The Myths and Fallacies About the Nigeria State By Nasiru Suwaid
One of the fundamental traits of Nigeria as a country is the fact that it is characteristically a façade; loud, ostentatious, domineering even boastful but like all things not rooted or deeply entrenched below the surface, it is easy to see through the deceptive perception inbuilt to titillate an image of a strong nationhood. It is also a place where myths thrive and are propagated with the self righteous air of pastoral grace, indeed, it is perhaps the only country on earth, where reasons for the occurrence of certain events are conveniently comical, as there are many a time when destructive communal violence emanate from a single incident, which bears no correlation with ethnic differences, religious disagreement or even family dispute, rather, were any reason to be inquisitively extracted, it is usually mere resulting personal aggrandizement which coalesces into greater national problem.
It is the reason why complicated matters of state are rationalized into a single narrative, it is in these country where the Niger-Delta uprising was explained to have started, because General Sani Abacha dared to invite the youths from region to Abuja, which after having seen the development attained with the oil money extracted from their region, it galvanized them to began an insurrection, as if before then, going to the new federal capital city was such a very hard task, undertaken only on the basis of a once in a lifetime opportunity. Up to today, the extra judicial murder of Mohammed Yusuf by the Nigerian Police Force, has been projected as the main reason for the metamorphosing of the Boko Haram sect into a more deadlier group, when as early as the middle of the 1990’s, the heroic escapade of the Taliban student movement over the super power Russia in the earlier Afghanistan war of the early 1990’s, albeit with the aid of the Americans, has been a source of inspiration to the original leadership of the group. Just like the Iranian revolution, has remained a source of bother to even the Gulf Arab States, regarding its impact on the minds of impressionable Muslim youths, striving to emulate what their peers had achieved in far distant lands.
For some of us and I particularly, especially being in the North-East region when the insurgency started to become effective, I became aware of the movement as early as 2002 and it was by chance, most significantly, it was in the centre of the city, which is the Post Office Area and while I was walking, when I was flagged down by the Borno State Police Public Relations Officer Assistant Superintendent of Police Bashir Umar, who is a classmate, mentor and a friend. When I saw him, he was in mufti, which is quite a surprise for one of the most disciplined officers I have ever known in the force and he wasn’t from the intelligence department required to always operate in casual wear, thus the first question that came to my mind, was what happened to the quintessential cop I knew and he immediately replied, it was a directive from above, as even within the vicinity of the city, wearing a uniform is akin to a death sentence or it is the easiest route to becoming a victim of assassination, as many of the finest officers in his command had been murdered inside the city as well as on the area around Gwoza hills, leading to the deployment of the military troops by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to contain the religious rebels.
One of the institutionalized narratives about the country Nigeria, which has been established as a factual deficiency bedeviling the state and constituting a hindrance to attaining a true federation is the famed ascription on the office and person of the Nigerian president, as the single most powerful position in the world, virtually, the president can do and undo under the sun, just like the Victorian emperors and conquerors of the old. But this simple line of thinking is a negation on the core principle of power and its varying equations as we knew it, which basically means the relevance of any ancient empire or even a modern state is measured by its strength amongst its peers, in terms of military might, economic influence and social cohesion, though most importantly, the effectiveness of the leadership to enforce their will, this can only be implemented by a strong, effective, virile and efficient rulers, who are assisted by sufficient law enforcement. As it is said; a nation is as good as its combat defence force and you measure the brevity of a national army by the strength of character of its superintending commander-in-chief.
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