Are the alarm bells ringing a timeout for Nigeria?
Sir: If President Muhammadu Buhari’s COVID-19 broadcast does not rouse us all to the ever-present dangers we are in as a nation, I wonder what else would? And if it turns out that the ‘‘positive’’ status of Abba Kyari does not alarm us to the bind the ‘‘cabal’’ has brought us to, I wonder what further alarm bells we need to rouse those of us who need to think of how a society is built and more so, the task of nation-building.
By acquiescing to the Nigerian breed of politicians to drive conversations on the Nigerian question, and to accept the depth we have sunk into by allowing or tolerating a presidency that is clearly uncoordinated, run by a ‘‘cabal’’ for its own ends, we have been made to forget that there is an urgent task ahead of all of us that such mishaps and slips could cause the Nigerian boat to sink.
Let us fancy a ‘‘cabal’’ that cornered power for its own ends, and in the course of their ‘‘escapades,’’ they all, one after another are reported to have contracted the coronavirus and have sidelined a de jure, de facto Vice President from acting his role. Should anything untoward happen (God forbid), we would all in the Nigerian fashion be scampering for another ‘‘doctrine of necessity’’ which was never necessary in the first place had we all been alert and cried out when it mattered that the Nigerian boat appears rudderless and seemingly without a “captain.” Worse perhaps would be the sentimental reaction of “this is not our portion” by religionists who resort to orisons for political reliefs and miracles.
But we must come to the understanding that a nation is built by the collective intellect of discourse – such that in the dialectics of open ‘saloon’ verbalisations, alternative anti-thesis to drive the converse thesis into a synthesis would emerge. Key groups today that we all expect could make a difference are either in self-isolation, in shock or either gone silent or are tragically compromised. Opinion leaders, academia, religious leaders, the enlightened and uncompromising nationally minded politicians, traditional rulers and former Heads of State have all receded. Who then would stand in the gap to save whatever is left of Nigeria? Nevertheless, there is hope that with the lessons learnt in the current global pandemic, we will go from platitudes, niceties and wishes to real constructive discourses and opinions, to reset Nigeria and rejectour narcissistic elitist politics – expressing itself in all that is vain and does not represent a society avidly seeking Cuban or Chinese style health care, a productive education system, a more nationalistic politics, a final determination of restructuring and the final dethronement of feudalism.
Should we miss the boat after this coronavirus pandemic, we will merely totter for some while and come to a halt as a nation. In any case, Nigeria as an idea stopped a long time ago. The hour glass-bottomed out. And there seems to be no one to cry for Nigeria. Only very recently, Bishop Hassan Kukah in a valedictory lecture at the Odimegwu Ojukwu University had asked – Nigeria, do we know what time it is? In my musings to put this to paper, I cannot agree more that Nigeria ultimately has no idea what time it is. For no group is yet thinking aloud and articulately on either how we may rethink popular participation in governance, or question issues of ethnic integration or harmony or how we can re-invent leadership in Nigeria. The alarm bells for those who bother to care, are ringing out.
Tony Abolo is the CEO of the Tonbole Productions, Benin City.