Nigeria: A Clarion Call for Restructuring

I have taken a hard look at events over the last several years and especially the most recent twelve months. I had all the time been very optimistic about the various episodes and tragedies most of which were man-made, and very few, being natural disasters, until… For the events which are natural, as in flooding, fire or accidental, one cannot but agree that to a large extent, Nigerians must have contributed in no small measure, through our carelessness, indiscipline, corruption, warped value system and unmerited flamboyant lifestyles.

Flag_of_NigeriaMany disasters and problems we have had in Nigeria, had been basically man-made by Nigerians – leaders and followers alike to fellow Nigerians. Can we call road accidents, buildings collapse natural? Many of these had led to several deaths in our cities. At least there were no Earth Quakes or volcanoes eruption in Nigeria in the last one year and yet thousands of lives have been lost due to many man-made disasters such as bombs and gun shots. If it is not Boko Haram, it is the Delta Militants/Avengers at work, with very sophisticated weapons taking lives at will. What about the damage to the Delta areas being caused by oil spillage and other environmental degradations? The Fulani Herds-men are not spared of their contributions to the string of calamities, as if cattle rearing is just beginning in Nigeria! What about the inexplicable rampant kidnapping for ritual/ransom purposes? There seems to be no end to it. No one is in doubt that with all these, good governance in Nigeria may not be in sight for a while. Things seem to be upside down.

How then can there be a ‘nation’ when lives are taken in large numbers and money is being looted or stolen in billions? Law and justice have been strangulated by the so called “Rule of Law” which has made it impossible to call the BIG thieves to order, while the lesser thieves who steal for survival are not spared! Why won’t the poor people steal, when they have no jobs or they do not receive salaries due to them accordingly? Many Nigerians struggle for political offices not because of the services to be rendered or jobs to be done, BUT because of how much will be available for sharing, stealing or looting! Service to the nation, is no longer the order of the day. “What’s in there for me?” is the goal and main objective. What an irony? Politics for stomach infrastructure and politics for flamboyant living, for self, and family remain the “in thing”. What a big mess?

In the US, the thinking of the ordinary people is, as enshrined in the constitution, “We the People…”. In Nigeria, the struggle is “me for my family and my pocket”, to suck Nigeria dry. No wonder, many Politicians and Public office holders are busy scrambling for whatever they can “scoop” of what is left in our treasuries. The reason for this is that corruption has changed our political paradigm of Nigeria. It will certainly take a very long time for a reversal of the corruption trend in Nigeria. Only very few people seem to have much at stake in the direction the country is drifting. Our President does not seem to be able to find the solution, as he is being hampered on all sides as he struggles to fight the uphill corruption war. For now, the only results lie in the great revelations of the massive looting. So far, “so what?” May be, easy access to looting has been curbed, however, many looters are cruising freely with their booty!

It is an open secret that Nigerians say publicly and shamefully that “it is a mess to be called a Nigerian!”. What an unpatriotic statement? No wonder the brain drain continues and Nigerian professionals and technocrats are moving to other lands for greener pastures on a daily basis. The spirit of patriotism has waned and the psychological and emotional ties to their fatherland and motherland have been severely weakened, if not completely severed. This must be halted as a matter of urgency.

A careful look at the present Nigerian situation will serve as a pointer to the new trend in the nation. On a daily basis, the cry for severance, breakaway, restructure, etc. rents the air. All news media channels – electronic and prints and social media are inundated with calls from ethnic groups, to be treated as equal partners in progress and development. Equality of access to a nation’s resources is necessary for peace and progress and this is not so at the moment. We should do all that is possible to put an end to marginalization of ethnic groups and every semblance of citizen classification (overtly or covertly) as first, second or third, must be jettisoned. Equal (opportunities) citizenry of Nigeria has to be the new order, if Nigeria will continue to be ONE or REPACKAGED.

I am not one of those who predict dooms for the nation. Rather, I think about how we can move our nation forward. Over a long period of time, I have seen and realized that those who mean well for Nigeria never get to work for her. I have also noticed that when many of them struggle to get to the positions to help Nigeria, they get frustrated and discouraged, because the atmosphere/environment for progress is not congenial to proper development. The level of corruption everywhere, is so pervasive that it is impossible for them to achieve meaningful success. One cannot, but be sorry for these few individuals.

Wither Nigeria, with all these factors which do not augur well for continued progress and development? The killings by Boko Haram and the Militants, the harassments of innocent Nigerians, in virtually all parts of Nigeria by the Herdsmen, the ritual kidnappings, the kidnappings for ransoms, remain the order of the day. Budget paddings, (which had been in operation since God knows when), the pervasive corruption and indiscipline are so colossal, endemic, ubiquitous and perhaps incurable!

I believe in the power of prayers but I also believe in the philosophical saying/prayer which goes as follows:

God grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I can’t Change, the Courage to Change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference between the two.”

