The news from Nigeria on a daily basis is very depressing. It does not give room or hope for comfort. It is becoming pretty difficult to laugh in Nigeria. There is nothing to cheer. There is foreboding anguish and melancholy all over the place. There is even no place to hide. Darkness has descended on the nation. The chicken has finally come home to roost. Every part of the country has suddenly become a killing field and everywhere there are harvests of deaths. In the South East, known for its peaceful disposition, people are now slaughtered on a daily basis, including soldiers and policemen at checkpoints.
Police formations have become targets of such willful attacks. There is general agony in the land. Anarchy may have set in and the rule of law overtaken by the rule of the jungle. In the north, the bandits are killing people, including abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna. Boko Haram insurgents have occupied about 50 villages in Niger State and have hoisted their flag in a town some kilometers away from Abuja, the federal capital. Blood is flowing freely in Nigeria as if the country is at war with itself. What is happening in Nigeria today can cause illness.
The citizens live under constant fear and no one can say exactly what will happen the next minute. From every part of the country, the story is the same thing. From north to south, the story is that of pain, destruction and killings. No geo-political zone is safe anymore. There is general gloom in the land and those in government appear to have lost control of the situation. Their handlers are compounding the problem with thoughtless statements that can inflame the already fragile situation. The headlines are screaming horror, danger and deaths.
The Nigerian situation reminds one of the most quoted lines of ‘The Second Coming’ by William Butler Yeats: Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the Falcon cannot hear the falconer: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold: Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’ Did Yeats have Nigeria in mind when he wrote those memorable lines? Did he know that a Nigerian called Chinua Achebe would write an enigmatic and groundbreaking first novel from one of those golden lines? That is the power of poetry over prose and drama.
Yeats did not have Nigeria in mind when he authored those memorable verses. He did not even know that Chinua Achebe would much later write one of the best novels of the 20th century based on those enchanting verses of boredom and melancholy. Achebe in Things Fall Apart lamented the disintegration of the Igbo society before the coming of the white man and the effects of such an unarranged meeting which later led to colonialism, independence and post colonial Nigeria. The meeting of Africa and Europe, which was based on racial superiority and inequality, is why Africa is still backward and undeveloped today.
Before leaving his earthly existence, Achebe lamented much about the Nigerian situation so much that he x-rayed the trouble with Nigeria in a small book of that title and blamed it squarely on the failure of leadership. Decades after the authorship of that book, Nigeria is still grappling with the problem of leadership. Before quitting the stage, Achebe wrote his controversial memoir: There was a country: A Personal History of Biafra. The book was controversial based on readers’ divergent opinions on the book. Many read the book and gave it as many interpretations as possible. Nobody should blame them because we understand differently and interpret things differently too.
While many agree and disagree with the contents of the book, most did not dispute the fact that there was indeed a time Nigeria was a country. That country was lost soon before the civil war. I do not think that we have fully retrieved the lost country that Achebe portrayed in his memoir. There was a good attempt to retrieve the lost country after the Nigerian civil war but it was not far-reaching enough. Now, it appears that we have totally lost the bearing to retrieve the country since 2015 when the present administration came into power. Their three main promises of tackling insecurity, unemployment and the economy were not kept. From 2015 till now, things have deteriorated and moved from worse to worst. We have moved from the frying pan into the fire.
Most Nigerians think that we were better in 2015 than now. Things have fallen apart since 2015 and the centre is no longer holding now with anarchy loosed upon our shattered world and existence. Nigeria is today bleeding. It is bleeding profusely. Nigerians are weeping. There is no peace in the land. There is poverty and hunger in the land. Everybody is weeping. Everyone has become a wailer and we are all weeping and wailing and nobody to console us. We all are now wailers. There is no exception.
We are crying over our dear beloved country because of pervasive insecurity and killing of Nigerians on a daily basis. University students are abducted and some killed over unpaid ransom. Attacks on schools have become a new normal. The Nigerian story is no longer enticing and celebratory. It is sad, mournful and tragic. Laughter is a scare commodity in the land where grief has engulfed the entire nation. Everywhere is filled with lamentations. It is therefore not a surprise at all that Nigeria has now been ranked as the 3rd worst governed country in the world by the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI).
Nigeria, which performed abysmally low in governance, leadership, and foresight, scored 102 out of 104 countries with a score of 0.319 points, ahead of Zimbabwe and Venezuela. According to the report, we scored 0.44 on leadership and foresight; anti-corruption 0.45; long-term vision 0.47; strategic prioritization 0.41 and innovation 0.4. In other parameters, Nigeria performed poorly scoring 98 in leadership and foresight; 85 in robust laws and policies; 101 in strong institutions; 88 in financial stewardship; 97 in attractive marketplace; 72 in global influence and reputation and 98 in helping people rise.
Among African countries, Mauritius was adjudged the best with a score of 0.5670 and came number 38 on the index. Overall, Finland came first with 0.848 points. It was followed by Switzerland; Singapore; Netherlands; Denmark; Norway; Sweden; Germany; New Zealand and Canada. The GCCI ranking is indeed a true reflection of the Nigerian condition and pitiable situation. We cannot have good governance in Nigeria without good and visionary leaders. We cannot make it as a country without a leadership that is totally committed to integrity, a strong vision and good plan for the country’s future and good use of the nation’s resources.
Let our leaders go through the report and make elaborate plans to remedy the ugly situation. This is not the time to blame the source of the report as some of our government officials would do. We should stop living in denial or behaving like the ostrich. We must begin to accept the truth and be willing to tell ourselves the truth always. Rather, we should blame our leaders for our nation’s woeful performance.
It is sad that in every human development indices report, we usually come out worse. Let us begin to change the ugly narrative now. Instead of strong men in power, let us have strong institutions of government.