By Chris Ekpenyong
Soon, and very soon, Nigeria will be hitting hundred years as one nation welded together by the force of colonialism. Many of us have asked whether this should be counted as an achievement; and if so, whether it is worth rolling out the drums in celebration. Not many have answered in the affirmative, and not a few have seen much grace in any merriment.
For me, I think we should thank God, rather than celebrate, for leaving us in one piece despite our strident effort to destroy ourselves. Fortunately, we still remain one nation in spite of our efforts to crush ourselves; I mean one cantankerous, divisive and potentially self destruct geographical expression.
You may not agree with me; I could be branded a fatalist or too circumspective to hold the waning thinking that come what may, Nigeria is the proverbial Beatle where “there is no killing’’. I am not saying we are a failed state, but let’s examine our myriads of problems.
Have we not transited rapidly from a country of peace loving people bound together by decent cultures and character attributes to a nation of savages so blood thirsty that we kill for God, kidnap for ransoms and assassinate to gain vantage political positions?
Have we not witnessed a ravenous proclivity to loot the nation’s treasury so much that culprits are not just tolerated but caressed? Have we not come to a point where friends of treasury looters carry placards in defense of the culprits? Is it not only the courageous that does business in Nigeria because the bureaucracy inherited from the British has become a vindictive tool to destroy peoples’ investments? Ask Ibeto.
Haven’t we seen people burst into celebration when PHCN gives light even at low current all because darkness is their true item of trade? Is it not true that the bulk of the water we drink come from untreated private boreholes? How do you hide the despair on the faces of our youths who having escaped all kinds of maltreatment from the hands of their teachers, and abysmally poor learning facilities, end up in the booming unemployment market?
What do we make of the over 60% of the nation’s poor in a place where the nation’s GDP is growing at about 6.5% annually with exotic cars all over the place and private jets littering our air space? Is something not wrong with our income distribution and overall development paradigm? Are we not patronizing tertiary educational institutions in less endowed neighboring countries because incessant closures have made graduation dates uncertain in our schools?
These are some of the salient questions we must ask ourselves before the loud crash that we are inexorably headed. Reasons have been advanced for the rising spate of insurgents in the country and some have been attributed to religious intolerance of the jihadist genre, others arise from indigene/settlers conflicts; and there is the struggle to cut a pie from regions’ resources carted away to the centre for distribution.
There is also the theory of political space creation due to lack of internal democracy in the political parties. Let’s ask: have we seen any Central Bank staff, a Chevron worker, a UAC employee, indeed any gainfully employed person tie a bomb to his waste on a suicide bombing picnic?