Where federalism works

By Rotimi Fasan

NIGERIA, the beautiful land richly blessed and endowed with human and material resources, will survive. But right now, the country is in the hands of her wicked children who are determined to take from her all the riches and goodness she possesses. Nigeria is like a nursing mother being violently suckled by her children, the very people for which she has made available all her natural and God-given endowments.

It is a miracle that a country under such unrelenting abuse is still holding on. Nigeria is being abused, pulled and dragged in different directions by an accursed tribe of mostly political managers and others in different positions of leadership and followers who have decided that their personal and group interest must and should always override the interest of the country at large.

The social and political crises, especially the crisis of insecurity and economic failure, by which the country is plagued cannot be divorced from the wicked activities of the people who have the general mandate of the people, either stolen or freely given, to ensure that the safety of the country is not compromised. But look at Nigeria at this present moment and it is clear that only a polity governed and managed by people without any iota of kindness in them could be this destructive.

How much does an individual need to survive? How much do they need to bring the good life to their families? What does a man or woman need to live a decent life that would warrant the criminal violence being unleashed on the country?

But Nigerians have taken it upon themselves to destroy a country rightly positioned to be the hope of the Black world while they pursue survival as migrants in other parts of the world where most of them are neither wanted nor respected. The survival of Nigeria is still in the hands of her children, particularly the politicians.

Beginning with the humanitarian crisis of insecurity in different parts of the country, but whose epicentre is presently in northern Nigeria, only a disinterested appraisal of the country’s condition can take us out of our present self-inflicted pain.

It is clear at this point that either by acts of commission or omission, the Nigerian politician can and must be held culpable for the social, economic and political problems affecting Nigeria in these times.

The terrorists being indulgently called bandits in the North are a creation of the Northern political and religious class. It is getting clearer from the account of the terrorists and the confused and contradictory responses of politicians who have to deal with them that the terrorists and the politicians are two sides of the same coin.

Some of the politicians themselves are beginning to confess their part in the making of the monster of terrorism that is now making their lives a misery. There are both internal and external angles to the terrorism story. Abubakar Kawu Baraje has told Nigerians who care to listen how the desire for political control led some stalwarts of today’s ruling party to resort not just to self-help but imported mercenaries (of the same ethnic stock as those being randomly fingered as responsible for the many cases of abduction, rape and murder across communities in the country) to help ensure victory for the then-challengers of the ruling party in 2015.

Heavily armed, bankrolled and offered cover before and during the election, yesterday’s marginalised Northern youth-turned today’s terrorists, were let loose and abandoned to fend for themselves after the election.

This is a reprise of the same story that gave birth to armed militancy in the Niger Delta in the immediate aftermath of the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999. Which is not the same thing as saying that the Northern terrorists were trained by the militants of the Niger Delta as some Northerners would like Nigerians to believe. Far from it, the terrorists in the North are a creation of the North as those of the Niger Delta are a creation of the politicians from those parts. Nor should the murderous thugs often recruited from among members of the transport associations in the South West be seen as anything but the creation of politicians, at least in their roles as political enforcers now turned socialites, philanthropists and nationalists.

But a so-called repentant bandit in the North has made clear that he was an almajiri (confirming a point made here a couple of weeks ago) recruited and armed by politicians who thereafter failed to keep the promises made to him and his comrades after their services were no longer needed. From whatever angle the matter is viewed, the Nigerian politician has a hand, indeed the main hand, in the dysfunctionality in the land and the creation of insecurity in the polity. The politician must in the same vein lead the charge to free the country from banditry, terrorism, corruption and, above all, the remaking of Nigeria as a place where Nigerians can aspire to be anything they desire in line with their abilities and provisions of the law.

It is remarkable that many of those opposed to the devolution of power from an overbearing centre to the states and local government areas, those who cannot bear the thought of a policing system that is domiciled in the LGAs and states (even while this was the norm before the military changed the equation in 1966) are today demanding it and insisting that people responsible for the wanton destruction of life and property have put themselves beyond any consideration of state pardon. It is situations like the ones Nigerians have found themselves in today that will compel them to take a closer and more deliberate look at the effectiveness or otherwise of our institutionalised structures of state and the need to rework them for our common good.

Nothing will work in the absence of justice. The very idea of equating murderous bandits and terrorists with coup plotters deserving state pardon is the sort of drivel that should be rejected from the Sheik Ahmad Gumis of this country that will say just about anything to retain the confidence of criminals that were spawned from the loins of their violent and sectarian rhetoric.

The same rhetoric that he is again employing to divide a military where trust and mutual confidence have been eroded in favour of sycophancy, nepotism and mutual suspicion.

This country deserves a break and everyone still keeping the growth of Nigeria in abeyance does not deserve a place among us much less leading us. The criminal elements among us, ranging from the politicians, their cronies, families and associates and the rest of us “average” Nigerians have a role to play here. It is time to actively seek the good of this country and work for her wellbeing.


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