It’s New Year’s day
Today marks the beginning of a New Year, the Year Two Thousand and Twenty-Two A.D.
The onset of a new year is customarily the time to dream new dreams and hope new hopes. It is also the opportune moment for individuals, groups and nations to take a critical look at how they had lived their lives during the passing year, and make necessary resolutions for a more successful, peaceful and prosperous new year.
As a people, Nigerians have come a long way trying to figure out just what it is that has held our country in the throes of bad leadership, poverty, corruption, and insecurity, forces that have conspired to stultify and stunt our national growth across many fronts. As a new year dawns, Nigerians generally remain hopeful people. Yet, the events that shaped the expired year are hardly a good enough basis for any lively hope.
The year 2021 has the record of being the most violent in Nigeria’s post-civil war history. It was a year when Nigerians experienced a flood of blood and tears, as brutal terrorists and murderous bandits took control of major parts of northern Nigeria, sacking villages, abducting school children, kidnapping travellers, killing hundreds of security personnel and other innocent Nigerians, and maiming and raping others. At year’s end, swaths of territories in the North East, North West and North Central zones are said to be under the firm control of terrorists and killer bandits.
In some of these territories, they are said to have foisted their Islamic Caliphate flag, and they collect taxes from residents, including farmers who want to be guaranteed safety as they till the soil and harvest their farm produce. The rest of the country is not spared the menace of brazen armed robbery, widespread kidnapping for ransom, incessant jailbreak, and sundry criminality.
In the face of this war situation that is dispatching thousands of innocent men, women and children to their early graves, and the helplessness of an apparently overwhelmed Nigerian security apparatus, the government in power, which should normally take responsibility for the failure to secure the citizens’ lives and property, has often demonstrated such a shocking degree of insensitivity and intransigence, that many citizens began to conclude in 2021 that they had been abandoned to their own devices.
This unfortunate scenario, coupled with the heightened feelings of injustice and marginalisation, and the ever-worsening economic fortunes of the majority of Nigerians, gave a boost in the course of the year to the activities of self-determination and secessionist militants in the South West and South East of Nigeria, in such a way that calls for self-determination by segments of the country became ever more strident and ever more mainstream.
As 2021 ended, there was a widespread consensus among diverse segments of the Nigerian elite who are not direct beneficiaries of the present political dispensation, that Nigeria is not likely to survive for long as one corporate entity with the 1999 constitutional framework on which the country is presently being run.
Many more prominent individuals and groups have openly identified themselves with the calls for the “restructuring” of the country, even though there is yet no nationwide consensus as to what exactly a restructured Nigeria will look like.
The overwhelming majority of Nigerians of diverse religious, ethnic and geopolitical affiliations, however, agree today that Nigeria is tottering dangerously at the edge of a precipice, and if urgent steps are not taken to address some of the structural defects that they believe led us to the present impasse, we may degenerate further from the present situation widely perceived to be state failure to actual state collapse.
As 2022 dawns, we recall the words of Albert Einstein that you cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness that created the problem in the first place. To continue to do the same thing as you have done before and expect a different kind of result is the height of madness. This is true at the individual level, as it pertains to the guiding principles and values with which we live our lives, and at the national level, as it pertains to our institutional frameworks, our core values and habits, and such other ingredients of nation-building as our sense of justice and equity, the priority of the common good over individual and group goods, the rule of law, and the imperative of an enlightened, visionary, and self-sacrificing leadership elite made up of persons of proven integrity.
Nigerians have consistently violated or disregarded the fundamental values and principles upon which peaceful, progressive and prosperous nations are built, and yet we wonder why we are retrogressing so speedily. We have attempted to build a modern democracy upon the foundations of primitive feudalism and some elements of theocracy that render the doctrine of equality of all citizens under the law or that of state secularity inoperable in our climes, and yet we wonder why our nation remains at the starting blocks. We have consistently recycled into critical leadership positions the same gang of tired, inept, clueless, self-serving, corrupt and non-performing professional politicians, and yet we complain that Nigeria is all motion and no movement.
The time has come however for Nigerians of reason to wake up from their slumber and rescue the future of their children from the hands of professional politicians whose priority is always how to win the next election, and not how to secure a wholesome existence for the next generation of the Nigerian people. If in 2022 due attention is not given to the fundamental issues of our corporate existence identified above, and if a radical restructuring of the Nigerian polity is not undertaken, if we think we can continue our business as usual, then the worst predictions regarding a possible disintegration of Nigeria may not be far-fetched.
As in the last few years, we have watched in utter disbelief the despoliation of the Nigerian nation and the devastation of its landscape. Many of those who can leave the country for greener pastures have continued to leave and others are perfecting plans to do so. Sadly, among those losing hope and leaving the country today are some of the brightest, most qualified and most endowed of our young generation. The challenge is for all those who still believe in enormous potential Nigeria holds for greatness, all those who have a stake in the future of this country, to step forward and be counted on the path of sanity. The new year 2022 will witness heightened political manoeuvres at all levels in Nigeria, in preparation for the 2023 general elections, but without some radical constitutional rearrangement, it may be all motion and no movement.
We call on enlightened Nigerians across the board to get into the ring, to set Nigeria on the course of real change by ensuring that the same tribe of retrogressive, self-serving, clueless professional politicians who have resisted every attempt to restructure the country are not put forward one more time for elective positions. Young Nigerians particularly must take responsibility for their future and the future of their children, by forming networks all over the country, building bridges across ethnic and religious barriers, and promoting true nation-building values, in place of the defeatist narratives of helplessness and despondency that are often trending these days among the younger generation. This is the way to go in 2022.
The Guardian wishes all our readers and indeed all Nigerians a happy New Year.