This nation is in trouble and we know it. The indices for identifying a troubled state are all here with us. The population is growing at geometric rate and there is no effort to organically integrate them into the larger society or to provide avenues for self actualization. Armed robbery, kidnapping, drug addiction, prostitution and an atmosphere of despair pervade everywhere. The security agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain law and order and given what we see, one will be correct to say that the sanctity attached to the human life has long been desecrated. Today we are likely to send our law enforcement agencies against cattle rustlers and challengers of militia herdsmen than we would do to murderers in our midst. I want to make a disclosure
I have long lost confidence on the political class especially over their ability to drive this nation to proper and progressive development. I am a patriot, in-fact not just a patriot but of the nationalistic kind, I love Nigeria and in-spite of misgivings which I think are so many, I have held on to the belief that this country would scale through obstacles and become a true world class nation. Developing nations had their challenges and in-fact tragic years but the difference can be located in two things; firstly citizens and leaders did not deliberately act to ignite a crisis.
Secondly, both the leaders and the led responded with sincerity and severity to any aberration in the system. If one read history, especially those of America, French and China, one thing that is likely to be discovered would be that those nations had zero tolerance for deviant behaviours. American history in particular would show that most of the challenges happening here also took place there, you can name it; cultism, racism, corruption, secession and religious conflict. “Great Awakening” was like the Boko Haram of today, in that sad episode idle youths were against Western education like Boko Haram is doing today. America handled it and it should be part of our responsibility to find out how they did it. In-fact some of us say our unity is not negotiable, that is fine even though I don’t understand what it means when applied to human interactions and organization. The big question is how many of us truly believe in the unity of this nation? Many of us take such positions publicly and yet do things that are variance with the philosophy.
Nations build on their youths but here we emasculate, maltreat and disorientate this group that we profess to be the leaders of tomorrow. It is the youths that are involved in the crimes I mentioned earlier, they constitute the bulk in tribal militias; they are also the ones leading the secessionist bids. I have heard General Obasanjo and some Northern conservative leaders’ wonder why the youths especially those of Biafra should be doing what they are doing since they were not born when the nation had her first series of challenges which culminated into the civil war.
Such people ask whimsically “what do they know?” When I hear such remarks, I chuckle and tell myself that this is another confirmation that poor tutorship is part of our problems. Leaders can’t comprehend events around them. Why, for instance, would a young graduate from Niger Delta, idle and frustrated not react perhaps negatively if he gets to know that his area accounts for all the wealth of the nation and yet the goose that lays the golden egg is neglected, tortured and even destroyed? Niger Delta gives us oil but 90% of oil well owners come from the North, a semi arid region with no traces of oil as of today. Is this justice and equity and can this be said to be fair to all concerned?
Can such decisions build a bonding sense of brotherhood? Leaders in this country knew it would not create peace and yet for over 50 years they continued. It took less than four months to pass the North-East reconstruction act and it is over six years and we are yet to have the Petroleum Industry Bill fully debated, even royalty for oil producing communities has become a highly contentious matter. At a time of great dislocation this nation is spending unbudgeted N600billion to prospect for oil in the desert and another undisclosed amount to lay petroleum pipe lines from the North to Niger Republic for importation of oil fro that nation of all places.
The question would be; is this kind of decision nationalistic? South-East youths may not have read history but certainly they must have been told some stories by either their parents, relations or friends especially about how military men ganged up among themselves to stage a bloody coup and how the putsch was labeled ‘Igbo coup’ and for which reason army officers of Northern extraction staged a revenge coup killing almost all officers of Igbo origin. They would also have heard that over 500,000 Igbos and others of Eastern region origins living in the North were massacred in pogrom that followed and more painful would be the reminder that the injustice of the old is still subsisting up to the present. One of the things that have turned the mental stability of our youths is the issue of discrimination.
They suffer it as a race and even in small issues as gaining admission into secondary and tertiary institutions. The Board of National Common Entrance Examination has just published its cut off marks for admission into Secondary Schools. A look at it would expose the kind of mental torture our adolescence go through at that young, impressionable stage of their life when whatever we plant stays to maturity. A male and female child from Anambra state would have to score 66 respectively as against 14 and 12 for Zamfara state to gain admission and this is under the policy of “Educationally disadvantaged states”. What this does is that some brilliant students’ education may have to be stalled while those from the so-called educationally disadvantaged zone may suffer mental inferiority complex on account of discriminatory policy by their own nation.
Our leaders have for long operated on deceit, they say one thing but in their hearts harbour hidden agenda. Till today no special effort has been made to reconstruct the old Eastern and Mid-Western regions that were theatres of the civil war. The preference for religion and exploiting it to cause division instead of promoting science and technology would not be if truly our leaders believe in one united Nigeria.
For me it is ironical to be pushing Sharia and Sharia court inclusion in the constitution in a complex plural nation like ours. I was ashamed when in the 21st century we began to see herdsmen carrying sophisticated weapons and stepping into everywhere including the sacred and traumatized when our response was to ask the National Assembly to enact a grazing act and establish a national commission on grazing which from what we know would have established a grazing zone in all the states. When we know grazing is a private venture and government begins to show all these kind of concerns, I tell my friends nothing shows our hypocritical nature better than these. If our nation is boiling we are all responsible. Some will say they are not, but when we vote selfish and incompetent leaders or refuse to vote we become co-conspirators.