Date Published: 11/12/09
NIGERIA: A REVERSAL OF ALL FORTUNES? By John Ayodele
The stories coming out of Nigeria to those outside the shores of the beautiful country are not only shameful, but also a reflection of the deepness of the failure of the country as a state or confirmation of the assertion that the country is in struggles. The Nigerian leadership is almost absent except for the fact that there are several people parading themselves as leaders, and the world is wondering who is going to wake up the sleeping giant. The rank and file of the Nigerian leadership, from the Federal to State, official to traditional and local to family is asleep. The moral decadence, high level stealing from the public coffers, and all kinds of profligacy have made the country a laughing stock in the eyes of all people, especially Africans.
Is this the same Nigeria that was predicted in 1960 to become one of the greatest in another twenty years? Is this country that produced the Ahmadu Bellos, Awolowos, Azikwes and many others? One of the veterans of Nigerian emergence, Anthony Enahoro openly lamented the degeneration of Nigeria. He lamented that they were hopeful of a better Nigeria at independence, but that by early seventies, they were crying for the pre-independence Nigeria that had been lost!
The decadence and profligacy have also sneaked into other social lives of the people, and the evidence is obvious in the struggles of the once famous Super Eagles of Africa to be one of the five teams to represent Africa at South Africa 2010. It is no secret that Ghana has assumed the leadership position in West Africa. Someone rightly or wrongly explained that it took a bold leadership (never mind the acts of omissions or commissions) to wake up Ghana. The old Gold Coast is leading in economics, politics and sports. She has conducted a fair and free election which was not annulled, and has been able to attract real investors into the economy, and has now been predicted to be a successful economy in ten years!
In the past, people were anxious about when Nigeria would emerge as one of the leading countries of the world, both economically and technologically, but now most Nigerians are wondering whether the country will ever make a success. Ibrahim Babangida, a former military ruler in Nigeria, once admitted during the SAP imbroglio that Nigeria’s continued survival was a marvel to him.
Things seem to be falling completely apart, and with no efficient or effective center to hold them together in Nigeria. Different kinds of criminality have evolved both amongst the so-called government leaders and in the corridors of the business leaders. This is why one of the erstwhile strong believers in the country publicly pondered about what Nigeria has turned into.
The state of insecurity should be scary to both Nigerians within and outside the borders.
It is more so because the governments seem to be careless about the big problem of insecurity. Nigerians get killed without any sign of serious concern from those supposedly elected to make their lives better and make them safe! Some twenty-three years ago, a novel assassination was committed in Ikeja, Lagos, snuffing out the life of a journalist, named Dele Giwa. No responsible leadership should allow such a murder to go unresolved but in Nigeria, it is a cold issue which no leader has shown any intention to unravel. The only man who tried to make the government to sit up concerning Dele Giwa’s murder, Gani Fawehinmi is no more. In most decent countries of the world, the system would make visible efforts to reveal the killers and the reason for the killing of anyone, not just to get the bad guys, but importantly to deter capital crimes. The essence of reopening most cold cases in other parts of the so-called 'first world' is to tell criminals that the law will catch up with them, no matter how long. This is a big deterrence against crimes, especially capital offenses.
No matter what intrigues Dele Giwa got involved in, or association, his assassination still demands questions.
From the days of Obasanjo, and now Yaradua, it has been one killing after another of all categories of Nigerians while the leaders in government stand akimbo, waiting for the next killing.
Obasanjo’s regime of 1999 – 2007, was good with shedding crocodile tears and reciting the now much abused words of “leaving no stone untouched” to find the killers. Nigerians later became used to the regime, that they understood those words to mean that the killers would never be found. Ask the families of Bola Ige, Dokubo, Marshall, Funso Williams, Daramola and several others whose bread winners or patriarchs were slaughtered under the watch of Obasanjo government. That was a government which promised a big change at its inception in 1999, and whose leader, even without much evidence of proper political schooling, thought he had a monopoly of wisdom.
Nigeria’s insecurity was never really tackled, and the Police which should be used to curb this, was mainly used to steal votes, and maim the limbs of innocent Nigerians. Ask Tafa Balogun who was rumored to have threatened to sing about 2003 elections when arrested for stealing.
