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Published On: Tue, May 6th, 2014

Nigeria’s giant will and the threat of ethnic affiliation

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Boko-Haram1By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

Before Boko Haram insurgency took the centre stage in 2009, Nigeria had experienced many violent activities aimed mainly to gain access to the highest political power in the country.

In fact, it is increasingly becoming a common notion among tribes that only determined and violent agitation can open the gate of powers in the country’s political system.

For example the same pattern of violence and agitation has been observed in the activities trailing some past dispensations the only difference has been in the nomenclature of leadership.

The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Abdulwaheed Omar, alluded to this fact when he blamed the insurgency in the country on the style of politics by politicians.

Abdulwaheed Omar, who spoke during this year’s Workers Day in Abuja, blamed politicians for adopting violence as the means for survival in Nigerian political environment.

Moreover, experiences from the first republic till date have so blacklisted the concept of Nigeria in the psycho-social consciousness of her citizens that in the mind of most people, Nigeria should not last so long again.

Many have questioned why the connecting cord of the south and the north has become so difficult to cut, even though it is clear that the potentials of the country as one united entity remain glaringly promising.

The highest divisive threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence; which remains the civil war, was practically unavoidable due to acrimonious struggle for power and the resources that follow it.

Before the civil war in 1967, it was very clear that the north and the south could no longer agree on a peaceful formula of shearing the central power, which brought about political tension and violence across the country at various points at that era.

To this end, the first military coup was recorded in the history of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the same factors that made the first republic to fail also frustrated the efforts of the military to correct the political blunder then, resulting in the series of military counter coups that followed the collapse of first republic.

When the then southern Nigeria discovered that it was difficult for it to control the central government, the political elites from the region, led by Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, announced breakaway of the region to form Republic of Biafra, even though the south west later backed out from the agenda.

Presently in this republic, like the violence during the pre and post military episodes, political analysts have strived to trace the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as the running mate of late President Umar Musa Ya’Adua and subsequently the President, to the struggle for self determination and resource control by the Niger Delta region.

According to political observers, the decision of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) then to zone the office of the Vice President to the South South, was due to the destructive attacks on the economic nerve of the country by Niger Delta militants.

As at 2007, numerous militia groups with various names like Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta People (MEND), Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), among others, dominated the scene of violence.

Even though their nomenclature, modus operandi and magnitude of violent activities may differ with today’s militia referred to as Boko Haram, all the activities of either groups still boil down to same clandestine agenda, which is to gain access to power by all means.

Even though most political elites from the north, especially the Governors, will wish away linkages of Boko Haram to power struggle, the truth remains that the same was also the pranks of Governors of the South South Nigeria, then when confronted on any linkage of Niger Delta militancy to power game.

Unfortunately, since the Boko Haram insurgency dominated the political scene of Nigeria in 2009, snuffing life out of innocent civilians abruptly is gradually becoming a normal adventure.

More worrisome is that this monster has suspiciously defied the intelligence of both the military and other intelligence agencies in Nigeria put together.

This suspicion tells why Nigerians believe that the military personnel from the north are accomplices to the continued threat of Boko Haram to Nigeria’s oneness.

The Arewa Consultative Forum has just made this accusation, even though they are merely reiterating what many keen observers of this violent politics to power had emphasised at various forum.

To buttress the apparent linkage of Boko Haram to political struggle, rather than the country’s political leaders coming together to resolve this continued slaughtering of Nigerians, they merely trade blames.

As children are painfully rendered orphans and parents rendered childless, widows and widowers daily by Boko Haram’s ruthlessness, some political elites from the northern Nigeria are busy accusing President Jonathan of masterminding the insurgency to dissipate the north ahead of 2015 elections.

On the other hand, President Jonathan and his men from the southern Nigeria have accused the northern political elites of inventing Boko Haram to sabotage his administration.

In fact, some political figures in the north have been accused of having vowed to make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan when he was returned elected after 2011 polls.

Currently, no one can guarantee what becomes the fate of Nigeria by 2015 especially given that the north and south protectorates appear now more disposed to dismembering of the country due to imaginary fear of marginalisation.

The only saving grace today sustaining Nigeria is the obvious lack of political will among the few politicians who are currently in power, to get this done. Maybe because they are yet to get disenchanted about the project Nigeria like commoners.

Either way, one fact remains sacrosanct, which is that if anything happens to our beloved home; Nigeria, it is blamable on poor capacity of the northern and southern political elders to evolve a power shearing format that can genuinely accommodate the northern and southern political aspirations simultaneously.

Presently, the challenge before the political class is how to device a political solution that would be acceptable to both the north and the south in the struggle to center, but by omission or commission, those concerned have been chasing shadow while the very fabric that holds the country is threatened by violence.

Apparently, this is the only concern that if well addressed, the future of Nigeria; politically and economically, could be reassured, despite the present challenges.

Analysts have severally blamed the nation’s political leaders (past and present) of mismanaging her political endowments through irrelevant emphasis on insignificance as tribe and religion.

Unfortunately, the above insignificances are the language which Nigerians speak today in virtually all aspect of their socio-economic and political relationship; even though it is increasingly becoming clear that the practice is no longer sustainable.

Political campaigns are anchored on ethnicity and religion, votes are cast on the consideration of religion and ethnicity, political appointments are made for ethnic and religious gratification.

There is no doubt about the fact that modern day governance and politics, as obtains in advanced democracies, dwell more on better life for citizens rather than where comes the President.

At the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates by Lord Lugard in 1914, Nigeria was designed to be the most powerful nation on the continent of Africa if she is able to pull through her ethnic and religious divergence.

On the contrary, an ironic intuition deducible from the whole scenario was the fact that the young country then was fundamentally cast a spell to become the worst of all nations if she falters before these becomes fully visible.

Unfortunately, due to the inability of the foremost political leaders to understand and address this we now have a resultant effect in the woe called Nigeria as it is in present time.

To the extent that even the political elite and the most educated of Nigeria have all fallen victim of this tribalism and religious bigotry.

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