To avert impending political apocalypse
Is the Lugardian contraption and geographical expression called Nigeria not an immensely endowed country? It is blessed with both material and human resources. Nigeria, a heterogeneous country, is a nation of nations. A multi-ethnic country, it has more than 250 ethnic and linguistic groups with the Igbo, Yoruba, and the Hausa/Fulani being the largest ethnic groups in the country. The Ijaw people, who are found in the South-South region and Ondo State, are the fourth largest ethnic in Nigeria. In addition to being a heterogenous country, its people(s) are practitioners and adherents of such religions as Islam, Christianity, and African Traditional Religion.
But then, a multi-ethnic country whose people(s) practice diverse religions is predisposed to having problems traceable to ethnic hatred and religious differences. For example, on the African continent, countries such as Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Liberia and Somalia were embroiled in bloody political conflicts in the past owing to the factors of religious intolerance and inter-ethnic troubles. It should be noted that Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan had disintegrated, giving rise to the emergence of such countries as Eritrea, Somali-land, and South Sudan. Back home in Nigeria, since the colonial era, we have had more than our fair share of ethnic and religious troubles with the northern region trying to secede from Nigeria in the 1950s.
But Nigeria could be likened to a cat with nine lives owing to the stark fact that it has come out of a civil war and many ethno-religious conflicts not dismembered. We remember the Isaac Adaka Boro’s declaration of the Niger-Delta Republic. However, that insurrection and separatist move failed to split Nigeria into many nation- states, as was feared by millions of Nigerians, then.
Again, the events of the mid-1960s snowballed into the January 15, 1966 coup and July 1966 counter- coup with its attendant calamitous results. Then, later, the country descended into a fratricidal and gratuitous civil war, which pitted the Igbo people of the Southeast of Nigeria against the rest of Nigerians. Consequently, millions of people died in the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, which raged between 1967 and 1970. And properties estimated to worth millions of naira were destroyed. Yet, surprisingly, that civil war failed to cause the disintegration of Nigeria.
More so, the many ethno-religious conflicts, which have characterized and rocked Nigeria over the years and the military interregnums that punctured our political journey couldn’t cause the dismemberment of Nigeria. Perhaps, Nigeria is destined to remain as one indivisible and indissoluble country forever.
Thankfully, today, Nigeria has not split as many prophets and political analysts had foretold. In fact, the obverse has obtained in Nigeria; and, we have enjoyed twenty-two years of unbroken democratic governance with one political party handing over power to another. Surprisingly, the transitions from one government to another were done seamlessly. However, since the dawn of the fourth republic, we’ve had political leaders, who couldn’t harness our vast national potentialities and human and material resources to transform Nigeria to an economically prosperous and technologically advanced country.
Worse still, not only did our past successive executive presidents since 1999 fail to shore up our economic fortunes, and catalyze our technological advancement, also they had failed to entrench peace and unity in the country. As a result, now, Nigeria is embroiled in bloody conflicts. The northeast has become the hotbed of Boko Haram insurgency while the northwest is the epicenter of banditry and terrorism. The Boko Haram insurgency, which is spreading its tentacles beyond the northeast, has continued unabated with its disastrous consequences. The government appears to be overwhelmed by the murderous activities of the group.
Again, now, bandits do raid schools in the northwest and other places in the north and abduct students for ransom. University and secondary school students in the entire northern part of Nigeria are now games for the bandits. Millions of naira have been paid as ransoms for the release of students in captivity. The assaults, which are being visited on schools and students in the north, have further compounded and worsened the north’s educational problems. Now, the north is roiling and chafing under banditry with the political leaders wringing their hands helplessly and giving empty promises.
And, in Benue state, Governor Ortom has become so enraged and outraged by the killing of Benue natives by Fulani cattle herders that he ordered the people of Benue state to arm and defend themselves against the Fulani invaders. He gave the order against the background of the federal government’s inaction as to the Fulani cattle herders’ invasion of farms and villages in that state. Not a few villages and farms had been pillaged and sacked by the Fulani invaders. Consequently, they’ve abandoned farming, which is the mainstay of the state’s economy, and the chief occupation of the people.
In the Southeast, the marginalization of the Igbo people by the ruling Fulani oligarchy has caused the Igbo people to start lending support to Nnamdi Kanu, who is agitating for the creation of the sovereign state of Biafra. Nnamdi Kanu’s separatist sentiments have found resonance among the Igbo people. In the past, the Southeast quaked with IPOB protests until the group was unjustifiably proscribed by the federal government. Although proscribed, the group has not ceased to exist as it has formed a security outfit called Eastern Security Network. And, its members are still hopeful that the Southeast, which is the homeland of the Igbo people, will become a sovereign state, someday.
But now the entire Southeast is held by the jugular by security problems. The specter of unknown gunmen instills fear into the people of the area. Now, in the Southeast, policemen have become games for blood-thirsty gunmen. Three of the policemen guiding Professor Charles Soludo, who is an APGA governorship aspirant in Anambra, were killed when professor Soludo held a town hall meeting in Isuofia, Anambra state. Policemen are targeted and killed in the Southeast now. From Imo to Abia, and from Enugu to Anambra, gunmen seized with pyromania do set police stations on fire, after they have killed policemen manning those stations.
We all know that the chief duty/responsibility of government is to maintain law and order in a country. When a government fails to maintain law and order in a country, the country will descend into anarchy, and national development will be put into abeyance. But it seems that the government has abdicated its responsibility of maintaining law and order in Nigeria.
The federal government’s inability to exterminate the security incubus bedeviling Nigeria will inexorably lead to the demise of the country called Nigeria. Government should act fast now to avert the impending apocalypse looming over Nigeria.
Okoye, a poet wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State.
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