Nigeria is heading for the precipice. The long history of little respect for the rules of engagement has caught up with us. There is a loss of confidence in Nigeria’s ability to protect its citizens. There is despair. There is frustration. The leaders of the federation daily take measures, carry out actions that threaten the existence of the country. Installed in the opulence of a filthy power, they do not feel the pulse of the nation. If they do, they don’t show it. Individuals have become more powerful than the country. Mutual aid has become the order of the day. The brutal state of nature from which we escaped is there.
Those in power help themselves to the national cake before the house collapses. The current government’s anti-corruption mantra is a joke. Party primaries offend our sense of collective dignity. People are angry with politicians in Abuja and state capitals. But they can’t do anything. They will still vote for clowns in 2023! Some took their share of national delegates to the party primaries. They have sold their conscience!
Religion and politics have mixed together to destroy the country. The ideals of religion are only lip service. Religion has not defined life in the daily encounter with reality. But it has become an ego bank. A fence. A wall. A protectorate that conveniently unfolds to accentuate the difference. He hasn’t stopped flying. It did not stop the corruption. With state funds, men can build mosques and churches. Religions preach against theft. Yet adherents steal funds to nurture the religion. It’s odious. It is a contradiction. Looting the treasury is a breach in character. These characters go to the Mosque on Fridays, to church on Sundays, visit the Holy Land on pilgrimage. Yet when a man criticizes his proclaimed religion, he is ready to kill.
The young man who bragged on social media about murdering Deborah Yakubu played a script, written by powerful men in the halls of power. Disobeying the tenets of religion. But kill the next man who speaks a word against what they hold sacred. It’s barbaric. It is destructive. It is atavistic. Yet governance, if it qualifies to be so called, is blasphemy against the morals and ideals of the great religions. It is a paradox in which the ruling class basks; thus, we have no reports of men refusing to eat the stolen pie because of religion. It is a prohibited area. Heaven is preached. Heaven is raw. But the paradise here and now created from funds stolen from the lives of God’s own children is more appealing!
The federal government is promoting a dangerous narrative. He proclaims a federation in words. But he practices a kind of oligarchy. This oligarchic disposition is woven into ethnic statutes. The power belongs to us. There is a population advantage veneer. But anyone who has lived in the north wonders where these huge population figures come from. The British who promoted northern ascendancy in governance helped create the myth of the superior population. The successor government maintained the myth. But within the vaunted upper population exists the existence of a minority group. This group has taken over. Ruthless in acquiring power, they have yet to learn how to deploy power for the development and growth of their own people. What good is power if it can’t change people’s situation?
We are on the precipice. The journey to destiny began a long time ago. Through misguided economic and political policies, the rulers began to decimate Nigeria. If the people had their way now, they would dissolve Nigeria. Perhaps what has somewhat held the nation together is the reluctance of state officials in aggrieved regions and areas to confront the federal government as Emeka Ojukwu did in 1967. Non-state actors filled a void. These non-state actors have great contempt for the elected and selected representatives of the state. In the north, Boko Haram, bandits and Islamist terrorists terrify state officials. In the southeast, non-state actors control the first day of the week.
The South-South once held under the jugular by militants is the only region beyond the control of non-state actors. Indeed, there is no guarantee that if another shadow Ojukwu rebellion were to break out today, there will be no national consensus for the rest of the federation to bring the rebel region back. There is too much disenchantment with the terms of the federal union. Far to Your Tents is on the lips of most Southerners, inside and outside of government. Who will ring the cat, seems to be the holding factor?
Prior to the 1967 Civil War, there was a dingdong between state actors and the federal government. But there was a patchwork going on.
The camel’s back broke after the hit and the counter-hit. It was a turning point. The center could not hold. The arrogance that Abuja is currently showing, the attempt to seize power in the north, to abandon the rotation of power between the two main regions which clearly suggests a rotation between the followers of the two rival religions, is a threat to the peace. Retaining power in the north in 2023 amounts to a coup against the people of the south. Through bulldozers and intimidating methods, the North was able to retain power. But the seed of dividing the nation along regional lines is sinking deeper and deeper into the soil of time. Let’s not let the heat in the nation reach a crisis point. Nobody will have to taste if there is a fire.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume that we don’t have an army capable of invading Nigeria in the event of an all-out rebellion. Put up against the wall, the people will have no choice but to go to martyrdom. This is not the way to go. Yet if we continue on the current path, the day of an implosion is only a matter of time. It will be inevitable.
This is how a car parked by tourists in a park was invaded by a troop of monkeys. They took control of the car and drove out the real owners. But they couldn’t drive the car. A man who seizes power anywhere and does not use it for the good of the people who are the ultimate owners of power is like the monkeys in the story. Short of putting the national car in reverse and stopping the descent into anarchy, the conflagration from 1967 to 1970 would be a feast of jollof rice and fried chicken!
• Prof. Hope O. Eghagha (BA, Jos; MA; PhD, Lagos) MNAL is from the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka.