By Adepoju Paul Olusegun
Only God knows the number of hours of deep REM sleep that Mr. President had over the independence weekend. Because apart from the peculiar challenges associated with ruling a complex nation like Nigeria, which could clearly cause numerous sleepless nights, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, the entire executive council (ceteris paribus), Abuja residents and indeed every Nigerian – home and abroad, including those clad in bomb vests, were all at the edge of their seats anticipating the forecasted doomsday, no thanks to MEND and Boko Haram – two organizations that currently get more attention than the not-so-lucky President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Even from the tone of his Independence Day address, it was evident that President Jonathan is no longer living under the illusion that he has Nigeria all figured out, and that everything is under control. No. His tensed speech delivery further raised the fear index across the nation and “He’s not in charge” is no longer a song sung only by his political arch enemies, it has become a gospel truth.
The hallmark of Independence Day, at least in the good ol’ days, is the fusion (or amalgamation) of local and national parades. I remember my primary school days. We all wore well ironed clean uniforms and waved the national flags along the major roads in Ibadan metropolis, especially the routes that the military administrator’s motorcade would drive through en route the Liberty Stadium. The stadium event was something we looked forward to, the major social event on the school’s calendar. This is quite understandable considering the well deserved fight of our forefathers in the national quest for independence and total liberation from colonial rule.
But this year’s was “no key”, not “low key” as suggested by the presidency and propagated by the press. In just two years, Nigeria has deteriorated from a nation that was hopeful that things would work out hence it could at least commemorate its independence, to one that has become so twisted and decentralized to the extent that the security of lives in an arena couldn’t be guaranteed for just three hours; which eventually led to the cancellation of the expected Eagle Square event, shifting everything to the Presidential Villa which is clearly the only secured residence in Nigeria.
The colonial masters are long gone yet the nation is not independent, because independence is freedom from control – freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organization, or state. Freedom in national usage doesn’t connote oppression and suppression by a few crazy ones that are insignificant in number, but are powerfully ruthless in action. One after another, the shaky delicately hinged pillars holding the nation together are helplessly falling off while the various arms of government are doing little or nothing to prevent the actualization of the Nigeria-will-soon-divide doomsday prophecy.
Just five years ago, MEND and MASSOB were the only ones seeking resource control and ideating opting out of Nigeria. But fast forward the tape to current date and you’ll be amaze at how swiftly the nation has transformed. There are now so many elements of division against almost everything – CBN’s controversial Islamic banking system, Boko Haram’s previous fight against anything western and current terrorism leaps, isolation of the south west in political and non political federal appointments…
ASUU, NASU, SSANU, NUT and other stakeholders in the nation’s educational sector are still going on strikes over issues that should have been resolved by the federal government which has also incurred the wrath of the future generation by doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to checkmate the familiar failure trends in major exams. Although the government is headed by Goodluck, the nation’s luck has been worse than ever or how do we explain the national team not qualifying for the next CAF Africa’s nation’s cup?
Without gainsaying, Nigeria has exhausted all of its allotted lucks and is currently on its own and the need to take responsibilities for our actions is now staring at us right in the face. But the president and his executive through the press are downplaying the enormous national failures. In his speech at the United Nations, President Jonathan applied a smart timeless political tactic to address the terrorism onslaught that Nigeria is currently groping with. He literally put the blame on the United Nations and asked other nations of the world to combat terrorisms in unison.
Few weeks after the UN summit, President Jonathan embarked on a three-African nations’ tour to drum support for his let’s-secure-the-world-together proposition only for his national senior national team to ridiculously lose her nation’s cup qualification bid. This is another pointer to the fact that Nigeria has a peculiar problem that the rest of the world does not have. And if any solution is possible, it must come from within. Let’s be sincere with ourselves, at least for once.
