Nigeria’s Cramped Public Space, By Wole Olaoye

… we found ourselves in this toxic environment where dialogue has become old-fashioned and fairness has been redefined to mean “me, me and me”. Increasingly, the pieces that make up this large piece of God’s estate are being torn apart, piece by piece. Those who parrot the mantra of indivisibility begin to see that the land is leaving them even though they do not want to leave the land.

“You don’t know me,” said Turtle. “I am a changed man. I’ve learned that a man who causes trouble to others causes trouble to himself. ”- Chinua Achebe, things are falling apart

The bourgeois space is shrinking day by day as my compatriots struggle for the soul of the nation. Nigeria is pregnant. Experienced political midwives predict a long and painful birth. But they do not foresee stillbirth, as happened in 1993 under the watchful eye of a former disciple of the terrible Eme Awa; his name was Humphrey Nwosu, the midwife of the first generally accepted, free and fair federal election in Nigeria.

The baby was born healthy but was strangled at birth. What kind of paramedic would monitor and nurse a pregnancy to the end just to commit infanticide in sight? Those who weren’t at the end of the horror streamlined the crime. Better to turn young dust back into old dust.

We will return to the political workspace on the 30th anniversary of this crime in 2023. And as you can see, the usual suspects are doing their best to sever the umbilical cord of friendship and sow the kind of hatred that will change midwives for undertakers.

It is comforting that we have all survived so far: gentlemen officers bitten by the messianic virus; hasty pseudo-revolutionaries; Anointed of the old order; Dribbler of truth, killer of our collective joy; Beelzebub’s deputy; the tent bearer of the year of return; the pseudo-democrat; the priestly Ogbanje, who has re-engraved morality in the lexicon; the cheerful good guy; the messiah who desperately needs redemption …

We can survive for many more years. We will have a place when, as Malcolm X advised, we replace “I” with “we” so that our “illness” also becomes “wellness”.

However, we find ourselves in this toxic environment where dialogue has become old fashioned and fairness has been redefined to mean me, me and me. Increasingly, the pieces that make up this large piece of God’s estate are being torn apart, piece by piece. Those who parrot the mantra of indivisibility begin to see that the land is leaving them even though they do not want to leave the land.

Recently, in order to contribute to the national debate on how to proceed, the governors of our southern states agreed on a number of resolutions, including a recommendation to alternate the presidency of Nigeria between north and south. The kind of vicious negative reaction that greeted their announcement was an indication of our level of division. Some self-appointed spokesmen for the North (with the notable exception of the Northern Elders ‘Forum) even described this as an insult, while others interpreted the governors’ resolution as a threat and attempt at extortion.

During the first half of this year, we recorded 32 deaths and 17 successful kidnappings every day. The calamity has no trunk. The Grim Reaper has reaped a bountiful harvest across the board. Borno state lost 1,137 people in six months in 2021; Zamfara, 862; Kaduna, 715; Benue, 449; Niger, 407; Ebony, 210; Katsina, 164; Imo, 153; Kebbi, 144; Yobe, 137; Oyo, 114 and Anambra, 109.

If we cannot even discuss how the current Union can be strengthened to make it more permanent, do we hope that mere daydreams of indissolubility will keep the country one? Do some parts of the country need to get permission from others before they dare to think?

Players in public spaces need to be careful about what they say so that they don’t overtake what they fear. Has anyone bothered to ponder the impact of our current dysfunction on future relationships between children from different parts of the country?

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, scientist, activist and newspaper columnist, recently beamed his expert lenses on the problem of Nigeria.

“Part of the problem today,” says Ibrahim, “is that the discussion in homes, offices, bars, religious gatherings, the mass media, social media, professional associations and all other forums in Nigeria today is that it is real and immediate Threat to Nigeria’s business existence. In addition, there is an ongoing rapid slide into anarchy, triggered by the worst security collapse in our country, which is faced with an almost total lack of leadership or governance on a multi-pronged crisis … “

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Despite the many conspiracy theories trending on social media, Jibrin notes, “There is no effective government counter-narration to inspire hope …”.

We’ve been tapping into multiple wilds if there is any evidence of the facts released by StatiSense, a data analytics company. During the first half of this year, we recorded 32 deaths and 17 successful kidnappings every day. The calamity has no trunk. The Grim Reaper has reaped a bountiful harvest across the board. Borno state lost 1,137 people in six months in 2021; Zamfara, 862; Kaduna, 715; Benue, 449; Niger, 407; Ebony, 210; Katsina, 164; Imo, 153; Kebbi, 144; Yobe, 137; Oyo, 114 and Anambra, 109.

A regional overview of officially reported kidnapping cases in the half-year shows that the north is a fertile haven for kidnappers with 2,557 reported cases, while the south of Nigeria accounts for 386 of them.

You’d have thought our security challenges were daunting enough to get us on our feet. But no! It is almost as if uncertainty is woven into the national fabric as a natural part of our waking and sleeping moments.

My plea: Instead of going back to prehistory and narrowing the public space, let’s start worrying Boko Haram and the other “haramists” like killer herders, bandits and kidnappers.

Existential issues like security and justice are the things that regularly get social media upset. Many of our compatriots have asked: Do we have different laws for different parts of the country? Are All Citizens Equal Before the Law? Do we have a common understanding of basic concepts such as right and wrong?

Since Nnamdi Kanu was arrested again, citizen journalists have wondered whether the same military / security lightning war will be unleashed against Boko Haram and her criminal comrades, euphemistically dubbed “bandits” and “armed shepherds”. They also wonder what happened to the case of Hima Aboubakar, the Nigerian citizen wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for $ 394 million, £ 9.9 million and 369 million in fraud against the Nigerian military Millions N. The EFCC alleged that Aboubakar, the chief executive officer of Societe D’Equipment Internationaux (SEI), had received the funds to purchase equipment for the Nigerian military and that “investigations have uncovered discrepancies in the delivery of the equipment “.

Aside from the fraud and the amounts involved, quite a few wonder how we squander our riches and conspire with complete strangers to deceive our country. Niger is not Russia or France or America. What esoteric qualifications did the Nigerian citizen have to be entrusted with this volume of orders that a Nigerian contractor does not have? Is it conceivable that a foreigner from a “smaller” country will be entrusted with a military contract in a reputable country?

As we continue to address the issues that divide us, we must continue to emphasize that people are equal around the world. Socialization and environmental factors may be different, but a person is a person. There is no fundamental difference between one person from Maiduguri or Kano and another from Ijebu-Ode or Onitsha. The factors that create hatred between one man and another can therefore be pursued outside of his humanity. Different people can live together peacefully and on an equal footing if the will is there.

In this ever narrowing space, where questions are viewed with the utmost suspicion and the error of the individual narrative invades the country, I journalistically note the confusion of a citizen Saleh Mohammed, who recently highlighted some fat puzzles on social media:

“You have four refineries with a refining capacity of 450,000 barrels a day. You left them to rot. The Republic of Niger is a smaller country with a refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day. You gave up your own and went to the Republic of Niger. You have signed a US $ 2 billion letter of intent to pipeline your own crude oil out of your country for refining in the Republic of Niger for you to purchase the refined products. You have the resources to lay pipelines from the Niger Delta to supply the Niger Republic with crude oil, but you lack the resources to maintain the existing refineries … “

Are you confused too? If you ask me who will I ask?

My plea: Instead of going back to prehistory and narrowing the public space, let’s start worrying Boko Haram and the other “haramists” like killer herders, bandits and kidnappers.

Wole Olaoye can be reached at [email protected]

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