Nigeria: A Nation In Disarray
To say that Nigeria is a nation in disarray is, to put it mildly. That our democracy is in great peril is an understatement. However what is fact is that ours is a nation in crisis, unfortunately, a majority of our citizens are not even aware of how close we are to disintegration because they are preoccupied with their struggles for survival and sustenance to notice. For those who are aware that the country is adrift and rudderless, it is like being on a plane without a pilot. You know the plane is going to crash but there is nothing you can do about it unless there happens to be a passenger on board who knows how to pilot a plane. Right now we luckily do have a pilot trying his best to pilot the ship of state but is being distracted and handicapped by an uncooperative crew.
From Aso Rock to every other level of Government in the country there is a sense that our leaders do not know what it is to know something. Their opacity is so dangerous and such a disability that there is a lack of a sequential thought process or vision of what they want to do or capable of doing. Their lack of the basic elements of effective governance is not only disturbing but outright disconcerting. For every politician or leader in a position of power, his or her greatest asset is trust and once that trust is lost he or she can’t govern or lead. Unfortunately, our leaders due to their serial recklessness have completely lost the trust of a majority of the Nigerian people because they have been found to be unworthy of that trust except for those who still do so for ethnic and religious reasons.
Over the years and more so today we have political leaders who have trampled all ethical standards and show no sign of reasonable political behavior that the country solely needs from them. They make political decisions, take certain actions, made outrageous and divisive comments failing to realize that most times what is legal to do or say is not always prudent. They have abused power and called it politics. They have instituted bribery and called it the derivative of office. They have installed nepotism as a norm for political appointments and called it administrative prerogative. They have substituted excellence for mediocrity and called it federal character. They have abused the truth and like the U.S president called it “alternative facts”. They have used both the EFCC and DSS as their personal storm troopers and called it ‘fighting corruption’. The FederalMinistry of Works, Power and Housing have been turned into a veritable vehicle of marginalization. Even the Vice-president have been named a “Coordinator” instead of “Acting President” thereby introducing a new word in our political lexicon. When it comes to our state Governors, they have coveted state funds and called it “Security Vote” and undoubtedly becoming the greatest unarmed state fund robbers in the history of modern democracy. The list goes on and on and we the citizens have become so overwhelmed that we have become either accomplices or silent observers. But the reality is that the dismal outcomes of their governing mandate, in my opinion, is tantamount to political malpractice. Our Government has become a scam but the hurt they’ve caused is real.
Our leaders today seem to be a bunch living in captivity. They only talk and relate to each other and so are unaware of what is happening outside their captive confines. You can see this in the recent shenanigans and Machiavellian machinations for the 2019 elections still 2 years away At a time when the country is in a serious economic spiral. When millions of people are jobless, thousands of civil servants waiting to be paid, our infrastructures crumbling, educational standards falling, none- existent healthcare policy or facilities, millions suffering and starving, some are busy arguing over whether the “Coordinator President” can take over from the ailing President in the event of his demise and whether a section of the country deserves the right to complete his 8 year term as if it is a constitutional provision. For the state Governors and legislators, their greater concern has shifted from governance to their re-election. To understand what is going on in Nigeria today will require looking through her past which is like looking through a garbage dump of history. Unfortunately, we are piling more garbage on that existing mountain of filth. Now in the year 2017, it is apparent not much has changed since we’ve learned nothing from history, my apologies to the Vice President or do I say ‘Coordinator President” who in a recent speech has a different conception of the issue of learning from history. We have become a country that has lost its sense of self to one of escapism and loss of hope and optimism.
We are now living in an environment where any hope for the Presidency, the National Assembly or any of our institutions to save us from the impending calamity has become a futile one as every change we wish for results in something worse. Even when some like me protest, become outraged or be critical of events or individuals, our outrage is immediately dismissed as partisan or ethnically influenced. Most often when their misdeeds are exposed or mentioned, they resort with the assistance of their sycophantic media aides to what I may refer to as the 3 D’s, namely Denial, deflection, and Distraction. When that fails they attack and discredit the messenger while ignoring the essence of the message. A good example is the abuses rained on FFK whenever he brings public attention to an issue of national importance. I will be the first to concede that Fani-Kayode may not be a paragon of virtue or the ideal messenger considering his political past or divisive comments, however wisdom demands that we sometimes listen to the ranting’s and mumblings of a mad man (not that he is one) because there may be some hidden and obvious truth to be surmised. Unfortunately, truth has no traction anymore as reality has become garbage to be disposed or set aside.
