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The humbling of the nation: Time for realism

By Adisa Adeleye
The last few weeks have shown the strong resolution of Nigerians to withstand the shock of the abduction of more than 200 girls from Chibok in Borno State; the World Economic Forum was also successfully held in Abuja under strictly controlled atmosphere of peace.

Agreed, it was not a normal situation when an important business discussion would be held in a situation where shops and offices remained closed for three days.

One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters. AFP
One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters. AFP

It is admirable that the Boko Haram notoriety in Nigeria because of the Western World (led by USA) has expressed support for Nigeria‘s belated efforts in curbing the raging inferno.  There is no doubt that Nigeria is at war with itself.   A fact recognized by our foreign friends but not by majority of Nigerian politicians whose main interest lies in the capturing of power in 2015, with its opportunities of squandering the national wealth.  The diverse offers of help by many nations and the condemnation of wanton destruction of lives and properties in the country is an indication that Nigeria is held high in the world.

There is little doubt that the seemingly successful Boko Haram insurgency has challenged the high efforts of our security outfits.  The bandits were not only able to abduct female students in a crude fashion, but also could provide their victims with uniforms and organize Quaranic classes undisturbed within three weeks, in a supposedly civilized state under the Rule of Law.

At the moment, this great nation seems to be on its knees, at the mercy of its international friends for necessary gadgets (experts and materials) to tackle insecurity problems in three out of the 36 states of the country.  Also, the country is throwing its doors open to foreign investors to maintain economic growth and create employment.

On our part, this is the time to implement the test of soul searching and examine critically the conscience of political leadership which is based principally on the survival and perpetual succession, and this at any cost.  The root of Boko Haram insurgency, some have argued justifiably, is firmly rooted in the operation of the “Sharia” system in some Northern states.

It is observed that in some Northern states, Sharia laws are being implemented by some local officials (not personnel of the Nigeria Police) with impunity.  The flagrant disobedience of some provisions of the Nigerian Constitution which harp on the freedom of worship and freedom to live peacefully in any part of the country has encouraged the rise and spread of religious bigotry.

In many parts of the country, lives had been lost, properties were destroyed without compensation – all had resulted in forced migration of people from the Northern to the Southern parts of the country.

Many analysts have argued in vain that the inability of some state governments and the federal authorities to tackle successfully the growth of political violence and religious intolerance have aided the growth of insecurity and insurgency.

It is firmly believed that this is the right time for Nigeria and its political leaders to face the reality of the present situation.  It is the right time because the country‘s foreign friends (out of enlightened self-interest) are prepared to help us combat the forces of insecurity (through the provision of security experts and equipment) and mass unemployment (through direct investments) in the real sectors of the economy.  The challenge is at our door-step so that President Jonathan could re-echo that Winston Churchill‘s famous saying – “Give us the tools and we will finish the job”.

At this grave moment when the powerful nations of the world are united in helping the country out of its many problems that might affect its existence, Nigeria‘s political leadership must accept the intriguing challenge of statehood.

What could and should be done at this moment of crisis?  The President of the country must start to wear the toga of statesmanship.  He should be seen as a National Leader and not a reluctant 2015 Presidential candidate of a ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  Inspite of the many magnificent efforts by the party, its reign of over fifteen years have not brought steady electric power for the growth of domestic economic activities or has the copious production of crude oil and gas transformed the country into one of the economic giants of the world; though we have promoted our country to the position of having the largest economy in Africa.

The late President Yar‘Adua fought the battle of resource control in the Niger Delta and won the battle by peaceful negotiation.  Today, the battle is on oil theft and destruction of pipelines – a more dangerous problem of economic sabotage.  This has been compounded by the introduction of unnecessary subsidy on some oil products because the nation, through lack of good planning, could not meet its domestic demand from its local refineries, and has to resort to importation of refined products.

It is gratifying that a national dialogue is going on to determine the future of the country, even if some are doubting the success of such debates that might result in the perpetuation of the ‘status-quo‘.

However, the reality of the present precarious situation requires absolute unity of all Nigerians, while a special appeal is being made to the Northern political leaders to show more interest in bringing Boko Haram insurrection to a quick end; to support full federalism which allows for state police and other security arrangements.  The alluring prospects of power returning to the North in 2015 should not obliterate the necessities of survival today.

The mood, therefore, is the formation of a genuine National Government to tackle the prevalent problems of Insurgency, Power, Kidnapping, Armed robbery and Unemployment.

The ultimate sacrifice that the politicians at this moment of political instability and economic uncertainties is to forget the elections of 2015 and concentrate on winning the war within the country.

This would require all politicians holding offices in the states and federal governments to return to their bases and work successfully with the security agents in their areas of conflict.  This is the way we can win the war.



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