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That independence ‘theory’

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
13 October 2021   |   3:08 am
If you have been following the Independence anniversary speech of Nigerian political leaders from the first Republic till present, you will discover that the current political leadership

Nigeria President [FILES] Muhammadu Buhari (2nd R) wave at the crowd as he attend a parade the country 61st Independence celebration at the Eagles Square in Abuja, Nigeria on October 1, 2021. Nigeria is holding scaled-down celebrations due to high level of insecurity to commemorate over six decades since it gained self-rule from Britain in 1960. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

If you have been following the Independence anniversary speech of Nigerian political leaders from the first Republic till present, you will discover that the current political leadership have knowingly or otherwise deviated from the input of inspiring and soul-searching words in the speech, a tonic that usually drives nation-building with all hands on deck, to finger-pointing and self-serving speech. That, at least, is the sentiments among the minds of most Nigerians.

Aside from sentiment, it says much about President Muhammadu Buhari’s 61st independence anniversary speech reading from the disagreeing reactions over the peoples’ disappointment in almost every sentence and issues raised in the speech.

Of course, it is certain that sceptics have plenty of folders because governments the world over are known to formulate baseless theories to divert the people’s minds from reality in order for it to seem justified that the government of the day is doing perfectly well or ought to have done better, but for the hitches reflected in the baseless theory. Yet, the question remains whether what the people expect from the government is proportionate. In whatever measure, the propagated 61stindependence speech theory cannot be ignored or simply waved off. Instead of President Buhari addressing the root cause of the nation’s problems, he chose to point accusing fingers at middlemen as the main cause of the scarcity and increase of food prices due to hoarding. Rather than say the obvious that, herders/farmers continuous clash make farming difficult in many parts of the country as the herders had driven farmers from the farm. Hence, farmers are unable to produce what they ought to have produced.

Indeed, the raging controversy from the President’s speech and the nagging question of why insanity remains unabated in the society under President Buhari watch raise serious concern. Apparently, the ruling government’s indifference towards the senseless killings has succeeded in emboldening the agitation for self-determination particularly in the South East and South-West regions of the country. The foregoing has increased the misery among Nigerians and has prompted well-meaning Nigerians to pray Mr. President to tag the insurgents and their likes as a terrorist group.

Again, the rise of the confusion by the ruling government, through the independence speech allegation that political office holders, particularly the National Assembly member(s) are sponsoring anarchy in the land by funding Sunday Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu. This is not only alarming but curious. One thing I found most interesting in the unfolding allegation, is that President Buhari is only grandstanding. However, a closer look, reveals the allegation is simply fashioned to help grate the National Assembly members as well as the region’s political elite. This will make them look with frustration from the suspicious public thereby hamper ambition towards the 2023 political dispensation. Somehow, the President should also be faithful enough to name those funding the murderous herdsmen, Boko Haram bandits that maim, kill and oppress people across the country. There is nothing less pernicious than the destabilisation of society when political leaders use different standards and perceptions on citizens because of where they are from or religion. The ruling government may choose to disagree much as no one should confuse these sentiments as a good way to govern Nigeria because the masses experience is far from their anticipation in 2015. However, what the Buhari administration failed to realise is that frustrating a section or region in the country could lead to a strong regionalism bond and an ideology that would keep the self-determination flame higher.

Under the portrait of the 61st-anniversary speech is the real concern of many Nigerians that there lie more clouds of uncertainty ahead. The biggest may be the 2023 electioneering year which has continued to provoke comments that heat up the polity irrespective of the fact that 2023 is still miles away. Judging from its characteristics, the Buhari administration seems uninterested to play in the troubled political water of the 2023 election. But its body language appears to support the school of thought that credible candidates should be sought irrespective of the zoning agitation to a particular region.

Indeed, the masses’ concerns about the hardship in the country are many and varied. The President himself alluded to this in the speech when he said, “…the past 18 months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since after the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period”.

The above tells you that the ugly situation has not improved and the government seems to have given up the diversification dream that would create jobs and stabilise the floating economy. Instead, Nigeria’s antenna is signalled towards where the next loan is coming and the government is a step ahead to defend its borrowing appetite. Perhaps, to remind Nigerians of his credibility, President Buhari recently responded to critics on external loans, he said, “Some have expressed concern over our resort to borrowing to finance our fiscal gaps. They are right to be concerned. However, we believe that the debt level of the federal government is still within sustainable limits. Borrowings are too specific strategic projects and can be verified publicly.”

Rather than explore ideas in greater depth the ruling government opted for its penchant to borrow, blame and point accusing fingers above all, raise unnecessary alarm. It is, therefore, obvious that Nigeria’s problems lie in our leaders’ failure to understand properly two high-sounding words-sagacity and salubrity. Their absence in Nigeria’s leadership defines the tragedy of our country. It is bad enough that Nigeria’s current leaders lack the requisite sagacity to pilot the affairs of the nation.

Regrettably, out of that leadership poverty also, naturally, comes another tragedy, the inability to make salubrity an ingredient of statecraft. A leader who does not know much and is bereft of range and depth of vision has his leadership compounded by the inability to create a salubrious environment so that the best of the land can work for and with him. Our political system now appears programmed never to throw up men or women with those two. As long as the political leadership recruitment remains the corrupt one it is today, so shall the poverty of vision be the order.