I FEAR FOR THE FUTURE OF NIGERIA
"What's done to children, they will do to society." - Karl A. Menninger
I woke up this morning marvelling at how effective the government has been against the so-called Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOD). Quickly, they have been characterised as terrorist organisation, proscribed, their headquarters traced to France and members being chased in all nooks and crannies by the Nigeria army in an Operation christened "Python dance".
Don't get me wrong, because I'm not speaking in their favour nor supporting any group that threatens the sovereignty of Nigeria but I'm just curious how long before killer-Fulani herdsmen are properly characterised, proscribed, traced and members chased with the same vicious ferocity as in the case of IPOB?
As far back as 2015, the Global Terrorism Index named Fulani militant group operating in Nigeria not just a terrorist group, but the fourth deadliest worldwide with only Boko Haram, ISIS, and Al-Shabab deemed worse. The group has claimed thousands of lives across the country, yet our government continues to romance with them.
One minute, they are called a nuisance and need to leave urgently, another time they are indigenous and should stay, another day they are not Nigerians, another hour they are pastoralist who need government support to settle, next they are discreet hence difficult to trace or chase down. To crown it all, the deadly attacks by these marauders are still termed mere herders-farmers skirmishes or clashes.
These killer herdsmen are being handled with kids gloves while an unarmed organisation that is yet to claim the life of a mosquito is being chased down with urgency. Let me asked like in the Bible (James 3:11), "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?"...only in Nigeria.
That is why Karl A. Menninger says, "What's done to children, they will do to society" and same reason why I fear for the future of this country. Children are a product of the society and we, the children of this dysfunctional one are watching keenly, being affected and also learning, and I'm afraid to say may not be any different. God forbid!
What do you expect of the children who were denied employment when the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello openly declared the Northernisation Policy wherein, irrespective of qualification, consideration for employment was based on "northerner first, expatriates next and then other Nigerians"? How would that have affected their seeing employment as based on simple merit and not any other consideration?
What do you expert of the children who watched as a coup masterminded by mainly Igbo officers completely wiped out the topmost echelon of political and military leadership of northern extraction at that time? What seed was sown in a young military officer named Buhari who would rule the Nigeria twice many years to come, to see the county beyond the divisive dogma of ethnicity and religion?
What do you expect of the children who witnessed their parents being killed in the pogrom of the civil war during which over 3 million innocent people were killed, many by starvation? How would that have affected their ability to be patriotic and think pan-nigerian when given leadership in the future?
What do you expect of children who are products of an almost dead educational system, most especially when children of their political leaders enjoy uninterrupted first-class education abroad in lavish lifestyle? How would that have affected their mentality to see leadership as an opportunity to serve and not to amass wealth?
What do you expect of those who witness as thugs are patronised by politicians, thieves and militants pacified monthly with huge sums while graduates litter the streets without gainful employment or means of livelihood? How does that affect their acceptance of the importance of education going forward?
What do you expect of the children who are told they are the leaders of tomorrow while their parents keep recycling themselves and their cronies in leadership and why do you expect them to act differently when given the opportunity?
I could go on and on... In the case of IPOB and Herdsmen, What do you expect of us to make of the differential referential treatment where the government pampers a killer while disciplining a recalcitrant child?
What's done to children, they will do to society. Whatever was done to our forefathers by the colonial masters, they meted to the succeeding generation who are also hammering it on us. It is however my prayer that we break this vicious cycle of evil in 2019.
I'll always end by saying, in making our choices, we must move and look beyond the alphabetical idiosyncrasies of political party politics, the dogma of ethnicity and religion, to the specifics of individual antecedents and characteristics of those aspiring for public office.
So help us, God!
USHAKUMA ANENGA is a Medical Doctor and sociopolitical commentator. He writes from Makurdi, Benue State.