By Brady Nwosu
A king that transformed a jungle to a city will forever be remembered. At the same time, a king that turned a city into jungle forever would not be forgotten.
The way things are going, it is obvious that many nations are likely to emerge from Nigeria. When the histories of such nations that were hitherto Nigeria would be written, one name that would be scrolled in bold prints is President Muhammadu Buhari for presiding and writing the epitaph of once a country.
In this vein, “There was a country,” the last book of the late literary icon, Prof Chinua Achebe, becomes prophetic.
When in the early 2000, it was alleged that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had predicted that Nigeria would fragment in 2015, there was palpable tension in the country, especially in the face of the general elections that generated so much acrimony and hatred and the country was polarised along ethnic and religious divides. The elections came and have gone, with many heaving sighs of relief believing the worst was over.
True to their thoughts, the worst could have been over if the winner of the presidential election, President Buhari was interested in the unity of the country. He could have embarked on reconciliation and unification across the country so that the grievances and disappointment that attended the elections would be forgotten. Instead, he started to position people from one section of the country and equally started promoting his religion, while he saw the rest as conquered people, who should not impugn his authority even in a democracy. How can somebody be pissing on your head and be telling you that it is raining?
Events the last one year gave rise to the frenzy of self-determination by various ethnic groups. Before it was only the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in the South East and right now more groups have sprang in the region all working in synergy towards self determination. Then, like a joke, another uprising is going on in the Niger Delta region. It started with Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), and now many other groups have come out working in the same direction for self-determination. They are holding the nation to its jugular and their persisted attacks on oil facilities in the region has reduced the nation’s crude oil export from 2.2 million barrels to about 1.2 million.
The reason is that Buhari saw the South East and the South-South as conquered people. He has been accused to have an agenda to Islamise the country and his actions and body languages lay credence to such accusation. In his disappointing May 29 broadcast, the emphasis was how to crush militants in the Nigeria Delta and the unarmed agitators of Biafra, but he was mute over the Fulani herdsmen, who are carrying out heinous crime of genocide in the Middle Belt and the South. Should that be the position of a leader who is interested in the unity of the country? While Fulani herdsmen walk freely with sophisticated war/assault rifles, soldiers saw the gathering of Biafra agitators as an avenue to test their marksmanship; but thumb up for the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen, which the Global Terrorism Index rates as the fourth most deadly terrorist organisation in the world. There is no way the country can stand by suppressing the other ethnic nationalities feeling the brunt of the Hausa/Fulani hegemony.
While the president was on official visit to his Kastina State, he dismissed the agitation of Biafra and said that for Nigeria to break up, that it was better for all of them to be drawn. That is living in the past. As it is, this country may not survive under him. Nigeria is in a parlous state. It is dying, and it won’t be the first country that has ceased to exist as it was. This is the naked truth unless somebody is not looking at what is going on. There are cracks everywhere. The foundation has been weak, and has been destroyed. Ethnic nationalities are more than ever coming up agitating for self-determination.
Nigeria is the only subsisting country cobbled together by the British, so anybody who is beating his chest that the country will not break up is whimsical.
Go down to history. Look at the former Federation of East Africa, which dissolved into Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The British also created the West Indies Federation, which also failed and you now have Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; they also created Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, it failed. The only federation they created then that has not failed is Nigeria, which is bound to fail if we don’t sit down and talk and that is why when Biafra declared independence, British fought tooth and nail to make sure Nigeria didn’t fail because they hold it as the only success they have in the British empire. They also created the Federation of Malaysia and Singapore, but it failed. The time that Biafra was pulling out was also when Singapore was pulling out of the Federation of Malay, Singapore and North Borneo, put together by the British.
If President Buhari is conscious of this, he should not be belligerent in his tough talk of Nigeria being indivisible. You don’t force national unity by fiat.
Like all pluralistic societies, Nigeria’s corporate existence will always be a subject of intense agitation. This is more so as the country is an artificial creation standing on a false federation. Presently, there’s growing mistrust among all ethnic nationalities against one other.
All through history, it a common knowledge that no force has ever been able to permanently suppress ethnic nationalism.
By the President’s position, that it is better for all Nigerians to “jump into the sea and get drowned” than for Nigeria to divide, he is prescribing the 1994 Rwandan tragedy. He should come down from his high horse and to allow our nationalities to choose their preferences peacefully. Instead of holding on power by Crisis Theory. Slobodan Milosevic failed to adhere to this wisdom in the defunct Yugoslavia; the outcome was a war that claimed 140,000 lives. His obdurate refusal to negotiate caused violent seizures and the country splintered into six different nations. The old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is now history. Sudan went the same raucous path, before South Sudan was carved out in 2011.
