As dark clouds hover atop the west coast – Part 2
Truth must be told, Nigeria’s circumstances today are different from what they were in 1990 when it pioneered the ECOMOG initiative. The country has been fighting insurgency, banditry and sundry bloodletting in various parts of its landmass in the last decade. This has stretched the capacities of the military, bred the killings of our fighting forces and impacted Nigeria’s fiscal capabilities.
The immediate past administration in particular pathetically mismanaged the country’s sociocultural sensitivities such that the Nigeria of 1990 is light years away from what we have today. Our compatriots in the past reasoned first and foremost as Nigerians before remembering their ethnic origins. Whether they were Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Nupe, Gwari, Bini, Tiv and so on, was secondary.
Under the recently recessed administration of Muhammadu Buhari, however, the Nigerian psyche was viciously re-calibrated to think and act along basal ethnic and religious lines. Nigeria’s military today unfortunately is bereft of the quality of officers and soldiers with half the commitment and fervour of the generation which enforced peace and enthroned democracy across West Africa in the 1990s. Memories of that era of the Joshua Nimyel Dogonyaros, Rufus Modupe Kupolatis, John Shagayas, Ishaya Bakuts, Adetunji Olurins, John Mark Iniengers, Samuel Victor Leonard Malus, Timothy Shelpidis, cascade down the mind at a time like this. The needed undiluted professionalism, unwavering patriotism, intra-service cohesion and inter-service collaboration for international engagement are equally absent. One hopes to yet write specifically about Malu who was my favourite of the lot.
Nigeria’s military as it stands today requires holistic, sustained and conscientious rebuild. The funding of military intervention by Nigeria anywhere outside our borders now must be thoroughly thought through. Nigeria’s debt burden is ever on the rise and said to be in the region of N80 Trillion. The country continues to service hanging debts and to borrow from multilateral institutions ostensibly to reflate and steady the economy. This is just as inflation, hunger and poverty pervades the land. To be sure these preceding months of the incumbent regime have been hard and dreary for Nigerians. Not too many of our compatriots will endorse the wholesale wastage of our resources in the name of playing “Big Brother” somewhere simply for the bragging rights. This is the time to think creatively about how to rescue Nigeria from the brinks.
In recent days, Tinubu who is both Nigeria’s President and Chairman of ECOWAS has been tinkering with options for the resolution of the Nigerien impasse. He has constituted two delegations to engage with the coup leaders and their allies respectively. Nigeria’s last military Head of State before the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999, General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III, also an army General before his installation to the position, have commenced talks in Niamey with the dissidents. Renowned diplomat Baba Gana Kingibe is leading a second team to Libya and Algeria both neighbours to Niger to seek their cooperation in the resolution of the impasse. Nipping the festering coup bug in the bud is crucial to political stability of the West Coast.
The sociopolitical stasis in Niger Republic constitutes a primary litmus test of Tinubu’s leadership strengths and foreign relations capabilities. Policy somersaults have characterised his early pronouncements which betray lack of preparedness for the position he presently occupies. This could be antithetical to decision making in the very dynamic world we live in. Demonstrators have taken to the streets of Niamey bearing placards with a collage of Tinubu’s images, denouncing him and labelling him an ‘illegitimate President.’ On Thursday August 3, 2023, there was a new twist to the simmering cauldron in Niger Republic, irrespective of the visit of the high-powered delegation from the Nigerian government to that country. Its junta announced the immediate severance of diplomatic ties with four countries namely Nigeria, Togo, France and the United States of America. Amadou Abdramane spokesperson for the dissidents announced this in a national broadcast and was quoted by ‘Radio France International’. This is the newest distension to the Nigerien crisis which will task Nigeria, ECOWAS and the world at large, anew.
Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author, is a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).
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