In governance style and body language, President Muhammadu Buhari appears to be the Roman Emperor Nero of Nigeria. They are two of a kind. The same six and half a dozen. The same Hamlet and the Prince of Denmark. The same beans, akara and moin-moin. He fiddles while Nigeria burns. To fiddle is to spend time in aimless or fruitless actions.
It is quite clear now that Nigeria is not working. The fault lines are widening and deepening on a daily basis. Into gullies, canyons. Our federalism has been unitarised. The Federal Government is the king. The states are vassals. Can someone (Yinka Odumlakin and Innocent Chukwuma who just transited) help us here, by waking up Lord Lugard from his grave, shaking him up vigorously, and asking him one all-important question: why did he on January 1, 1914, forcefully rail-road and weld together, unwilling, disparate and virtually mutually exclusive peoples and ethnic nationalities who were already set in their ways, and used to their sovereignty and independence in their various geographical and ethnic domains? Why did Lugard force them into one unworking and unworkable contraption called Nigeria?
Yinka and Innocent, go about out in the spirit world, capture Lugard and help us torment this man who had married Miss Flora Louisa Shaw (the young British journalist who gave Nigeria its name after the Niger River, “Niger Area”, in an article she wrote in the Times of London on January 8, 1897. For the record, Nigeria was formerly called the “Royal Niger Company Territories”. Miss Shaw (later Mrs. Lugard) felt this name was too long to be used as a name for Real Estate Property. After all, Nigeria had been sold to the British for £865,000 only in 1899, as a mere commodity. Flora coined the name “Nigeria” in preference to others such as “Central Sudan”. To her, Nigeria was an “agglomeration of pagan and mohammedan states”. Hold Lugard by the neck till he provides reasonable and cogent answers.
There is today in Nigeria anger, anguish, blood, sorrow, pains and pangs everywhere. Even those who had initially ethnicised, parochialised, nepotised, linguisticalized, religionised and tribalised Nigerians’ cry for redemption have now backslided and retraced their ignoble steps. The ruling party hawks, the Buhari supremacists, the pretenders, fawners, bootleggers, bootlickers, moneybags, sycophants, government contractors, power and influence purveyors and historical revisionists are now suddenly silent, gaping and wallowing in misery. They are undecided about how and where to hide their primitive acquisitions, loot and our stolen common patrimony. Because the chicken has finally come home to roost. The rich also now cry. Even long-time pioneer ardent critics (like me) of this clueless, rudderless, compassless and anti-people government have been given a break.
My constant highlighting of this government’s shortcomings and serial acts of nepotism, favouritism, prebendalism, cronyism, religiosity, corruption and tribalism are now being vindicated on a daily basis. Nigeria has become a huge joke; a country of one scandal per day. Nigeria, we hail thee!
Our President is missing in action
Nigeria has become a country where the government defends Service Chiefs, ministers and aids who are accused of corruption and sympathy for deadly terrorists. Yet, there is supposed to be a President, an Executive President for that matter. He is President Muhammadu Buhari. But Buhari is glaringly missing in action, cocooned away in Aso Villa from his electors and the Nigerian people. He is like a struggling pupa and larva, refusing to metamorphose into a caterpillar, and then into adulthood. Buhari’s capacity for governance has been tested over a period of six years. But Buhari has woefully and roundly failed Nigeria and Nigerians. As he once did between December 31, 1983, and August 27, 1985, before General Badamasi Babangida overthrew his despotic government. Boko haram insurgents have since taken over large swaths of lands in Niger, Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Borno, Zamfara, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Katsina, Sokoto, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Jigawa and Adamawa states. Boko Haram operates comfortably and confidently, planting their blood-stained flags of sovereignty and suzerainty on the very soil of some of these states and their local government areas. In a supposedly sovereign and independent nation! Having overrun the entire northern hemisphere, the Boko Haram insurgents have since turned the South East and South West zones into their new theatres and odeons of deadly operations.
The insurgents and merchants of disintegration spread and spill blood, carnage, rape, fear, death, melancholy, poverty and conquest. Nigeria is today a sprawling field of fresh and caked blood. Blood of Nigerians congealed by afternoon baking sun. The terrorists even now collect taxes, rates and give identity cards and passes to indigenes to enable them enter and exit their own homes and farms. Because they are in absolute control. They represent the absolutist sheriffs in town.
