Nigeria: A Nation At Risk by Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni
Across every strata of our national life, there seems to be boiling silences of grudge, vendetta and desire to spill blood. There is this new psyche of over-consciousness that has been launched on our being. We used to be one group of people with a carefree attitude, accommodating and loving. But in the last 3 years, an average Nigerian has developed this scanner-like attitude, everybody is perceived as a potential bomber, kidnapper, rituals or rapist. We have lost our freedom to ourselves and our lives are now in complete state of danger! Sincerely speaking, in the minds of many, insecurity is now a norm. Protect yourself or blame yourself. The citizens are fast getting immune to shocks of deadly bomb attacks and ricocheting sounds of “unknown” gunmen’s bullet. What however, jostle me to disbelieve, is the ease the Nigerian leaders and its state apparatuses decides to move on, without any modicum of sympathy for lives lost order than the rhetoric of being in charge.
We are a nation at risk, at the brisk of collapse and God forbid at the verge of repeating the unfortunate event 1967-70; the three years of avoidable carnage that has refused to heal even though Nigerians in their characteristic manner tries to gloss over the topic of civil war to assume there is true amity in the land. And the minute few like the late literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe who had exponentially tried to give a victim-witness account, have been castigated for keeping age-long grudge, thereby not allowing sleeping dogs to lie. But if the truth needs be told, all isn’t well with this nation. We aren’t at ease, the centre isn’t holding, the leaders aren’t our people and soon enough if remedies aren’t provided, the nation might fall apart.
War is one thing every nation tries to avoid, either civil, religious, ethnic, cold or world war; the consequence is usually a collateral damage that can’t be measured in naira. The photographic representation of the nation as it is presently situated is not short of a nation at war. With shattered remains of bodies every now and then, gunmen/herds men chopping down humans, with daily living shrouded in fear and uncertainty. The numeric ratio of widows and orphans has been on geometric increase, our education sector remains comatose, rising insecurity and unemployment have became a national adhesive.
War is the continuation of politics and indeed ego and fanaticism by other means. It is over the years caused by the irrational thinking, lack of diplomatic maneuvering and selfishness of the parties involved. In order to prosecute a war, a nation halts its progress and often time steps into collateral depreciation. One thing is certain; we must as a nation first admits we are in a hydra-headed war. We are in war of terror as represented by Boko Haram, Militancy and kidnapping all hiding under the cloak of fighting for beliefs and resource control. We are in war with leadership ineptitude, unemployment, mediocrity, sycophants, nepotism, favoritism, insecurity, corruption and above all the ghosts in government!
In an interview with Guardian Newspaper, UK marking late Prof. Chinua Achebe’s 80th Birthday, he was quoted as saying, “Nigeria is on the brink of a precipice” and that “we urgently have to face up to our responsibilities before it is too late”. What we presently run in Nigeria is disproportionate Duumvirate; a government of two high ranking officers (Boko Haram and Federal government) acting together and neither getting better edge. Between 2009 till date over 3,000 souls both military and civilian have been lost in the purported unholy “holy”crusade. Our security apparatuses have been paralyzed as the government move from the known to the unknown; from Boko Haram in government to ghosts hacking us down. It is abysmally irritating and smear of security collapse for President Jonathan, the Chief Security Officer of the nation to openly admit he is up again ghosts(Boko Haram), when he is not Merlin (a seasonal film where witches and wizards operate against the rule of constituted authority)!
Despite soaring security budget, insecurity still pervades the country. Budgetary allocation for security for the year 2013 stands at a staggering figure of N1.055 trillion!
If insecurity paralyzed the country, corruption buried it. “Corruption in Nigeria has passed the alarming and entered the fatal stage, and Nigeria will die if we continue to pretend that she is only slightly indisposed”.
Profeessor Abubakar Momoh of the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University, at a Lecture in January opined that,” the only Federal character that is obvious in Nigeria of today is Corruption. That is the only chapter of our national life where everybody has a common communion”. Between 1999 and now, over $400bn has been pilfered from the national treasury. Civil society analysts have estimated that figure to be greater than the GDP of Belgium and Sweden. Our kleptomaniac representatives have stolen more than the entire economy of an European state! The Nigerian press in the name of doing their job splash billion naira scams mindlessly to our faces everyday at the newsstands. And we the citizens in our docile, forgiving and forgetful selves just allow everything to pass! Only a slight increase in the price of staple foods such as bread and sugar had once triggered revolutions in France, Eygpt and the Caribbean. Why can’t we just get angry enough?
As much as our government has been pilloried for inefficiency, the unemployment quake could have sent a shiver of impending destruction down the spine of any sensible government but not ours! Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo at a recent gathering in Lagos puts our impending risk more succinctly, “Nigeria has watered down her moral standards to the point where many of the youth are confused, discouraged, in deep trouble and streets are full of violence as a result of youth unemployment” The report stating that about 20.3 million Nigerians are currently jobless and not employed in any form of job, by the Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Hemi Kale, is been mild with realities when over 72% of graduates are unemployed. If secondary school drop-outs, those in the informal sector and those grossly underemployed are added to the statistics, we sure have a risk of war at hand!
Every aspect of national life is shrouded in the dominant spirit of violence, corruption and indecency. The government rubs it in with its Santa Clause attitude of pardon to disgraceful elements that have chosen to smear the country’s name in mud. No good intentioned youth would witness such arrogance of presidential pardon and remain resilient to that course of a better Nigeria and indeed good governance. A government that derives pleasure in “beggar and settlement approach” to security and corruption only postpones the doomsday. The mere fact that amnesty was used to tame Niger Delta militancy, insurgent agents in the north are seeking their fair share. In the end, it ends up being a rat race, nobody wins and what we spent so much to curb becomes a time bomb. The peace such indecisive manipulation births are that of a graveyard, it would erupt soon enough.
Our present predicament is a by-product of misplaced priorities. The government must create an enduring platform for dialogue. The dialogue I envisage is not that that hand citizens loafs of bread, but that which establishes bakeries, create credit facilities to run them, put infrastructures in place to enhance distribution and social amenities in view of complications and working hazards. After the unbundling and subsequent privatization of PHCN, effort should be made to actually make power available. A success story around power is enough to hand President Jonathan a second time ticket (should in case he decides to run). Rather than share the proceeds from the Subsidy Re-invest Programme (Sure-P) amongst party loyalist, the fund should be painstakingly invested in infrastructure and be seen to have been invested to achieve palliative measures designed to cushion the effect of the removal subsidy removal.
To get anything meaningful out of our present predicament, the President needs to slough off corruption and not adore it on the nation with state pardon for established criminals. And ending on the words of Cardinal Onaiyekan, “Anger is mounting in the land, especially among the youth whose patience is running out”. If care is not taken, Nigeria might be at risk.
Twitter handle: @Sanity0407
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