WEDNESDAY COLUMN BY USSIJU MEDANER
email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
On many fronts, Nigeria has been on a ruinous path. The superbly blessed nature and potential capacity of the country have now fast become a shadowed space of grief and agony, filled with woes on countless fronts simultaneously without any substantial respite yet, despite government’s series of actions. From taking scores of decisions over the decades by politicians and opportune individuals, to harnessing the wealth and resources of the country for personal usage, to the resulting consequences of the underdevelopment of Nigeria by Nigerians; the incapacity of Nigerians of various nationalities and persuasions to live peacefully, develop as humans collectively, and access national resources legitimately for personal developments, the unavailability of basic amenities over the last sixty years, the national loss of capacity to provide employments for its citizens via dearth and forced closure of businesses and companies in droves by administrations in the past, the failure of the nation’s education system to meet the demand of the new global cravings for total child and nation development through education, the dilapidating structure of the nation’s healthcare system, social infrastructural fabrics and the enthronement of tribal and religious sentiments as the hallmark of national identification, has taken away from the country the potentials to grow and develop at a commensurate rate with it potential.
On the economic front, it is a sour story of national struggle amidst citizens’ poverty; regardless of efforts, over the past thirty years, over sixty percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line. Survival, for most Nigerians, has been an uphill task; the number as well as the veracity of the effects of poverty on the people has always been on the increase, as the need for improvisation to survive becomes a commonplace. Crime and criminality become readymade survival alternatives; the streets have become littered with youths-turned criminals and have increasingly become unsafe by the day until we get to the point we are today.
While politicians, also Nigerians, were becoming super rich at the expense of the lot of the citizens who are condemned to watching opulence nearby without access, there were warnings of what is to come when the people would no longer hold the inbuilt poverty induced anger, but we are all careless and unbothered that the bottled leopard will one day broke free. The youth came out of school and returned to the streets searching for non-existing jobs, watching as their mates’ part with as much as a million naira, to secure as low as a teaching job in their own country, to government officials. For decades corruption has been thriving in the government sector. It is not hidden that less than two percent of the population controls the bulk of the riches of the nation, stashing money, flashing the wealth with reckless abandon and systematically turning the streets against itself to protect themselves by diverting attention from their ills against the country.
They simultaneously took all the elements of unity away from the street, turned the people against each other on all feasible fronts and have been ostentatiously enjoying their public loot in “peace” until now. And now, that the nation needs some unity to confront its problems, it is unavailable and more nearly impossible to reinvent.
Beyond the economic woes arises the more troubling proliferation of insecurity in the country. Gradually and finally, we got to the point where the citizens, a set of Nigerians, choose to rise against the system that has forever neglected their welfare and careless about their survival within the national enclave. It becomes too easy to enlist Nigerians in terroristic acts against Nigeria, because the system has repeatedly disowned them. Now, we have a probable case of Nigerians destroying Nigeria and Nigerians on all fronts.
It was Boko Haram, then kidnappers and then bandits; we know in part why Nigerians could be turning against Nigeria but couldn’t understand what other factors made some of these deviants to carry arms against the country. Then we have ESN, IPOB, the unknown gunmen and several other pockets of armed uprisings against the state of Nigeria. We failed to grasp what they truly represent till today as much as in our initial and most critical responses to them, and continue to rear issues where we shouldn’t have had any. But we know they were Nigerians, who have chosen the part of hatred against the country, or rather exploiting cracks in the fabrics of the country to carve out a livelihood in terror. As much as we choose to blame and perfect chosen rhetoric of blaming whatever groups, individuals, tribes or religions for what has obviously become the woes of our nation, the realities would sink in now that we are all in a state of lethal security distress, and under attacks that are not from alien forces but our own citizens; Nigerians, who have become careless about the hurt they wreck on the nation and their fellow Nigerians for whatever reasons they have chosen the path they follow.
I have written non-stop on this abnormality in our national history. I have somehow believed in the past that at some point, we will get past these moments of insanity that disposes us to the wanton destruction we continue to cause on the country; but how wrong I have been in that innocent presumption that we will get to the point where we will choose to do the right thing for the country in the spirit of patriotism. Rather than having a respite and getting off the street and ending all animosity and terrors against the state, we have only perfected methods to intensify the attacks and multiply the woes of the citizens and government from the many devastating life destructive, economic crumbling and social life dilapidating terrors against the state.
