Brexit is a Tinderbox for Nigeria

(#Biafrexit, #Yurexit and #Hausexit are the new normal)

Brexit is a tinderbox for Nigeria. Nigeria, a nation of mutual distrust! The new normal in Nigeria now seems to be Biafrexit, Yurexit and Hausexit. I empathize with my Biafra, Yoruba and Hausa brothers and sisters who are agitating for the state of Biafra, Arewa and Oduduwa republics respectively, instead of advocating for national cohesion and development. We are all witnesses to how our leaders in eastern, western and other geopolitical climes in Nigeria have been abysmal failures to provide basic necessity of life for their citizens.

Any nation or society that jettisons its strength in diversity to chase the shadows of religion and ethnocentrism for national interest does so at its own perils. It’s sickening that Nigeria and her citizens are still fixated in this journey to the unknown. Every normal society has used its potent diversity to explore their sense of imagination and possibility. The strongest position and disposition of Nigeria have been weakened. The strength of Nigeria to unleash its potentials for nation building is being altered by people’s bigotry and naughtiness. Nigerian political environment has been increasingly polarized along naughty issues, we are frenemies of ourselves.

In Nigeria, we are very religious but how Godly are we? The leadership and its citizens have refused to abide by the tenets of their various religious beliefs (mutual love, tolerance, respect and understanding). The confluence of mutual suspicion and the moral deficits imbued in us is ludicrous and disheartening. There is an urgent need to reorder our religious values to veer back on the road to mutual love, national salvation; national cohesion for growth and development. Our intellectual acuity is not being utilized or channelled to unearth our endowed resources for national unity and prosperity.

General Babangida and Abacha, are the two major individually (or evil geniuses) who have abysmally reshaped our collective psyche, mutual love; and the warped country’s sense of brotherliness. The few nationalists amongst us who are detribalized with religious tolerance are the nostalgic symbols of the good old days. Babangida and Abacha are now entrenched in all of us. These two individuals had institutionalized Nigerian climes with corruption, mutual ethnic distrust and religious differences. In our gestation period as a nation, religion was an individualistic nuance. Nigerians were always basking in the euphoria of tranquillity. Muslims, Christians and Traditionalists were brothers and sisters in the project of a nation building.

Babangida’s regime evangelized poverty through Structural Adjustment Programme-SAP. Through Babangida’s SAP, Nigeria became a religious country without any reflection on our value system. Babangida unilaterally enlisted Nigeria as a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference-OIU through the back door. His administration successfully rewired our minds, as brothers were set against brothers. Babangida’s sacred weapon was the initial pauperization of Nigerians to be able to rule well. Babangida is a Machiavelli; a master schemer and evil genius who understands the psychology of the Nigerian ethnic and religious bigots. He has successfully institutionalized corruption. Corruption has metastasized to our body polity beyond cure! He has now left Nigerians to flounder helplessly in their collective journey to the unknown.

This writer remembers with nostalgia as a Muslim adolescent, how all Nigerians (irrespective of religious affiliation) always looked forward to Xmas and New Years; how our Christian brothers and sisters celebrated Easter with mesmerism to literally meet Jesus Christ at the Galilee. It was fun; mirthful and serenely eventful. Ileya festival period amongst Muslim brothers and sisters was always a period to share roasted meats with exchange of visits, pleasantries and love. The traditional festival was a period everyone looked forward to with great enthusiasm and expectations to see traditional Egungun in various costumes like Owi, Ele, Efon etc. Today, our religiosity has wiped out and encumbered the harmonious relationship and the symbols of love entrenched in our traditional ways of life. Corruption was antithetical to our ways of lives in the past, now, it has matched with our deeds and beliefs. Corruption and religion are siamese twins in Nigeria, it has been sadly conjoined with our ways of life.

It’s extremely difficult now to govern successfully in a country like Nigeria that is full of nauseating contradictions. Mediocrity has taken the place of meritocracy. The smiles of most of us are so infested with resentment, pretension and toxicity. Our robust and rich geopolitical divisions have been reduced to a mere geographical expression. If President Buhari (un)wilfully tries the referendum to toll the line of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron today, Brexit from the European Union will be a child’s play. The political and religious expediency, political and religious populism, language of division and fear by religious and political elites are the order of the day. It’s not uncommon nowadays on all sides to see religious leaders preach hatred instead of love and prosperity instead of salvation. Nigeria is a religious country, but our deeds and actions mock God daily with our smithy blasphemy.

Citizens should be mobilized now to understand the simple sociopolitical and economic consequences of any decision at the ballots. Citizens’ political apathy should be a great concern to all and sundry in Nigeria. It’s easy to advocate for the disintegration of a formidable entity; the consequences for the uninformed and the ill-decision of the people will be unmistakably an unmitigated disaster for Nigeria. We should be careful and be warned on how we conduct the business of our coexistence. It is hoped that people will realize their self-defeating state of mind before it’s too late to move Nigeria forward.

I have always been an advocate of a participatory democracy. It seems our democracy has been in this peculiar mess (penkelemeesi) for too long. Considering the parlor state of our political and economic lives, we need unfettered men like Buhari to instill national discipline and revamp a corrupt nation. A mixture of participatory and autocratic democracy is being suggested in some quarters. Our glaring story in Nigeria is very contradictory, appalling, repetitious and sad. Therefore, it is pertinent for Buhari to introduce benevolent democracy.

It is not mutually exclusive to know, that the crowd and the people that are trafficking in the disintegration of Nigeria do so with mutual resentment. We will continue to deceive ourselves if we pretend all is well with a nation with abundant resources; a nation that refuses to unleash its potentials for greatness. It’s high time to get our acts together to rebuild the country on the path of greatness.

Any disintegration of the present Nigeria will worsen our mutual mistrust and understanding. What we should be clamoring for now is the restructuring of the status quo, instead of agitation for the exit of the present geopolitical structure. Let us unite to fight bad leadership, corruption, insecurity, accident, killings, unemployment, kidnapping, oil thefts, poverty, pseudo-religiosity and bigotry. The day we realize our collective mistakes and failures as a country; it will be the day of reckoning and reawakening. On that auspicious day, Nigeria will not only be on the road to greatness again, but she will be the hub of investment and the cynosure of all eyes in the international community.

In unity we stand, in division we will fall. Nigeria arise!

Written by
Yahaya Balogun
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