The young man stretched his hand to give me liquid soap. His colleague was on standby with some rolls of toilet paper. They appeared happy with the job as they beamed and addressed me as “My oga.” I thanked them, washed my hands but politely rejected the toilet paper and walked away. As I sat down to wait for my flight, the heat became unbearable. The air conditioners were not working. The industrial fans were few and only succeeded in disturbing my eardrums with what sounded more like some drops of rain.
Welcome to the departure hall of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. This is a major gateway to the country and one of the first points of contact foreigners have with Nigeria. My experience in that hall last Friday confirmed our penchant for self-deceit and the leadership deficit of a nation that appears permanently unorganised.
The Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had clearly marked the sitting arrangements in the hall to conform with COVID-19 safety protocols. Inside the aircraft, the social distancing rule was flouted, as all the seats were usually occupied. I have no problem with this because the airlines must survive. But it is double standard to fill the aircraft with passengers but refuse to serve in-flight snacks using COVID-19 as an excuse.
As it is with the management of our airports, so it is with many other agencies of government. Thus, it was not surprising that Nigeria was recently rated the third worst governed country in the world.
The Chandler Good Governance Index (CGGI) was even magnanimous enough to give us the third position. Out of 104 countries, Nigeria came 102, with 0.319 points, ahead of Zimbabwe and Venezuela. Finland ranked number one, with 0.848 points. In the 2021 report released in Singapore last Monday by the Chandler Institute of Governance, Nigeria scored very low in all the parameters. They include leadership and foresight, anti-corruption, long-term vision, strategic prioritization, innovation, robust laws and policies, strong institutions, financial stewardship, attractive marketplace, global influence and reputation and helping people rise. Africa’s best performer was Mauritius, which came 38.
The ability to handle corruption properly, the report notes, is the strongest indicator of good governance. Obviously, Nigeria lacks the will to handle corruption properly. And this is one major factor that has crippled our leadership at all levels.
In simple terms, successive Nigerian governments, especially this current one, have failed. Corruption is not abating. The economy is comatose. Unemployment is at all-time high. Inflation has hit the rooftops. Acute poverty is endemic. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its report on 2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria, had estimated that 40 per cent of the total population, or about 83 million people, lived below the poverty line.
Besides, nepotism and ‘Pantamigate’ have undoubtedly exposed the duplicitous nature of this government. Despite his inglorious past support for terrorists, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, got the backing of the Presidency. He is still there in his ministry pontificating and issuing directives. Is this not a clear indication of the character of the President Muhammadu Buhari government?
The poor leadership at the centre has infected states and local governments. Governance has collapsed and tension has continued to rise. In the North-East and some parts of North-Central, Boko Haram terrorists and Miyeti Allah are the de facto government. In the North-West, bandits rule. In the South-East and some parts of the South-South, unknown gunmen hold sway. In some parts of the South-West, hoodlums and sundry criminals are in charge.
I laughed when I saw the hurriedly assembled Ebube Agu security outfit in Ebonyi State. Their uniform reminded me of the ‘Kotuma’ (local police) of the ‘Icheoku’ skit on Nigerian Television Authority, Enugu, in those days.
The formation of Ebube Agu in the South-East and Amotekun in the South-West clearly shows the failure of Nigeria’s central policing system to protect life and property. I have lost count of the daily abductions and killings of innocent Nigerians by bandits and terrorists. Children and students are not spared this orgy of killings. The situation is such that Boko Haram insurgents have reportedly taken over 50 communities in Niger State.
Little wonder some major international companies have either ignored Nigeria in major decisions or pulled out completely. For instance, the online retail company, Amazon, and a social media giant, Twitter, were recently reported to have concluded plans to locate their African headquarters in South Africa and Ghana, respectively. They did not reckon with Nigeria, the self-styled giant of Africa. Recently, the South African retailer, Shoprite, announced its exit from Nigeria.
Outraged by this turn of events, many concerned Nigerians called on President Buhari to wake up and do the needful. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State lambasted him the other day, accusing him of nursing a Fulani agenda. The spiritual director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, who had been an ardent supporter of the President, urged him to resign or be impeached.
The positions of these patriots roused the Presidency to action. In an attempt to defend the indefensible, they deployed some fallacies. The other day, Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari was disappointed in Ortom. And that Mbaka was angry because his request for contracts was not granted.
Even if Mbaka asked for contracts, so what! He is a Nigerian and has the right to ask for such. The Federal Government should learn to focus on the message and not the messenger. The issue at stake is not Mbaka. It is not about contracts. It is about the unprecedented spate of insecurity in Nigeria, the killings and abductions, the hunger and deprivations in the land. Nigerians expect the President to personally address them on these issues. They expect him to reassure them that never again will their children be kidnapped and killed, never again will our education institutions be violated. They want assurances that our ministries will no longer harbour corrupt politicians, that nepotism will no longer be the cardinal principle of governance. And this government will no more allow the country to wobble and fumble without direction. Time is running out for Nigeria.
