Nigeria got independence on 1st of October, 1960 after several years under the British colonial administration. To making this feat possible, our then nationalists threw everything humanly possible into the struggles for self governance. They were well committed in their quest to convincing the colonialists that the country was indeed ripe enough to taking over the mantle of leadership and walking unaidedly to progress. True to this conviction, the journey started brightly with a federal constitution which operated a parliamentary democracy consisting of an elected Prime minister and ceremonial Head of State; while, the then three regions were administered by their respective Premiers. As the years went by, the race for the control of the center became intensely competitive and this gradually led to the fanning of the embers of political atmosphere where ethnic considerations became the other of the day. Consequently, the country went through plethora of challenges that threatened to break its foundation with two successive military coup d’états which later led to the civil war. After the war, it took the people over nine years before they were able to reestablish democratic governance of the Second Republic in 1979. Thereafter, the country moved from one military administration to another in between the short lived Third Republic, before this present Fourth Republic came onboard in 1999.
Presently, the country is celebrating her 62nd anniversary; and, there is no gainsaying the fact that our leaders are still finding it very difficult to totally separating the ills of the past from hindering our now and the future. A lot of things are happening in the system which have invariable dragged us back to the crawling position. It is very worrisome that despite the harrowing experiences of the past, we have not been able to shake off some of those factors that bedeviled our democracy from the first through the third republics. It is now over twenty three years that the Fourth Republic has been established; and, recent events across the country are gradually pushing us back to the periods of political instability. One major factor that the military usually hinged their intervention on, was the high level of insecurity. Today, that factor has found its way back into the system; and, it has taken the shine off the achievements of the present administration; as it was also instrumental to the fall of the immediate past regime. When it started from the North-East, our leaders handled it with kid gloves believing that it was a problem for the governors of that region to solve; and, as such, while those governors were running helter-skelter; their counterparts from other parts of the divide were enjoying relative peace and tranquility in their own territories. Today, the monster has spread all-over defiling every concerted effort put in place to tackling it.
Consequent upon the aforementioned, vices such as banditry, kidnapping, raping, highway robbery; and, wanton destructions of lives and properties of innocent citizens have become everyday occurrences in our society. The situation is so bad to the extent that a lot of economic activities have been grounded. Most foreign investors are staying away from coming to do business in the country because of the hostile environment; farmers have abandoned their farms because of fear of attacks by unknown gunmen; trading and other commercial activities have also been hampered in many parts of the country; while, movements from one place to the other across the states have also been greatly affected for fear of kidnappers to mention but a few. As it is now, the effects of the state of insecurity have made the country’s situation to be similar to that of a little child that is just learning how to stand up and walk without support from anyone. Normally, at sixty two (62), it is expected that a man should still be agile and capable of standing and walking unaided; except, such person is physically, mentally or medically challenged. In as much as there is nothing wrong with those that are unable to stand or walk as a result of circumstances beyond their control; it becomes a cause for concern when a supposedly fit person is finding it very difficult to doing the needful. A closer look at what is presently on ground indicates that the country has been mercilessly pummelled by the devastating scourge of insecurity which has brought her to her knees and consequently made her to be learning to stand and walk independently again.
As if the problem of insecurity posed no enough threat; our leaders have added the catastrophic weight of ethno-religious politics to the overbearing loads that have incapacitated the country from functioning effectively and efficiently. This write-up will not delve much on this aspect because it has been extensively reviewed lately in the writer’s article titled “THE DELICATE ETHNO-RELIGIOUS ROAD TO 2023”. However, one can briefly mention that, religion and ethnicity have wrongly been used by our politicians to the extent that mutual suspicion is now the order of the day. Therefore, it is very worrisome that these sentiments are now placed above merit and the provisions of the law. Rather than working assiduously and in accordance to laid down rules to getting things done; those who ought to know better are the same people that are engaging in all manner of antics to trying to get what they want using ethnic and religious flavours. Whenever things do not work out in their favour, they will unhesitatingly blame their wows on the status quo; and, the next thing on their agenda would be to start agitating for imaginary rights that are not in accordance to the subsisting laws. Some will even go as far as calling for the breakup of the country based on ethnic lines to cause disaffections amongst the people and distabilise the government.
