Nigeria: To Be or Not To Be!

Many prophets, God chosen and self acclaimed, have at different times prophesied that Nigeria would disintegrate into at least three countries. They reiterated that the three countries will be named after the three major tribes – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Some even went as far as naming the trio-nation as The Islamic Republic of Arewa, Oduduwa Democratic Republic and Biafra Republic. While I am not castigating anyone for their prophecy, dream or speculations, I like to reflect and relate to their presuppositions in the light of the current occurrence in Nigeria political landscape.

If anyone would have suggested to any of the founding fathers that the country that they labored and fought for would hardly survive them and possibly last for only half a century, such person would have been considered lunatic and recommended for psychiatric rehabilitation. But the reality of the existing political scenery brightens the actualization of this proposition.

Evidently, there is strength in numbers. Nigeria’s numerical strength has positioned it formidably in the continent of Africa. United Nation Statistics Bureau once released that 1 out of every 4 blacks in the world is a Nigerian. Such recognition has boosted the image of the country within and in the international arena; until corruption creeps into the political scene, and that which supposed to be a strength became a bane of the erstwhile giant of Africa, so much so that Colonel Moamar Ghadafi of Libya once referred to Nigeria as “big for nothing” during one of the OAU now (AU) meetings in Lagos Nigeria.

Whether Nigeria is big for nothing is not the theme of this article. What I am concern with is the extent to which Nigeria political leadership has made nonsense of the Nigerian strengths. I am bothered with the rate at which Nigerian post independent leaders have departed from the path of honor and circumvent sense of nationalism. It is disturbing see the rate at which every regime has sustained the institution of corruption; and it is mind bugling to see the effortless ease with which leadership sense of patriotism is overtaken by parochial ego and selfishness.

Rather than living together in peace and working for a united Nigeria for the good of all in the tradition of the founding fathers, Nigerian political and leaders of government business continues to exhibits wanton carefree attitude to nation building. They ran government that is inimical to collective wellness of the citizens. Instead of using the instruments of the state to promote citizens welfare and well being, coercion and intimidation were introduced to the body politics to orchestrate culture of fear and repression. Poverty was unevenly spread. Human Rights are violated daily with no end in sight. Majority of the citizens can no longer afford three meals in a day. Umpteen have met their untimely death as a result of deprivation and inability to afford life sustaining goods. Yet the so-called representatives of the people who “sapped” life out of the citizens lives in affluence and profligacy. They are the highest paid public workers in the world. They are accessible to the best health care system in the world. Their children attends the best schools in the best nations of the world; all these at the detriment of the masses; yet they are insatiable. They lacked every prof to justify the colossal investment by the tax payers.

To them, political office or governmental position is an avenue to wealth acquisition. They steal from the treasury repeatedly and legislate to compensate themselves unreasonably. They have redefined democracy as taking advantage of the peoples mandate to better themselves at the instance of the masses. For instance, Adisa Akinloye, the erstwhile NPN National Chairman once decried poverty by saying that “Nigerians are yet to feed from garbage bins” and in the recent past, the Senate President – David Mark was reported to have ruled out the use of telephone by the commoners. To him, the common man is not good enough to benefit from the electronic technology. These are examples of two different political generations who personified sameness of political bankruptcy.

The beneficiary of this perversive political bankruptcy has clandestinely schemed and tied their personal agenda to the ethnic/tribal interest. They have as a result of their love for power and romance of office posited arguments whereby the ethnic interest is used to advance their selfish motive. It is on this basis that the Atikus, the Babangidas, the Ciromas and their likes would insist that political power must reside in the North. Though at one time or another, these individuals have all served under one Nigeria and championed the task of promoting Nigeria’s unity in diversity. Unfortunately, because of inordinate ambition and impaired judgment they now sing different tones.

