Nigeria at 50 – Confusion, Tears, Sorrow and Blood

by Olusegun Fakoya

While the nation was still enthralled by the gory details of security inertia and paralysis occasioned by the state of lawlessness in Abia state, Nigerians were again woken to another rude shock. This time, it was the twin bombing at Abuja in the course of the controversial celebration marking our 50th Independence Anniversary, tagged Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee Anniversary. The aftermath of this ill-fated ceremony would reverberate for some time to come. However, it is pertinent at this stage to take a cursory look at the events surrounding the twin bombing which has been numerously accepted and denied by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Our propensity for reeling from one episode of blood shedding to another is assuming a frightening dimension.

Nigeria has a legendary and self-created delusional comfort zone. This delusion is gradually being shattered; the last layer, perhaps, being this evil act perpetrated on unwary citizens at Abuja by yet to be identified criminals. We remain in a falsely ensconced comfort for a long time in Nigeria, believing that certain things cannot happen in our dear country. It took the emergence of the Maitasine sect for us to accept the sad pill of a religiously unstable country. The presence of the Boko Haram sect with their various rude intrusions into our daily life further exposed the falsehood of our impregnable fortress. Daily, we read about the threats and rumours of this ignoble sect. This legendary Nigerian complacency brought about the emergence of the one with dark goggles – Sani Abacha. Prior to this, we contemptuously look down on other African countries that produced life Presidents. Well, it almost happened in Nigeria if not for the gracious mercies of the long arms of death that even the barriers of Aso Rock could not deter.

Our complacency gave us the rather mystifying notion that Nigeria as a country cannot break-up, no matter the degree of socio-political discontent and economic miseries. That Nigerians have agitated for decades for a true federalism based on equal partnership and equitable distribution of natural resources have failed to deter those determined to keep us in perpetual bondage. That the country once went through four years of a bloody civil war did not seem to impact on our corrupt political leadership. That even a group of marginalised people in the creeks of the delta region could resort to arm and sometimes brigandage in their struggle for emancipation is still visualised as a mere child play.

Our history has been filled with sorrows and blood. If the average Nigerian does not die of preventable illnesses, death perpetually lurks around the corner with badly constructed and woefully maintained social infrastructures. Our hospitals are death centres while job opportunities remain in abeyance. If armed robbers did not strike in the night, kidnappers are waiting in the day time to inflict more miseries. The country has become a harbinger of misfortune, tears and sorrow to her children. It is irrelevant what the corrupt politicians say to the contrary, the truth is that Nigeria has nothing to celebrate 50 years after.

Whosoever is behind the Abuja bombings, something stands clear this time around. This time the message is unmistakable; the struggle has been taken straight to the heart of government, to the soul of the Nigerian nation. This is no longer a creek affair but an urban warfare actively using non-conventional means, albeit the al-Qaeda and Taliban approach. It is a bold statement that seems to suggest that no area of our national life is impregnable. The resultant effect is a terrible exposure of the carcass called Nigerian security, a mess that is not even worth the name.

Arrests are now being made and notable suspects being questioned. Nevertheless, this government’s culpability in the present confusion and chaos should not be pushed under the carpet. In the light of available security reports, it is just pertinent to raise some posers. Why did the Federal Government proceed with the so-called Golden Jubilee celebration knowing fully well that the security situation is porous and has been badly curtailed? Why were the lives of millions of people, foreign invitees and dignitaries inclusive, exposed to a danger of such magnitude? The rationale for celebrating our 50 years of independence as a nation is still a subject of intense debate, but the determination of this government to host a national merry-making at all cost with a princely sum of 17 billion naira is still baffling. In the end, Nigerians not only wasted 17 billion naira but also topped it up with innocent lives that were wasted in the course of marking Jonathan’s celebratory party.

The roller-coaster of a nation called Nigeria is reeling alarmingly without direction. Lawlessness seems to be having the upper hand. Our inherent contradictions as a nation are being magnified by the ongoing political impasse over the right of a particular region to produce the next leadership of the country and the unbridled ambition of one man to retain the Presidency at all costs. The voice of suffering Nigerians remains irrelevant in this bedlam. A civil war has therefore been declared by the ruling party on itself and indirectly on Nigeria and Nigerians. If perhaps the political gladiators had listened carefully, the message from the masses is distinct and pretty clear. We hold that in the race for the political leadership of our dear nation, intellect and political sagacity must reign over ethnic sentiments. We subscribe only to a visionary leadership devoid of parochial interests.

Therefore, if at the end of the day, the present catastrophe that has just befallen the nation is traced to the political intrigues and war bedevilling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), one would not be surprised. By invoking civil war on itself, the PDP has jeopardised our collective security. And this is a price to pay by an acquiescent nation. A nation that has refused to confront the shackles of oppression and subjugation. One that continued to allow an unruly political party, unchallenged reign of power for just too long.

While Mr President has repeatedly maintained that he meant well for the country, yet those verbal proclamations are yet to translate to tangible actions that the citizens can point to. Beautiful words alone do not make a great leader. The bottom line, in sincerity, is that our country is still in the woods in the leadership department. We need to be careful to prevent the imposition of Goodluck on our nation from turning into an implosion of bad luck. We as a people must learn to admit that ultimately, our destiny is in our hands. There should be a limit to how much we allow ourselves to be pushed around like mules by an uncontrolled and un-coordinated destiny.

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