Sunday Onyemaechi Eze
Nigeria is a country living in denial of its division, challenges and troubled chequered history. Anybody who lays claim to the fact that the country is one is living in illusion or outrightly delusional. Right before and after independence, there was already a misunderstanding and suspicion accompanied by regional power intrigues which characterised that era. People could not see the cold war brewing among the regional trio. The three regional leaders of Azikiwe, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello do not buy into the same thinking and understanding of what Nigeria should or ought to be. One should have possibly seen that from their dress codes, mannerism, regional policies, and commentaries. While the south east and west were ready for independence, the North has to be waited for for another three years to be ready. The pre and post independent political events and the unfortunate civil war was a sore reminder of our continuous troubled history. Since then, there has been this growing suspicion and mistrust amongst the major ethnic groups. And no government both military and democratic has made genuine effort at resolving Nigeria’s lingering problems. Committed leaders of wars torn nations were able to make history by uniting their people and return to global arena. What did our leaders do? They were more interested in setting up cosmetic committees and conferences designed ab initio to feather their political nests and further their political interests than addressing the governance deficit, general societal malaise and decadence.
Until when someone is willing to addresses the numerous demands and grievances of all and set out a genuine mechanism of peaceful coexistence, the nation will continue to be in disarray.
One finds it often laughable when President Buhari and those in government gleefully echo the commitment of government towards ensuring that to make Nigeria one is a task than must be accomplished. In fact, government is gradually losing or has lost its credibility with the way events unfold. Government loses its credibility when people now believe regional elements who they have seen to be committed to fighting their causes. When government generally fails its people, the situation we find ourselves in Nigeria today will definitely surface. Often times emergency regional leaders like Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and even leaders of Boko Haram and banditry groups are creations of a clueless government. They stand for their people and render those services government ought to have rendered but refused to. A vacuum was created by government’s ineptitude and someone or something has to fill it. Nature abhors vacuum. We seem to under estimate the power of non state actors like Nnamdi Kanu but, it is becoming more glaring that despite labeling him and his group as terrorists, people still believe in him more than all the governors of the south east put together so also is Sunday Igboho and even Shekau. It is also amusing to hear we are committed to securing the lives and properties of Nigerians wherever they live while on the contrary, government is clearly seen to have failed time and time again or had simply sets its eyes on something else. Boko Haram are even more emboldened to attack military formations while bandits ply their trade unhindered. The abducted Kagara school children have been added to the number. One could imagine that the seeming commitment always comes in form of generic press statements issued by Garba Shehu and co. who I am quite sure are tired of doing one thing all the time to achieve a different result. Who takes the presidential media aides seriously now? When it was obvious that the ex-service chiefs had ran out of ideas to tackle insecurity in the land, the same government left them on the saddle for additional years with a reward of non career ambassadors after retirement. Someone says the bonus was a canopy to escape the waiting dragnet of the International Criminal Court.
It has to be understood whether a nation where state governments go into negotiation with bandits known to have carved territories for themselves, committed heinous crimes and still committing more has not failed in its responsibility. President Buhari cried and begged Nigerians to vote for him promising to end insurgency and all manner of ills bedevilling the nation. Now that he has failed, is it a crime to call him out on his failed promises? Children largely learn from what their parents do, not what they say. And from all intents and purposes, this government is only a talking government.
More than ever in the history of Nigeria has the key government recruitment processes become one sore point of controversy and conflict. One section of the country has enjoyed major patronage than others. The facts and figures are available for people to see but government like the Ostrich continues to hide its head in the sand, offering its body for the doubting Thomases to take selfie as evidence. The issues of leadership and leadership recruitment processes, constitution amendment, revenue sharing formula, good governance, restructuring, resource control, insecurity, and fiscal federalism have been at the heart of Nigeria’s problem. However, people in and outside government who are beneficiaries of the old order will suffer every proposed change seen to confront their inordinate desire or interest to accumulate power and wealth. The #ENDSARS protest had widened the already existing divide between the North and South. While the protest against the high level of impunity amongst SARS units and general police brutality in the country was successful in the south; the north seem not to be bothered. Most states in the north did not participate in the protest giving credence to the fact that something was amiss. There is a general consensus that SARS activities have gone overboard. Therefore, a country not decimated by the contours of tribe, ethnicity and religion should have stood with one united voice in the quest to end the atrocities of SARS. Today, the quit notices issued to Fulani herdsmen living in others parts of Nigeria leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The killings and burning of Hausa businesses in Ibadan has added another ugly dimension. It is condemnable to kill the Innocent and stereotype a group. The group also stereotyped should wash itself off of such elements which gave them a bad name. Is it a coincidence that almost everybody is pointing accusing fingers against fulani? Government officials and individuals concerned are feasting on the rage of the moment; some are threatening fire and brimstone. I must caution that fanning the embers of violence with your monthly data plan while in your cosy home is misguided. Every region now has its own narratives championed by those who have no business in leading. But the question is: have we really addressed the generic problems and issues? The answer is NO! Those who should seek for the balm of Gilead are the trouble makers themselves.
Having spent most of my adult life in the north and still counting, I can authoritatively say that the north is a fertile ground for businesses, growth and development. Many are those who had nothing upon arrival in the north today but are millionaires. People of the north are very accommodating, trustworthy and very friendly. The life of an average northerner is simple and lived for that day because tomorrow will take care of itself. The expanse land in the north is an asset yet to be tapped by both government and individuals. The import of rich asset like land for agriculture and agri-businesses has not caught the attention of northern leaders. Nigeria more than ever before is comfortably seated on a tinder box. When leaders chose to genuinely address most of these known contending and conflicting issues, peace will definitely return.