At this point, ending the terrors looks more of an impractical task for the country, not because the capacity is lacking but because the perpetrators are the same people who profess to own the country and might even, in disguise, be involved in the processes and attempts at ending the menace. How could governors and leaders who benefit wholesomely from perpetrated insecurity in their backyards contribute sincerely to the fight against insecurity in the country? Our fight against insecurity in Nigeria must be reviewed off the book to reflect the unique realities of events and contributions as much as personalities involved in the act of insecurity in the country.
We are at the critical corner where we must set our minds at speaking the truth and facing realities of the state of our nation; failure to address issues as they are for whatever reason has forever cause us more harms in this country, and we cannot afford to continue to deceive ourselves hiding under whatever cloak of pretence and hope that things will sort themselves out for us.
Who are the perpetrators of all these insecurity against the country? Are they not Nigerians, are Boko Haram, the bandits, the kidnappers across the states and communities, the ESN, the unknown gunmen and the other non-christened, non-state actors of terror not from among us? Those that are joining to swell their ranks daily, are they not coming from among us? Are Nigerians not the ones who choose daily to join the cliques of kidnappers as means to earn a living; who see the evil menace and the panicking and agony their enterprises cause us as nothing but a money making venture? Don’t we know that the population of these deviants is increasing on a daily basis as Nigerians are swooping out to join the forces crippling the country? Lest we forget, INEC’s offices have become a frequent target of late, particularly in the Southeast and Southsouth by unknown terrorists and thereby putting the Commission in frantic mode to secure itself including assets.
If we are to begin to kill them all, how many would they be? How many of our own people across all regions would be killed because our attackers are also our people. This is an irony of a nation seeking growth and development in the midst of self afflicted attacks.
We also have to deal with the theoretical insinuation that there are powers and individuals beyond the shores of the country in alliance with others from within who have overtime bent on seeing the country shaken and collapse. This might not be totally untrue and strange; we have seen it happening in several other nations that are currently in unsolvable chaos, but we cannot be destroyed except we accept to be destroyed and work in tandem with those that want to destroy us. The deep conspiracy against the country and its wealth would only play out if and when Nigerians play into the hands of the enemy. Whoever or wherever the conspiratorial actors against the country could be, will not lift a finger against us directly but through our own who chooses to join the league of the destroyer of the country for promised rewards or whatever other ends; and altogether, they will not succeed at their enterprise except we, Nigerians on the streets, turn our back on the country, to watch it crumble, without a fight for her soul. It is all about us. When we sort ourselves, the country would be sorted.
This is our story now. We are our own killers, both literally and indirectly; we are the force that sets against the progress and survival of the nation; we are the terrors that are bent on pulling the nation down for all the reasons. Today, there is nothing associated with Nigeria that is as potent as terror; nothing that is as potent and worrisome as insecurity. Nowhere in the country is safe any longer; not the road, the streets, the workplaces or the farms. Nigerians are being killed in their numbers daily without cause, farming communities are totally shut down across the country, and Nigerians are groaning under the immediate consequence of growing cost of food items; and government responses, as pronounced and well-intentioned as they may be, are becoming less effective and inadequate compared to the sustained frequency of attacks with a direct consequence of attention being taking off most other necessities of state, with a grand effect on a nation that is already struggling.
And yet, despite these bolded realities, we are still the same people, who prefer hiding the truth to please either selfish interests or protect some selfish investments somewhere. We are still the same people who would refuse to ask pertinent questions; we are the same people who play politics with everything, concluding that there are untouchables in our midst. How could we, with all our intelligence gathering capacity, not have been able to or rather choose not to be able to identify, arrest and convict only one individual in the history of terrors against Nigeria. In a state where romance with the enemies of the country is a feat to be celebrated; where the likes of Gumi can make contact with every sect and groups attacking the country at will, and yet the nation quickly accepts that as normal.
How could individuals from the onset have direct access to these groups and the entire nation’s security authorities and attack forces do not? Is it a new normal that some people should become celebrities by speaking for the oppressors of the state? The very way we do everything but attempt to unravel publicly the forces behind the bandits and Boko Haram in the country; the very way the Southeast is becoming as terror-filled as the Northeast, and we are not making commensurate efforts to unravel and decimate the powers behind the newly developed and growing terror forces.
