By Okachi N. Kpalukwu
When you cut off the head of a snake, the rest of the languid body of the snake will flip and flop, wobble and jolt, convulse and squirm in protest until it no longer has the strength to continue its protest of, perhaps, an unjust act! Such seizure-like state of a beheaded snake is where I see Nigeria today, without a president to direct its daily affairs. For nearly two months now, President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua has been away from Nigeria, attending to his illness inSaudi Arabia, and throughout this period Nigeria has been without a leader.
The question everyone is murmuring but few are brave enough to ask openly is: What would happen to Nigeria now? Using the snake analogy, the answer is simple. The snake killer will simply pick up the body of the harmless snake and take it home to roast. And why not?
There is no doubt in my mind, knowing the history of Nigeria, that the Nigerian military men and women are salivating, waiting in the wings, ready to pounce, ready to take back what, over the years, has become theirs for the taking: A leaderless Nigeria!
This is not to imply that the Nigerian military has anything to do with the presidentâ€™s illness, for we all know what his illness is. But what if this scenario were to transpire? Would it not be a pity? Would it not be a pity to see that Nigeria has degenerated to this futureless giant that her corrupt leaders has made her to be? Is it not a pity that a country with a constitution is now ruled unconstitutionally, and her citizens reduced to mere onlookers?
It does not take a physician to know what is wrong with Nigeria. Nigeriaâ€™s illness is the problem of leadership, we all know by now, because her leaders had never had her interests at their hearts.
Otherwise why would a head of state leave a country for nearly two months for whatever reason without properly delegating powers to his deputy for the sake of continuity and in the patriotic spirit of abiding by the stipulations of the 1999 constitution? Instead they are treating Nigeria like a personal property that can be co-opted and hoarded for later use.
And all the rest of us have to do is wait until the messiah returns from Saudi Arabia to take care of us!
Were this state of affairs taking place in other countries around the world, the citizens of that country would have been on the streets en-mass, protesting daily, not just one day.
But not Nigeria; Nigerian citizens has been benumbed beyond words. They have been schooled to accept things as they are.
They have been schooled to sidon-look. They have been educated to shun patriotism, and as such many Nigerian would rather see the country die silently than speak up in protest of an unjust status-quo. As such many Nigerians, especially the rich ones, would rather pack up their ill-acquired properties and families and move abroad.
Although the newspapers are not silent about the state of the power-stalemate in Nigeria today, and Nigerian intellectuals are up in arms about the ill president not handing power to his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, the rest of Nigeria seem unconcerned about the doomsday ahead if nothing is done now to fill the leadership vacuum in the country before it is too late.
The rest of Nigeria is waiting for a Messiah to come and rescue them instead of doing it themselves as citizens of other countries around the world do. Instead of doing this, which is the right thing to do under these circumstances, they are praying.
Praying for what? For the status-quo to continue? For the country to continue to be led blindly by blind leaders? For lack of electricity to persist?
For lack of clean drinking water? For lack of hospitals and clinics to take care of the sick and the elderly? For their leaders to continue stealing their money and sending their children to school overseas while ignoring the poor state of education at home? For tugs and corrupt politicians to continue to kidnap and terrorize innocent men and women? For poverty to continue to reign supreme amongst the masses of the people while the rich continue to lampoon the riches of Nigeria while stocking their bank accounts abroad.
What are Nigerians actually praying for? Are they praying for Nigeriaâ€™s image to continue to be tarnished everywhere in the world due to the myopic vision of its leaders? Today in the United States, due to the misguided act of one miscreant, spoilt-rotten Nigerian, the mere mention of Nigeria now raises eyebrows. Nigerian is now seen in a worst state that it has ever been.
Nigerian is now seen as a country where a man can manage several banks and large organizations but cannot even manage his own family and children. Nigerian is now known as the home of terrorists and all the rest of us has to do is put up with the nonsense that a few, idiotic citizens have created.
They steal our money, make themselves rich, spoil their children with their riches, and them spoil our name everywhere and all we can do is pray, pray that they continue to do it to us, that God continue to bless them and not us!
What happened to standing up for our rights? What happened to protesting vehemently in the streets of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Aba, Calabar, Enugu, Abuja and the rest for a change? What happened to saying enough is enough and we wonâ€™t take it anymore? As the saying goes, heaven helps those who help themselves.
Indeed, we Nigerians have come a long way, but we still have long ways to go. The end of our suffering has not yet come and we must not pretend that it has. This is the time to fight. This is the time to protest. This is the time to demand of our leaders to do the right thing by us.
This is the time to speak up and go out of our way in protest against injustice anywhere in the country. This is the time to be courageous and brave. The time is now, and I believe that we can do it and do it right if only we have the will to save our country from further embarrassment.
Dr. Okachi Nyeche Kpalukwu is a native of Rumuji, Odegu, in the Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State. He is also a lecturer at Howard University and the University of Maryland University College.