Nigeria is at war with itself. Like chickens, Nigerians face the knife everyday. As a young adult, never in my life have I been this scared. The closest I have had was in 1993-1994, when the election of Moshood Abiola was annulled. Today, Nigerians are poorer, more wretched, frustrated and now harbour suicidal thoughts.
This is the worst time to be a Nigerian. At the beginning of the week that just ended, I wasn’t sure of what to focus on. I wanted to tackle our senators, who for whatever reasons, offered themselves to President Muhammadu Buhari as his adopted children. I jettisoned that option because Nigeria is on fire.
The next challenge was the choice of a topic. Chinua Achebe’s There was Country was my first option. Then I remembered something that is more relevant to the issues of the moment. Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, one of the bravest Nigerians, published a book in 1989, Because I am Involved.
I opted for this because the content of the book is as valid today as it was in 1989. The book addresses issues that define us as a nation. In his usual assertive manner, Ojukwu opined that unity must be redefined in Nigeria for the country to make progress.
For the war veteran, unity, in a political unit, is a state of affairs where the entire polity is completely reconciled with itself. He believed that unity provides the only foundation on which Nigeria’s development can stand.
He further asserted that “until we are prepared to modify, and sometimes to abandon, our primordial attachments in favour of a new Nigerian relationship, we cannot unite.”
In his unbiased opinion, Ojukwu argued that for Nigeria to unite, we must abandon “our fear of unity.”
He showcased unity as very indispensable in our quest for national rebirth, as without unity of purpose, Nigeria can neither achieve her manifest destiny nor can she function with the requisite efficiency.
In case you have not read the book, let me dig deeper on your behalf. The great Ikemba added that the fact that Nigeria is infested with a long list of dichotomy, majority-minority dichotomy, MuslimChristian dichotomy and so on, its progress will always remain a mirage.
“As a nation, we have not made serious attempts to seek a cure for these dichotomies (which have more or less become a concern in our body politic) and this is why it continues to spread with very frightful virulence,” he argued.
Before I delve into today’s gist, let me relay this final intervention in Ojukwu’s book. He advocated that we must do away with factors that promote disunity.
“We must be prepared to approach the issue of unity and national solidarity realistically, selfishly, fearlessly, and with a singularity of purpose. We must overcome old prejudices and entrenched interests and banish from every Nigerian, the atmosphere of insecurity. When this is done, Nigeria would be on the way to her national El-dorado,” he wrote.
Ojukwu’s book was published almost 30 years ago, just five years after President Buhari infamously thwarted Nigeria’s democracy and installed himself as a military dictator, who handed down ridiculous jail terms to ‘looters’.
My conclusion is that, as Nigerians, we understand the challenges we face. We also have the solutions. Strangely, but sadly, we have willfully decided to do nothing.
For any serious government desirous of effecting any real change, Ojukwu’s book is a perfect manual. But no. We have a leadership deficiency syndrome. We elect our worst and leave out our best. We are often beclouded by primordial or religious sentiments. No Nigerian sees himself/herself first as a Nigerian. It is always convenient for us to opt for our ethnic identities.
It appears as if Nigeria is God’s attempt at the impossible. Everyday, we drift towards the precipice. Everyday, Nigeria is further divided along ethnic and religious lines. We
sit back and do nothing, but expect God to fix our mess. We appear in public as religious people, but are as evil as the serpent. Everything is wrong with us.
Even our elected president, Buhari, has given up on Nigeria. He wants God to end the national blood orgy. Like the rest of us, he wants God to do for him, what he can do for himself. This religious stupidity was re-echoed when the president visited Jos, Plateau State capital, following the annihilation of over 100 natives.
“There is nothing I can do to help the situation except to pray to God to help us out of the security challenges. What has happened is a very bad thing. The bottomline is that justice must be allowed to take its course,” Buhari shamelessly ceded his responsibility to God.
If a president, who vowed in 2015 to lead an offensive against insurgents can express this defeatist conclusion, it means we are in a deep mess. A responsible leader will hurriedly throw in the towel and quit when he/she can no longer discharge the duties of his office. But not so with our messiah Buhari. He is infallible and can do no wrong.
Every responsible Nigerian can clearly see that the security architecture of the country has collapsed. Security chiefs are gradually becoming spent forces and now lack new ideas on how to fix this mess.
The Senate, worried that the country was at the edge of a total collapse, organised a security summit, where all the security
chiefs were in attendance. Ideas were exchanged and it was unanimously agreed that something urgent needed to be done. That summit was held in February. This is the beginning of July. Buhari is yet to lift a finger.
Again, both chambers of the National Assembly recently called on President Buhari to sack his service chiefs and appoint new people. The emperor has refused to act.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has repeatedly flouted the orders of the president. Yet, he is still sitting gallantly in his office, transmitting his orders to unmotivated officers across the country.
You remember the Minister of Defence, Ali Dan-Mansur? Yes, he is now the unofficial spokesman of herdsmen. He defends herders more than anyone in the country.
The point I am trying to transmit is that, President Buhari knows what to do to fix our failed security architecture. For reasons best known to him and his ancestors, he has refused to lift a finger.
Because we are involved, Buhari will do nothing. He can send tanks and weapons of mass destruction to decimate members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who had no arms. Because they are Involved.
He can look the other way while states in the Middle Belt area are reduced to ashes because they are involved. He can declare war on the people of the Niger Delta region because they are involved.
But not so for herdsmen.
Herdsmen are saints and can do no wrong. They bear no arms and are from Libya. The killings alleged to have been carried out by herdsmen are sponsored by politicians.
Whoever still hinges his/ her hope on Buhari to fix this mess, will walk alone. He lacks the leadership skills and patience to fix Nigeria. If we repeat the mistake of 2015 and re-elect him in 2019, even the devil will desert us.
I so submit!
Abaribe’s unfortunate arrest
In case you are unaware, Nigeria is now a police state. Executive rascality was on display two Fridays ago, when operatives of the Department of State (DSS), arrested a serving senator, Enyinnaya Abaribe.
At first, I ignorantly dismissed the news until I called the senator’s media aide, Uche Awom. The gestapo style of his arrest was so dramatic that it could pass for a movie script.
It was unfortunate.
No one is against his arrest. If he committed any crime, he should be arrested. But certain offices come with certain privileges. Abaribe is a serving senator. Arresting him like a common criminal is condemnable and unfortunate.
It is gradually becoming clearer that the 2019 general elections will be Nigerians versus Buhari’s security agents.
Anyone critical of the government will be shamed and destroyed. This is becoming a pattern and Nigerians must act now.
We are happy that he has been set free.