Fellow Nigerians, this is a special Season in the human calendar. It is a period to share love because that festive period has come again when we all participate in blistering jollification. But this article is not about Christmas, the birthday celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not about anything celestial or extra-terrestrial but something worldly and important to us all. Sorry if I disappoint you. Politics is the only thing on the lips of most Nigerians right now. And the reason is simple.
Nigeria has never been this close to the brink of extinction and perdition since the civil war ended. We have never been this divided along ethnic and religious lines. Even when we had our best and fairest election in 1993 and it suffered an unfortunate annulment, we never thought any situation could be worse. Today our politicians are on rampage, they have gone raving mad and only God can prevent our cataclysmic fall and preserve this Democracy. We need a miracle to rescue us and keep us together for some time longer, or forever more.
Please, forgive my Doomsday predilection. It is not my fault. I am trained to monitor events and chronicle History in a hurry. I have also been around since the year of our Independence and old enough to gauge the mood of our nation and decipher some complex codes. The spot we are now is all too familiar. When the rich and powerful begin to wail and grumble like General Olusegun Obasanjo has been doing lately, we must be meticulously watchful and methodically careful. When the bat is flying in daylight some evil is not too far away.
I’m not yet a prophet but I know we be must passionately prayerful at this time for this cup to pass over us. I know many of our politicians are readily dismissive of anything that suggests an end to their irresponsibility and profligacy but let me sound a note of warning by borrowing from my favourite London Metropolitan Police advert: ‘Never tempt a thief’! What I see happening all around us is, metaphorically, an open invitation to ‘armed robbers’ to enter into our midst. I am writing this piece with trepidation. Please, permit me to explain it the best way I possibly can.
I’m able to watch some Nigerian television channels on the go, thanks to internet technology. Every day I log or tune in, I’m instantly confronted by miserable, if not terrifying news. It is either some bombs have just exploded having been scientifically detonated by a male or female suicide bomber in some densely populated part of one of our towns and cities, or some rabid gunmen have just shot their way into town, firing sporadically at every unfortunate target and human. In many cases, houses are set ablaze with hundreds of our fellow citizens including innocent infants and women hacked down by these narcoleptic fellows. In many instances, whole villages have been wiped out without any iota of respect for Chiefs or commoners. They operate with uncommon gusto.
Just imagine these scary scenarios. Some unknown snipers (or how else can we describe them) opened fire on the convoy of the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero early in 2013, precisely on January 19, 2013 but the great man escaped by the whiskers while his assailants vanished into thin air. I doubt if he ever recovered from that traumatic experience. Till this day, the case remains one of the unresolved mysteries in our endless list of high-drama crimes. Please, fast-forward to late 2014. The Mosque where the current Emir of Kano observes his Jumat on Fridays was attacked on November 28, 2014, in a most dastardly manner by some daredevil bombers with many lives lost. Luckily for the Emir, he was away in Saudi Arabia, where his prayers kept him away from untimely death. Poignantly, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II had to rush back home. We know some leaders who would not have done but rather would even have left home despite the mayhem and chaos!
Let’s rewind quickly, please to early 2014. The Chibok Girls were abducted from their school hostels about 236 days ago today. The global outcry that followed gave our country the worst negative news this year. As I write, no one is able to tell us precisely if they are dead or alive or even where they are except a military chief who, seemingly tongue in cheek, told us eons ago that they’ve been sighted but has waited months to free them. The absurdist writer, Samuel Beckett must be grinning in his grave while the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock must be bored and exasperated in heaven.
Let’s fly elsewhere. Damaturu is the capital of Yobe State and one of the important cities in North East Nigeria. Since last week, the place has known no peace. Until they were dislodged, some fearless insurgents took over Damaturu with the inhabitants fleeing and spilling in different directions. Days after that attack, Boko Haram operatives returned with a vengeance and attempted to hoist their Caliphate flags. Not too far away, Maiduguri was receiving its own fire as it has done for several years.
Before we advance too much, please, let’s stop over in our Federal capital territory, a city that ought to be the best in Africa. However, even Abuja has not been spared this horrific madness. Bombs have rained in torrents leaving in their wake sorrow, tears and blood, their regular trademark, as Fela would have put it. The Abuja fiasco is more saddening. When the earlier bombs descended on the city, we were told it came from some Niger/Delta militants but it was dismissed as hogwash by the Federal Government. Then came the majestic Boko Haram; they don’t discriminate, no agenda, no friend and no foe. They just hit anything and anyone in sight, including themselves; no mercy, simply pain and grief.
Meanwhile, life continues. No one seems to care. It is as if the North East of Nigeria is on another planet where only rockets can land. If the Commander-in-Chief is avoiding some parts of a country he governs, is that not a matter for serious concern and wrong signal to our military!
