Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Nation in Perpetual Dichotomy BY JOE INIODU

Actions, inactions, utterances, conduct and attitudes of some persons in this country, Nigeria have continued to provide reasons for mistrust and mutual suspicion predisposing the nation to a doubtful state of health. But how can a nation which loses its citizens in droves to various brutish sub-culture actions be said to be healthy when sick and sickening features litter and strewn its land robbing it of sanctity and decency. No, it is a sick nation gasping desperately on a sick bed with medical solution still far-fetched.

Today, the mention of the name, Nigeria tingles the ear with fear of bomb blast, kidnapping, abduction, homicide and brutal murder. The nation has become a postscript of blood on canvass with killings serving as sports for blood-thirsty hounds who prowl the nation to wreak horrendous evil. Their targets are unselective. Take the instance of the bombing of Nyanya Motor Park that claimed, if we believe police records, 75 lives with about 170 on the injured list. But of course, this was to be followed with another bizarre act being the abduction of 234 innocent girls from Government Girls' College, Chibok. In fact, available statistics posit that the Boko Haram insurgency has claimed about 17,000 lives, displaced about 1.5 million people with about 30,000 fleeing to Northern Cameroun . These grim statistics stir agony and anguish yet persist in currency with security challenges becoming more and more intractable. 

But those who are best disposed to rein in these insurgents through their good offices have failed in this important social avowal. They have acted in manners that public perceptions conjure as conspiracy or connivance. Their utterances which bear inflamed passion cannot restrain the conducts and indiscretions of these insurgents rather, they serve as pep to the barbarism. They confect the insurgents and turn them into instruments of dichotomy with no modicum of consideration for our social cohesion and harmony. 

Recently, the need for leaders and other important elements in the society to be circumspect in remarks and comments has become more mandatory than a discretional act. It is the case of a wise man who does not only know what to say but when best to say it. As an eternal maxim posits, it is better to listen to a wise man when he is wrong than a fool when he is right. Words catalyze action especially if it is coming from someone who occupies a position of authority or has by any stroke of circumstance earned the respect of people. It is why people whom circumstances have thrust upon with such grace should be mindful of what issues from their mouths. 

Recently, Northern leaders have broken the barriers of decorum in their utterances. They speak as if they care less about the unity of Nigeria , its social cohesion and our continuous co-existence. And when this is added to the perennial mix of upheavals in the North, which at incipience targeted Southerners, one ceases to see it as mere blackmail but the pursuit of an agenda that has the endorsement of majority of the Northern elites. 

To give vent to the aforestated submission, let us analyze the utterances of some Northern elites beginning with Lamido Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha. The first class monarch is a participant at the on-going National Conference. The Lamido Adamawa jolted Nigerians when he threatened to lead his people to join his kith and kin in Cameroun if Nigerian disintegrates. He also noted that few Nigerians would have where to go to if Nigeria is balkanized. 

The position of the royal father, a major stakeholder in the Nigerian project confesses the monarch's lack of love, faith and commitment to the nation. His peculiar circumstance provides for him an alternative to Nigeria and he is willing to dump the country at the drop of a hat. If a monarch holds such curious position against a country that has produced his stool, what happens to the subjects. But while the nation was ruing over the indiscretion of the royal father, the governor of Adamawa State , a revered military officer pointedly accused the Jonathan administration of committing genocide in the North. Such allegation has the potential to incite a scale of violence of unimaginable proportion. 

And yet, such unguarded comment issued from a governor that presides over people who look up to him as a leader that knows better than them given his background as a career military officer  and the privilege of his office in terms of availability of security report. One is tempted to ask, what does the Adamawa helmsman want? Is this still politics? If blood bath erupts from his inflammatory comment, would he absolve himself of culpability? How does he want his Adamawa kinsmen to perceive his president under whom he serves as governor? Again, the position of Governor Murtala Nyako is a summary of an archetypal Northerner who is willing to set the nation ablaze and go for his alternative.

 That mindset has remained an eloquent undercurrent in the on-going National Conference. The coalition of Northern delegates and the issuance of a pompous and pugnacious position paper give credence to the belief that the North is not willing to make any sacrifice to keep Nigeria as a nation. The 47-page document arrogates itself with being “the backbone and strength of Nigeria” Its position, which according to them, is articulated by the tripartite of Northern Governors' Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum and Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation is insensate, arrogant, inconsiderate and extremely provocative. Their request that Northern delegates reject all claims to oil resources by oil producing states is a blackmail and a ploy to stem any agitation beyond the extant 13% derivation. Their proposal for the abrogation of onshore/offshore dichotomy and reversal to status quo ante constitute a grossly ignorant position that undermines the costly resource control agitation for which the likes of Ken Saro Wiwa paid the supreme price in the hands of their kinsman. It is important to caution that if the North still wants Nigeria, it must be circumspect in its utterances and demands. 

It is heartrending  to observe that the psychological make-up of a typical Northerner which we are told has its lineage in the early proclamations of sir Ahmadu Bello that the North owns Nigeria and that every other  tribe is at their mercy still beclouds many of our Northern brothers. Times have not only changed, things have also changed. Such nauseating mindset is not a product of contemporary times. It is primitive, redundant and out of sync with current zeitgeist. Even the equation that it risked the delivery contract of three years of agricultural produce to prosecute the war, which is considered an unverifiable submission, is also porous in argument and comparison. Can the North compare the number of years it has depended on Nigeria 's oil exploited from the Niger - Delta?  Does the North suffer environmental hazards? Does it suffer the despoliation of its farmlands? Does its rivers and seas suffer loss of aquatic lives? Do they suffer from water borne diseases resulting from oil exploration? Do they suffer leaking roofs in their houses? The audacity of calling for a reversal of on-shore/offshore dichotomy to status quo ante suggests that some of them are done with Nigeria ; they are done with it because they have an alternative country where they can go and hibernate.  

The current development impels some radical options within the Nigerian Nation. By the utterances of some of their leaders, it has become clear that many of them do not owe any allegiance to this country. We must therefore ensure a more diligent policing of our borders to stem the tide of influx of people who come from other countries to claim Nigeria . In such people, you cannot invent or inspire patriotism. And where love for one's country is absent, the quest for conflagration struts in bolder form seeking an end to that country. There must also be in place an intensive re-orientation of our people towards national ideals and goals. Our people must know that Nigeria remains their only country and they can only be refugees or at best second class citizens in any other country. They must therefore join hands to fix this country so that it can work. We must all imbibe the popular America maxim patented by the one time president of the United States , John F. Kennedy which stated: “Think not what your country can do for you but think of what you can do for your country”. It is this emotion laden statement that has for years driven the American dream.
It has been proven that idleness breeds anti-social behaviour which are expressed in criminal tendencies. Unemployment in the country therefore must be tackled to the hilt and reduced to the barest minimum. Government should invest massively in education and skills' acquisition training. Youths must be oriented to learn skills and not only to acquire idle certificates that do not galvanize their imaginations. In other words, our educational curriculum must be tailored to meet out needs.

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