Is Nigeria a failed state?
With tears cascading down my cheeks and pains gnawing my heart I write this piece. Here is a great nation of vast potentials but beggared by poor leadership. Nigerians are great people and they make waves in the international scene but the country remains an apology and butt of international jokes because of leadership deficit. As I write this piece, non-state actors are holding the nation to ransom and government is proud to announce to the world that it is negotiating with the bandits on how to release the kidnapped Kagara students and teachers of a Niger state secondary school. Yet the police and the military cannot locate where the bandits are holding these people.
Time was when an American newspaper in its editorial described Nigeria as a failed state. All the propaganda machines of the government were in full blast living in the denial that all things were okay. The government went to the extent of blaming the opposition political party for the editorial. The erudite bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Most Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah pregnant with uncommon patriotism decided to offer pieces of advice to the Buhari administration on the need to discard nepotism, tackle insecurity and offer constructive leadership. The government called the Reverend gentlemen all sorts of names and some funny groups even asked Kukah to leave Sokoto State. Today the American newspaper and Kukah are true witnesses of truth as the government is clearing drifting on how to solve the insecurity problems.
Insecurity manifests in many forms – armed banditry, kidnapping and herdsmen menace. Add the poverty ravaging the country; you have the indices of a failed state. That Nigeria has not descended to the level of Somalia, Libya or Afghanistan is something that confounds the minds of the best political scientists and historians. Those who celebrate Dr.Ngozi Okonjo Iweala cannot offer the basic tenets of governance and at the state level cannot conduct common local council elections. But these are people who shamelessly parade themselves as leaders and patriots of the country. Those who believe that there is absence of leadership in Nigeria are not really off the mark. Today those who are supposed to offer strategic methods in solving the nation`s problems are cocooned in their ethnic corners. I am talking of Mallam el Rufai of Kaduna state and the senate president, Senator Ahmed Lawan.
If my memory is not failing me, I am aware that Rufai was made the chairman of APC committee on restructuring. As you read this piece, Nigerians are yet to see the report and if you stretch your luck and contemplate implementing the report of the committee, you must be a visitor from outer space. But that is not the reason I am talking about el Rufai. His new found love for state police and resource control is lousy house wife weekend romance to lure us away from the harsh reality of Nigeria. Let it be known that proponents of restructuring have shouted to high heavens on the need for state police and resource control, the foundational ingredients for a federal state. But the Buhari administration maintained in mule like stubbornness that it does not know the meaning of restructuring. But today one of their star governors, Rufai is a new convert to restructuring. If Rufai because of 2023 presidential ambition deludes himself that he can pull wools over eyes, he better wakes from his dream. It is this double standard of politics that is holding down the fate and destiny of the nation. My only submission here is that the social problems plaguing the nation will melt like butter under heat when our leaders are sincere and implement the fine grains of federalism to the latter. Quasi federalism or centralized form of government will merely compound our problems and Nigeria will inch towards a failed state.
As for the senate president, Senator Ahmed Lawan, his provocative statement against the south west governors is most uncalled. I am not qualified to speak for the Yorubas for they are eminently qualified to do that. But Lawan should be told to grow beyond tribal or regional politics. The Sasha market incident in Ibadan should be seen for what it is - dispute between traders. That some Fulani lost their lives and properties should not be the reason for upbraiding the south west governors. Lawan has not spoken about the atrocities committed by the Fulani in the South West. This is certainly how not to be the leader of the senate, the highest law making body of the country.
Like I said earlier, Nigeria is a land of great people and we are very talented. The best brains in space technology, medicine and allied professions are Nigerians. Our fault really is the manner of recruiting political leaders and this must change if we are to make maximum use of our talents and God given resources. This is an appeal for such people to leave the realm of criticism and enter the ring of politics. If we want the best food from the kitchen, all of us should endure the heat and work for the benefit of our country. The Aristotle model of philosopher king should be the political template and we should not leave the political field for the 5theleven. The best minds should enter the political arena and correct the mistakes. The time of armed-chair criticism is gone for good.
On the part of the Buhari administration, time is really running out for the government. There are too many failures and many Nigerians are questioning whether there is really any difference between the APC and PDP. In fact these two political parties are elite’s conspiracy to continue to pillage and ruin our collective destinies. President Muhammadu Buhari should step out and give us constructive and nationalistic leadership. Poverty and insecurity do not discriminate on the basis of tribe or religion. Now is the time for Buhari and his co-travellers to work round the clock and remove this badge of a failed state. Should they fail, Nigerians, history and posterity will hold them accountable.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.