As a Nigerian, how will you describe the state of the nation? If you have to sum up this period in Nigerian history, what would you call it? Maybe the ‘Age of Anarchy’ or ‘Age of the Absurd.’
We are living in a time when faith in our federation is rapidly fading, a time when our government is posturing chaos through weakness, a time when all the arms and tiers of our government stand indicted as incompetent, a time when our Lord Justices are not better than third rated politicians.
We are in a time when our military pose as helpless victims of war, a time when the police pose as helpless victims of violence, a time when security agents are reminded to use their weapons to defend and protect themselves, a period of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and unknown gunmen. I never imagined living in a time when citizens are happy seeing the country being destroyed. It’s insane that we don’t care about the lives of men and women charged with protecting us. We are living in a really bad and ugly time.
As a country, we are going through a perilous time, a period of mass rebellion from all corners of the country. We are in a time we are highly polarized and deeply divided. We may risk another civil war because we have dumb leaders who failed to unite our long divided and bitter ethnic groups. We are back to the same crisis that led to our first civil war, fought between 1966 and 1970.
We are in a time when most of the heads of our security agencies are from one region, leaving other partners isolated. We are in a time when our values are at ground zero, a period when our education is meaningless, a period when the Central Bank is indiscriminately printing naira notes like in the time of Idi Amin of Uganda, a period when our hospitals are not equipped to care for common ailments, a period when you can’t get a job even when you are willing to work, a period when wages paid to those that work cannot sustain them, a period when retirees are owed their pensions because their pension contributions have been stolen, a time when our savings in the banks are no longer safe because bankers connive with hackers to steal our life savings, a time when the government repeatedly lie to us, and liars in government take turns to lie against their own lies, a time of deliberate misinformation and disinformation.
We are in a time when the validity of our constitution is in question and the worth of our citizenship questioned, a period when the roads are unsafe and we do not feel safe at home either. A frightening time. We are back in the Hobbesian time when life is short, brutish and nasty. We are in an uncomfortable time when nothing is certain and not even the future of our federation is certain. Our friends and partners admit loudly that this is a difficult time for us. They are concerned about the direction we are headed to and we are doing nothing serious as a people to help our situation.
And you ask, how did we get to this time in our history? Just recently, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Cardona Laing admitted that Nigeria is struggling and facing a lot of problems everywhere, and that’s putting it mildly. Indeed anarchy looms in Nigeria. At a time that leadership is needed, no one seem to be in-charge. The President, whom we all look up to for direction, is himself sick and kept out of our view. He has avoided any direct communication with us. The only time we get to hear from him are through scripted media releases by aides who very often contradict themselves on national issues.
With the president spending more time convalescing, many people are asking the obvious question, ‘who is in charge of Nigeria?’ It’s natural that when one is sick, his immediate survival comes first and every other thing becomes secondary. Hence, I will not blame the President for taking care of his health first before the business of the nation. However, I blame him for taking the job, knowing fully well that his age and health will impinge his ability to diligently fulfill his duties. The highest disservice one can do to oneself is to take up a job that will be overwhelming.
The current state of the nation is such that requires a leader with his head in the right place, not a figurehead, a workhorse, not a show horse. It’s not cheering that important decisions of state are left in the hands of aides we never elected, hence they do not see themselves as being accountable and beholding to us. They do not just don’t care about us; they don’t care about the country.
The poor management of the economy by the Central Bank controlled by the bankers forum is a case in point, and to imagine that the CBN governor was rewarded with reappointment, just the same way the Service Chiefs that mismanaged the war against insurgency were all rewarded with ambassadorial positions that will see them and their families shipped abroad to safety.
The time we are in requires a president fit for purpose. Maybe, if we survive the time, we may begin to demand for Certificate of Medical Fitness from our leaders as a pre-condition for them running for office. We will not take their words for it, neither shall we believe the manipulative media. We will need to see them jog some miles and do some press-up to confirm their fitness. We will need to see the originals of their birth certificates to ascertain their age. Never again shall we allow our State House to serve as a retirement home for tired and sick oldies.
It’s time we declared a crisis situation on insecurity, on the economy and on other several fronts and thus commence serious conversations on pressing national issues if we must reclaim the soul of our nation.
In the South East where we are deceiving ourselves with the ‘Theory of Unknown Gunmen’, the rebellion and resistance we see is the direct consequence of built up frustrations occasioned by long time of injustice, marginalisation and unfair treatment of the Igbo. These are problems that ought not be because our constitution as imperfect as it is addressed the issues. The constitution guaranteed and assured equal rights and equal citizenship. The constitution recognised our diversity, hence it assured of Federal Character. Why these basic principles are observed in breach by the current government in power is confounding. But let me be clear that nothing justifies isolating the Igbo the way the country has done and no part of Nigeria should be so mistreated. Nothing justifies the deliberate subjugation of the Igbo in the Nigerian project. It’s even immoral for the government to further entrench the militarisation and occupation of the zone by security agencies manned solely by non-South Easterners.
It has become increasingly difficult to be blind, deaf and dumb to the glaring injustice meted to the Igbo by this government. It is in the best interest of Nigeria to either address the Igbo question or simply let them go since they are neither wanted nor respected as equal partners in the Nigerian project. Nigeria does not need another civil war to readdress the injustice against the Igbo. The current ‘culture of privilege’ enjoyed by a class of citizens and the ‘culture of victimisation’ endured by others is no longer acceptable. Building a fair, just and balanced society is still possible if we must save Nigeria from collapse. But if the Igbo are finally pushed out from Nigeria, I am certain they will survive better as free men than as slaves knowing the ‘can do’ spirit of the people.