The whole world is now aware that the state of insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming height in which people are being killed like fowls. The present leadership has continued where the former left off. It has not only shown the greatest pathological dullness in finding a workable formula to police Nigeria, but has continued to infuse into the mentality of all Nigerians that the country is going to grind to a halt. This writer loves Nigeria, having seen all parts of the country, from the beautiful Toro in the present Bauchi State, to Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi and Gombe in the old Bauchi State, and to the ‘nzogbu-nzogbu’ land of Onitsha, Enugu and Owerri. There are also the ever growing in population, Lagos and Ibadan, the ancient Benin, the new Uyo city, and other beautiful places in the country.
There are much untoward news concerning the killing of Nigerians in broad day light by the Police which is supposed to enforce the fundamental rights to protection of lives and properties. A First banker driving home was reportedly shot to death by the Police in Lagos, and the killing allegedly faked an accident. About eight traders of Ibo descent were callously gunned to death by some Policemen in Abuja after they were stopped on the road. There are many other stories of some Policemen being at the head of human slaughtering all over Nigeria. Are these not signs of a failed state?
The era of Ibrahim Babangida actually turned the page and began the degeneration of Nigeria into a monster of a nation in which people got killed suspiciously, and the populace allowed to speculate who the killers were. This was after the government obviously took no genuine steps to find the killers, and the public noticed glaring efforts by the government to frustrate the investigations which could produce the killers. Ask a one time Police Commissioner in Lagos who told a bewildered world that he got retired for looking too deep into the murder of Dele Giwa. It may actually be right to say that all unprecedented evils appeared in Nigeria at the emergence of Babangida in the corridor of Federal power. Killing by bomb, mass deaths, settlement of all kinds, dangerous rumor milling and other hitherto unheard or unseen evils attended the time of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, also known as the evil genius!
The latest dimension of kidnapping to make money should give a credit or debit to the image of Olusegun Obasanjo. His, was also the first regime to fail abysmally handling the security concerns of the country. Obasanjo, in fact looked the other way while his party was using the police to steal votes and burn homes. As a matter of exactness, his time produced the kidnapping of a ‘de-facto’ state governor with the use of Policemen led by an Assistant Inspector General of Police!
His party men and women boasted that they would win elections where they were not popular, and the Police was always around to help them terrorize the people. The bold success of Nuhu Ribadu in pioneering the tasks of EFCC suffers because of the hands of Obasanjo in some of the courageous man's deeds. Obasanjo’s lawlessness grew into leaps that he even preached ‘do or die’ battles over 2007 elections. This was after his party for once denounced and trounced him over his ambition to rule for an unconstitutional third term. Do we need to scratch heads to know why there are growing criminals in every social and political sector of Nigeria? These criminal were created and still being created by people in governments who want to hold on to power by all means but without the people’s mandate. Check out the datelines from the Niger Delta, the militancy was believed to have been funded by state governors for their ulterior motives. Creating a mad dog is not as easy as taming it.
Nigeria, as she is today needs a State Police, and the fears of the Federal Government against this should be dropped to stem the scary waves of crimes all over country. The American example which has been copied wrongly by many Nigerian leaders should convince all that the growing population (especially that of criminals) needs the extra State Police, while the Military should remain the preserves of the Federal Government. The State Police should be able to handle better security affairs within each State border since citizens from each area will be employed to police. Criminals of all kinds, including the patrons need to be curtailed if the swansongs for a break-up of Nigeria are to be stopped. Insecurity is man’s worst enemy, and the country will be wasting her resources on rebranding if the streets are not safe for business.
The tribal jingoists speaking against the actions of the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor need to keep their peace for a while. Lamido Sanusi, no matter his omissions or commissions, represents the crop of people who can redeem Nigeria. The country needs young and bold people who can look the demagogues in their faces and damn their treacherous flatteries and stabbings without flinching. There is no stability without errors, this has happened in several histories across the earth. Instability is the ‘sine-qua-non’ for stability. Nigeria can only become ‘born-again with the types Ribadus and Sanusis; the continuation of ‘same of same’ as we have had for more than 49 years since independence will not take Nigeria to any promising position. It is time for real leaders to appear and damn the fake leaders who have been parading themselves in both in the political and economic fields that enough of their deceits.
A courageous leadership is needed all over Nigeria,– stand up the Presidency, the Nigeria Police Force, the Judiciary, the Federal and State Legislatures to move away from the deceitful leadership of yester-years.
The imperishable Alfred Tennyson’s lines should give some hope to all Nigerians:
Sleep and rest, sleep and rest, Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother's breast, Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest, Silver sails all out of the west,
Under the silver moon; Sleep my little one,
Sleep my pretty one, Sleep.