Nigeria is not only at crossroads but also in a shambles. It was in a bid to arrest the gradual descent to Rwanda that former president Goodluck Jonathan called the 2014 national conference in the twilight of his administration. Jonathan himself was a latter-day convert to the idea of convoking the conference. That, perhaps, resulted in its late, rather too late, convening because Jonathan’s government soon ran out and he was unable to implement its recommendations.
Jonathan’s problem was his undue cocksureness that he would trounce the former army general from Daura, Katsina State, but a volcano erupted and its lava swept his feet out of Aso Rock Villa, rather unceremoniously, leaving the conference recommendations at the mercy of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Sadly, the dour general has not hidden his disdain for the document. Even his Secretary to Government of the Federation, Lawal… had only recently derided the report as a product of ‘boys’. Boys? An assemblage of leading light of Nigeria from all sectios of the country, including his traditional ruler, the Lamido of Adamawa, boys? Well, that shows how much hope the report has under the watch of Buhari.
Never before since the end of the Civil War has Nigeria been skidding downhill, as virtually all sections of the country are up in arms. Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are on rampage in the North and occasionally making incursions to the South; Indigenous People of Biafra/ Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, IPOB/MASSOB, are campaigning for self-determination in the East alongside volatile agitations by Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, and other militant groups in the Niger Delta region. It is only the nebulous subdued stance of the Odua Peoples Congress, OPC, in the West that holds a flicker of hope for a peaceful Nigeria.
President Buhari’s dismissal of the Biafran agitators, as boys who were not yet born when Nigeria fought a civil war and so do not understand the import of warfare is too simplistic and amusing. The president forgets that the boys have read history of the mass murder of the Igbo and are fighting to avert being guillotined like their forebears. They are fighting to avoid going through the same suffering as their fathers, especially considering glaring threat to their existence. Likewise, government’s threat to crush the Niger Delta militants is laughable because it seems the cost of such misadventure has not been factored into the bargain, as even the little disruption of economic activities so far has brought Nigeria to its knees. Moreover, can the country fight wars on two fronts simultaneously, with Boko Haram/ISIS up North and Niger Delta militants/Biafra down South? History has yet to record any such successful warfare. There remains a cheaper and wiser option out of this national dilemma but the president is goaded to play the ostrich.
The Buhari-led administration cannot achieve much for this country by his present stern and austere mien. His rigid and macho stance does not portend good for the land. He should learn from history and rein in the madness and anger in the land like the father he is before it consumes us all. He should assuage aggrieved souls, who are hurt by real and perceived inequities instead of further fueling the agitations across the land through his actions and inactions. His passive response to the menace of herdsmen is worrisome. Though he is holding NnamdiKanu, the new rallying point of the Biafra insurrection, like a prized trophy of conquest against court orders, his impervious and nonchalant attitude to the clamour in the south east can never tame the tide of dissent. That Kanu is ready to die for the struggle anyway is indication that there is fire on the mountain.
All this futile boastful talk about crushing the ever multiplying armies of Niger Delta militants can lead nowhere but brinksmanship. And if he believes the hogwash coming from farcical Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, and their wild pointers to sponsors of NDA, he would just believe anything. Since MEND in its failed campaign to cripple Nigeria, it is clutching on the straw of funny allegations to win reprieve for its incarcerated blood suckers so, nobody should take them serious if we don’t want to be misled to exacerbate the war in the Niger Delta region.
There is just no way out of Nigeria’s quagmire except restructuring. Restructuring is neither dismembering nor balkanising Nigeria. Restructuring will lead to new political and economic realities. Restructuring will make Nigerians feel wanted wherever they choose to live. Restructuring will make indolent state governors resourceful and creative instead of having to run to Abuja every month-end for diminishing handouts and bailouts. Restructuring will discourage people arriving the federal capital via night bus with nylon bags, only to return in chartered flights the morning after, hemmed in by boxes of padded wealth, simply because they morphed into overnight political hobos while the youths who toiled hard to study for degrees or acquire skills are pushed into crime because politics has become the golden egg, as machines of the real factories have stopped churning.
Nigeria requires an all-encompassing restructuring. People erroneously clamour for fiscal federation, as if that is the only diseased part of the country. Granted, the error of lopsided revenue sharing in favour of the centre must be corrected. Equally bad is the overly powerful president, who wields power of the centre to emasculate the states and other arms of government. The structural inequities, resulting from distortion of the regional arrangement that ended up mutilating the population of the east, thus making a hitherto major tribe a minority should be addressed. Removing state of origin from official documents, especially during census enumeration is detrimental to the Igbo, as the reason of integration adduced for that exists only in the realm of imagination. The policy is detrimental to the itinerant Igbo, who reside mostly offshore thus swelling the population of other tribes and yet suffer all manner of indignities despite huge contributions to development of their host communities; because of the sham integration that policy promises to enthrone.
The delay in restructuring the country is only at the risk of forcing it and destroying our multi-troubled behemoth contrivance altogether. Saying Nigeria’s continued existence as one country is not negotiable is unrealistic and lacks basic common sense. It is unfortunate that some accidental eminent people in the North could describe views of esteemed Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, on this posturing as ‘nonsensical and idiotic’. In fact, it is this pigheadedness of the northern oligarchs that will destroy Nigeria more than anything else; they deserve nothing but pity because they refuse to accept that the bus has since left the terminus.