Nigeria @ 54: Failed or failing?

nigeria-at-54By Ochiaka Ugwu

Nigeria is consistently described as a ‘failing state’ with full indices of a failed state showing glaringly in its environment. Most commentators on national issues have painted a gloomy picture of Nigeria suggesting that the state is tending towards failure. Poverty is on increase, corruption has become a way of life with patriotism crouching on the floor.

While speaking in Enugu recently, Former Secretary General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN, raised an alarm over the poor state of affairs in the country, saying “Nigeria is fast turning into a failed state.”

Nwabueze, who spoke at the 14th annual convention of the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, said the country was already displaying all the attributes of a failed state.

In his words, “This country is on the verge of becoming a failed state, there are so many failed states in Africa and Nigeria is on the verge of getting that status of a failed state.

“Before now, we didn’t know about kidnapping, but it has become a way of life. Did we know about bombings before? But today, churches, schools, offices are being bombed on daily basis, the worst is that the bombers are not coming from outside the country, we are bombing ourselves.

The constitutional lawyer also noted that nation that cannot provide a credible election for her people is a failed state; in 2003, 2011 we had no credible elections, yet we are talking about democracy.

He maintained that a country that cannot secure social and economic rights for her people is a failed state. “Read chapter 2 of Nigeria’s constitution and you will understand what I am talking about, they are not leaders but looters”.

Similarly, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State also expressed fear that the nation is teetering on the brink. Aregbesola made the assertion in Osogbo at a dinner the government organised in honour of the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Femi Adesina, and other executive members of the association.

He stated that unless the Federal Government urgently takes some concrete steps, the nation might collapse. He hinged the problems on the protracted unrest in virtually all the regions of the country maintaining that anyone with the interest of the country at heart will certainly know that Nigeria is at present closer to failure than success as a nation.

He explained that the indiscriminate killings in the North East region by Boko Haram sect is due to the great neglect suffered by the area which resulted in social dislocation.

For many, the country is a nullity and we are just postponing the evil day.

The Boko Haram terror group is having a field day in some parts of the North East region with its leaders becoming the lord of the minor.

In most ways the afflicted region epitomises the collapse of authority: extremists control roads and markets; the government is powerless inside these areas held tenaciously by these insurgents.

When the ‘World Bank’ issued its annual list of countries by income category: rich, middle, poor, several African countries are faring rather better.

They have graduated from poor to middle-income status. Yet strikingly, some 15 of the 56 countries on the bank’s lower-middle income list (i.e., over a quarter) also appear on the list of fragile and failed states maintained by the OECD, a rich-country club.

They range from Côte d’Ivoire to Yemen; the most important of them are Pakistan and Nigeria.

Given the circumstances on ground, some people are now predicting all kinds of catastrophe and brimstones and fire on Nigeria.

I have read so many write-ups branding Nigeria as a “Failed State”, it is getting rather irritating. But they forget that Nigeria has never been referred to as a failed state even during the worst times in our history, that is during the Civil War, all of a sudden, when our nascent democracy is trying to stabilize, it is now being referred to as a failed state.

Is there any sense in this label? Has there ever been a failed state in this world, and if so, what will be the criteria for labelling a country as a failed state? So why is Nigeria an example of a failed state? Is it because the people of Nigeria are not happy with their governments; is it because corruption has become a way of life that makes the largest black nation in the world a failed state?

Failed State has been defined as a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory. With this definition and declaration, the use of this term for a country is generally controversial, and when made authoritatively, may carry significant geopolitical consequences.

As such, based on this definition alone, and contrary to the “authoritative” Failed States Index, I cannot see how one can support the labelling of Nigeria as a failed state.

However, based on the criteria for identifying failed states, I will admit that Nigeria seem on the surface to meet some of them, but not all of them, but does not mean that Nigeria, as a state, or a nation, has failed.

I read a book on how a Northerner from Sokoto, Alhaji Umaru Altine was elected in a popular election as a Mayor Enugu defeating two other Igbos that contested with him in the 60s. Ajibade was also elected mayor of Port-Harcourt while Chief Mbonu Ojike became the Deputy Mayor of Lagos.

This period could be classified as the Nigerian golden days when politics of issues dominate that of sentiment.

So what suddenly happened that Nigeria found itself divide along ethnic lines? What went wrong and where did the ship wreck? Things perhaps are not getting better for us despite our democratic dispensation.

And I suppose it is all these indicators that foreign countries and our own people are using to say that Nigeria will collapse in 2015. If you believe that, then you had better be concerned, because before you know it, 2015 is here and you will not have a country anymore.

And even if we do part ways, but God forbid, what will become of the consequence of the collapsed Nigeria? I presume the Igbos will now be able to have their Biafra, including the Efiks and the Ibibios and probably the Ogonis and Okrikas with fear of Igbo domination being high in their consciousness; the Yorubas will have their Oduduwa country and continue their age-long group wars; and the North will disintegrate into little Sheikdoms and Emirates.

And you ask, what will become of the old Mid-West and the people of the Middle Belt which is ready to toe any part order than the one toed by the north? Please think about it and decide if these are feasible propositions or alternatives to a failed or collapsed Nigeria.

In the face of all these adversities facing the nation at its 54th year of nationhood, all we need do is to be patriotic and hope for the better. Patriotism is like love.

When you love your country, you love it and accept all its faults, good and bad.

You can then start to work on turning its bad into good, that is, if you yourself are also good.

It goes the same way with patriotism. This is our country.

We did not choose to be Nigerians; God in His Infinite wisdom chose that for us. And it was for a purpose that he did that. He could very well have made us Americans or even monkeys if he wanted us to be.

But no, he has a purpose of creating us and locating us in this part of the world.

You may travel abroad and spend donkey years wherever, but you cannot change the fact that you are a Nigerian, no matter how you disguise it. Even go to our neighbours in Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, etc, and it is not better. Worse still, the people of those countries never regard you as a true citizen of their countries no matter how you change your accent or your way of life. Even our children born in those countries still have Nigerian names and their black skin and are never fully integrated into that society.

Nigeria must remain one because God almighty has made it so and we as mere mortal have no alternative than to build on what destiny has bequeathed for us. Above all, we have a lot of things to gain being together. Nigeria is not a failed state and will never fail. Happy independence


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