Are you going to sit back and watch our country die?
IT sounds hackneyed to say that we in Nigeria face extraordinary challenges. We may not be quite a failed state; but we are rapidly descending that bottomless gadarene lake.
Nigeria today is the world capital of poverty. Some 90 million of our countrymen and women fall under the category of absolute poor as internationally defined, well ahead of India’s 70 million. And India’s poor represent only 21 per cent of its 1.3 billion population as compared to our 90 million that represent 45 per cent of our population of nearly 200 million.
Malnutrition, disease and illiteracy afflict millions and millions of our people. Some 23 million of our youths are jobless. Kidnapping, violence, crime and banditry constitute the order of things.
Meanwhile, 50 per cent of our people live without access to electricity while those who do even experience regular power outages. Our dilapidated roads have the worst carnage records on earth while the rest of the infrastructure stock is at a stage of terminal decay.
We also face severe deficits in public ethics while the moral sickness of our body politic has become a nightmare. A murderous Jihad is being waged against ethnic and religious minorities in the North and the Middle Belt and our leaders pretend not to know about it.
If what we see reflects the spiritual condition of our country, I would make bold to say that Nigeria is on the throes of death. The other day I read in the press that the Western States are scheduled to hold a summit to decide on how to collectively address the challenge of insecurity and how to develop a framework for an autonomous economic region.
Several pictures of bank notes purportedly from “Oduduwa Bank” were being circulated in social media. A dear friend of mine sent me a text with the pictures of the bank notes: “Are you going to sit back and watch our country die?” He being from the East, I jokingly replied: “Why are you sending me these pictures? Don’t you know I am a Biafran?” We all laughed it off. But, inside, my heart was bleeding.
A few years ago, a friend of mine who happens to be a prince of the Caliphate shocked me by remarking that they are, by all intents and purposes, resigned to the fact that Nigeria will break up: “It is not a question of if, but, when.”
In February 2018, an international conference on Lake Chad took place at the ornate Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. One of the proposals being put forward by our Federal Government was to borrow a staggering $15 billion to build a canal from the Congo right though the Ubangi Shari in Central Africa to Lake Chad. The idea is to create a navigable waterway that would grant Northern Nigeria access to the sea.
The Washington financial institutions, I am told, frowned at the proposal. If the North no longer believe in Nigeria, then we who do are, of all people, most to be pitied.
Most Ndigbo youths are already Biafrans. The Federal Government persecuted and hounded IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu, even though he never carried a sword. But the military, under Operation Python Dance, have killed several youths who were protesting peacefully. Boko Haram killers are being treated with kid gloves. Some have been granted titillating amnesties while others have, allegedly, been absorbed into our armed forces.
The issue of Biafra is geopolitically linked to that of the Niger Delta where the restless youths have for years been campaigning for “resource control” and eventual self-determination. Many believe that if the North had found oil they would have ejected from Nigeria long ago. The peoples of the South-South believe their oil is the dowry by which Nigeria’s “forced” and unequal marriage is being solemnised.
There is also the sad fate of the Middle Belt. As far back as 1900 an intense debate took place in the British parliament and among the intelligentsia on the imperative of a creating an autonomous administrative region for the non-Muslim peoples of the Middle Belt; that are distinct by virtue of culture, ethnicity and religion.
They were never historically a part of the Caliphate because they were never a conquered people, either in war or peace. Unfortunately, the British preferred to lump the Middle Belt under the Caliphate mainly to save administrative costs. And they did so without ever consulting the peoples that were so affected.
During the post-independence period, leaders like Joseph Tarka, Patrick Dokotri and Reverend David Lot fought bitterly for the autonomy of the Middle Belt. They were only partially pacified by the conciliatory gestures of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the defunct Northern Region. Sir Ahmadu Bello was a progressive and visionary leader who did not segregate on the basis of ethnicity or religion in all his dealings.
The same, unfortunately, could not be said of those who pretended to be his legatees. His successors, both military and civilian, practised a form of Apartheid that would have been the envy of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime architect of Apartheid in South Africa.
Verwoerd and his brethren in the Broderbund secret society who invented Apartheid were highly disciplined and morally austere Calvinists who believed they were executing God’s purpose on earth. Their Arewa colleagues are, by contrast, a godless, greedy, avaricious and morally undisciplined pack of hounds.
When economic liberalisation under the military undermined the economic base for the patronage system on which this feudal class had subsisted; they introduced political Sharia as a weapon for power and hegemony. Much as they would like to disown them, Boko Haram is their moral stepchild. That iniquitous enterprise has destroyed the entire economy of the North and has brought our country to ruins.
The late Bala John Takaya, former President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), made it a point to remind our Northern leaders of the gross injustice and historical crimes they have committed against his people.
Instead of engaging him in dialogue, they made him their bitterest enemy; undermining his career at every turn until his death in May 2018. Bala Takaya was one of the most brilliant students ever produced by the famous Baptist High School Jos. His academic record since he left the school 1969 was never broken until, ironically, his own son broke it sometimes in the late nineties. He was a formidable science student who decided to switch to Government/Political Science, according to him, to equip himself intellectually to emancipate his people. Those of us who knew him understood him to be a great patriot – a compassionate and gentle soul. Although he was angry at injustice, he was a democrat and a humanist with a pure heart.
Today, sadly, the Middle Belt is leaderless; lost in the wilderness like the children of Israel of old. We pray that, unlike the ancient Israelites, we would not have to wander for 40 years before we see the light of redemption.
I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. But I have studied enough of European international politics since the Treaty of Westphalia 1648 to know that international conspiracies do exist. There may be global conspirators out there whose strategic intent is for Nigeria to disintegrate. The Saudis are in the business of marketing their backward Wahhabi ideology to spread treachery across the world while legitimating their oppressive rule at home. Foreign powers are aware that Nigeria, all things being equal, is destined to be among the front ranks in the twenty-first century.
By 2050, our population is forecast to reach 410 million, surpassing the United States and only behind China and India. We are endowed with abundant natural resources. Despite racist IQ propaganda, Nigerian students outclass their peers at top Ivy League institutions. We are a great and self-confident people; with cultures that date back to the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Like Archimedes the old Greek mathematician, we demand a place to stand, and we would move the earth. We are the only bulwark preventing our glorious continent from becoming the playing field of empires, as it has been, for the better part of a millennium — a light unto nations.
I am an admirer of the ancient Yoruba culture and their republican ideals. Tyranny is anathema to Yoruba civilisation. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was one of the best embodiments of the Yoruba spirit of excellence, resilience and hope.
Whilst appreciating those who are so embittered and dispirited, this is not the time to give up on our country. We are greater together than we are divided. But it would have to be on the basis of a reformed federation that guarantees freedom, justice and equality for all. We must mobilise a moral coalition of patriots who believe in Nigeria and in her manifest destiny among the nations of the earth.
The entirety of the Black world looks up to us. We cannot fail them.