Politicians are carrying on with reckless abandon. The game of power has become a matter of life and death for them. Nigeria is now a nation of warlords with each controlling his fiefdom. You don’t have to do much. I can’t remember the last time I read a well-scripted manifesto since 1993 when Chief Moshood Abiola took political campaigns to a crescendo. I must mention that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the only exception. At least, he is talking some issues, while we continue to hang on to General Muhammadu Buhari as a matter of abiding faith in his incorruptibility. Life has changed so much. We are no respecter of anything or anyone anymore.
I’ve been following developments in the different political parties and I’m so ashamed at how much we have degenerated. It is difficult to call what I see Democracy when elections have been turned into all-out war. Rather than improving, things are getting worse. And we are all watching helplessly. Some people have hijacked our collective destinies and it is happening at all levels. The Federal intimidates the States. Governors have to spend more time in Abuja kowtowing to the whims and caprices of the Commander-in-Chief. The President of Nigeria is treated like a Modern Day god and HE who must be obeyed or ignored at your peril.
The State Governors also have to control the Local Government. The Local Governments that were created to bring governance closer to the masses have also joined the oppressor class. The constituents live in squalor while the leaders swim in opulence. It seems there is no hope in sight. Our military too are facing the most difficult time. No one has told us what went wrong. Once upon a time, they made us proud. Now that we need them, they are not able to soar, instead we hear some horrid tales of soldiers hurrying out of war zones like bloody civilians!
Our Legislature is in total disarray. The Executive see them as an appendage that can be cut off if they go out of bounds. The Presidency and National Assembly are at loggerheads. The Governors in many States don’t see eye-to-eye with their Houses of Assembly. It is a question of who would strike first. The Judiciary may be worse. A lot would have to be done to bring it up to international standards. We have destroyed all the institutions that made most countries great. We want ours to become greater without making the necessary sacrifice that got others developed.
There is total confusion and commotion. In the middle of all this higgledy-piggledy, issues of developments are thrown to the dogs. Even as broke as we are supposed to be, we still spend, or squander enough, on fanciful projects that bear no relevance to our needs. A few people corner and amass everything, burying treasures on earth which they can’t take anywhere even whilst they are alive. Something will and must give!
I believe Nigeria cannot and will not go on with this cycle of stupidity and infamy forever. Each time I want to give up, I run back to my ancient and contemporary history and discover the hidden treasures that show that no nation can live perpetually in foolhardiness.
For the sake of our children, we must come together to lift up this great country. It may be true that the political parties are identical in many ways. It may be true that there are no saints amongst us but we must be able to see a few moderates and performers here and there.
The drift of my thought process should be obvious by now. Let me put it bluntly; it doesn’t take much to know we are putting our Democracy at risk. I’m not the first to say it. Former President Obasanjo has said it repeatedly. His Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has said it. I’m only adding my voice to what many people are saying volubly everywhere at this moment.
The test has arrived and we are failing big time. If the desperation being displayed in the party primaries is anything to go by, the signs are ominous. If political parties cannot conduct their own affairs in peace, then the nation is in big trouble.
My biggest fear is about the Presidential elections. Speak to anyone in President Jonathan’s camp and you are likely to get a glimpse of the danger ahead. They’ve made up their minds that the President must return to power come rain or shine. As far as they are concerned, the next election is going to be a mere formality. They are rigidly insisting their man is entitled to a minimum of two terms, whether WE THINK HE PERFORMS OR NOT. And they are poised for war. It is not an empty threat. They seriously mean it. Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
On the other side, the opposition is preparing for its own war if it is seen that the election has been blatantly or skilfully rigged. If you’re on social media, you will appreciate how worked up they are. I must confess that I don’t know how we are going to get out of this ugly mess when both sides are beating the drums of war. I’m petrified at what would happen if by any chance the President is defeated and a Northerner takes power whilst the South South is left completely in the lurch.
I’ve also thought about the insistence of members of the opposition who believe their Vice Presidential candidate must come from the South West, meaning the South South would have neither number one nor number two citizens if the opposition triumphs as we dearly hope. I pray against the conflagration that may follow this decision when those who already want only number one are deliberately provoked by suggesting they deserve neither. For me and my house, it would be an invitation to disaster.
When February 2015 comes, and this drama ignites, I wonder what will happen thereafter. For now I can only expect the worst because of the grandstanding and posturing of our politicians who seem too insolent to care about a future that is so predictable and already here. My advice to both parties is simple; don’t set Nigeria ablaze because of power, politics and personal ambition. Leadership should be about managing people and resources not about killing and burying your neighbours and opponents.
Who knows? When you throw stones in the market place, it might be a member of your family that it hits. Unfortunately, wisdom is not sold on the shelves.
Dele Momodu Write the Pendulum For Nigeria’s Thisday Newspapers, Email: [email protected]
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