• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria: The gathering storm

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Nigeria is immensely blessed by God based on any benchmark for assessing blessed countries. Crude oil is deposited beneath our soil in large quantities. Coal, which can be used in generating electricity, is found in Enugu. Limestone is found in different parts of Nigeria. More so, we have a mild and equable weather conditions which are favourable for agricultural practices. And, our large landmass is very arable and fertile. Unlike in Europe and America, natural disasters do not kill people here; neither do they devastate our buildings and public infrastructure.

Not only is Nigeria blessed with natural resources and good climatic conditions, but also it has a humongous population. One out of every five black persons is a Nigerian. That is a proof and measure of our huge population. Millions of Nigerians in the diaspora are contributing towards the development of their host countries. But Nigeria has remained, lamentably, in the woods of economic backwardness and technological underdevelopment. For all our human and material resources, Nigeria has failed to realize its potential. At best, it has remained continuously the potential giant of Africa. Why is this the fate of Nigeria?

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Disunity is at the core and root of our national woes. An anarchic condition does not conduce to the development of a country. Nigerians are intensely aware of their ethnic backgrounds and religious affiliations. Ethnic consciousness or chauvinism and religious bigotry are factors that bifurcate a country and pith one ethnic group against another. Not a few countries have unravelled owing to ethnic distrust and religious intolerance. Ethiopia split to birth Eritrea, South Sudan emerged from Sudan, and Kenya is still being ravaged by ethnicity-induced problems.

Back in Nigeria, since the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates into one country called Nigeria, it has had instances of ethnic secessionist moves. Since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War in 1970, the country has not known true peace and unity.

Today, a minority southern Christian is president by twist of fate and political default. President Goodluck Jonathan’s emergence as is believed to be providential, but, as is obvious to percipient and discerning people, his occupancy of the presidential seat irks northerners to no end. The Boko Haram group stepped up its murderous activities soon after President Jonathan won the 2011 presidential election. Till now, there is no let-up in the destructive activities of the group. The group has engaged in territorial expansion, having hoisted its flag in some towns in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States. And our security apparatchik appears overwhelmed. So, can elections be conducted in those states that are in the firm grip of Boko Haram? Will states whose citizens are disenfranchised in the presidential election accept the presidential election result as a reflection of their choice and will?

The unending Boko Haram insurgency portends doom for Nigeria. It is evident that political storms are gathering over Nigeria’s landscape. Will America’s prediction that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015 become a reality? Sadly, some notable northern politicians are engaging in sabre-rattling in order to frighten and compel President Jonathan to relinquish power. They are stoking up tension in the country with their inflammatory speeches and utterances, vitriol, and divisive actions. In a country with high-level ethnic chauvinism, where an ethnic group sees itself as born to rule, unity, a force for national development, is not guaranteed.

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The battle to wrest power from President Jonathan at any cost is the reason behind the formation of APC. Sadly, APC, which is ideologically hollow and deficient in internal democracy, is not a better alternative to the ruling PDP. If anything, it is a bad copy of the ravenous and rapacious PDP.

Nigeria may be inching steadily towards anarchy, what with the intermittent flare-ups in Plateau and the eruption of communal clashes in Nassarawa. The recent shameful events at the National Assembly, where parliamentarians from the lower chamber were barred from entering the premises, all point to a deeper crisis within Nigeria.

In addition to these, millions of young Nigerians are either unemployed or under-employed. When anger wells up in the bosoms of people with disillusionment and indignation, they will do unthinkable things. When a fruit-seller in Tunisia was treated with high-handedness by the authorities, he set himself alight, which led to protest in that country. The people’s revolt against the government caused the dethronement of Tunisia’s leader, Ben Ali. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi suffered the same fate.

Until Blaise Campaore was chased out of his presidential office, nobody believed that the Burkinabe were capable of embarking on sustained mass protests. Campaore ruled Burkina Faso with iron-fist for 27 years after killing the charismatic revolutionary, Thomas Sankara. Some revolutions are spontaneous and unplanned. Let us learn from the Burkina Faso example. The people’s discontentment and disillusionment, the Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, INEC’s shoddy performances, and communal clashes here and there, if not handled tactfully and expeditiously, can cause Nigeria to bowl over.

On a final note, although our shared historical experience is the only common factor as well as the thread that has united us, we can still achieve national unity and cohesion if we set our hearts and sights on making Nigeria an oasis of peace.

Chiedu U. Okoye