In the face of agitation for self determination, he should toe the civil line by replicating the September 2014, when Scotland held a landmark referendum on whether to remain in the United Kingdom or not. The “Yes” side won with 55.3 per cent. The UK held another referendum yesterday to determine its membership of the European Union. The British Prime Minister David Cameron is only campaigning for the country to remain, not threatening his people. In 1993, the old Czechoslovakia arranged a peaceful separation, an exemplary model on how to organise an amicable political divorce between incompatible political entities.
An interim government arrangement maybe an amicable exit strategy. Nigeria cannot pretend about this artificiality any longer. No threat can crush these cleavages, as shown in Catalonia, which has been campaigning for independence since the 16th century. Instead of the agitation to wane in the face of the Spanish government’s repression, it is growing stronger.
Buhari is afraid of break up of the country, but he is not doing anything to arrest it. The immediate past Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, added another comic relief after the massacre of armless Biafra agitators by soldiers in Onitsha, and Asaba by directing the police to disarm the armed less people, while allowing herdsmen to walk freely with AK 47 and other assault riffles.
We should do a rethink before crediting Buhari with the success in the Boko Haram fight. It is on record that as at the time he was decimating the Islamic insurgent group, the military was yet to get new order for military hardware. The success was because of the cooperation of northern leaders. This is a nation of hypocrisy. We remember that when the former Chief of Army Staff, Azubike Iherijirika was crushing the Boko Haram to finish, northern leaders started shouting genocide and threatened to drag him before ICC and Buhari equally called on former President Goodluck Jonathan to stop killing their people. But what happened, the military came down heavily on the sect under the present government and the northern leaders didn’t cry genocide. Who is deceiving who?
The war against corruption is a mere peer struggle. It is just against those he felt had crossed his paths in the past. We remember that in 1984, the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) in less than one year was ingrained in the consciousness of the citizens. But today, it is business as usual in the Police, Customs, Immigration etc, nothing has changed.
Presently, the Nigerian history is reluctantly thought in both primary and post-primary institutions. This is to blackout upcoming generations to know how Nigeria as a nation-state was corruptively and fraudulently crafted. Any leadership in Nigeria that is out of proactive projection to restructure the Nigerian brand that’s currently weak is merely and punitively foist self in power. We don’t have a country. Shambles! Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have recently advocated for restructuring Nigeria. like I told my friend Ethelbert Okorie that (who never quoted my name in his last article) Atiku is telling the South East and in fact, South what we want to hear. But can northern hegemonic mindset and doctrine let him do that if and when he gets the top job?
On which side has the country not been pulverised? The economy is on its knees. According to Bloomerg, the president has in one year brought Nigeria’s economy on its knees. The article noted how there was a wave of optimism, a year ago that the ex-military ruler could revive a nation battered by falling oil prices and decades of corruption. Now, it states that Africa’s biggest economy is on its knees and Buhari has been forced to throw in the towel …, stressing, “it’s been a lost year” and that Nigeria will soon enter a recession, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria, and an upsurge of militant attacks since February has sent crude production, which usually accounts for 70 per cent of government revenue, plummeting to an almost 30-year low.
Foreign direct investment has been the lowest since the 2007-08 global financial crisis, and Citigroup Inc said deals have ground to a halt. Capital controls prompted JPMorgan Chase & Co. in September to kick Nigeria out of its local-currency emerging-market bond indexes, tracked by more than $200 billion of funds.
This year, Nigeria’s local-bond yields have climbed 276 basis points to 13.46 percent, leaving them as the only such securities among 31 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg to make losses. Electricity output has plunged to about a 30th of that of South Africa, Africa’s second-biggest economy, as attacks on pipelines cut supplies of natural gas to power plants.
For nearly 60years , Nigeria has gone a long test running and now reduced to hard starting. We can’t continue trying, the engine has finally knocked and needs either a complete overhauling to re-fix or a brand new one. Everything has gone wrong with us and Nigeria as an entity. Honesty is life and worthy living .We must honestly and in true faith believe patriotism renegotiate to mingle together and redo Nigeria. But first, release Nnamdi Kanu.
• Nwosu writes from Okai, Eziama, Mbano, Imo State.