The situation in our country is a matter of serious concern for all patriotic Nigerians. The ship of the nation is at full speed, firing on all cylinders and inclining towards a huge rock, but our leaders are struggling and fighting over the first-class seat to sit on! Nigeria is showing most of the symptoms of a failed state: the government is fast losing control of our territory. The influx of bold and deadly militia from neighbouring countries continues unabated, and from the account of some of the men in our military, these brigands are better armed than our soldiers. These bandits seem to have the monopoly of the use of force as most Nigerians have no access to arms and ammunition to defend themselves. And worse still, the police and other security outfits are poorly organised, poorly armed, and grossly inadequate for the size of the country. There is an obvious erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions.
This is unmistakable from the emergence of various non-state actors to fill the void created by the absence of an effective legitimate central authority to enforce law and order. The central government is unable or unwilling to exert control in many parts of the country which are dominated by Boko Haram, the deadly religious guerilla fighters mostly in the northern states, and the ruthless Fulani herdsmen causing mayhem mostly in the southern states of Nigeria. The proliferation of small arms in the country is alarming and very scary: this means more mayhem and carnage in the country. This is a recipe for more violence and chaos, and there will be more total breakdown of law and order unless the government rises to take charge now. The video clips and the gory images coming out daily from Nigeria bear testament to the dare situation that the country finds itself.
The entire world will feel the impact if Nigeria falls apart and the effects will radiate all over the world. Sad enough, the Buhari administration is unable and unwilling to tackle this problem head-on. Many Nigerians have accused him of sectionalism, and his cavalier attitude towards the perennial problems facing the country does not absolve him of the accusation. President Buhari has not for once openly come out to condemn the numerous brazen attacks that the Fulani herdsmen perpetrated and are still perpetrating on Nigerians.
For any country to develop a successful economic-political, and social systems – there must be an effective central government equipped with sufficient legal sovereignty, charisma, and resources to provide order, an effective system of laws, and mechanisms for resolving disputes as well as the provision of basic public goods. As we observe the current situation in Nigeria, many of these basic conditions are almost non-existent.
The national character (the picture people have in mind when the name of Nigeria is mentioned) we portray now is that of poverty, lawlessness, fraud, corruption, and the list can continue. This is not an enviable position to be. The ruling elites live in opulence, while the rest of the populace live in abject poverty. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania once said that “poverty is a national blemish, no leader should live in opulence, while others suffer in abject poverty.” States do not fail overnight, the seeds of this present decay and destruction in our political, economic, and social systems are sown deep within the political system. Once the super (political) structure is faulty, the substructures cannot stand.
Nigeria, as it is now, is simply obeying the “iron law of oligarchy,” thus making true democracy in Nigeria practically and theoretically impossible. Unless there is a reorganization and of course, restructuring, the country cannot heal itself or rid itself of the violence, strife, and carnage that are now commonplace in the country. Many prominent Nigerians and organizations are clamoring for restructuring without which this country may continue to experience more distress and agony within the body politic. The ruling elite can only ignore this call at their own peril because ultimately, the will of the people shall prevail with or without their consent. However long it may take, the people will have their wish.
Despite the numerous natural and human resources that Nigeria is endowed with, its people have literally failed to flourish due to the cognitive dissonance of our leaders. Nigerians are trapped in a debilitating cycle of poverty and self-inflicted wounds. Despite the oil boom that started as far back as the Yakubu Gowon era, the national wealth was squandered on frivolous items, ostentation, and playing bigmanism all over Africa. Nigeria is falling apart in an insidious and invidious fratricidal war, utterly unable to take advantage of our country’s huge potential for growth in leaps and bounds. Majority of our people are condemned into a lifetime of poverty with living standards far below the poverty line.
Nigerians could have been much wealthier and healthier today, but our leaders, since independence, have been self-serving and lacking in vision and mission to elevate the country to its well deserved enviable position in Africa and among the comity of nations which they all believed was the manifest destiny of Nigeria by its share size and natural wealth. Unfortunately for the country, the big men get greedy, the elite control the economy as well as the political system and use their power to create monopolies. Even when they liberalize, they privatize the large parts of the economy right back into the hands of their cronies, friends, and system insiders, creating and exclusive club only for themselves. A large part of the population is locked out of any meaningful participation in the economic and political systems. Only members of the exclusive club determine who owns what in the economy, and who runs for which political office! Members of the exclusive club received not only protection from the state but also government contracts and large bank loans without needing to put up collateral. As we can all remember, this act leads to the demise of many new generation banks along with depositors’ funds. Members of the exclusive club took out huge loans that were never repaid. Eventually, many of the banks failed, and disappeared with many people’s life savings which were never recouped even till today!
The Federal Government has taken huge loans from within and outside the country, and in some cases even mortgaged the sovereignty of the country to the Chinese government and further condemn the country to the whims and caprices of the Chinese government. Now the Federal Government has its eyes on the idle funds of hardworking Nigerians in various bank accounts that have gone dormant! To many Nigerians, this idea sounds ungodly! It is a bogus and veiled attempt to steal from an already sapped and impoverished populace. This is the time for all Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora to rise, bound together and salvage the country from the hands of the visionless leaders that are calling the shot in the country. We need a Sovereign National Conference more than ever before to reorganize, rebrand and restructure to move the country forward.
- Adegbite is co-founder, Coalition of Nigerians in Canada.
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