Out of the three nations that the Nigerian president visited, which one is having tough times with terrorists and terrorism? None, except the messenger’s nation of course. Furthermore, according to a recently ranking of nations, the status of Nigeria’s reputation in the comity of nations has nosedived, deeper than what we could ever imagine. Imagine Nigeria now in the League of Nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan that are notorious terrorists’ abodes.
Who can believe that few years ago, we were the happiest people on earth; but today, we are one of the most dreaded nations globally? Only we could understand what transpired and altered our national destiny. Even within ourselves, we fear and dread one another. There are evidently more issues to contend with. And the best result we can get is only when the president stops externalizing our internal problems.
He might have successfully or woefully failed in his quest for global efforts to combat Nigerian numerous crisis, we are however going nowhere if we can’t figure the ways out by ourselves. In my search for a nation with similar problems, I couldn’t get any nation on earth that has similar history like ours, nor one with protracted post amalgamations implosions. We actively got ourselves here in the first place; therefore, it would be acrimony for us to be banking on more luck since luck-in-flesh isn’t faring well.
Our democracy, though nascent, has been characterized with a gradual, rather insidious decline in the quality of leadership at the highest levels. The nation started comparatively on the right path under President Obasanjo. The late Umaru Yar’adua had good intentions but bad health, while the incumbent’s position is quite confusing. He is difficult to discern and trust. On one side he seems overwhelmed while on the more popular perspective, he is yet to realize the enormous challenge he is faced with.
The President, or let me say Nigeria, can’t afford to be going on tours while his nation is not uprightly standing. He cannot be taking pictures with Obama while his nation is fast becoming an abode for fresh Osamas. In other words, he needs to get his priorities right.
Cancelling subsequent Independence Day celebrations won’t chase terrorists away, in fact, it would make daily living more difficult since we can no longer predict where and when they will strike next. The ongoing academic strikes in the ivory towers also deserve close watch by Mr. President who now spends more time on other things apart from fixing Nigeria.
Barak Obama is working tirelessly to solve the less than ten per cent unemployment crisis while ours cannot truly say the number of Nigerians that are unemployed, talk less of getting them jobs. And despite the familiar tough Nigerian stench, GEJ is working in unison with aje butter finance minister to make living more difficult for the citizens by ideating the removal of fuel subsidies, thus setting the stage for another round of nationwide strikes with its attending calamities.
The loss of the Super Eagles is the best illustration of what is currently going on in Nigeria. During the qualification round for the last edition of the nation’s cup, we had to wait until the final whistle at two matches to be sure of our qualification. In other words, we were lucky. But today, luck wasn’t enough. Sheer unseriousness robbed us off. As a nation, we’ve been so lucky at averting crisis in the past. But we are now over reliant on luck that we’ve failed to take responsibilities for our actions. And when we decide to act, it is often ridiculous no thanks to the ubiquitous ineptness and Psalms 23.
We now take orders from terrorists who decide where we go to, and where we dare not ass through. The citizens are afraid, even those at the top are timid. Hospitals like the National Hospital in Abuja allegedly rejected some road accident victims in anticipation of victims of expected bomb blasts. The Nigerian Law School, Abuja cannot ensure the safety of its new lawyers hence it had to relocate the Call to Bar ceremony of about 3050 graduates away from the Bwari campus of the institution. Also, 2010 Batch C corps members couldn’t have a befitting POP (passing out parade) because of security fears.
It is now clear that although no bomb went off on October 1, the seeds of fear, distrust and discord fell on a rich loamy soil in the hearts of Nigerians. While the president is posing for pictures in Accra, his citizens now have to cross to the other side, very close to his say-no-to-violence billboard across Eagle Square in fear of bomb explosions. They must nearly die waiting to be screened for bombs and explosives before being allowed into major hospitals; and they now think twice and thrice before going to religious events with large crowd turnouts. Their lives are being lived for them by powerful faceless forces that only a holistic approach – not mere luck – can contend with. Since good or bad, luck has failed us.