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How President Buhari can fix Nigeria

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It was Hugo Grotius, who said this: “Government comes and goes, but a state remains forever.” But does this axiomatic political saying hold true today based on political happenings in our world? The balkanization of countries has exploded the truism of Hugo Grotius postulation or theory. The dismemberment of Soviet Union is still in living memory. And millions of people, who are alive today, have witnessed the disintegration of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, Somalia, and others. So, the map of the world is being drawn and re-drawn, with the emergence of new nation-states.

Now, the agitation for statehood by some secessionists and freedom fighters necessitated my asking this question: will Nigeria break up in the foreseeable future? Nobody can accurately conjecture the answer to this question. Its answer lies in the womb of time. However, we all know that the Igbo people fought a secessionist war between 1967 and 1970, which was precipitated by the genocidal decimation of the Igbo people in the north in the aftermath of the July 1966 counter coup.

At the end of the Biafra- Nigeria civil war in 1970, the slogan of “no victor, no vanquished”, which was propagated by Yakubu Gowon, gained resonance among the people (s) of Nigeria. And, in 1973, the Gowon military administration established the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme to entrench peace and unity in the Lugardian contraption called Nigeria.

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But has Nigeria achieved true peace and unity since then? The answer to that question is a categorical no. In fact, ethno-religious conflicts have become a common feature of our country’s history. We still remember the Maitatsine religious crisis that rocked Nigeria in the 1980s. And, it was in the north, a hotbed of religious violence , that one Akaluka was decapitated for allegedly desecrating the Koran. In 2002, the Miss World Beauty Contest slated to take place in Abuja was cancelled owing to the Muslims’ opposition to Nigeria’s hosting of the event in Abuja. In 1993, the cancellation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was adjudged the fairest and freest presidential poll in our political annal, threw Nigeria into a political cul-de-sac. However, all these conflicts, which beset Nigeria in the past, could not cause its disintegration.

But today, Nigeria is at the precipice of disintegration, owing to the leadership style of President Muhammadu Buhari. The APC-led government is a fascist regime that wears the mask of a democratic government. It has enthroned the Fulani political hegemony in Nigeria. The Buhari-led government has jettisoned the Federal Character Principle in making appointments into national security outfits and into other federal establishments. Here, now, the federal character principle takes effect only when pupils are being admitted into federal schools because it favours the north.

Again, the Fulani cattle herders, who have wound proprietary hands round the presidential seat, have embarked on a killing spree, decimating the Tiv populations in states such as Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba. The Fulani cattle herders have not spared other parts of Nigeria their pillaging of farms and homicidal deeds. The Fulani cattle herders and farmers’ clashes have caused the loss of thousands of human lives. Yet, President Buhari, who sets store by the factors of consanguinity and ethnicity, has turned a blind eye to the homicidal deeds, which are being committed by his ethnic compatriots.

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The federal government, which is pussyfooting on the issue of the menace of the Fulani cattle herders, clamped down on Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho) for his agitation for the creation of the Yoruba sovereign state. And, the federal government had extradited Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader, to Nigeria through unconstitutional, unfair, unethical, and foul means. Had the federal government acted swiftly, decisively, and tactically in curtailing the unwholesome deeds of the Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani cattle herders in the same way as it has been handling the Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu’s secessionist moves, Nigeria would have become an oasis of peace and unity.

But President Buhari, who is unarguably and undeniably, a Fulani irredentist, has two set of rules or laws for administering Nigeria. The rules he has used to handle the issues of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho are, presumably, determined by their ethnic origins and religions. Were they his Fulani compatriots, they would be walking free in Nigeria today. However, it is sad that he has not given thought to the factors and impulses that actuated and propelled them to start clamouring for political sovereignty for their respective ethnic groups.

Is he not aware that the treatment of the Igbo people in Nigeria as second class citizens is at the root of the agitation for the creation of the state of Biafra by Nnamdi Kanu?

It should be noted that since the end of the civil war in 1970, the ruling Hausa/Fulani political class and military juntas have been treating the Igbo people and Igbo territory as conquered people and conquered territory, respectively. The Igbo people are chafing and choking under the stranglehold of Hausa/Fulani fascist hegemony. And Buhari, who has clannish and nepotistic disposition, has caused the non-existence of egalitarianism in Nigeria, thereby compounding the woes of the Igbo people in our country. Consequently, now, Nigeria has become a feudal state with the ruling Hausa/Fulani political oligarchy calling the shots in the country to the detriment of the Igbo people.

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Lack of egalitarianism, inequity, injustice, and unfairness, which have characterized Nigeria, are not forces for the enthronement of peace and unity in any country. And President Buhari’s ethnocentrism, insularity, and provincial outlook have further bifurcated Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines, and stalled its march to economic and technological greatness. So, Nigeria is fast morphing to a banana republic; what with the issues of insecurity of lives and property, economic and technological backwardness, and disunity militating against the rise of Nigeria to greatness.

In order that Nigeria should remain as one country, and achieve rapid national development, President Buhari should get out of his provincial cloak, become broad-minded, and learn to look at issues from perspectives other than religion and ethnic origins. He should imbibe the notion that Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu reserve the right to agitate for the creation of the Oduduwa and Biafra states, respectively. And, he should address the issues that have given rise to their clamour for statehood instead of clamping down on them, and muzzling the voices of dissent.

And, I would like the Daura-born President Buhari to acquiesce into the idea of ceding the presidential seat to the Southeast, the homeland of the Igbo people, in 2023. His doing that will diffuse political tension in the country, assure the Igbo people that they are not unwanted people in Nigeria, and set our country on the path of achieving true peace and unity, which is a sine qua non for our country’s leap to the summit of economic and technological greatness.

Okoye, a poet, wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State.

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