Sunday, January 17, 2021 8:00 am
By Tunde Asaju
It was Armed Forces Remembrance Day during last week, but the pigeons refused to fly, not even with a shove. Symbolic! If they symbolized peace, they were right, there is no peace in Nigeria. If they symbolize the spirit of the dead soldier, ditto, their spirits cannot rest. The pigeons rebelled, and so should we, the here we are sitting pretty the devil behind us as we face the deep blue sea and its raging tsunami, shaking on the island on which our flag of hope is pegged; with no help in sight.
Nigeria is in deep financial mess. Admit the vulgarity, we are in deep shit! That we owe the IMF/World Bank for projects executed inside the pockets of privileged kleptomaniacs is not in doubt. A substantial chunk of our present and future is mortgaged to China a country with basically nothing compared to this Canaan – our land flowing with milk and honey. We, the citizens of this land are dying of hunger and starvation. Yet we do not suffer lactose intoleration or anaphylaxis, the ruining gang of day marauders are sitting on our potentials. If we didn’t have close to four more years added to national inertia, we could turn our troubles around within a year. I mean, potentially, Nigeria has the manpower and expertise to turn the bleakness that stares us in the face around. But not under Muhammadu Buhari! I don’t know what we did wrong factually, but Buhari and his gang have returned to punish us, punish our children and grandchildren.
By the time this deaf and dumb semi-demi-despot is through with Nigeria, there’ll be little or nothing left to salvage and certainly nothing to celebrate. We have been saying it for years that it would be easier for any of our neighbourly countries to splinter. We have the land mass and resources to shelter them and even make them miss where they came from. Which nation in West Africa is able to shelter 280 million hungry, hapless, homeless and desperate people? No other nation has the land mass or the resources to shelter our numbers.
Unfortunately for us, we are treated with disrespect in Benin Republic, despised in Niger, loathed in Ghana and unwelcome in Liberia. A lot of this has been brought on us by the preternatural greed and avarice of some of our people. As table guests, we have this propensity to overeat and to siphon what we are offered that we are soon perceived as worse than rampaging locusts in our dealings with our hosts. We are haughty, proud and very loud. We are not satisfied with taking over their business space (legitimate or illegitimate), we have the tendency to rub it in their faces in a manner that makes them look like fools, but most dangerous of them all, we soon start to entice their women. Africans would ignore our wanton wealth and it’s nasty in-their face display juxtaposed with their grinding poverty, when we start to snatch and initiate their women – we declare the war!
Today, the Nigerian state has done everything it could to impoverish the people. Schools have been closed for record time with insouciance. If your president uses NEPA bill as certificate, you’d be foolish to expect him to care about your degrees. Hell, even Dangote spat on our education by employing PhD holders as truck drivers. He was saying – if you can do it in America or Canada, why not between Obajana and Abuja? You are scarce to hear of armed robbery on the Ottawa-Toronto or the Canada-US-Mexico haulage routes. To go to your village in Nigeria, you need special talisman and the prayers of your Facebook friends.
Infrastructure has been left to decay, and where money had been borrowed to revamp them, the money has disappeared into deep pockets leaving only giant signposts of dynamic inactivity as proof of good intention and bad delivery. How long have we spent constructing the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway or the others around the nation? Then comes Covid19, the global scourge thankfully making half landfall in Nigeria. It is a golden opportunity by other nations to revamp their health care delivery system. In Nigeria, it was an opportunity for our First Lady to relocate to Dubai while her husband hides in Abuja. Before Covid19, Nigeria had a ratio of four doctors to over 10,000 patients. Yet, successive health ministers under this rogue regime had told the ones left to either take to tailoring or go abroad. Until a batch took up the offer in London only to see their flight delayed by a regime that would not lift a finger to help frustrated thousands making the perilous journey to Sahara perdition daily.
We have endured all these because we have a country. But we have not learnt from the priest Martin Niemöller and now even that which we thought we had is being aken away from us. A video clip circulating across social media shows a code-switching Fulfulde and French-speaking brigands, dressed in military camouflage and rummaging through our forests unhindered. These murderers have gained access through our porous borders.
We know we live on wings and prayers. We know that these gangs are mostly responsible for the spate of kidnappings, wanton killings and the pogroms going on in certain parts of the country. We know that our soldiers, gallant in their hearts but lacking the necessary support from a soporific and somnambulist commander-in-chief are overwhelmed. We know they have become canon fodders for the service thieves unworthy of the clothes on which their ranks are embroidered.
We know that Buhari is comfortable sitting at table with these goons whose hands are soaked in the bloods of the men they were supposed to command to victory.A Nigerian newspaper this week reported AK Togun, a retired general commanding western Nigerian vigilante group, Amotekun seeing them streaming into the country through the western axis of Saki, in Oyo State. Togun has asked for help but knows, he’s unlikely to get it before the nation is overrun. The people of Oyo State, the southwest and other parts of Nigeria are sitting ducks waiting to be overrun by foreign death squads.
We have just marked another Armed Forces Remembrance Day in which Muhammadu Buhari’s pigeons, reading his heart have refused to fly. We know that under the current command and control structure, our exploits in ending the evil war has become unbelievable legends. We know that the adventures of our troops under ECOMOG and their gallantry in other people’s wars are fast becoming fable. We know that except something truly dynamic is done to jumpstart the nation’s security apparatchik, we are all toast. We know we are deceiving ourselves thinking that as long as Buhari can go in and out of the Villa to NTA’s moribund 30 million viewers, things are hunky-dory. Nigeria is about to become history.We have read CIA reports predicting our doom and risen in patriotic indignation to ‘reject it’ in Jesus and Allah’s name without doing anything to avert it. We know that if we continue on this path for another four years, there’ll be nothing left of us. But we are quick to call Hassan Kukah names for truly saying that this level of inertia under another ruiner but Buhari would have led to a military insurrection. We could hound Kukah to oblivion but can we avert national doom?
Boko Haram overruns the northeast. Brigands have taken over the northwest and north central regions and Ebonyi has seen the simmering fire of another insurgency with police stations becoming constant targets. One by one the nation is falling away from ‘federal’ hands. We are all playing the ostrich with the most important aspect of nationhood – national security. If we know what is good for us, we’ll all be on the streets – yes, Covid19 notwithstanding, asking this government to fall or wake up! It is not insurrection; it is a patriotic duty of self-preservation. Hoping otherwise is living in a fool’s paradise. We are overwhelmed, outgunned, ill prepared and unwilling to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria. God help us if we have a pigeon left for the next Armed Forces Remembrance Day charade.Dear General Buhari, stop snoozing, its time to wake up, smell the coffee and do the needful. You have a mandate to rescue this nation and you are failing us all! Get up and go or go home and tend to your barren cows.
-Tunde Asaju contributed this piece from Ottawa, Canada