The economic downturn which Nigeria faces at moment says a lot about the breed called Nigerians. The people remind me of the character called Mammon in John Milton’s epic, “Paradise Lost”. Following the fall of the archangels in the mythical paradise, Mammon quickly adjusted to the ugly situation to suit his fancies and idiosyncratic pursuits. He was packaged as being “more interested in heaven’s pavements” than in anything else. For this reason, he adopted hard liberty as a way of life. He was an epitome of wealth; always searching the ground for valuables. His pursuit of wealth was relentless.
In the Bible, Mammon signifies riches. It is often used to describe the debasing influence of material wealth. Jesus used the term in his famous Sermon on the Mount.
Like Mammon, Nigerians do not reject or protest against bad situations. They adjust or adapt to them. For the people, no situation is too hard to be borne. Indeed, Nigerians are masters of hard liberty. It is this disposition that is leading them on. In today’s Nigeria, hardship has become a defining characteristic of the environment. This is occasioned by the mismanagement of the country’s economy by those elected by the people to serve them. Nigerians have expressed outrage. They have complained to no end. But that is as far as it goes. The people do not go beyond these. That is why ugly situations endure and fester in Nigeria.
To appreciate our present predicament, Nigerians must remind themselves of the howl and frenzy that brought about the Buhari order. At that time, uncritical voices seized the stage. It was a one- way traffic. It was either Muhammadu Buhari or nothing. The howlers had their way. But today, a significant majority of those who stood by him then are looking morose. They are sleep-walking in a long night of drudgery. They are being haunted by a bad dream whose end is hardly in sight.
In the face of the disorder that has been inflicted on the country, it has become obvious that what the people are facing today was borne out of naivety. Nigerians, a people without abiding standards, had gone into a frenzy over the Buhari candidacy when he stood for election in 2015. They made fallacious allusions to his first coming as military head of state. Nigerians had nothing tangible to point to as Buhari’s shining example then. Yet, they fell over themselves in their uncritical lionization of a man they hardly knew.
But it is on record that some of us were not taken in by the Buhari mania of that period. We were not persuaded by the theatrics of the amorphous crowds who were bent on seizing the day. We saw beyond the surface, plastic reality. We presented a counter narrative. Our arguments were unassailable. Our objective was to dissuade Nigerians from behaving like plebeians. We wanted them to put on their thinking cap so as to be able to make informed choices. Our efforts were clearly impactful. But we were eventually deflated by the Jonathan disposition. The then president had a cavalier attitude to matters of power. He did not want to remain in office at all cost. Of course nobody wanted him to cling tenaciously to power. But the problem was that President Jonathan was too permissive for his own good. He allowed fifth columnists to infiltrate his government. Somehow, Jonathan installed Buhari by default.
We would not have bothered about this flashback if things had been what the Buhari maniacs thought they would be. But the cold, hard fact is that even those who ate and drank Buhari during the campaigns for the 2015 presidential elections have eaten their words. They cannot believe what is happening to them. The South West bloc of the country is a living example. This zone was rewarded with the vice presidency as well as the speakership of the House of Representatives. The South East and South South blocs were told in clear terms to forget the Buhari presidency since they did not vote for him. And so, the south west became the ultimate beneficiary of whatever that was reserved for the south. But the party did not last. What was thought to be an instrument of empowerment has become a cold, impotent ash. The south west is no longer enamoured of the supposed juices that it was fed with. Like the south east and south south, it has found good and sufficient reason to reject and denounce the crippling order.
No doubt, Buhari has come to be associated with a myriad of problems besetting the country. But a major drawback of the Buhari presidency is its obsession with an outdated and outmoded order. The president still sees Nigeria with glassy eyes. That is why he still entertains himself with jejune expressions that border on indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria. He does not know that it is no longer fashionable to see Nigeria in that light. This outdated disposition of the president has contributed majorly to the unrest and instability in the land. His presidency threw up a killer group- Fulani herdsmen- who, under his presidency has been rated by the Global Terrorism Index as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world after ISIS, Somali Al Shabbab and Boko Haram. Thus, under Buhari, territories which Boko Haram could not dare to operate on have brazenly and arrogantly been marched on by Fulani herdsmen. The Boko Haram brand of blood and sorrow have become a child’s play in the hands of
gun-totting Fulani marauders. As I write this, reports have it that terrorists have seized the Minna- Kontangora highway in Niger State. Many travelers have been reportedly killed. As I write this, some masked armed men who are supposed to be conventional security operatives are operating freely and openly in Owerri. The people do not know the security agency that has unleashed masked operatives into the streets of Owerri. These are strange developments. We are truly living in strange times.
The distorted order we have on our hands has unleashed an army of angry agitators on the land. Since the end of the Civil War in 1970, Nigeria has never been held hostage by a battery of separatist agitators whose major point of departure with the Nigerian state is the debasement and violation of everything that the people once held up as sacred.
In situations like this, it will be expected that voices of reason will drown those of howlers. But that is not the case. Those who have misgoverned the country are being goaded on by a band of nation-wreckers who are under the false impression that the discredited disorder will become the new and acceptable order.
The ultimate mistake in this quixotic pursuit is that those who are promoting the subjugation of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities by armed bandits are believing that they will have their way. In the pursuit of this wicked scheme, they have not stopped to consider the possible consequences that may come with the unjust order they are promoting. That is what blind ambition does to people. It has the capacity to wreck nations to the ultimate consternation of its promoters.