Our country has been in a state of war in the last 12 years. We have refused to acknowledge that because we have cultivated an attitude that is akin to that of an Ostrich. We like to bury our heads in the sand and believe falsely that nobody is seeing our bodies, when in fact the whole public sees our nakedness and wonder if these people are humans or spirits. They say if we are humans, it must be long we died from the heat emanating from the ground. Only spirits can live and operate in Nigeria of today. Wickedness, citizens becoming lovers of themselves, very vicious and rapacious, closed economy, no jobs, collapsing companies and failing public sector, no electricity supply, high cost of food and health, misdirected education and very poor state of road arteries. It takes spirits to survive in this kind of environment.
I appreciate our predicament by reason of what I have seen happen even in developed nations. When Barack Obama was the United States president, America was hit by devastating flood. Accommodation and food supplies were supplies inadequate, conditions were indecent and harsh. Then the unexpected happened: hitherto disciplined citizens turned restive. They began to bark and bite. Any human pushed to the wall is most likely to react in the negative. The Nigerian people have been boxed into a tight corner and the reaction we see in different forms – senseless killings, kidnapping, heightened social tensions between the different ethnic groups, Boko Haram and hatred from the world population.
Even in so-called peace time, our country is losing more people than it would have in war time. The truth is that our country is in the war state and until we admit this and face it squarely, things will continue to turn from bad to worse. The latest is the killing of Black Africans in South Africa by Black South Africans. Some international writers have dubbed it Africans vs Africans. By whatever name it is called the development is repulsive; it should not happen in any decent human environment, moreso in an African environment where we have the rich philosophy that prescribes respect and acceptance of foreigners or visitors in our midst. The conflict is increasingly looking like a clash between South Africa and Nigeria and that is because Nigerians constitute the highest number of strangers in that country.
The world would understand if the “foreigners” in this instance are from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Congo and Uganda. These countries are “poor”, they are still rudimentary on the developmental ladder; they don’t have the kind of money and human resources available to Nigeria. Nigeria has it all, human and natural resources in abundance and the wonder has been why do our citizens leave the country in droves and empty themselves into places that are less endowed. The world agrees that something is fundamentally wrong but Nigerians insist nothing is wrong and that is where the trouble is. Those who attack our people claim we export the wrong people. I can’t confirm it even though it has happened in history. Majority of those who went to colonize America and take over were the dregs of Europe. They couldn’t stand the heat in their home countries, so they opted to go on political and economic exile. The natives, Red Indians, did not like what came upon them, they resisted and where overwhelmed. So naturally natives would always be inclined to resist mass exodus of foreign elements into their lands.
The reception would become very hostile if the invading populations are aggressive and more enterprising. So the reaction from South Africans is not because they are lazy. It is because a force greater than them has come upon them. We must accept, especially going against our experiences, that such a situation can be threatening and frightening at the same time. There was a time in this country when Ghanaians were everywhere in large numbers. They were in every sector and doing well and suddenly they woke up one day to meet our negative reaction. In this country, southerners once moved into the northern part of the country in very large numbers and the response was not a welcome party. Both at individual and state levels, Northern region at a point had a policy to outsource job vacancies to Indians and Arabs rather than fellow countrymen. No one is sure whether that policy has ceased to be even up till today.
There have been killings especially in the North and it has not abated even till today. Nigerians are butchered in the most despicable manner and leaders don’t talk. Recently, the question has changed from what caused the development in South Arica to what can we do to stop a reoccurrence. There is nothing wrong in this approach except that time has come when we should be truthful to ourselves. A society in disarray, confusion and lacking in achievement can never be stable and an unstable entity, be it human or society, cannot attract or earn respect. The message is brought clearer by the events in South Africa. They attack the blacks who feed on crumbs and spare the Indians, Chinese and Europeans, who make the big profits. There is a story and a lesson there. Whether it is Indonesia, Malaysia and China, they all know they should handle an American, British, German or French very carefully, the offence he/she commits notwithstanding. Organization and achievements confer power, which in turn translates to regard and respect.
Majority of our people should be able to stay home and work their way through the storm but this would be where the government is utilitarian in nature, running on sound programmes and pure motives, not where the vision is blurred and scarce resources are wasted not on credit facilities but on the pursuit of ethnic and religious advantages. Our political structure is horrible and it is throwing up all manner of negative variables. Adams Oshiomhole, former governor of Edo State and national chairman of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), just told us last week he put the incumbent governor in power and so he must run with his programmes. He said it was not about money or appointment yet he was talking about having nominated one person into the state executive and was demanding for complete payment for a hospital he could not complete in eight years of his tenure. He could not explain how majority members of the State House of Assembly owe him loyalty, yet we expect the governor to perform.
The other day Rivers State governor was alleged to have demolished a mosque. Former governor and incumbent governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau and Ganduje offered to raise an army and fight. Sultan of Sokoto even spoke on it. Why won’t our country be hot and hostile to living when in the 21st Century we leave free health and well equipped hospitals, free education and qualitative schools, constant electricity supply, industrialization, sports development and the rest and begin to quarrel and even spend money on cattle colony, pilgrimage, demolition of churches and mosques? This is the kind of Nigeria we have built and it is responsible for the opprobrium we get all over the world. This issue is getting very serious, the earlier we react well the better.