Re: The graveyard called Nigeria
Those at the helm are only interested in getting into office at all costs, and to ensure their stranglehold on the country, irrespective of the crying voices of the helpless majority. And because these strongmen are there by their might and not usually elected by the people, they cannot be impeached or asked to quit by any means even as they have run out of ideas and the country is at a tipping point. The allure of power is very strong. The fraudulent constitution does not encourage devolution of power or restructuring as being campaigned by the majority. While the precious lives of innocent Nigerians are being wasted on a daily basis, the power-brokers engage in vain rhetoric that has now assumed the level of a recurring decimal. Take notice that these impunity and sponsored insurrection are clear invitation to the dismemberment of Nigeria.
– Edet Essien, Esq., Cal. South, +2348037952470
Dear Casy, fearless man with a lion’s heart. When you write, people will read and reply. Nigeria is not only a graveyard but also a battlefield and abattoir state. Churches everywhere, killings and corruption everywhere! Is Nigeria a cursed state? No, we cause our problems. Who will save Nigerians from our low mentality and devil incarnate leaders?
– Matthew Nwabufo Akabogu, Nnewi, 08035306552
Dear Casmir, the late Gen. Sani Abacha is quoted as having once said that if insurgency lasts more than 48 hours, government’s hand is in it. The Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, recently lamented that nobody living in the forest is innocent. Although the governor’s remark may seem sweeping as you observed, at least human beings who make the forest their abode are at best suspects. The government should as a matter of urgency do more than talking tough and beefing up security at index spot of banditry. Restructuring of the country is what is required to salvage this nation.
– Idong Inyang, Uyo, +2348084318845
Where was Pantami in 1985 during Maitatsine uprising? His neighborhood, Pantami, in Gombe State, where he derives his surname, was the hub of Maitatsine sect in 1985. He might have been one of the disciples of Maitatsine, like Mohammad Yusuf and later Abubakar Shekau.
– Hon. Mmadumbu, 08064673113
Casmir, we have reached the stage in Nigeria that the only saving grace is God. A situation where soldiers and all security agencies are at the mercy of Boko Haram, bandits or gunmen can never be better than the lives in the graveyard. The government of Buhari should accept the hard truth that he has failed and resign. The blood of the innocent people that are wasted daily has reached an alarming stage that revolution may be imminent. People will rise to defend themselves, since government cannot be relied upon.
– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Good day, Mr. Casmir. There are too many people living in Nigeria who are not citizens of Nigeria. They don’t have the interest of the country at heart. So, Nigeria cannot work, will not work and can never work! Nigeria is just a local government, not a country.
– Emma, Wuse 2, Abuja, +2348035585109
Dear Casy, Nigeria today is regarded as a graveyard because, when these murderous activities began, government began playing the ostrich, treating the matter with kid gloves and rhetoric because the villains were seen as their kith and kin. No noticeable arrests or prosecution! Over time, crime and criminality snowballed and assumed the dimension of a Frankenstein monster such that, today, our forests, now lairs for marauders, have inexplicably become inaccessible even with all the military arsenal in our kitty! Today, criminal degeneracy has turned statutory protectors into circumstantial protectees, leaving us the supposed protectees vulnerable. What an irony! I weep for Nigeria!
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630371
I refer to your article “The graveyard called Nigeria” and to tell the Presidency, which said that “20 people were kidnapped in November 1966 in the Mid-West…” that it has failed woefully in its responsibility of providing security to life and property. We can’t accept kidnapping as custom and tradition in Nigeria.
– Chinedu Ekwuno, JP, 08063730644
Dear Casy, Gowon started the graveyard called Nigeria in 1966 to 1970 when Fulani used him to kill Gen. Ironsi and three million people. Today, Buhari has started where Gowon stopped. Buhari, Miyetti Allah are engaged in jihad and genocide across the nation with their terror gangs known as Fulani herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram. The Nigerian security forces are arresting unarmed Igbo youth in their towns and villages and killing them secretly. What are the African Union, United Nations and the world waiting for? Some years ago, Milosevic of Yugoslavia used his Serb ethnic group to kill Albanians and the others until the NATO stopped him. Fulani have ruined Nigeria.
– Eze Chima C., Lagos, +2347036225495
Dear Casmir, I can see you ran short of topics. I expected you to feature ‘Pantamigate’ as this week’s fare. Don’t worry, restructuring will soon see us through. Nigeria won’t divide.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215