IBB clamor on the PDP zoning agreement to advance his interest ditto the North, Atiku threatens violence as an option to secure presidency; yet Ciroma continue to jet from Maiduguri to Sokoto in pretense of peace pursuit while fueling the machine of Northern misadventures underneath. In as much as I believe that IBB, Atiku and even Ciroma if he choses, have the right to aspire and contest any political office in the country just as anybody from the South-West or South-East; such offer to serve in the leadership capacity should be devoid of threat, violence or intimidation. An office seeker whose campaign slogan is violence has shown to the people the nature of government to expect if voted to office.

The reminiscence of Nigeria civil war of 1967 is still prevalent. Electorates are therefore advised to shun any attempt by any politician to instigate them into violence or war. History reveals that political leaders who declared war on their nation as a way to achieve their ambition; usually don’t carry arms or go to the battle field. They often abscond and live in a foreign country peacefully with the members of their families. Nigeria had once tasted the bitter pills of war and cannot afford its repetition. The nation can not afford the experience of Liberia, Sudan, or Uganda.

The electorates should therefore be mindful of all political office seekers who threaten violence as a result of desperate desire to get into office. Such people should not be voted to power. Money and goodies provided by these political profiteers to “buy voters conscience” should be rejected in its entirety. People should vote for candidates of their choice without fear or favor.

President Jonathan Good Luck as the current custodian of the peoples mandate should stand to his constitutional obligations. He should remind all political players that Nigeria is bigger than all of them put together, therefore, any reckless speech or statements that is directed at, or vulnerable to cause political crisis or threaten the peace and unity of the nation will no longer be tolerated. The loud mouth big-gangs should be called to order from their senseless insinuations of violence. Nobody is or should be considered to be above the law of the land regardless of their past or present status. Nigeria is a peaceful nation, and Mr President should do everything constitutionally possible to maintain this state of tranquility.

I was recently taken-aback when Prof. Attahiru Jega declared that Nigeria should not expect a “perfect election in 2011” during his contribution as a member of panel that discussed elections and political transparency in Nigeria at the 2010 Achebe Colloquium. Though I considered this statement as a modest reflections of human limitations, but I chose not to downplay its effect; especially when it was credited to the person whom the nation is looking towards for 2011 credible, free and fair election.

Record indicated that the INEC chairman has delivered in different saddled responsibilities in the past both in ASUU leadership and as the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University. It is believed in the academic communiti

es and among the progressives that Prof. Jega would succeed in whatever thing he put his mind to do. The chairman is therefore reminded that this election is the threshold of Nigeria fragile democracy, therefore failure or under-delivery will not be accepted as an option at this crucial period.

On a more serious note, Prof. Jega need to explain in a nation-wide televised broadcast why Nigerians should not expect a perfect election. If perfection means conducting credible, free and fair election that reflects the peoples voice and meet the international standard, why should the people of Nigeria expect anything less? Does the INEC Chairman think that the people are stupid or naive? Does he think that Nigerians are satisfied with the history of fraudulent elections of the past? Or what could have informed such submission? He was granted virtually everything that he demanded and more. He has the support of the people, his massive electoral budget was approved by the National Assembly, his request for extension of voting days was granted etc. What else does he want?

If Prof Jega is been ironic, he need to be told in a clear term that, Nigerians have no stomach for any insensitive statement that is capable of been used as a game plan to thwart the wish of the people in 2011 elections; and will resist such pranks to the last. The peoples revolt at the National Assembly to protest the members unreasonable increase in their salaries and allowance will be a child play. You can fool some people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time. The INEC Chairman – Professor Attahiru Jega is therefore advised to resist been used or manipulated by the power that be. He should uphold his integrity to the end and have his name engrave in gold. This is not going to be another Professor Nwosu or Professor Iwu’s electoral manipulations that compromised the will of the people. The 2011 election is a litmus test to determine whether or not Nigeria will remain a single united nation or a multiple of independent nation states. This decision is anchored in a fraud free election where the peoples will would prevail without alteration, manipulation or cancellation.

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