By Andrew A. Erakhrumen
The cliché ‘we are on top of the situation’ had been the familiar seemingly instructive but short insincere sentence that appears not to be popular, any more, among those whose hands the running of our country finds itself. This sentence was so handy to officials and loudhailers of governments, in the recent past and very recently, that it was unnecessary to read, and/or listen to, their comments and official releases concerning the catastrophes resulting from security lapses in Nigeria. It got to a point when kindergarten pupils knew what government’s official position would be when bombs explode and/or people get killed by killers – whatever names they were/are called. Some of us, in the 1980s to the 1990s, used to read back issues and late arrivals (for underprivileged readers like us) of foreign newspapers and magazines such as The Times, Newsweek and Time, and we marvelled, then, at the security challenges in some other countries. The gory pictures painted in some of those reports, to us then, were like tales by moonlight. It never crossed our young minds, then, that Nigeria could one day find itself battling with similar or, as it has turned out to be, worse security challenges when compared with those we read about.
In fact, unbelievably worse scenarios have been faced by our country until today and our governments were earlier deceiving themselves with infantile statements like ‘we are on top of the situation’ that eventually communicated not much but motion without movement and weak actions. Do ordinary citizens like us need to continue shouting, as always, that government need to handle the massive disaster in waiting with the urgency and seriousness it deserves? Do Nigerian government know that the country is dangling from a dangerous precipice? Perhaps they are ‘doing something’ as a report has it that the politically exposed are the ones mainly with police protection in Nigeria. The report estimated up to two hundred and forty (240) or more police personnel protecting one of such individuals! This may sound ludicrous but let us critically observe before we dismiss these estimates as being political. Of course, our country is grossly under-policed with the available ones overstretched and uncared for. Is the case different in the military and para-military sector? It is not! Except we want to deceive ourselves that all is well. Therefore, why are we expecting to get something from someone who does not have it?
It is well agreed that the main essence of any government and its governance structure is to ensure the security and well being of the citizens of the entities being superintended over by such government. Is this true in Nigeria? The answer is implicit in the question. Those that call themselves Nigerian leaders had been to other parts of the world where, they themselves say, things are working. We ask: What have they learnt, since travelling is known to be part of education? Can’t they adapt, locally, the knowledge they obtained? Or did they not learn anything good? Or were those journeys only about ferrying ‘loots’ abroad? Do these people (‘Nigerian leaders’) really believe in the country they claim to be its leaders? We will definitely not cease to ask questions from these wicked ‘leaders’ that have successfully weaponised poverty against the good citizens of a country acknowledged globally to possess some of the best human capacity (potentially and real). Yes, a society deserves the kind of leaders its socio-political dynamics throw up. Nevertheless, Nigeria and Nigerians have suffered enough in the hands of these charlatans/con-artists, thereby necessitating the need for paradigm shifts for new positive narratives.
We cannot continue like this in a country with abundant human and natural resources. No, we should not! This country should not be allowed to go through the dreaded route Somalia took. As at today, some non-state actors – purportedly well known and supported – now brazenly wield assault rifles like AK-47, taking over many ungoverned spaces. The weapons, they claimed, are for ‘self protection’. They cause mayhem, while some (a state governor inclusive) justify this in their comments. If this is not a path towards a failed state, then what is it? This is one of the state governors belonging to ‘Forum for this’ and ‘Forum for that’. We wonder what they discuss at these fora that are forumless (if there is any English word like that). It is believed by many that those forumless fora are for sharing of wines and clinking of drinking glasses. These allegedly ‘unserious’ gatherings appear so, that someone who is not a state governor is said to have the appellation “Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum” (whatever that means!). These are people who cannot proffer solutions to our collective problems except to point accusing fingers – a characteristic of a finger-pointing society that ours has, painfully, become.
Collectively, we will be deceiving ourselves if what we perceive as solution(s) to Nigeria’s leadership challenge is to be looking for difference(s) between six and half a dozen, concerning our current groups of politicians. Certainly, we must find solutions for the identified challenges! Nobody will solve our problems for us, not when some are benefiting from the status quo! With sincerity of purpose, when we truly get Nigeria to the level of real ‘work in progress’ then it will be seen from the perspective of a half full rather than half empty glass. Meanwhile, as 2023 is fast approaching, efforts should be intensified towards making our electoral process work better so that the ‘right’ people may be encouraged to come into politics to positively change the narratives. It is noteworthy that there cannot be any meaningful growth and development anywhere security, justice, peace and tranquillity are not available in convincing proportion. Thus, we reiterate that, as the clueless People-Deceiving-People, All-People-Conniving, and their cohorts do not have solutions to our socio-politico-economic challenges; they should be flushed out in favour of those with good solutions. For this, the clock has long been ticking
Andrew A. Erakhrumen, PhD
Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria