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Our colonial masters left 61 years ago. Then, we began to rule ourselves.

The gods didn’t help us. Those who had explained life under the colonial lords as servitude shortchanged us. Like the Old Major, the pig, in the Orwellian  Animal farm,  they had sold us dreams of freedom, equality and shared prosperity after independence.

We didn’t know their motive was to replace the whites with black African colonialism. But the difference between our white and black masters soon became stark. The white masters had exploited us for their Kingdom. Our new black masters turned out shortsighted bumbling gluttons. And we, the people, have remained unforgivably gullible.

We are here: sixty-one years later, independent, bloated, poor and barely hopeful.

If the gods had foreseen our plight in the hands of our countrymen, they would have thrown a wedge on our path to independence, kept the white masters to rule us indefinitely. It’s true our gods didn’t like them because they humiliated some of our deities, but they could have swallowed their pride and saved us from this gruelling wilderness experience.

A set of more thoughtful gods would have, despite our tantrums, kept them to rule or chaperone us, until we developed leaders with some capacity to see beyond their ethnic noses, to articulate the problems and, with good faith, fix them. It’s no use mocking the gods, but if they are awake, they should rise and do something. 

Sixty-one years old, obese and poor, riddled with the leprosy of an   insurgency.

The crippled Giant of Africa surely needs a pool of Bethesda. In 2015, we thought an angel had stirred the pool. So we broke our backs lifting, pushing, pulling and finally easing the lame Giant in, for a miracle bath. After that, we believed and sighed in relief.

 The gods are not to blame, but years after thrashing around in the pool, the bubonic plague of rampant banditry has latched on the ailing giant and compounded her woes. So in 2021, we are here, looking a bit godforsaken. 

Nobody had expected Nigeria to lead the world in scientific innovations. But nobody had also expected an oil-producing nation to lead the world on the out-of-school children league table. We might be happy to lead the world in vacuous religious zealotry. It is the backbone of our coping mechanism.

We have laid about, fomented troubles, and brought many afflictions upon ourselves. When the charlatans we made leaders over ourselves played childish religious and ethnic politics, we lionized them. We elevated frivolity and honoured tokenism as heroism. Now, we are here, in dire straits and oblivious of our precariousness.

Today, our youths have no jobs. We breed like rats—without care about our self-indulgent population explosion. The youths have no jobs and our communities have become crime-infested.  Rather than diversify the economy, we have diversified our organized crime industry.  So we have neither communities nor forests. The forests our forefathers bequeathed to us have been seized by demons. We can’t entice tourists. Perhaps, it will even be cruel to expose them to the predictable danger that lurks everywhere.

We can’t farm. Our farms have become theatres of insane wars. When statesmanship was needed, we pandered to primordial cattle sentiments. While we searched for cattle routes, we let the blood baths and massacres fester. Now, the sharp-toothed forest demons have drunk so much blood their only appetite is more blood.

Before our eyes, they have become another insurgency, and we can no longer sleep. The children of the Northwest tremble to school.

The colonial masters left Malaysia 64 years ago.

Then, we were much richer than the Malaysians. Now, they are light years ahead of us. The gods are not to blame. We will still gather and celebrate our independence and have 10-course banquets in government houses. The white colonialists did a bit of that. That’s okay. We are still an oil-exporting nation. But our chickens are coming home to roost, and there is nothing the gods can do about it. 

Twelve years after the Northeast sleepwalked into an apocalypse, only the accursed would take that beaten path. The demise of the Northeast is now almost irreversible. The war, raging and smouldering, raging and raging, has dislocated millions of rural folks. Hopes have risen and melted away, technically defeated by the reality of the proximity to the gun-infested Maghreb and the rich fodder of brainwashed soldiers of God.

For twelve whole years, all that has changed is the emergence of new principal actors on the battlefield. The steady haemorrhaging of youthful lives and scarce financial resources has remained a constant.   

But the Southeast is now tragically heading Northeast.

The Southeast, once conquered and yet not vanquished, tranquil since the civil war ended, has now chosen self-liquidation by gradual self-mutilation.

The Southeast has chosen self-mutilation to spite her enemies. Nose today, a lip tomorrow, an eyelid, the next day. Every day, she bleeds. Assassinations, arson, death threats, arbitrariness, violence, the banishment of free speech, Bokoharamism. KIM JONG UNism is the philosophy of the emerging culture.

It’s striving to replace Igbo collegiate communal leadership, industry, hard work, the sanctity of human lives. 

The Northwest has gone from the fever of politicized puritanism to a definitive stage three malignancy.

 The sharp-toothed demon that has seized the forests has a muscular hand on the throat of the Northwest. While the Southeast can find insight and stop, and then go for plastic surgery to fix the nose and eyelids, the Northwest must yield to drastic radiotherapy. And that radiotherapy doesn’t seem to be part of the calculations of those currently assembling foot soldiers for the 2023 battle for Aso Rock. Bumbling and conceited buffoons, lacking sobriety and living perpetually like circus clowns. This country needs a radical surgical repair. But it can’t be fixed by pathological schemers who are preoccupied with political conquests and the subsequent administration, plunder, of the spoils of war for the benefit of their families and cronies.

Our hands are full of trouble. They are so full of trouble we ought to forgo everything — markets and political picnics—and gather to solemnly search for peace. Our hands are full of trouble. They are so full of blood, death and violence we should take a deep breath, vent our grievances, render justice and atonement, and embrace ourselves. But we are also full of ego and vanity. So the country will continue to bleed and teeter, and her leaders will continue to tell self-serving half-truths.

Of course, the abduction of children will continue in the Northwest and the federal government, with retracted testicles, will continue to say it won’t pay ransoms. Of course, the slaughter of the innocent in the Southeast, where policing has been decimated, will continue while the governors hide under the wives’ beds and some of those that incited the mayhem continue with their ceremony of opportunism, frolicking with the presidency. These chameleons will feel no qualms after all repeated Boko haram insurgents have been treated better than many of their victims. 

Sixty-one and dependent on the Chinese and their loans to build roads and any rails, because all we earn can barely service our surging debts. If we brood over paths not taken we might hurt ourselves. So, let’s bring out our drums and celebrate. Five of our recent start-ups have become unicorns—worth over a billion dollars. In God, we trust. May our youths redeem us.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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