It is true that most of the underlying problems facing the country were not caused by some of our present leaders, however, there is no denying that they have worsened under them with no real effort to ameliorate their impact on the people. It is true that the President, for instance, was given a bucket full of water with holes in it, but he has not done much to seal those holes as the leak is fast turning into a flood. It is the same with other levels of Government where its leaders all seem to be under water with no one knowing how to s wim. The National Assembly, on the other hand, has lost its independence as an equal branch of Government with the Executive branch. You can’t even describe it as a talking shop as most of its members do not even know how to talk, let alone the guts to do so. It has become an institution that is a total drain on the nation’s resources and should, in all honesty, be turned into a part- time vocation for its members. I’ve talked about our damaged and failing institutions so much in my previous essays that it is no longer worth mentioning as their fragility has become very obvious for all to see.
Now the question arises. To what extent have we as a people been complicit to this national malaise? It is not just enough to blame everything on our leaders and absolve ourselves of any wrong doing. There is something called “consciousness of guilt” and there is no doubt we are aware of how guilty we are but unwilling to admit it. Our leaders have taken advantage of our credulity and cynicism and have taken wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system because we as a people don’t seem to be appalled by anything they do. We defend and absolve crooked leaders from our ethnic group while assailing the failures of others. Due to self- gratification we condone and help in the rigging of elections and even re-elect the same leaders who had failed us. We reject the truth when it does not fit into our preconceived notions of what constitutes Truth. We live in self -denial and resign ourselves to faith, hoping for deliverance to come from heaven when we have the power to bring about the change we want. We attend Kumbaya love rallies as was the case in Abia state recently after the recent Supreme Court ruling despite the obvious desperate circumstances of their lives and existence. Up in the North with thousands of beggars roaming the streets, many dying of hunger and malnutrition some are still preoccupied and obsessed with the idea of holding on to power and the Presidency knowing that those beggars in their ignorance will be convinced that holding on to the Presidency was more important than the improvement of their lives. Hundreds of our politicians are busy jumping ship from one party to the other like rats knowing that we the gullible public and voters will follow them like zombies with no sense of reasoning of our own.
The irony of our present situation as Nigerians is that we are as culpable as hell in bringing about the present national malaise, in the sense that in addition to the above we celebrate crooks and think of them as wise men. We lust over money and think of its acquisition as the beginning of wisdom. When we vote, party loyalty most times determines our voting preferences instead of the candidate’s character and antecedent. We are easily deceived by fake news and calculated propaganda. We have lost all moral rectitude and consequently, our leaders no longer respect us. The short end of it all is that we are just like the leaders we elect to govern us. The truth is that our sustained indulgence of our leaders, most of whom have continued to fail us in the delivery of the benefits of democracy is absolutely incredulous and incomprehensible. But this is where we are. A nation in search of itself after 57 years of independence and self- governance, yet we call ourselves the giant of Africa. A self-declaration that is more of a boast than a description. The question is. What sets us apart from other African Nations that we should be boastful of? Is it our population size, a stable and growing economy, a world-class educational system, an independent and uncompromised judiciary, a high employment rate, etcetc?
The reality is that none of the above qualifies us for greatness when we are the most mismanaged country in terms of our size, wealth, and potential. Nations thrive by considering their prospects. The power of prospection is what makes nations great. Looking into the future, recognizing your potential/ prospects and then planning and working towards its realization. But how can we plan for the future when our yearly national budgets are padded documents filled with mathematical gimmickry? It’s just obvious that the country is right now at the tip of a precipice, and a little shove is all that is needed for the damage to be done. With all the political gamesmanship, cries of marginalization, accusations of nepotism, excesses of security officials, religious extremism, murderous herdsmen, the reluctance and stiff opposition by a section of the country against restructuring, agitations by groups like IPOB, the Delta Rangers and others of less prominence, there is no denying he fact that we are close disintegration. Yet some still pay lip service to the “One Nigeria” slogan calling for unity while ignoring the fact that unity does not exist in a vacuum. It has to be earned and the tone set from the top.
So I say to my fellow Nigerians, if you want to save the country, you will have to work for it. Stop dreaming and hoping against hope that a Messiah will deliver us from our present calamity for we are the change we need. So wise up by speaking out and speaking up. Refuse to be sycophants for any politician, instead put on your thinking cap and reason like liberated adults Be courageous to vote out leaders who have failed you in the 2019 elections. Break out of your political captivity and bondage and exercise your freedom and political emancipation. Demand accountability and fiscal responsibility from your Governors, protest the daylight robbery of your state treasuries in the name of ‘Security Vote”. Support every fight against corruption irrespective of party affiliation and ethnic loyalty and if you want the country to unite, set an example with your actions, behavior, and comments. For those who are diehard party and ethnic loyalists, just remember that “sometimes a good foot soldier walks away”. I hope and pray the nation survives and for that to happen we need to move away from the precipice by voting out most of our present leaders, consign them to the waste basket of our political history and replace them with a new and younger group of technocrats, intellectuals, and nationalists who will put the nation first above all things, such as their ethnic origin, language, religion and culture. Leaders who will stand for justice, fair play and truly work towards national unity.
Nnanna Ijomah is a New York Based