AVOIDING AFGHANISTANIZATION OF NIGERIA
By Emmanuel Onwubiko
As part of my usual pre-bed time rituals, I spend at least an hour or two to read through some chapters of any latest publication on a variety of thematic areas that I have just acquired.
So on the night of May 1st 2014, I was busy devouring some chapters in one of the new books I have just picked up from the bookshop written by Ambassador Tunde Adeniran, Nigeria's former envoy to Germany.
Aptly titled “My mission to Germany” which is an account of his stewardship published by spectrum books.
In one of the chapters of that book, Professor Adeniran spent considerable amount of time to analyse what he called 'the Image of Nigeria in Europe'.
Professor Adeniran gave the synopsis of why most people migrate to the Western societies from places considered as third World nations as follows; “…the search for a better life pattern, relative advantage among and between territories, armed confrontation as well as economic and ecological catastrophes are among factors which encourage migration (legal or illegal) from one country to another….”
I actually picked up this book to read because of a very damaging article in the foreign press that I had just finished reading on how African migrants jump fence to enter Europe.
That foreign Agency's piece narrated the following on how African migrants take life threatening risks to cross over to Europe; “They perched atop a barbed wire laced fence for more than seven hours, hands and feet bloodied, buffeted by chill winds whipping the cliffs of Africa's Mediterranean coast. The 27 Sub-Saharan African migrants literally on the edge between Africa's economic misery and the long-dreamt riches of Europe: on one side of the fence was Morocco, on the other the Spanish enclave of Melilla”.
While still enjoying the beautiful prose penned down by Professor Adeniran, I got a worrying phone call from a friend that we have lost contact for many years and this friend told me that he recently got deported from one of the Central European Nation's and that since he lost practically everything he had spent two decades working for in his host country, he decided to move into Nyanya, a suburb of the Nigerian Capital City.
My apprehension got to a summit when he told me of the latest bomb attack in Nyanya and that the terrorists struck at approximately the same spot that the April 14th 2014 attack took place in which over one hundred persons died.
I quickly asked him to take precautionary measures to stay safe even as I made several other calls to verify the authenticity of this sad news that came to me at exactly 8.30pm on May 1st 2014. Sadly, his information was a cruel reality.
Naturally, this sad news put an immediate stop to my intellectual adventure of struggling to complete the reading of the 361 page book by Professor Tunde Adeniran.
The resolve to think out rational ways of avoiding the disintegration of Nigeria then became ever more attractive given that the armed Islamic insurgents who have made several threats to embark on a campaign of genocide have moved from their operational base in the North East of Nigeria and have returned back to the Nigerian political capital where they had struck some years back.
How do we avoid the Afghanistanization and/or balkanization of Nigeria?
The first step is to bring serious bite to the anti-graft fight by introducing through the legislative process the amendment of all relevant laws to make looting of public fund budgeted for defence and the police sectors punishable by the death penalty.
It is no longer a secret that corruption is the root cause of lack of combat readiness on the part of operatives of the armed forces charged constitutionally with the role of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
The National Assembly needs to order the forensic audit of the Defence and police budgets to cover the period between 1982 till date to ascertain why the military still lacks the 21st century compliant combat infrastructure.
The citizens should be told how the huge budgetary releases were spent and if persons who had served in both the military and the police are fingered to be involved in the massive looting of the resources meant to equip our soldiers, then such persons must be made to cough out our resources and also be severely sanctioned in the accordance with the law.
Corruption in the defence sector is the most sacrilegious offence against the sovereignty of Nigeria because if the military operatives required by the supreme law of the land to fight to preserve Nigeria's territorial integrity are weakened operationally and left without adequate intelligence-driven combat-readiness, trainings/capacity building, then the nation would become weak and porous for enemies of our sovereignty both internally and externally to attack us.
Again, fighting corruption in all its ramification is not just a categorical imperative but also a constitutional necessity because section 15(5) clearly states that “The (Nigerian) States shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”.
Nigeria must work out better and more effective means of fighting corruption especially in the defence and police sectors so as to stop Nigeria from going the way of such failed nations like Afghanistan and Somalia.
In 2006, at a national Seminar on Economic Crime in which this writer attended, the current Gombe State governor who was the then Accountant-General of the federation Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo spoke the mind of most true lovers of Nigeria's sovereignty when he canvassed stiffer penalty for the crime of looting public fund.
Writing under the title; “Managing public fund; Ethical challenges, conflicts of interest and solutions”, Alhaji Dankwambo had stated that; “Rules and regulations should be reviewed and up-dated from time to time. Sanctions should be imposed appropriately without delay”.
In the same vein, it is my considered submission that Nigeria has not waged determined war against corruption in the procurement mechanisms in place in the ministries of Defence and the police which is the fundamental reason for the clear rot that afflicts these vital sectors and has exposed Nigeria to a range of devastating attacks by armed terrorists.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo during whose tenure the anti-graft institutions were erected has this to say on why corruption must be uprooted from the face of Nigeria and especially in the most strategic sectors of Defence and police.
His words: “The fight against corruption must not only be sustained and completed; the people themselves must insist that their leaders do not deviate from it”.
Secondly, I think Nigeria needs to make it constitutionally imperative that those who desire to seek public offices must denounce all foreign passports and citizenship in their possessions and swear an oath to be totally loyal to the sovereignty of Nigeria. In America for instance, even citizens born outside of the geographical territory of the United States of America are forbidden by law from seeking the highest office of the President of the United States.
But in Nigeria, the members of the political class are competing for who would possess the best foreign citizenship than the other political rival and by this way none of them is completely loyal to Nigeria. The reason is that because the greater percentage of today's political leaders have second countries to return to should Nigeria collapse, this is the reason why such sacred budgets of Defence and police for national security are wantonly stolen.
The National Conference should recommend a constitutional amendment to compel all political office holders to become Nigerians in reality and practice. From my extensive research, almost all the legislators in the National Assembly and officials of executive arm of government in Nigeria have obtained foreign passports for themselves and their immediate families.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA; [email protected]; www.huriwa.org.