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Our collective guilt for insecurity

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[FILES] Troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. Photo/Twitter/HQNigerianArmy

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is undoubtedly very passionate about Nigeria and its future. His love for our nation can hardly be faulted. Of course, Obasanjo was one of those young men and women who, between 1967 and 1970, put their lives on the line for the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria. I am a great admirer of the guts of this unique Nigerian whose place in history can never be taken away from him, as the officer to whom the otherwise patriotic Nigerians who had had cause to rebel against their nation surrendered their insurrection. In ordinary circumstances, any talk of Fulanisation or Islamization -the possible takeover of Nigeria by Fulanis and the imposition of Islam as state religion-would have been dismissed as a script from the Femi Fani-Kayode School of Rhetoric. That Obasanjo seemingly acceded to this possibility or design cannot and must not be dismissed as an expression of anger or frustration by an old man whose preferred candidate had failed to prevail in a presidential election.

The insurgency of Boko Haram elements and the forceful incursion of herdsmen into the territories and properties of others, especially in the Middle Belt and southern states, and the perceived lacklustre approach of the national leadership and security agents to a most unpalatable and destructive situation, could not but have provoked worrying concerns. Critics would appear to have been granted an opportunity to insinuate that these events were state-sponsored. However, from my own point of view, the assumption of Fulanisation or Islamization should not be causing sleepless nights. The balance of power in contemporary Nigeria should not be as worrying as it once was .I refer to an era when both political and military power skewed heavily in favour of one region to the detriment of the other-an era when issues involving Nigeria could easily be resolved on a Friday under the supervision of an Imam! Things would appear to have changed considerably and the demographic realities of Nigeria with regards to the religions does not suggest to me that a particular religious ideology can be imposed on Nigeria. Those who want it to happen may try, but this will require the willing submission of others.  Since the resumption of democracy in 1999, we have had two elected Presidents from the South and two elected Presidents from the North. Former Presidents Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, both from the South and sharing 14 years between them, organised constitutional conferences and were well positioned to allay the fears of ordinary Nigerians with regards to the distrust that existed in regional relations. Had these leaders directed their minds and emotions to the feelings of ordinary Nigerians, quite a lot of issues could have been redressed via the Constitution.

Obasanjo, a very strong leader in many respects, was alleged to be more preoccupied with an extra-constitutional third-term agenda for himself, while fraudulent millionaires kept springing up under Jonathan. Even the state of insecurity we are in today is our collective guilt as a people. There was a time in the history of our nation when those of us from the South envied the North for what was their then relative stability, the ability of its politicians to close ranks in the pursuit of collective interest. The opposite was the case in the defunct Western Region whose politicians, between 1962 and 1965, turned the region into an arena of conflicts that General Yakubu Gowon would later refer to as the Wild, Wild West. Politicians, in political rallies, had no qualms about telling prospective voters that their votes meant nothing because the party in power had already won a yet-to-be-contested election. The undoing of the North, in its own case, has been the many years of backwardness in Western education dating back to the origin of Nigeria as the creation of Britain. The North, sadly, is today the centre of mass poverty and crisis.

In all honesty, there is a national character to the insecurity in Nigeria and finger pointing should not make much impression. Just as we have Bokoharamism and herdsmen nuisance emanating from the North, so also do we have cultism and kidnapping as the sad contributions of the South to a dysfunctional state. Kidnapping quickly transformed into a national scourge because it provided great opportunities for would-be criminals to make the type of monies they would ordinarily dream about. Any foreigner travelling to Nigeria today is, first and foremost, warned about the danger posed by those who kidnap for ransom. Kidnapping has become the source of funding for dangerous herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents. The corruption of politicians, be it military or civilian, account for our state of poverty and joblessness. Those who are lucky to be employed pray hard to be paid a fraction of their dues. Quite a number of our religious leaders feed on immorality and the gullibility of Nigerians. The resolution of our crisis cannot be in blame shifting nor in laundering our dirty linens in the parliaments of those nations where our nation and race are opportunistically mocked. Let us stop reporting Nigeria to America and Europe and strive for ourselves to redirect the course of history and make the world to be envious of Nigeria and its citizens.

Akinola wrote from United Kingdom.


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