Fellow Nigerians, I write to you today with trepidation. I know we are in the habit of treating serious issues with levity but the time has come for every serious Nigerian to worry about the direction we are heading.
As I write this, all manner of messages are flying into my BlackBerry. Nigerians now live in perpetual fear and hopelessness. Top on the news item is the story of the daredevil bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja, a magnificent palace that sat in its majesty before a blinding explosion ricocheted through what should have been one of the most secured buildings in Nigeria. This came not too long after the bomb that almost killed many of our top police officers, at the Nigeria Police Headquarters in Abuja, but for the mercy of God. It is no longer in doubt that our country is in big trouble.
Nigeria has now joined the unenviable league of terrorist nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. And we are fast disintegrating like Somalia and Sudan.In hushed tones and even at beer parlours, Nigerians are discussing a future that is no longer certain. Young Nigerians are circulating scary information purportedly received from security sources on the next targets to be hit by suicide bombers. They include government houses, assemblies, and popular hotels among others. So desperate are our citizens that most people are now seeking such lists in order to avoid a misadventure. The fear of a stray bomb is the beginning of wisdom.
As if that is not bad enough, the otherwise beautiful city of Jos continues to wallow in its pitiable orgy of violence. It has virtually become impossible for government to find a lasting solution to the intractable crisis and put an end to the senseless killings in the name of culture and religion. Rumours are flying ceaselessly on social media about another impending holocaust in what was, once upon a time, a cosmopolitan city that welcomed foreigners from all walks of life.
The latest message on BlackBerry is that “A meeting has just been concluded in one of the villages on the outskirt of Jos. Militants are expected from Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, and Bauchi to join the Muslims in Jos for a mass attack. Five Vectra cars have been donated to be used for suicide bombing. Sheikh (I deleted the full names) announced during the meeting that two persons have donated N50 million each for this cause. Main targets are… There is possibility of NEPA BLACK-OUT TO AID THE ATTACKERS.” I have taken liberty to edit this act of scaremongering which has become commonplace in Nigeria these days.
And from Jos we move to another big problem, which is that of kidnapping. After the saga of the abduction of Mikel Obi’s dad, the newest hoopla is about the traumatic experience of a couple in Lagos who had come home from abroad for their wedding ceremonies. According to the widely-circulated message, “Please do not relent in prayers for the Kusamotu and Thomas’ families.
They are still looking for their beloved, Adeyanju Kusamotu Thomas, who has been kidnapped since Sunday 28th of August, 2011, and yet to be found! Do not be tired in broadcasting messages on all medium you can lay your hands on. Remember her five month old child, her mother and her family…” One account claimed she came home for her wedding and was double-crossed on the way to a petrol station with her husband who managed to do a Ben Johnson sprint in his bid to escape. Even as I was concluding this piece, reports flew in from Bayelsa State that gunmen have kidnapped a monarch, The EbeniIbe of Atissa Kingdom in Obogoro in the Yenagoa local Government area of Bayelsa, King Godwin Igodo.
On top of all these, sad tales are pouring in from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, where over hundred people were said to have lost their lives due to heavy flooding from a satanic rain that descended on the massive city. The worry of most people is that if rainfall can wreak so much havoc God should please forbid a horrendous tsunami or hurricane. We have never been able to manage natural disasters and we are continually exposed to the vagaries of the elements. There are also many stories of man-made disasters like road accidents due to bad roads nationwide. The question is why are we so unlucky and where do we go from here?
No prophet would have foretold all these unmitigated disasters. The early part of this year had suggested that most of our problems would soon disappear. Politics and politicking were in the air and in our usual state of unrestrained giddiness we were led into believing that only one political party, and only one man, was destined to rule Nigeria. It did not matter if events of the past 12 years suggested otherwise. We were regaled with all manner of campaign stunts and gimmickry. Poets waxed lyrical. Actors gave their greatest performances. Musicians produced their best compositions. Pastors prayed fervently. Imams supplicated to Allah. Animists chanted incantations. Hagiographers were never in short supply in our neck of the wood. It was endorsement galore.
There was no question of what this was all about. He who paid the piper was dictating the tune. The social media was awash with tales by moonlight. Impossible promises were made to the victims of this mass hypnotism. They gobbled up the balderdash with incredible rapidity while studiously ignoring the fact that no politician had ever been able to deliver on too much electoral promises. Not even in nations where leaders are held accountable. Nigerians were turned into babies begging for Lollies. Those who saw through the smokescreen were shouted down and derided as enemies of progress.
The reason again was simple. Ethnicity was always an issue. You can never win a war of words with jingoists. When everything else has failed in Nigeria tribalism takes over. And the tribal warlords abound here. Education has not been able to cure most of us of that malady. We always fight for our kinsmen to get the fattest jobs even if our community and constituency would gain nothing in the long run. It is amazing how the most civilised man would throw common-sense and decorum to the winds once the subject changes to ethnicity. The only other competitor is religion. There is hardly any consideration for the common good of the people.
Fellow Nigerians, it seems the chicken has come home to roost and we must get real. It is now very clear to those who have eyes to see that our problems are not about to vamoose. In fact, they are about to multiply and spiral out of control. What is sad is that our politicians still can’t see the conflagration ahead. But this is not the time for name-calling. We are already saddled with another four years of People’s Redemption Party at the centre even if some voters claimed they voted for the candidate and not his party. We’ve spent three months waiting for the fulfilment of that promise of a new Nigeria.
I believe we can no longer afford to leave everything in the hands of government. All men and women of goodwill must rise up to rescue our country. Every problem has a solution and we must all work for it. Every contribution counts in the days of tribulations. I’m shocked that our elders are watching helplessly as our country is bleeding to death.Everything we used to hold dear is collapsing before our very eyes. This is the time we need their sagacity. From every corner of Nigeria, they must speak up about reuniting our people. The strength of Nigeria comes from an awesome population. We all have a lot to gain in a bigger country and so much to lose in some fragmented nationalities.
The most pressing problem seeking urgent attention is the general insecurity in the country. It has reached a boiling point. We must desperately overhaul our security apparatus. Let no one tell me of lack of funds again. The present allocation in our budget is adequate if prudently managed. Promotions should be strictly tied to performance and not federal character. We must invest in modern equipment to make our agents more effective and efficient. The morale of our security agencies appear to be low and depressing. They are well-trained but lack sufficient facilities to work with. In their present state, it is almost impossible to combat crime and criminals who are getting more sophisticated by the day.
No nation has ever made progress without an intellectual base. What we are witnessing is the expensive price we have to pay for our lack of vision. Ignorance is a disease and it spreads easily like virus. We must make every effort to control the spread. It is now at an unacceptable stage. We must plead with our leaders to revamp our schools without any further delay. Education is a major weapon against most of the problems.
Government must perform the miracle of creating employment for our youths. It is not as difficult as it looks. There are so many brilliant youths roaming the streets with bright ideas but there is no help coming from anywhere. These youths have given up hope and this can only crystallise into anger. And anger can only lead to the type of wanton destruction of lives and properties that we are confronting today.
A lot of resources are being wasted on a few politicians which would have removed a lot of our youths from the streets. Our nation would know no peace until the privileged ones begin to downgrade their own lifestyle to support the poor of our society. It is our collective responsibilities to act decisively before our country is consumed by a tragedy beyond our control.