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Where are all the Intellectuals gone?

By Obadiah Mailafia

WE live in difficult times. The word ‘crisis’ is a much overused term. And yet, if truth be told, we have a crisis in our hands. There are a few misguided idiots out there who are determined to bring down our country in an inferno of fire and destruction.

In the East, in the North, in the Jos Plateau, in our Federal Capital of Abuja, tension is palpable. I spent my weekend in Kaduna, a city that has become as divided as Beirut.  The air was thick with the smell of fire and brimstone. All the ingredients are there to unleash bloodshed on a staggering scale. All it would take is one lighted match by a madman.

POB potesters grounding Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, during their 1 Million March, to call for the immediate release of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu was arrested by the Department of State Services, DSS, on his way into Nigeria from UK

These times are not for mere political jobbers. They call for statesmen and philosopher-kings. Sadly, when I look around me, all I see are the greasy men of power and soldiers who strut with a swagger. And I ask myself: Where are all the intellectuals gone?

Where are the men and women courageous enough to rise above the madding crowd? Where are those with integrity and authority who will sue for peace? I look around in vain and I weep.

Over the last couple of years, I have engaged with the media as a columnist, writer and TV and radio commentator.  Some of my friends in government and the private sector have not been impressed. More than one has passionately pleaded with me to avoid the media like the plague. They tell me, “these guys are bastard; you will get your fingers burnt”.

A former banking colleague told me to my face that my media engagements were a sign of idleness – I should be busy making money instead. One of them explained to me that the more you make yourself scarce, the higher your stock rises.  The less your voice is heard, the more gravitas you are thought to possess. Perhaps that’s why our Fulani aristocrats up North speak with such clipped syntax – almost in whispers.

So, why do I do it?

I do it because my vocation as a public intellectual imposes on me a heavy burden of responsibility. I carry on my heart the tears and suffering of the black race and a thousand years of trans-Atlantic servitude. I do it because the loss of one soul diminishes me as a human being. I do it for love of country and for fear of the Lord.

The English historian Sir Herbert Butterfield taught that destiny and Providence have a role in human affairs. The British may not have known that they were being mere instruments in the hands of Fate when they cobbled our country together in the so-called Amalgamation of 2014.  Even the word “amalgamation” is a compound lie. The history of what was to become the Nigerian federation predates the Europeans on our continent.

The various communities that made up our country were long involved with each in terms of trade, commerce, diplomacy and intercultural miscegenation. Every true Igbo man or woman who knows their history will tell you that the roots of their Nri spirituality and civilisation came from Igala land in the Middle Belt. The rulers of Onitsha were originally Bini princes.

Yoruba civilisation is deeply intermingled with Nupe culture and the even older Nok civilisation of my ancient savannah homeland. The Kanuri and the Yoruba are of the same Nilotic race. No, what unites us in Nigeria is far more than what divides us.

What we face today is a crisis of nation building. Our politicians have failed in that singular task. This is why the likes of Kanu, IPOB, Boko Haram and murderous Fulani militias have seized the centre and have made themselves significant actors in the unfolding macabre drama. Before we go to war and destroy the lives of millions of innocent souls, let us understand that the likes of Kanu are, strictly speaking, not even Nigerians. Kanu is a Jewish convert, a harbinger of the anti-Christ. No wonder these days the primary victims of kidnapping and assassination in the East are catholic priests and church worshippers. Kanu is a British national. Most of the funding for his irredentist activities comes from abroad.

While I am not one of those who like to blame foreigners for all our problems, I have studied enough of Western political philosophy to know what they think about us.

There is a foreign conspiracy to destroy our country. Nigeria is the most feared country on earth. They fear our riches; they fear our genius and untold potential.  Foreign powers see us as the only country that stands on their way in our glorious continent.

They believe that if only they could get rid of Nigeria, Africa will return to being the playing field of Empire as it has been for the better part of a millennium.

The Project for the American Century, as propounded by the neoconservative demons is to effect regime change in large regional hegemons such as Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Iraq, Iran and others.

They sponsored the Niger Delta reptiles; they bankrolled Boko Haram; they have been financing the Fulani militias and have provided covert military operation in support of the insurgents. Biological and chemical and viral warfare, believe it or not, is not beneath them. They are merchants of death who will stop at nothing until Nigeria is brought to its knees.

I place our hope, not in our politicians, but in our intellectuals – the men and women of ideas. It is we who need to come out and speak for Nigeria, for our long-suffering people. Unfortunately, our intellectuals have gone silent; shocked into their cocoons by all the war drums and nihilism.

They are the ones who have what it takes to speak truth to power.  Let us organise, not agonise. Let us stand for truth, justice and solidarity – for our beloved Nigeria. The future of our continent of Africa depends on us.


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