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Nigeria’s unending woes

Nigeria is an improbable country from the onset, with its peoples herded together by the British colonialists ostensibly to make it easier for them to…

Nigeria is an improbable country from the onset, with its peoples herded together by the British colonialists ostensibly to make it easier for them to administer what is obviously a large country.  It is a union of convenience conceived by the British with the sole aim of plundering the vast natural resources of their occupied territory.  Their overriding interest was commerce, little wonder they found it difficult to bequeath an enduring political culture let alone foster unity amongst its diverse subjects.
The result was that when they eventually gave independence to Nigeria in 1960, they left a deeply fractious nation whose unity is always tested whenever there is a religious, political or ethnic rivalry.  Five years after independence, the country was thrown into an orgy of violence precipitated by a putsch carried out by middle ranking officers of the Nigerian military.  That coup was seen to be ethnically motivated by the northerners because most of the prominent people that were killed are from northern Nigeria including the revered and charismatic leader Sir Ahmadu Bello.
Expectedly, a counter coup was hatched and launched by the northern elements in the army which violently creamed off eastern military officers including General Aguiyi Ironsi the then Head of State.  The counter coup by the northern soldiers led to the bloodiest civil war in modern history which pitted the easterners against the rest of the country.  The war ended in 1970 with the declaration by the then Nigerian leader General Yakubu Gowon “No victor, no vanquish”.
The end of that internecine bloody feud was to set Nigeria on a path of long military rule punctuated by coups and counter coups within the ranks of praetorian soldiers who seized power some not out of altruism but due to sheer personal aggrandizement.  The protracted military rule was interrupted when in 1979 former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo arguably the civil war hero, decided to hand over power to a democratically elected government in an election said to have been flawed.  Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the chief beneficiary of that disputed election had his government swept out of office in 1983 due to unbridled corruption.  Thus began another round of military incursion.
Again in June 1993, an attempt was made to return the country to civil rule but was scuttled when the freest election ever held in Nigeria was cancelled by the then military President Ibrahim Babangida.  That annulment sent the country into a tailspin that was to see it through an interim administration to full blown military government thanks to late General Sani Abacha.  His sudden death in 1998 brought to power a more emollient General Abdulsalam Abubakar who within nine months of assuming office handed over power to a democratically elected government headed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.  Chief Obasanjo in the saddle for a few months was greeted with baptism of fire following a religious crisis that took place in Kaduna and other parts of the north.  Ever since, it has been a litany of civil disturbances, from one government to another.  The late President Musa Yar’adua was to grapple with the Niger Delta militants but he was politically savvy enough to nip it in the board following his amnesty programme.
However, former President Goodluck Jonathan who succeeded him after six months interregnum was not lucky in dealing with Boko Haram, an amorphous and shadowy merciless gang that has no clear objective other than to destroy lives and properties.  His administration was beset by not only insurgency but also by endemic corruption that had almost all his cohorts’ noses in the trough. He oversaw a profligate government that nearly ran the country aground.  Under his watch Nigeria became the by word for corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari who succeeded him is now carrying his can, what with an economy that has almost fallen off the cliff, brought on by years of crass economic mismanagement.  Whilst President Buhari is trying to clean up the Augean stable and finally banish Boko Haram, the Niger Delta Avengers is now the new spectre on the horizon, an albatross around his neck. Their sabre rattling has not gone void as they have backed it up with potent actions by blowing up some oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region.  It is a woe without end, product of an iniquitous system.  Last week, Nigeria’s political weather vane, none other than former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar stirred an hornet’s nest when he called for the restructuring of Nigeria.  His call rightly chimed in with the mood of the nation as it received chorus of endorsement from people of all stripes, even so there are those that took exception to his opinion, on the understanding that it could become a diversionary exercise.
Nigeria is no doubt on the edge of a precipice and it is time the defective system we inherited from the colonialists is tweaked so that we could have a better future for ourselves as well as for our children and beautiful ones yet unborn.  To begin with, we need to lay emphasis on the issues that unite rather than emphasizing those things that divide.  We should entrench equity, justice and fair play in our system and enthrone meritocracy over and above mediocrity.  Going forward, religious tolerance should be observed by all and sundry.  Freedom of speech and assembly should not be neutered.  We should see ourselves first and foremost as Nigerians that is placing Nigeria above ethnic considerations.  We must eschew corruption and avarice for they are today the bane of our country.
Above all elections should not be manipulated, as credible elections are the sine qua none for good governance all over the world.  An efficient and service oriented civil service should be in place to deliver on government policies and programmes devoid of opacity and vacuity.  Security should also be given a boost because no nation thrives under an atmosphere of insecurity.
Finally, we should support and pray for President Buhari who has inherited a sea of problems that inter-alia include endemic corruption, separatist movements, religious intolerance, power outages, acute employment etc.  Each of these irritants if not checked could hobble his government as they really did Jonathan’s government.  It is therefore imperative that we give him our unflinching support because if he fails, we have all failed and the country would be worst for it.  For the first time we have an altruistic leader whose burning desire is to pull Nigeria, the diminishing jewel of Africa out of the doldrums.
Victor Uzomba [email protected]  08033431759

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