ON MAY 30th, 2021, in the mood of the Biafran Memorial Day Celebration, I wrote an eulogy for many, over three million who lost their lives during the war. I equally prayed that we attain the struggle which they died for – equity, justice, fairness and good governance. Of the many engagements I got on my social media handles, one by a brother piqued my interest. He commented – ‘Story’.
When l saw his comment, I felt a sharp pain and anger within, that he doesn’t believe that the Nigerian dream is achievable – where equity, justice, fairness and coherence will reign. I wanted to lecture him, to bequeath him the message of hope, that with conscious efforts of all, our dear nation can be redeemed. But I couldn’t do that, for I lost courage to go down that lane. Reason? I saw no lie in his thought and word.
78.5% of Nigerians are under 40 while over 53% of Nigeria’s populations were not born as at 1999 (Statisense, 2021). This shows from all indices that many did not experience Nigeria in her years of oil boom and the proceeds that followed; when first class seat tickets to the UK sold for #800 and a bag of rice – #30. Neither did they see the regions compete healthily in development, education, healthcare and good governance; when government rolled out policies that were pro-people oriented.
Most Nigerians have not experienced good governance and many never did; the nation ate them up. This is the reason why “Nigeria will get better” is but a fable to many.
Here, the cries and bickering are no longer about poor healthcare, corruption, unemployment, power generation and distribution, dilapidated educational system. The citizens have been accustomed to all these inadequacies and inefficiencies for a long time now. They have provided all for themselves by themselves. The national question now is that of security of lives; that basic right which we hand over to the government in a social contract.
Today’s Nigeria is so engrossed in injustice, unfairness and predetermined annihilation. She is George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where “Some animals are more equal than others”. Her streets are soaked in stench of bigotry, hate and violence. Here, life has become short, nasty and brutish.
In her current state of conundrum, state actors are forgiving terrorists and reintegrating them into security outfits, paying ransoms to bandits, praying for killer herdsmen to repent while committing a purge down south, on a people who only ask for equal opportunities and justice for all.
In this contraption, it is evil to come from and identify with a particular ethnic group. In the FCT, some landlords judge you not fit to rent an apartment even when you can pay it. At the national level, you are exclusively left out of holding certain positions. For them, the federal character principle holds no water.
What is it that has been left unsaid and undone? Virtually everything! The chairman, code of conduct tribunal, Danladi Umar tagged the Igbos, “Biafran Boys” and recently, the Attorney-General / Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami likened the famous spare parts business to the marauding herdsmen activities. All that is there to see is hate, incompetence and nepotism coming from people who hold critical positions in government. How did we get here?
There have been systematic attacks on farmers across the middle belt and the Southern states. The north is already submerged in terrorism and banditry. Yet, for the resources said to be put in place, none have yielded any good result. Farmers, who can, have resulted to contributions and making payments to bandits to allow them farm.
Consequently, a day after the civil war remembrance day, on June 1st, the President, through his twitter handle in a series of tweets took a swipe on the youths reminding them that his administration was ready to perpetrate same atrocities carried out during the war. He wrote, “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War. Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand”.
These are words an executive who wishes to uphold the unity of the country should not use at this critical period, when tensions are high at every corner of the nation. A better statement which contains empathy, reassurance to a better Nigeria would have calmed nerves and garnered followers who still believe in Nigeria’s unity.
But that opportunity has been lost due to some myopic, nepotistic, selfish, yet cancerous interests. It is as such that Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu’s influences are steadily on the rise – after all people align with that which not only promises to protect their interests but take actions especially when it has to be security of lives – which the government has failed woefully.
To this effect, the government has lost people’s credence and trust. There is a growing sentiment among citizens towards the activities of unknown gun men which includes the destruction of government institutions and attacks on security agents.
Nigeria has reached the nadir of a failed state. She’s on a horse ride to Malivore, a character in Julie Plec’s fiction, ‘Legacies’, whose victims and histories are wiped out from earth’s surface, never to be known to have ever existed. If nothing is done to correct this anomaly and run a system that is inclusive, governed by fairness and justice, then, her existence is but a matter of time.