlords who claimed government abandoned their communities became multi-millionaires and abandoned their own people. Now, the youths of those communities, aiming to also get rich through militancy are bombing pipelines and these old powerhouses are crying foul.

How can you claim betrayal when you’re simply beaten at your own game? It baffles thought that the same Tompolo who was alleged to have once bought six war-ships to battle the Nigerian state is now calling on the new militant group who obviously don’t pay him allegiance to call a truce and stop agitating. The likes of Tompolo, Ateke Tom and Asari Dokubo showed the Niger-Delta youths the way of violence and bloodshed under Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s govt in 2007. Now in 2016, under Buhari’s govt, the warlords are preaching holiness and gentility? What could have happened, did they suddenly meet Jesus Christ? I guess they’re just playing the same politics of deceit Nigeria is known for.

The recent bombings and destruction in that oil region, herdsmen massacres, Chibok-girls kidnapping and Biafra resurgence are what happens anywhere in the world where leadership has failed. There’s hardly a problem in Nigeria today that isn’t as a result of the failure of leadership. I read the Sunday Sun newspaper edition of May 22, 2016, where an interview was granted by a war veteran of the Biafra war. The retired Colonel Joe Achuzia who doubles as General Secretary of IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) claimed in the interview that Biafra people never surrendered after the Civil war.

That brings a new twist and vista to the Biafra debacle as we all know the then leader, late General Ojukwu fled the country, went into exile and left his vice president, Major Gen. Philip Effiong (rtd.) to surrender in a televised statement which I’ve watched and the statements made by Effiong were very clear. Now, for a war veteran of Joe Achuzia’s age to make such statements is very unfortunate. It’s even more unfortunate that these are the people leading Nigerians, people with no honor, who can’t keep their word.

The civil war claimed over 2 million lives, property worth billions of naira were lost and Nigeria went 20 years backward in development. At this stage, one would expect a man as old as Col. Joe Achuzia (rtd.) not to even try reopening old wounds. The man who spearheaded the Biafra front during the war, late General Odumegwu Ojukwu (rtd.) said severally before his death that he regretted going to war. Ojukwu said he led the war because he felt Igbos were going to be wiped off in a genocide.

Nigeria could really use some political stability at a period when oil prices has crashed in the international market and the country is going through a transition from being a oil-dependent economy to finding new means of survival. Nigeria doesn’t need any more drama from the Biafra agitators, Niger Delta militias, Boko Haram or herdsmen. If only the country could be united at this critical stage then we can all be happy in the end. That said, the FG should still find ways for dialogue, call a conference and discuss openly with any discontent ethnic group in Nigeria. Let’s negotiate our national unity if possible, the era of force is long gone.

On the issue of Boko Haram, our political leaders are still to answer. President Muhammadu Buhari, when he was running for office in 2011 had said that if he failed to win, Nigeria would be made ungovernable for the government under then President Jonathan. Now, the fact that he made that statement and was quoted doesn’t mean he sponsored Boko haram but the statement obviously fueled the insurgency that broke out from the north shortly after. The Boko haram eggs were laid by President Buhari’s hen, he must now kill the disturbing chickens. Thank God he’s now the President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed forces.

How sincere is this government on the fight against corruption? Recently, we heard about the secret CBN employment list which included only names of the bigwigs in Nigeria, especially one of President Buhari’s own children. This is insensitive at a period when the unemployment level in the country is alarming. Just about a week ago, Diamond Bank sacked over 200 of its workers. Yet our politicians are solidifying their stakes in this country buy fixing their children in the best positions.

I’m yet to see any sign the budget has been passed, life is still hard for the ordinary Nigerians. I don’t comprehend why Mr President is hoarding funds that belongs to all Nigerians. One would expect FG’s infrastructural development to have started by now to create job opportunities for the unemployed. One would expect the minimum wage of government workers to have been increased in line with inflated price of goods and services. By now, one would expect a genuine FG to be looking at ways to legislate for more economic autonomy for the states so that they depend less on the central government. By now, a national economic team or committee should have been formed, comprising the best brains in the field, looking as ways to improve the standard of living of Nigerians.

