Released September 5, 2021
When you’re in Nigeria’s political circles of power, you don’t want the country to be labeled a failed state. That is understandable. Admitting that this is the case would mean accepting responsibility for at least part of it.
Unfortunately, and contrary to our hopes and dreams of independence 60 years ago, Nigeria is a failing state at best. It’s just not in violent fragments, but that’s the next level. There is something Nigerians can do to avoid this.
But what does a failed state look like? Thirty years ago this question may have been difficult to answer. Today the answer is right in your hands.
If you own a phone, the answer is instantly when you turn it on: the country is in chaos. Such a chaos that even the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari retired, cannot guarantee his own safety in the presidential villa, let alone outside. Just two weeks ago in his home state of Katsina, two members of the House of Assembly cried as they pondered the terrible insecurity in 32 of the 34 local counties. They saw kidnappers visiting citizens’ homes and kidnapping people unmolested.
On the phones of Nigerian citizens, endless stories and pictures and videos can now be seen of people being brutally attacked all over their homes and communities, schools and worship centers, streets and farms and markets. On every phone, Nigerians share accounts of schools emptied by ransom-seeking bandits; of kidnappers who know every highway and route across the country; and by so-called shepherds, who know that it is far more profitable to kill than to own a head of cattle.
The result is a nation in agony, torn apart as its people bleed not only from machete cuts and gunshots, but also from hearts broken by the betrayal of politicians.
This leads to another graphic element of a failed state: the institution of official hypocrisy. Unfortunately, the Buhari government has turned into a study of how a promising outfit was exposed as a promise factory. The proof is on your phone.
Buhari’s government came to turn Nigeria from ugly to glorious; Instead, it has brought the nation to the brink of disintegration while praising and glorifying itself.
While Nigerians are openly slaughtered by criminals and gangs who are not afraid of arrest, the regime publicly worships itself. It wastes scarce resources on its own self-assessment and approval.
While Nigerian farmers, businesses and communities are being abandoned in exchange for poverty and misery, government officials declare that the enemy is only public service organizations and social media. The proof is on your phone.
The helplessness is palpable across the country. People are afraid to go out or travel; they are just as afraid of being on the street as they are at home; they are just as afraid of drawing attention as they are in a crowd.
The official reaction of the Buhari government: arrest, prosecute or detain critics without facing the problem. In Aso Rock, this is known as the “persecution” and has brought Nigeria to collapse. It is the “end times” of the Nigerian nation state as we know it.
Today’s Nigeria stands, as everyone knows, on the thin edge of the abyss. Nigeria cannot move forward. There is no future – or future – in the distrust and division this government has created.
This darkness should and shouldn’t happen. But every Nigerian can feel it, feel it and see it on their cell phone. When Nigeria is bleeding, her children are kidnapped, women are raped and bones are broken; While people and dreams are dying in the open, the rich and powerful, who are still largely unable to travel due to COVID-19, meet in Abuja, which is considered safe, and hide in their fortresses.
But the normal Nigerian knows that no one is safe individually, unless we can all be reasonably safe.
How can Nigeria survive? As citizens wring their hands helplessly and stare at a government falling into its own incompetence and malevolence, how can Nigerians – beyond hope and prayer – influence their fate beyond Buhari?
I have two thoughts. The first is that based on the nation’s experience since Buhari came to power in May 2015, the Buhari era must be considered lost.
Lost, not won. If Buhari won, even he doesn’t know what he won, and it’s not sustainable. If there is a “victory” anywhere, it is not for any part of Nigeria. Not for any religion or region or ethnicity. When Nigeria falls apart there is no direction for anyone to flee or hide as there are no safe roads or rails or airports or foreign mansions to escape. There will be no point in the world where history or an #ENDSARS outpost will not challenge every complicit Nigerian.
My second thought then is that the present – today – must take responsibility if we are to get into the Buhari era. There are two nodes for urgent responses.
The first node is the State Council provided for in the Nigerian Constitution, which is empowered to “advise the President, upon request, on the maintenance of law and order within the Federation or part of it and on other matters authorized by the President”. Direct. ”
The members of the Council are the President, the Vice-President, all former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of Government of the Federation; all former Chief Justice of Nigeria; the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; all state governors; and the federal attorney general.
During normal times, the President convenes the Council. But this is an emergency, and provided the retired army generals are not afraid, vocal former leaders like Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar should take the burden of convening a council meeting TODAY and then publicly request it an urgent meeting of the body to advise the president on law and order, aka security.
At this meeting, which I suspect Mr Buhari would like to convene, since he is constantly meeting, albeit in vain, with his security chiefs, the Council would draw the President’s attention to how the current threat can be stopped immediately.
The second focal point of response to our impending implosion, should the political will to convene an immediate meeting of the State Council, concern key national leaders: former political leaders, as well as Southern and Northern leaders, religious leaders, retired military leaders, and traditional leaders, in to convene an emergency meeting in Abuja in the next few days with the same agenda and determine how to proceed.
In its current composition, Nigeria has reached the end of all leeway. Action is required. Keeping silent and pretending that everything is okay or that the situation will resolve itself becomes expensive.
There can be no tomorrow.
(This column welcomes rebuttals from interested government officials).
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