Therefore, it is not uncommon in our present settings to see powerful politicians or group of people using elements of threat or intimidation as a way of clamouring for political positions and relevance based on ethnic/regional and or religious grounds. Thus, whether it is pleasant to mention it here or not; the fact is that; no matter the outcome of the 2023 presidential elections; some people are already waiting to cry foul and blame their failures on imaginary marginalization forgetting that electioneering politics is a game of numbers. Democracy all over the world is the same; because, it recognizes the party/candidates with the highest number of legitimate votes and other basic criteria without any consideration for ethno-religious attachment(s). So, my very crucial advice for those that are already rehearsing how they will drum for war after the elections, is that; they had better start playing the real politics accordingly towards achieving electoral values, rather than wasting their time to trying to get results/compensations through the backdoors. The simple truth about all these is that, the international community is already aware of the antics; and, will no longer be deceived to extending sympathy and supports for such manipulation(s).
Relatedly, this scourge of mutual suspicion which is also prevalent in the corridors of power has caused so much damage such that, those who are supposed to be representing the people have now changed their focus from pursuing and protecting the interest of the masses to that of their political parties and affiliations. They now see the issue of insecurity and other problems bedeviling the country as the problem of the ruling party. It is therefore not surprising when some lawmakers are blaming the wows of the country on the government. The question is, are they (regardless of their political affiliations) not part of the government? As we speak, there has not been a reported case of complaint by any lawmaker of alleged suppression of his/her proposed workable/viable solution(s) to solving the problems facing our country to buttress the fact that they have been alienated from government. Issues that do not directly concern or affect them are treated frivolously; and, that is why it is not surprising that ASUU strike has dragged on for over seven months without any headway. Prices of essential commodities have gone beyond the reach of ordinary citizens; the level of unemployment is so high that the youths have been pushed into engaging in crimes to making ends meet; artisans are also hanging around every nook and cranny of the society without work to do; a lot of entrepreneurs have been forced out of business; and, many have embraced street begging for alms and other dirty engagements for survival to mention but a few. It is only when elections are close by that some people will be deceiving themselves by doing what they ought to have done much earlier to take credit and confuse (not convince) the electorates.
To worsen the situation, constructive criticisms from well meaning citizens and members of the opposition are misconstrued and treated with levity because of lack of trust. Our leaders prefer to take advices from their hangers on rather than seeking valuable advices from seasoned professionals and elites from all walks of life (regardless of their ethno-religious and political affiliations) who have what it take to proffering solutions to the humongous problems facing us as a nation. It is also in line with this development that portfolios (ministerial and other top positions) are mostly shared based on political, ethnic and religious expediencies; and, not on merit. Square pegs are placed in round holes as compensations for their electoral contributions without minding the negative effects such will bring to bear on the wellness of governance. The most unfortunate aspect of the whole drama is that most (if not all) of these appointments get the clearance and approval of the law makers; and, this makes them also to be complicit for whatever shortcomings that have inherently crippled the progress of the country.
Apropos to the foregoing, it is evident that despite the fact that we have been “independent” for the past sixty two (62) years; the situation on ground have thoroughly incapacitated the system to the extent that the country is now “learning to walk independently again”. Therefore, it is very pertinent that we should shun all the factors that have contributed adversely to the progress of the nation; and, put things in the right perspectives so that the country can regain its lost glory as the true giant of Africa. We must all come together; join hands together and be fully committed towards ensuring that we make her walk again.
Raymond Oise-Oghaede writes in from Suru-lere, Lagos; and, he can be reached via [email protected].
1st October, 2022.