How sincere are we on education? Do we really want the Nigerian masses to be enlightened or we just want an ignorant population who are easily manipulated, especially by political parties? I recently saw a picture of the Osun state governor attending the convocation of the University of Osun & presenting the best graduating student with a mug! We keep complaining each year that the standard of WAEC and NECO exams drop. We keep complaining why majority of Nigerian students fail woefully in mathematics & sciences, yet we do nothing. These kids observe the body language of the country. They’ll rather start a dance group than start a book club!

Is it not obvious how much everybody is getting diverted by the entertainment industry and make-belief lifestyle? Orisaguna Olajumoke getting millions of naira of what I call ‘pity-funds’ for snapping a single picture that went viral, her life changed overnight though she’s still an illiterate & I’ve never heard her make a single intellectual statement. Reekado Banks, D’ija and Korede Bello getting millions of naira worth of Globacom endorsements after dropping just one single apiece. Beverly Osu getting acting jobs and being celebrated nation-wide even though her nude BBA clips are all over the internet. No wonder all our girls want to be models and dancers. Little wonder all our boys want to be musicians and comedians. This is where past and present Nigerian leaders got us. Who will deliver Nigeria now?

Intellectuals are scarce nowadays, social media is full of unintelligent arguments by Nigerian youths. Sometimes I’m too ashamed, sometimes I want to cry for my country. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said and I quote, “The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, ‘Voice of Reason’, he said “to cultivate courage, strength, knowledge, and a sense of spiritual values, education is our most potent weapon.” Nelson Mandela even said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” One Mr Sunday Dada graduated with a 5.0 GPA in psychology department of Unilag early this year, I’m yet to see any telecoms company endorse him same way they’re always quick to adopt these drop-out artistes. If Sunday Dada was an American or British, he would have been celebrated country-wide, his story would have been featured on all their tabloids. Here, we celebrate drop-outs!

All through history, great leaders have inspired nations with speeches. Abraham Lincoln did with the Gettysburg address, Barack Obama did with his ‘yes, you can’ mantra. I’m worried for this country if the best our leaders can do is trade blames.
The May 29, 2016 Independence speech was so dry, even Goodluck Jonathan did better during his time. There was no energy, no encouragement for the Nigerian people, the whole picture painted was gloomy, with boring talks of how the previous administration looted the nation. I think by now Mr President ought to know that Nigerians don’t claim ignorance of the past regime’s looting, in fact, that’s why we voted for Mr President in March 2015 and all we want now from him is less promises and more actions. We don’t need to be reminded of the state of economy, we want it fixed soonest, that’s why we put President Buhari in Aso Villa and pay him from tax-payer’s money.

The president still failed to mention the fulani herdsmen killing thousands of people in the southern part of Nigerian. This President continues to prove suspicions right that he’s tribalistic. Those who make peaceful resolution impossible will eventually make violent revolution inevitable. It’s either President Buhari stops hiding behind the facade of Aso Villa & face real national problems or people will revolt in the long run. Past administrations of government had a way of shying from these problems & that’s why we have different insurgent groups now battling the government same time.

President Buhari has spent the last few months trying to persuade Nigerians to patronise home-made goods in the face of naira’s fall against the US dollar. It surprised me when the President had a little health challenge few days ago & quickly traveled to London for medical checks. So much for the so called ‘incorruptible and honest’ President, he could not even stay true to his words. As bad as the Nigerian economy is, doesn’t Mr President collect his bumper salary and travel bonuses? Has he been travelling abroad with his own funds? Why does he keep making excuses for the suffering Nigerian masses? It is unfair and insensitive. The President Buhari’s state of health and reason for traveling abroad is also a cogent reason for him to develop and invest national resources into our own medical system in Nigeria.

In the same Independence day speech, Mr President described the budget impasse, which dragged on for months before it was finally appropriated in early May (with almost half of the year gone) , as mere ‘consensus building which is integral to democratic government.’ Well, Mr President failed to build the same consensus with Nigerian masses who elected him before increasing fuel price from 86 to 145 naira per litre, in a country which is the 6th largest producer of oil in the world! President Buhari himself said in his speech that Nigeria once had four refineries & exported refined products. What happened to these refineries and why are we now importing 90% of our petrol?

