By Mike Kebonkwu Esq
My friend, Mr Adagbo Onoja, himself an activist, a Don and publisher, dubbed an earlier view of mine on unbundling Nigeria as a ‘pessimist’s manifesto’. I almost laughed my head off because I guess like many others, he still holds on to the nostalgic feeling of growing up a Socialist, waiting for the great transformation, a leadership with a pan Nigerian view. He still feels that Nigeria is redeemable. While it may have been our childhood dream and fancies to see a great united Nigeria worth sacrificing for, that is, unfortunately, not what we are seeing because of poor governance and lack of national ethos and values. It is indeed painful to come to that grave conclusion but what else, with endless bloodshed and insecurity and total failure of the state and its bureaucracy.
So, the intellectual wing of the radical activists still pontificate- believing that the nationality question can be fixed in the present hostile demographic constitution of the country without leadership. After a thorough x-ray of events in the last six years, one has come to the inevitable conclusion that Nigeria is better unbundled to steer it clear off the suicide plunge. With inflammatory rhetoric and inciting statements from religious and ethnic pressure groups, the country does not seem to hold any positive vibe that is worth defending other than the hegemony of the upper class of the ruling elite.
Some genuine but, I dare say, misguided patriots, still feel that with all the building blocks being clearly perforated, we can still build a Nigeria of our dreams. I am offering a counter argument. I do not lay claim to being an intellectual fortress but I am familiar enough with the radical wing of Nigerian intellectual community and the sacrifice they have made towards building a united Nigeria where no one will be oppressed. Some of them in their intellectual grand standing feel that theirs is the answer to end all answers. However, in the flux of life, there is no answer to end all answers.
I had the privilege of being a student of some of these eminent scholars and left wing intellectuals, Marxists armed with moral compass who have committed class suicide for the love of this country. They played their part well but did not go far enough due to wrong appreciation of theory and praxis to building democratic, socialist, egalitarian society.
They did not correctly perceive the clash and struggle for power and aspiration to public office as veritable vehicle for revolutionary change. They are patriots, and one gives it to them any day. However, Nigeria is not sitting on a solid ground as one united entity to project the dream of its citizens and the black race. The ordinary citizen across ethnic nationalities and divides may not have had any problems living with one another. However, the elites, especially religious and political elite who are the opinion moulders have ingrained in the consciousness of the people a feeling of suspicion, hatred and anger that, at the drop of a hat, we can chop off the head of someone that does not share ethnicity and religion with us.
We may choose to pontificate as we like for the birth of a new Nigeria but it will amount to intellectual deceit if we continue to ignore the fundamental crisis and echoes of rabid nationalism across the divide. This is especially so, when we open our borders to heavily armed foreign herdsmen operating as mercenaries and offering them protective cover in the guise of ECOWAS Protocol to waste our land and kill our people collecting ransom from the communities.
The nationality question is so recondite not to be ignored because it is founded on ethno-religious superstructure. This is the same reason that we are not able to confront and defeat insecurity, banditry and criminality across the country due to subconscious appeal to ethnicity and religion. It is also the reason we are not able to confront the behemoth called corruption because it is committed by someone from our tribe and religion. It is for the same reason that we do not care a hoot about slaughtering of people who do not have blood, socio-religious affinity with us.
Our elected leaders and representatives are incapable of providing quality leadership and are not able to make good laws. Imagine the National Assembly contemplating a Bill to create 20 additional States across the country as a priority. You want to ask if this bunch of people do not actually have cobwebs as grey matters in their brain. In the face of the collapse of virtually all the bureaucratic structures and security architecture, what is upper most in their mind is to create more states and by extension to open windows to more political opportunities and offices for themselves. It is a shame!
Of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory how many of them are viable? How many states are paying the federal government approved minimum wage? They are only defending Nigeria in its present state because it stands to serve them only as gold mines. They fear they would lose their investments in Abuja and Lagos especially the empty castles they have acquired that they do not need. Standing for Nigeria in its present state today will be defending what has obviously become an albatross. The country is at a dead end and on a barber’s chair roiling and rolling; motion without movement. Do we need someone else to tell us that nothing is working in the country today and that the quality of leadership we have is driving the nation on a precarious descent into inevitable collapse? I know that saying goodbye is not easy but sometimes we have to; this is our dilemma.
There is no one person that is so sure what to make of Nigeria in the present state of affairs, whether to restructure and remain together as one or otherwise, because of Nigeria’s consuming Leviathan problems. This is in addition to the palpable fear of foreign invaders and ideological zealots who have come in the guise of itinerant herdsmen and have taken over our forest reserves and roads, terrorizing citizens and collecting huge ransoms. They now have sleeper cells across the country like an occupation force with political and religious agenda with determination to take over the country. They appear to enjoy tacit endorsement from the state which offers them protective cover; telling citizens to learn how to tolerate their neighbours. They seem to be part of the campaign for pure and strict Sharia Code of law. There are yet others who also feel strongly with equal conviction that it is better for the ethnic nationalities to decide how they want to live, including the preference for secession.
There is the countervailing argument that breakings up does not in any way solve the problems of the country. Great as that could be, were Nigeria to overcome this present trauma, are we going to have men from outer space to preside over our affairs that we will begin to act differently and suddenly embrace one another across ethno-religious divide?
We are still going to have an Isa Pantami, a notorious fundamentalist whom the president does not think there are any reasons why he should not be in his cabinet. We are going to have the likes of the president himself in the gab of sanctimonious integrity giving jobs to only his kits and kin and believing that corruption is limited only to stealing money.
He can afford to lavish state resources for the wedding of his children in the midst of grinding poverty and would not feel a qualm. To him that is not corruption. We cannot look to the direction of the PDP which does not know the difference between the state till and their private safe. That is why one minister will buy jewellery that is worth 40 billion Naira. I am not sure there is room for wearing silver or gold jewellery in the hereafter. The truth is that we certainly cannot continue in this state of siege and inflammatory ethnic antagonism turning the entire country into a battlefield and wish to continue as one.
Nigeria is an unequal federation dominated by three ethnic nationalities of Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo who have their eyes on the plum at all times. The other ethnic minorities and nationalities are more or less treated like conquered feudal fiefdoms, exploited and patronized as political jobbers to the ruling elite. The Hausa-Fulani ruling elite are more politically suave and sophisticated and able to identify and seek to protect their interests more than the rest. They effectively deploy the feudal system and religion as a coercive tool and exploit the ignorance of the people. The Fulani are often vilified for their political dexterity in pedestrian arguments by some critics as the problem of our country. This is not exactly correct; the reason they have succeeded is because they find pliable minions in politicians without principles from other ethnic nationalities especially in the south who prefer to trade off the interest of their people. As the saying goes, nobody can make you a slave without your consent.
The state of the nation has been a grave concern to many a group and individuals who are disturbed on the turn of events and the endless carnage and senseless killings and near collapse of the socio-political structure of the country. What, with the recent brazen and audacious attack on the military, carrying the battle to them in the barracks and premier training institution for the officers’ Corps – the Nigerian Defence Academy, (NDA),abducting and kidnapping a serving officer and demanding ransom.
The author wrote in from Wuse Zone 5, Abuja – Nigeria