First, it will amount to
high minded foolery to avoid commenting on the rise of misdirected
tirades at Northerners since the Christmas day bombing of 2011.
Indeed, more often than not one find the ethnic lens analysis to
Nigeria’s problem always fails on many counts chief of wish is
logic. The story as it is written by these commentators is that Boko
Harem is the answer of Northern Elites to Goodluck Jonathan’s (GEJ)
While on the surface, one
may not find it hard to connect the dots to jump into such
conclusions, it simply fails to pass the smell test. Few questions,
did Boko Harem only become a phenomenon under GEJ’s presidency?
Does Boko Harem have the absolute monopoly on brazen violence to
achieve political goals in Nigeria? If the answer were in the
affirmative then their analysis would have bore some credence to it.
Unfortunately or fortunately, it is not.
Boko Harem’s first
public confrontation with police was a February
2009 attack in Maiduguri that left 6 people dead. Several months
later in July, a follow-up attack followed. These attacks were picked
up in foreign media like the New
Yorker, but trust our lazy journalists to allow this to slip
under the radar while we focused on the shenanigans of the power play
between the now late Y’Aradua and his Vice, Jonathan. Clearly,
this sect is no response to Jonathan’s presidency; if anything it
is a response to the internal politics of Borno state that boiled
over with the bungled elections of 2007.
If you doubt this fact,
then you must believe in that innocuous “other theory” that have
always been the dreaded dark side of Nigeria’s politics, being
flogged up by our elites that want us up in arms against one another
while they thieve away. But then consider this: the first bomb under
Jonathan was sent off by a familiar enemy – the MEND. You got it
right; the Independence Day bombing of last year by the President’s
own clansmen in the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
set the pace for public bombings in Nigeria. So was MEND in cahoots
with these “Northerners” too?
See, the lazy man
analysis of some kind of sectarian dimension to the ongoing crisis
ignores a larger problem: that of indifference that has been rocking
our nation since the 1980s. On three dimensions, we the citizens of
Nigeria have been indifferent and today the chicken is coming home to
The first dimension of
indifference can be observed among the voting public; the so called
electorates. We have been indifferent to incompetence across board
among our rulers. Only in Nigeria will a politician dumb as a numb be
rewarded with public office in the name of federal character and
voting to ensure “the other” does not get power. We as a people
failed in our most basic duty!
This was self evident in
the last elections, when clearly the most incompetent politician won.
One will be hard-pressed watching the
debates or the non-debates, to come off with a sense that
President Jonathan had any capacity to perform the work he was
trusted with. We the electorate voted with sentiments instead of
logic. In many climes, on both the Presidential and Vice
Presidential debates, Nigeria was offered a better alternative in
2011 being an objective observer of competence: but our logic
demurred to our emotions.
A man with history of
corrupt streaks, gross incompetence, ineptitude of the highest order
and many times pure cluelessness won the people’s mandate because
of our shallowness and indifference to competence. We value clan over
competence and we are paying for it big time. In Nigeria, politicians
don’t resign because people die under their watch; and in this
instance and many bombs thereafter, President Jonathan is asking us
to expect more and to hope it “fizzles
out”. Show me a man out of his depth, and I will show you the
Jonathan team. His cabinet, his policy proposals and his inability to
get us out of this jam reveals a man given a mandate that he never
deserved in the first place.
If indifference to
incompetence was an offensive error, a defensive one has been the
political class’ indifference to corruption among its ranks.
Indeed, today corruption is a terminal illness slowly eating away at
the fabric of our society. Nepotism, favoritism, sheer cronyism and
bribe taking/giving are accepted as the order of the day. This system
has ensured that we are collectively unsafe. Indeed, ask yourself how
much that customs officer is worth before allowing that explosive
into the country on a container without checking.
Ask yourself, how much
human life is worth to the airport security officer versus the tip
that will ensure that bomb gets into that plane. This seeming
insecurity of the political and non-political class was brought upon
us by their indifference to a terminal illness called corruption.
Security is provided by humans; and when patriotism will not trump
short term material gains then we are not safe. Indeed, with security
agencies dominated by folks lacking the necessary skills to perform
aside from being related to a “big man”, we basically have nailed
our own defensive coffin against terrorism. How much is a
politicians’ life really worth then again?
The classic indifference
however have to come from the very government we call our own. Since
1966, Nigeria has maintained an arrangement and structure that has
defied logic. Many suggestions on how to right this wrong have been
submitted, but the government have simply ignored these. Issues of
course boil to the surface every now and then, but they are often
suppressed. It was one commentator that remarked that “citizens
do not want but dare not leave“.
The order of hypocrisy
that often riles the logical mind is how leaders of yesteryears who
opposed convening a national dialogue of whatever form to discuss the
basis of our federation change color once they leave office. The
latest one is the chameleon of Otta, General Olusegun Obasanjo who
blocked every attempt to simply dialogue while Nigeria burned
under his watch in his eight years at Aso Rock last time around. I
even hear Former General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida is now a
proponent of Sovereign National Conference! What a bunch of clowns!
Indeed, the sad fact is
that erstwhile agitators often turn coat too like our current
President. A man who should identify with the needs of the minority
struggles that beget him is today toeing the establishment line of
blocking dialogue that may resolve the host of issues bedeviling our
nation by acting stupid! President Jonathan may think this current
spate of bombings will “fizzle” away, but he is sorely mistaken.
It will only get worse, until we the people are empowered without the
political class standing in our way to renegotiate this union and
determine our destiny without their indifference!