With the current state of affairs in Nigeria, I know that we should have the courage to change the appalling state of the nation through careful restructuring. The earlier the entity called Nigeria is fragmented or restructured the better it is for peace and progress to return to the giant of Africa. There are far too many ethnic groups (tongues) to expect a miracle harmony. It may also be presumptuous to expect two dominant religions (Christian and Islamic) to continue the never ending competition at the expense of the ordinary citizens. The earlier the restructure is effected, the better it will be for each resulting fragment to survive either as separate nations or as sub-units of the United States of Nigeria! The Tribes and Tongues are just too many to be successfully harmonized. The British Colonial masters also knew this ab initio. Our experience so far with democracy, should have convinced us that our model of democracy, is far from being ideal for a nation as diverse and complex as Nigeria. Our model is very congenial to massive looting and corruption in high places, as we have all seen. Our definition of Democracy in Nigeria is “Government of the people, by a few selfish ones, for their pockets and families”.

I am aware that this is a bitter pill, I have put in the mouth of many Nigerians with these statements. Of what use or benefit is the present ding dong relationships between religions, tribes, states and cultures in Nigeria? One will ordinarily think that there is strength in diversity. Our diversity, in effect and in reality, is crippling us, as many tribes are being made to feel inferior/superior to one another. The net result is uneasiness, anger, displeasure and strife among the people who are ‘supposed’ to be brothers and sisters. …. Ara ko ro okun, ara ko ro adie (a Yoruba proverb). The earlier we bring an end to the question of restructure, the better it is, for Nigeria as a ‘single entity’ or as ‘many-in-one block’, after the restructure.

Must we wait until Boko Haram kills more people, before we save the lives of those remaining? Must we wait until the Delta militants/Avengers, destroy all the pipelines and the oil structures before we let them go or we realign with them? The Biafra people have never stopped clamoring to breakaway. Should Nnamdi Kalu be allowed to die in prison, only to find out that Nigeria will eventually fragment or break into separate nations? The Fulani Herdsmen will not stop their war, until they realise that they might soon be needing visas to cross to other lands/States/Nations, soon to emerge! There is certainly war on all fronts in Nigeria. The wars must end, and the most obvious and permanent solution is restructuring and we already have a/the template!

The issue is boiling down to the utterance of the Orkar Coup of the eighties, which asked groups of people to breakaway, if they wanted to do so. If that coup had succeeded, we would have realized by now, what would have remained of a peaceful Nigerian State. Let us NOT wait until the damages done to Nigeria would have damaged the entity (Nigeria) beyond repairs or redemption before we are forced to resort to fragmentation, as Nations or as a United States of Nigeria (USN) or United Provinces Of Nigeria (UPON). There seems to be no solution of oneness in sight, from the look of things. People are hungry, angry, and people are disillusioned. People are moving out of Nigeria as economic/security refugees to other lands, for greener pastures, when our pastures have turned brown!

The pride in the motherland Nigeria is waning fast, for many. The only pride we can count on is in ‘Soccer’ and we couldn’t even successfully transport our soccer ambassadors to the RIO 2016 Olympics, without the hitch of having them stranded in Atlanta, Georgia. We also made negative headlines on it around the world! Glory be to God that those players, notwithstanding the poor arrangements, did great, with winning the Bronze medal. How can the situation of a nation in disarray, breed a patriotic citizenry? Before the entire nation starts to chorus ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, let the Nigerian leaders wake up or bow out honourably, if the welfare of the people is not their priority. The solution is getting unnecessarily delayed. This is the only way to avert the situation where the masses (Nigerians) may resort to chasing them out, because of their insensitivity to the peoples’ plights. All media channels – print, electronic and social media are echoing the peoples’ feelings of discontent with the status quo, loud and clear every day. People are getting to the end of their tether. We need a change to poverty and peoples’ sufferings. Meanwhile, the darkness continues!

Our diversity and large population, do not result in joy, peace and progress of the ordinary citizens. Nigerians are suffering and wallowing in abject poverty. The huge weapon of mass starvation, being used by the leaders, is very effective and only God can put an end to it. Individuals’ survival as opposed to national survival is the new vogue. Governments do not seem to care for the welfare of the people, as long as the leaders’ salaries are paid ON TIME! Other workers can go without salaries for months on end! What a nation with no sympathy for the poor hungry workers!

This is the time for decision and we need to act fast. The clamour for restructuring is becoming more intense and the bell for fragmentation (breakage) is ringing louder. Only the deaf will not hear these calls. Let’s all be wise and come together as brothers and sisters with different philosophies. We need to recraft the modality for our peaceful co-existence. Definitely, tribes and tongues are different, we still can come together as united sub-units, which may be called the United States of Nigeria (USN) or United Provinces of Nigeria (UPON). If we need a referendum to actualize this, let us institute one now. A word is enough for the wise. Until this is done, many sections of Nigeria will continue to feel marginalised and excluded from the scheme of things. The spate of unrest may continue as the wave of corruption continues unabated. What a shame on the giant of Africa, if she will not be able to solve this puzzle?

We need to face the facts, things are very bad for the ordinary citizens. My fear is, if nothing is done urgently, Nigeria may remain, according to Remi Oyeyemi, “…a country in which no one believes; a country in which no one has any faith; a country that belongs to no one, and to which everyone within its boundaries are even ashamed to lay claim…” The spirit of patriotism in Nigeria is fast disappearing. Let us do something about its revival now or else… May God bless all those who mean well for our nation – Nigeria.

Written by
Adekunle Akinyemi
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