FIVE years ago, the CIA predicted that in about 10 years ,Nigeria would cease to be a united country, or that it might simply become a “failed state.” Back then, many of us dismissed the prediction as conjecture, mere Western opinion. We even went as far as calling it a form of prejudice against Nigeria.
In 2010, I wrote an article in which I shared a story about how predictions shape the psyche of people and become self-fulfilling.Let me share one more famous example from Greek mythology. It is the example of self-fulfilling prophecy. Oedipus fulfills the oracle’s prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother.
This is self-fulfilling because it is Oedipus’ actions that made the prophecy come to pass. In the book Social Theory and Social Structure published in 1949, Robert Merton, a 20th century sociologist,argues that self-fulfilling prophecies are false, but are made possible by a person’s or people’s conscious or unconscious actions.
The actions of Nigerian leaders are quickly unfastening the ties that bind Nigeria to life. Through their actions, they have nurtured a death wish, irrigated it like a garden, and let it grow unhindered. The time for the CIA’s prediction to come true is half over, and it is almost becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Please pardon my pessimism. Anybody who has followed my articles in Vanguard or African Analyst can agree that I am an incurable optimist when it comes to the survival of Nigeria as a nation. But the realities of Nigeria’s future are depressing and grim.
The truth is that Nigeria is on the verge of becoming a failed state. The common characteristics of a failed state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has lost the ability to protect its citizens. It is also characterised by wide spread corruption and criminality.
In the history of failed states and nations, it is usually the interplay of tumultuous and unfortunate events that come together to spell doom. For instance, it was interplay of tumultuous events that brought the Soviet Union down. First, Gorbachev’s military spending was 35 percent of the Soviet Union’s gross domestic product in a time of economic stagnation. He also introduced the policies of Glasnost and Perestroika, hoping that people would accept the new strategy for rebuilding the Soviet economy. Lastly, was the complete failure of communism to deliver the promised “worker’s paradise”; wages were stagnant, cars and personal transportation became a rarity, and Soviet youth became frustrated with the system. The rest, as they say, is history.
While it would be a logical fallacy to make a direct comparison between Nigeria and the Soviet Union, the point remains that dark clouds are threatening Nigeria’s viability as a functioning democratic nation. Nigerian leaders have ignored or stimulated theinterplay of events that threaten to collapse the nation.
Boko Haram, the oil subsidy tumult, Nigerian youth feeling hopeless about their future – when you add these problems to the corruption, even an incurable optimist like myself recognise a recipe for disaster. Visionless leadership has moved the once powerful black nation to the cliff, and perhaps it will only be a few more years before the CIA’s prediction comes true.
But of all the elements coming together to makethe CIA’s prediction a self-fulfilling prophecy, Boko Haram is the most dangerous. If the sole aim of Boko Haram is to make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan’s administration, the strategy is bad.
I condemn the killing of innocent Nigerians. But my fear about Boko Haram is that they will soon find out that their strategy of bombing churches and public places in Nigeria will not expose the weakness of Jonathan’s administration to the world. Mainly because the world knows that many other administrations have witnessed similar killings and that Nigerians are used to it. Managing the internal situation is only a matter of propaganda. For instance, the government has assured the world that Nigeria is a safe place to do business.
But what happens if Boko Haram manages to sneak a bomb into an international flight coming or going out of Nigeria? Once again, Nigeria will be classified as a terrorist nation. If one odd fellow, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, can single handedly make the United States classify Nigeria as a terrorist nation, can you imagine the international implications if Boko Haram actually succeeds in bombing Air France, British Airways, KLM, Delta or any other international plane coming out of Nigeria? It will be a game changer. The whole world will focus on how to rid Nigeria of terrorism.
On the home front, the international condemnation of Nigeria as terrorist state would cause a renewed struggle escalating Nigeria’s disintegration. Those of us who are law abiding cannot afford to bear the global stigma of Islamic terrorism.
The struggle for cessation will be more invigorated this time than it was during the civil war, mainly because Nigerians now know that the British experiment called Nigeria has not worked and will never work. I strongly believe that if the government does not handle the menace of Boko Haram swiftly and decisively, then this is possibly the beginning of the CIA’s prediction about Nigeria’s disintegration as a nation.
Mr. HAMILTON ODUNZE a journalist, wrote from Lagos.