Nigeria Army: PHOTO: SIGNAL
Introduction: Nigeria is today teetering on the precipice
Nigeria as a national entity is on the verge of collapse. All the indices of state failure are in place. There is an unprecedented level of impunity, and a never-before witnessed orgy of violence across the land. Criminal gangs are holding swathes of the Nigerian territory, bombing state infrastructures, collecting taxes, kidnapping travellers for ransom, sacking whole villages, burning down police stations, dislodging soldiers from their military outposts, abducting school children – transforming some into child soldiers and others into sex slaves, carrying out mass executions, and sending periodic threats to the Federal Government.
In the face of these brazen attacks that are equivalent to an open declaration of war, the government in place appears either utterly incapable or inexplicably unwilling to perform the primary duty of government, namely, to protect the lives and property of Nigerians, to such an extent that many Nigerians in exasperation now wonder if high level agents of government are not actually complicit in this genocidal war against innocent Nigerians. Indeed, many are beginning to believe that there are treasonous persons within the governance structure, who have resolved to destroy the Nigerian state in the manner we are witnessing today.
Election cycle after election cycle, Nigerians have kept on re-arranging chairs on a Titanic that is drowning. The state is failing, and it is failing at an alarming rate. Nigerians have seen their lives devalued and their rights diminished on every count. Rural farming communities are being deserted massively and rapidly, on account of the menace of bandits and killer herdsmen, that have taken over territories which used to be referred to as the “food basket” of the nation. Many of the farming communities in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Adamawa, Taraba, and Borno States, have become killing fields from which everyone is fleeing for their lives. Our well educated, highly skilled, most brilliant, and most promising young professionals, including Doctors and other Medical Professionals, IT Specialists and Engineers of all categories, as well as our most qualified Professors, are fleeing the country in droves, begging to be allowed into not only the UK, the US, and South Africa, but also Rwanda, Kenya and even Ghana, as they see no future for themselves and their children in Nigeria. Some of our less educated but ambitious young people are daily perishing while attempting to cross the treacherous Sahara Desert or Mediterranean Sea, towards some form of slave labour or sex trafficking in some European or Arab country.
Among the others who are not able to escape the madhouse which our country has become, some have felt pushed into crime – engaging in the infamous Yahoo-Yahoo and Yahoo+ business, or they are resorting to the now profitable enterprise of kidnapping for ransom or the shocking and disgusting business of killing and harvesting vital human organs for money. Perhaps worth mentioning here are also those young people across the country who have been so diminished by the acrimonious Nigerian circumstances that, having given up the idea of their lives having any meaning at all, they now waste whatever is left of their lives on all shades of hard drugs and narcotics.
With regards to the ravages of corruption, it is indeed most lamentable, that while the generality of Nigerians are groaning under the weight of ever-worsening economic fortunes, to which the government of the day has no answers, the sensibilities of the people are insulted by what has become a string of daily revelations of monumental corruption, or the reckless looting of state resources, to the tune of hundreds of billions of Naira, involving high ranking officials of a government that rode to power on the back of an aggressive anti-corruption propaganda.
As the government is daily borrowing money from foreign creditors, expending over 90 percent of its earnings on debt servicing, and ensuring that generations yet unborn will be carrying the burden of these ill-advised loans, agents of the same government are looting away the borrowed funds and squandering them in a life of debauchery, abandoning the mass of the people to dehumanising poverty, bankrupting the moral fabric of the nation, and leaving the social infrastructure in a state of utter decay. Corruption has become so institutionalised and so normalised, that nearly every position of leadership is poisoned and polluted. True, Nigeria is today one giant asylum. We seem to have habituated and normalised all the indices of insanity, though we keep going around, wearing the mask of sanity. But sane societies do not behave the way we do.
The Nigerian ruling class is perhaps among the most opportunistic and rapacious ruling classes in the world, constantly re-inventing and re-invigorating itself, and seizing every opportunity to violate and devalue the people they claim to serve. They have so shamelessly exploited the people’s poverty, so callously manipulated their illiteracy, and so brazenly weaponised their ignorance, that it is not at all in the interest of this ruling class to make any serious investment in quality education for the people.
No wonder schools, colleges and universities could be shut down for many months, and the leaders would just carry on business as usual, as if nothing is amiss. But let me seize this opportunity to remind the unrepentant conquerors of the Nigerian people that islands of affluence cannot co-exist for long amidst a sea of destitution. Yes, those who are smiling to the bank after putting us in this mess must be reminded that in the process of evolution, if any species is over-hunting and over exploiting the very resources they depend upon as nourishment, sooner or later, natural selection would take the predator out, and restore some measure of equilibrium.
Restructuring: A demand for the rule of law and equal citizenship
Many of those who cry of marginalisation today indeed have a case. Across the country, there are clear instances of the abuse and violation of the federal character principle as contained in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution. In the last few years, we have witnessed bare-faced and brazen acts of nepotism and sectionalism, whereby federating units are not treated equally, rewards and particularly sanctions are not applied equally (if and when they are), and appointments to the leadership positions of critical organs and agencies of government are seen by many as often in blatant and reckless disregard for equity and justice.
To be continued tomorrow
Rev. Fr. Ehusani, executive director, Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, delivered this as a Keynote Address at the Savannah Centre Leadership Effectiveness and Accountability Dialogue, in Abuja, on June 6, 2022.