When he spoke about the army’s combat with insurgency, he made a misnomer;
“I would like to pay a special tribute to our gallant men and women of the armed forces… Their work is almost done. The nation owes them a debt of gratitude.”
Point of correction sir, the work of the armed forces is never done! Even when they’re is no war or insurgency, they must be alert, security must never go to sleep, that’s what soldiers live for. That’s why we spend tax-payers’ money equipping the armed forces! These kind of statements made by President Buhari is misleading, it’s the kind of cynical statements that leads to indolence, the same lethargy that got us into this state of inertia.

The modest inventions during the Nigerian Civil war were never followed up & one wonders what happened to the inventors then. In Nigeria, we’ve been going to sleep not thinking about our immediate future. Sadly, we remain an exporter of abundant raw materials but importers of technical know-how and finished goods. We can’t survive economically or even protect our country within and without with this complete dependence on importation of our economic & defence needs. According to General D.M Jemibewon (rtd.), ‘The nation would soon find that by developing its own technology, it is developing the mind, the population and the nation which will in turn breed national pride and awareness and raise the level of technology and technological competence.’
The war veteran made this submission in 1981 and up to date, the condition hasn’t changed! Do our leaders read books at all?

As at 1981, in a lecture delivered at National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), General D.M Jemibewon(rtd.) had said of Nigerian defence that, “we had an Army without arms, we had arms without ammunitions, and when we had both there was no guarantee for their continued supplies.” He said that referring to the situation during the Civil war (1967-1970) whereby the Army lacked war munitions or the proper technology to combat the Biafrans. It’s appalling that the case hasn’t really changed much since 1981 when that statement was made by the veteran soldier.

The strength of our military system alone, at prima facie value, could have been enough deterrence to current insurgents or internal threats such as the IPOB, MASSOB, Niger Delta Avengers and Boko haram. Some of these groups wouldn’t dare disturb the peace of our beloved country if they knew Nigerian defence system was strong and autonomous enough. Currently, the 36 states of Nigeria has 36 state assemblies & 36 judiciary systems totally consuming over 60 per cent of annual gross national revenue and budgetary allocations. A constitutional system allowing such wastage & partiality in sharing resources could be amended to better provide for our National Defence. The Police force needs restructuring, the Army, Customs and every single part of our Defence system.

We all heard about the allegations of Access Bank GMD, Mr Herbert Wigwe’s connivance in money laundering with former Minister of petroleum, Diezani Madueke, money & assets worth several billions of naira. An average Nigerian enters Nigerian banks and all you hear is CBN rules, CAMA rules, the bankers go on and on. Sometimes you can’t even withdraw your own funds till you go to court for affidavits to prove ownership of account, even when the error wasn’t yours but the bank’s.

We need to exalt our values above formal rules in this country. True human values wouldn’t have made Access Bank GMD steal or launder money. Stealing is generally anti-social behavior and that’s why its wrong, apart from it being against the state laws. These influential people make these rules and find it easy to break their own rules, so why don’t we inculcate true human values & character into kids as they grow? This, they won’t depart from.

Sources:

David Medaiyese Jemibewon, The Military, Law and Society: Reflections of a General (1998, Spectrum Books) 20

dailypost.ng/2015/01/03/boko-haram-killings-increased-buharis-threat-make-nigeria-ungovernable-fasehun/#

https://www.naij.com/844542-breaking-bloodbath-in-biafra-pro-biafra-activists-clash-with-army-30-killed-photos.html?source=index_shared

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2 thoughts on “The Nigerian state: Things fall apart

  1. Another good early morning read.. Am left speechless @ how u’ve painted the much maligned picture of Nigeria’s situation. A good read but definitely a bad feel.

    • Brother, I equally feel bad. Perhaps, it is an omen. Perhaps, it’s about time we rose up & contributed to the leadership of the country in order to put an end to the continuous bitter pill of bitterness & sadness the current leadership bestowed upon us.

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