Governors who desire to reach Mr. President to complain and ask for succour and respite are degradingly stone-walled, totally ignored, despised and ignominiously left to lick their oozing wounds. They are forced to preside over solemn dirges and burial ceremonies of their hopeless and hapless citizens. Chaos and anarchy now reign supreme. Nigeria is fast disintegrating. She now possesses all the ingredients and signs of a FAILED STATE. There is now balance of power and instruments of violence between a legitimate government and marauders. That is one big sign of a failed state. There is absolutely no leadership; no governance at all. No one appears to be in charge at all. By the way, where is the famed cabal? Gone with the wind?
We are fast drifting to the precipice. Inexorably. Asphyxiatingly. Bleedingly. There may be no country called Nigeria in the foreseeable future, if someone does not wake President Buhari from his deep slumber and self-denial. The man is recluse, ascetic, reticent, dodgy, taciturn and cocooned in his false world of illusion and delusion. He is impervious to Nigerians’ moans, complaints and groans. Nigerians who are gnashing their teeth are accused of being “Wailing Wailers”. Though most unfair, Buhari relishes this tag. But hiding behind a finger as he is currently doing in the wishful thinking that he will one day wake up and suddenly discover that the insecurity challenges have vanished into thin air, is not possible at all. It is a tall dream. He needs to urgently wake up to his call of duty, walk the talk of his ELECTION CAMPAIGN PROMISES and think outside the box. AN IMMEDIATE DECLARATION OF A NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY ON INSECURITY MUST BE ACTIVATED NOW. Otherwise, Nigeria may be consigned to the vehicle of historical oblivion, or the dustbin of history. The clock is ticking very fast. There was a country!!! (Thank you, sir, Chinua Achebe).
Remembering Buhari as Emperor Nero
Does President Buhari want to be remembered as the infamous Emperor Nero of Nigeria? Do not permit this tag, sir. PMB, Let me refresh your memory, sir, because I know none of your handlers or advisers will dare tell you the truth. They only genuflect, kneel, bow, prostrate and roll before you on their obsequious tummies. They fondly call you “Baba”. They idolize and deify your age and position, instead of competence. Let me tell you about Nero, sir. Nero was the fifth Emperor of Rome. He was proclaimed Emperor Nero (AD 54) at the age of 16. Nero was very ambitious.
Nero, sir, is a metaphor employed to deprecate the unconscionable acts of a person who engages in trivial or irresponsible pastimes in an otherwise state of emergency. The story has it that Nero was infamous for his impulsiveness, tyranny and persecution of Christians. He even murdered his own power-hungry mother.
There was said to be a great raging fire, which started in the merchant shops around Rome’s Chariot’s Stadium (“Cirus Maximus”), in July 64 AD. The fire burned for a total of nine days in this city of two million people, destroying two-thirds of Rome, 10 out of Rome’s 14 districts. The 800-year-old Temple of Jupiter Stator and the Atrium Vestae (the heart of the Vestal Virgins) were completely destroyed.
Emperor Nero, who was said to be idling away in his villa in the cooler city of Antium (35 miles away), merrily playing the fiddle, was said to have blamed the fire devastation on the Jewish Christian religious community. He, therefore, initiated the Roman Empire’s first persecution of Christians. Citizens were prevented from fighting the fire, with threats of torture and death. He mercilessly and savagely crucified many of them. Some pundits even suggested that Nero had deliberately ordered the fire so as to bypass the Senate, clear space for a new sprawling palace, and rebuild Rome to his taste. There seems to be logic in this thinking, because Nero built the Domus Aurea, series of majestic villas and pavilions set upon a landscaped park and a man-made lake, in the very wake of the blazing inferno. The palaces were known as Neropolis.
Sir, do not let yourself be remembered like Nero. Please, sir, avoid it. Nero is bad history. Pull yourself out of ignoble history. Try to use your remaining two years. Time is not on your side, sir. Nor is age. Nor is strength. Nor is capacity. Nor is vision.
Whatever be the case, for now, I cannot honestly differentiate between Emperor Nero and Major General Buhari; or between Nigeria and the Rome of AD 54. Or, can you?
Thought for the week
We’ve seen over time that countries that have the best economic growth are those that have good governance, and good governance comes from freedom of communication. It comes from ending corruption. It comes from a populace that can go online and say, ‘This politician is corrupt, this administrator, or this public official is corrupt.’
A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. (Gerald R. Ford)