Rather than do the needful, we are more mindful of our political tones and implications of every move and reaction we take. We are more inclined to associating the attacks in the North to religious fanaticism and tribal conquering as much as we have now totally linked the onslaught in the Southeast with sectional deprivation and even threatening a more vicious action in the event of a member of the section of the country not becoming president in the next dispensation. The killings we see, the kidnapping of innocent school children that are becoming more of a pastime now, the increasing cost of market goods, especially foodstuff in the country among the endless list, doesn’t care about our political rhetoric or of our tribal or religious oversensitivity; they are national universals that touch the poor and the rich alike, hit the politicians and the masses alike, and make the country unlivable for us all. If the politicians would not at this time recognise the sacrosanct need to separate politics from national need for security and the massive political foot soldiers on the streets and on social media would not recognise we are at the breaking point as a people and a nation, we are doomed.
The solution we seek is not rested on the government alone at this material time. This has blown out of the capacity of the state to overtly restore peace in this country. We have gotten to the point where we would all agree and decide this madness has gone far enough and must stop. We are at the point when all our actions and reactions must speak one language, in one direction; the language of rescuing Nigeria from the grip of those that are bent on destroying it. Our institutions, the religious, traditional, the civil society and the citizens all together, must be set to disown all past side-taking and to fight against the scourge of insecurity in the country.
The best the government could do for the country and its people at this point is to furnish the public with the names of individuals and groups behind the various terror groups terrorising the country. We are at the point where we must choose between the disintegration of Nigeria and the preservation of individuals; nothing will save us as much as flushing out the masterminds and serving them commensurate punishments for their atrocities against the state of Nigeria. The era of attempts to play political cards with the national response has expired; the only option on the table is the truth and a full force attack on the terrorists and their collaborators.
The government, this time, must have to work with the citizens. We must find a way around to unite Nigerians to defend the country. Beyond and above every other response, the potency of uniting Nigerians to present a singular front in the country’s counter-attack against the vicious national insecurity is the most singular workable strategy at this point. The citizens must be rallied to stand up for, and with the country against all uprising against it; the current divisiveness in the country while we are simultaneously confronting enemies from different quarters is a major war greater than whatever potential external wars we may face. Our case as a nation is the story of a house divided against itself. I have said this again and again, it is time the government brought the people together through whatever means that is feasible to rescue the country.
If this is not done now – with a sense of urgency – to get the people actively involved in the nation’s responses to the onslaught against the country, we might realise too late that this is just the beginning of the woes and wanton destruction permeating the country. If we fail to address the insecurity now, the planting season will end without Nigerian farmers being unable to plant, and the capacity of the nation to feed itself would further deteriorate plunging the country into yet another new level of crime-brewing hunger. Right now, a measure of garri has risen above five hundred naira from just two hundred naira and a measure of beans to above seven hundred from two hundred and fifty within two years; all because farmers could no longer go to farm. The fallout of not stopping this madness even at this moment might be too much for us in the next few months or a year.
The government will continue to amass opposition from across the masses; the opposition parties will mostly likely continue to devise more strategies to benefit from the apprehensions on the street; the enemies of the country will get stronger and bolder to operate in our hatred-filled disunited communities and streets; and the nation will continue to deteriorate in all forms, except we do the needful to salvage the situation.
But we are the cause of all the agonies and pains that we have gone through, and if there is any solution, it is with us and in us. The question now is are we ready, are Nigerians ready to abandon the hate rhetoric of the social media, to abandon the created and cherished religious and tribal dichotomies that we value above national patriotism; to abandon non-productive gyrations and academic display of theories that only put more stolen monies in the pockets of corrupt officers and begin to, in unison, reject the terrors that inflict our land. This is the time that we should all from our little corners begin to do something to end the form of attacks against the whole in our vicinity. Maybe, if we commence and intensify this, we might end the year 2021 with some measure of quality peace and serenity.
And finally, this is the time this nation needs its leadership more than ever. The President must go out of the normal and regular to give Nigerians more reasons to rejoice in the shortest time possible; whatever has to be done, must be done, and the time is now. We must redeem Nigeria.
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!