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Struggle for the soul of Nigeria

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Any close watcher of events in the country in recent times would know that the country is passing through a very trying period. Never in the history of Nigeria has it faced this kind of troubles. The troubles are multifaceted. Over and above every other thing is the battle for the soul of Nigeria. The centrifugal forces from different sectors of Nigeria want to rip it apart. It looks like a joke. But never before has the country been so threatened to such an extent. Not even during the civil war.

The events of the Nigeria civil war were one directional. It was a section of the country contending against the whole, which made it fail. That was child’s play compared to what is happening at present. The country is facing multi-faceted problems from several directions. Each problem is potentially dangerous. The spate of agitations and quit notices being issued from right, left and centre are frightening.

At the last count, no less than five quit notices have been issues across Nigeria. The coalition of Arewa youths started it all when it issued an ultimatum to the Igbo resident in the north to leave their region or be forced out from October 1, 2017. That immediately sent jitters across the country and re-ignited the unending ethnic tension bedeviling Nigeria. Each ethnic group appeared to have been awakened from slumber.

As if that was being expected, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) readily welcomed the Kaduna declaration and saw it as oil that would lubricate the wheel of their march towards Biafra. IPOB called on all Igbo in the north to return en masse without wasting time. It also ordered northerners living in the South-East to vacate.

Almost immediately, a coalition of Niger Delta militants, in a sharp reaction, rose from a meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and ordered all northerners to vacate the oil-rich region. The militants threatened to attack all oil wells owned by northerners in the Niger Delta before October 1. They also threatened to declare the Niger Delta Republic. The group demanded for the return of all oil blocks given to none indigenes of the Niger Delta.

A group called the Middle Belt Renaissance Forum, made up of youths from all the states in the Middle Belt, after its crucial meeting in Abuja, declared that all herdsmen must vacate the Middle Belt by October 1. It declared that the Middle Belt is not in any way part of the Northern agitation for the Igbo to vacate. The Forum charged the North to stop using the Middle Belt to achieve its selfish political and economic aims as was the case in the past.

As if it wants to ensure that it was not left in the cold, a group of Yoruba nationalists had, after a meeting in Lagos, declared Oduduwa republic, which it said is seceding from the entity called Nigeria. Although, it did not issue quit notice against anybody, it slammed Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB, MASSOB, and the Arewa Consultative Forum for disrespecting the Yoruba nation for too long!

The Yoruba, to me, has been the only placating force holding Nigeria together after the other regions appeared to be set for a show down. That the Yoruba has now joined in this fray shows how serious the situation has become. As it were, virtually every section of the country wants to pull out of Nigeria.

Unfortunately, October 1, which normally, is used to commemorate Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule, has now become the new date set for the sharing of Nigeria to its component parts. What an irony of situation! Can Nigeria survive October 1, 2017? Would there be independence celebration this year? What is the government doing about these divisive forces? Is anything being done to assuage the situation? What is the way out?

Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the other day, captured the terrifying situation when he said that Nigeria is sleep walking to national disaster and yet the present leadership of the country seems to be indifferent. Anyaoku spoke at a lecture he delivered in commemoration of the 98th birthday of Chief Akintola Williams, the renowned accountant.

But that, really, is not the case. The leadership cannot be said to be sleep walking, for that will mean they are unconscious of what is happening. Whatever is happening, including the leadership lackadaisical response is done in full consciousness. The leadership is not sleeping. Whatever it is doing is deliberate; in full consciousness and with all the senses very much awake. The absence of President Buhari has complicated the problem.

Just the other day, for instance, the National Assembly (NASS), threw out a bill on the devolution of power to the states, which would have served as panacea to the agitations to the chagrin of Nigerians. Nigerians had placed hope that passage of the bill could reduce tension in the country.

The issue of restructuring, which has gained currency across the country, could have been pushed forward if the devolution of power bill had been passed. But that seems to have failed, thereby, exposing the country to avoidable imminent danger. The rejection of the bill by the NASS confirmed what I had written in this column that the lawmakers are paying lip service to restructuring. The opportunity came for them to show patriotism and love for the country but they blew it and are now helpless.

For now, I can’t imagine what the NASS could do to save the country; they are averse to implementing the 2014 National Conference Report and have missed a golden opportunity to save the country. Why couldn’t the NASS make history as change agent that pulled the country out of the cesspit? Why have these peoples’ representatives refused to do the will of the people but pursue their own selfish agenda?

It needs to be stressed that miss-governance is at the root of all the agitations. Leadership failure is absolutely Nigeria’s main problem. It is worrisome that amid the tension in the land, the political leadership is acting as if all is well. By neglecting the situation, no critical effort is being made to deal with the situation.

Although, while at no time, since the war broke out in 1967, has there been absolute peace in Nigeria, a situation where every section of the country wants to break out is unprecedented. That is why there ought to be crisis emergency meetings going on in government circles to deal with the problem and save the country.



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