Home CELEB COLUMNISTS Opinion (08/02/20): The Gathering Storm, By Ayo Oyoze Baje

Opinion (08/02/20): The Gathering Storm, By Ayo Oyoze Baje

Ayo Oyoze Baje


“Politics is in crisis because it is separated from our deep humanity”

– Marianne Williamson

The signs are ominous, raging ever closer to tearing apart the jugular vein of Nigeria’s unity. Let us not pretend otherwise. Never before in our chequered history have the strings that have held us together been stretched to their elasticity limit-be it ethnicity, religion or political persuasion. Or how else, can we explain the haunting headlines of daily escalating acts of insecurity by dare-devil enemies of state?

For instance, what do you make of these horrifying breaking news? ‘Bandits shoot down police helicopter in Kaduna’. ‘Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum(SMBLF)  raise alarm over alleged importation of weaponized drones’.‘North launches its own security outfit ‘ShegeKaFasa’ few weeks after berating the South-West for creating Amotekun’.‘Soyinka blasts Balarabe Musa over anti-Amoteken comments’.’How I escaped when herdsmen attacked me in my farm’-Gov. Ortom.

What we are witnessing therefore, is the Hobbesian State of Nature; a state of anarchy that would exist as if there were no government in place, no civilization, no laws, and no common power to restrain human nature. It is “war of all against all,” in which human beings constantly seek to destroy each other in an incessant pursuit for power.And so, life becomes harsh, brutish and short!

Let us take a look at some heady headlines on the recent brutal killings of fellow, defenceless citizens here in Nigeria: ‘Gunmen invade Kaduna community, kill vigilante, kidnap doctor’s wife, children’.’Boko Haram executes CAN Chairman, LawaniAndimi’.’Eight year old Boko Haram member executes abducted UNIMAID student’. ‘Leah Sharibu gives birth to baby boy for Boko Haram commander’. ‘Bishop Oyedepo curses Boko Haram, Miyetti Allah over suicide bomber at Winners Chapel’.‘Pastor Adeboye leads RCCG nationwide prayer protests against insecurity’. ‘Atiku tackles Buhari for claiming 90% Boko Haram victims are Muslims’.‘Insecurity:  Nigerians are disturbed’-Gbajabiamila.

But it goes far beyond just getting ‘disturbed’. We are terrified; indeed outraged that we have been left naked to the wiles of the blood-thirsty marauders let loose on our dear fatherland. With all these avoidable tragedies happening 50 years after the civil war ended, clearly indicts our political elite for having not learnt a lesson or two from the hands of history. And mark youhistory repeats itself for those who refuse to read from its open pages.

Perhaps, the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo saw it all coming. In his book, ‘Path to Nigeria freedom’ which was published in 1947 he had said that “Nigeria is not a nation, it is a mere geographical expression. There are no “Nigerians” in the same sense as there are “English” or “Welsh” or “French”. The word Nigeria is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not.”  Read that piece again and juxtapose it with the current political anomalies and bloodshed that have smeared our national banner, of the once acclaimed justice and unity, peace and progress.

While some analysts have explained Awolowo’s opinion as showing that Nigeria was “not a homogenous State but merely a conglomeration of ethnic groups” I see it differently. For me, it as a statement indicating that Nigerians are still not weaned on the milk of nationalism and patriotism. We think more as belonging to one ethnic group or the other, or a geographical location than as citizens of the same country. We have no binding allegiance to the nation-state.

Worsening this saddening political situation are unpatriotic policies of self-serving politicians who look at the country from regional, ethnic and religious perspectives. They climb to the pedestal of power on the rungs of peace, equity and unity. But once there, they display their parochial sentiments through nepotistic appointments, driving fear down the spine of the captured citizens and muzzling the media and free expression with the tools of treachery, using state machinery.

Another inhuman act that has precipitated more injustice is the inexplicable, spurious ‘amnesty’ hurriedly given to the so called ‘repentant’ insurgents. That is while the war against their likes is still on! How do you use state resources to rehabilitate such bloodhounds  at a time the victims of their heinous crimes against humanity rot away in IDP camps feeding on onion leaves?!

There is no moral ground therefore, to compare them with the Niger—Delta militants who took up arms to protest the criminal act of the environmental disaster foisted on them by oil companies that has ravaged their land, while corrupt Nigerians live off their oil-wealth. It does not add up.

One is worried too that 50 years after the civil war and with the much-touted policies of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration put up by the General Yakubu Gowon(rtd) administration back then,an average Ibo politician is  still seen as unqualified to become the country’s president!

These are the critical issues that fuel the fires of a country’s disintegration.  According to Messrs Daron Acemoglu and James  Robinson in their work titled: ‘Reasons Countries Fall Apart’ presented on  June 18, 2012 states don’t fail overnight. ‘The seeds of their destruction are sown deep within their political institutions. Some countries fail spectacularly, with a total collapse of all state institutions, as in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal and the hanging of President Mohammad Najibullah from a lamppost, or during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, where the government ceased to exist altogether’.

To them, most countries that fall apart, however, do so not with a bang but with a whimper. They fail not in an explosion of war and violence but by being utterly unable to take advantage of their society’s huge potential for growth, condemning their citizens to a lifetime of poverty. How damned right, with Nigeria as the World Poverty Capital in spite of its huge economic potentials. This type of slow, grinding failure leaves many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America with living standards far, far below those in the West.“What’s tragic is that this failure is by design”. This got me thinking.

For instance, the breakup of Yugoslavia occurred as a result of a series of political upheavals and conflicts during the early 1990s. After a period of political and economic crisis in the 1980s, constituent republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia split apart, but the unresolved issues caused bitter inter-ethnic Yugoslav wars. The wars primarily affected Bosnia and Herzegovina, neighbouring parts of Croatia and, some years later, Kosovo.I pray it does not happen here.

Though President MuhammaduBuhari has vowed that Nigeria will not disintegrate during his tenure, it goes beyond mere rhetoric. Proactive and patriotic actions speak louder than words. Nigerian leaders must learn from all these, to pull the nation back from thebrink of unmitigated disasters. To save us from the gathering storm, they need an inner revolution of their mindset;to place the national interest far above their ethnic or religious agendas.

As former, late president of the United States, John F. Kennedy rightly advised; “In times of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite the people, regardless of party politics.” One hopes that our elders are taking notes from this piece of advice. A stitch in time would save nine!It is not too late.

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