Like a Plane Flying Without a Pilot

Like a Plane Flying Without a Pilot

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 12:54 pm

Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu


The people who speak big grammar would say that Nigeria is in auto-pilot.

This is the fattest lie ever told by man. Auto-pilot means Automatic Pilot that can fly a plane safely to its destination without the need of the presence of a human pilot.

Auto-piloting amounts to the use of technological gizmos to get up into the air and land safely at the next airport.

In the kind of simple English that I do understand, Nigeria is like a plane flying in the air with neither a pilot nor the automatic gizmo to make safe landing possible.

It is as though the plane is flying hither and thither looking for where to crash – ever so dangerously.

My late friend and comedian, Mohammed Danjuma, told the joke of how he was once mid-air inside a plane only to see one man with an umbrella, sorry, parachute, knocking on his window and telling him: “I don go-o! Na me be pilot of this plane-o. If you like-o, continue to stay there-o, but me I don go-o.”

A country risks extinction when it fails to re-invent itself. Josip Broz Tito loomed large over the old Yugoslavia of unblessed memory, but after his death the country could not re-invent itself and thus fell to pieces.

Nigeria’s place on the map of the world is being called to question, and the leaders have their heads buried in quicksand.

East, West, North and South are in disarray as so-called majorities and minorities are insisting on the right to self-determination.

The ever comical Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, may rant all day and night about Theatre of the Absurd but the joke is obviously on him.

Names like Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho, Asari Dokubo etc are all the rage, and the mantra is self-determination or independence.

It’s as though Nigeria now exists in a vacuum, and the centre cannot obviously hold as things have completely fallen apart in the manner that WB Yeats wrote in his poem “The Second Coming”.

To continue in the mode of Yeats, today in Nigeria “the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

The ferment cuts across all the ethnicities and regions of Nigeria. Every interest group now wants out!

Little wonder the North even scored the devastating own-goal of the blockade of food supplies to the South!

Time is fast running out on Nigeria on convening a needed conference to restructure the country.

When the conference table cannot provide an answer, violence supervenes.

The world has in fact lost count of the number of souls lost in the many battlefields that ordinary conferences would have prevented.

The Nigeria-Biafra war would not have been fought if the Aburi conference had succeeded in every material particular.

Many moons after that horrendous war, the issues that elicited the war in the first place remain unsolved.

The Boko Haram menace can be situated within this ambit, just like the Fulani herdsmen relentless onslaught. Bandits kidnap at will. Insecurity is the rule rather than the exception. Something will definitely have to give.

Another late friend and brother of mine, Sixtus Chibueze Ezennaya, posed this loaded question: “One Nigeria! One Nigeria! One Nigeria! When was it agreed upon?”

The European colonial powers that set up shop in Berlin in 1884-85 to allocate the area now known as Nigeria to colonial Britain acted in spite of the nationality groups then inhabiting the land.

Sir Frederick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates so that the South will serve as “the lady of means”, in the words of Lord Harcourt, to feed the arid North.

Thus from the very beginning Nigerian history became replete with obfuscating contradictions.

Some idealistic but very naive military majors thought they could change history by staging a coup in January 1966.

Northern military, officers fomented a revenge coup in July of the selfsame 1966. After taking over power, Yakubu Gowon had prepared a speech to announce the dissolution of the Nigerian Federation on August 1, 1966 and the secession (araba) of the North until he was prevailed upon to change his mind by the British High Commissioner in Lagos, Sir Francis Cumming-Bruce.

The pogrom unleashed on the Igbo people in the North put a heavy question mark on the existence of Nigeria.

The Aburi conference in Ghana had to be convened as a last ditch effort to save the country from war.

The agreements at Aburi became subverted and the Nigeria-Biafra war ensued.

After the war, the military and Northern domination of power came to a head with the unconscionable annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola.

General Sani Abacha locked up Abiola, and the country teetered on the precipice until somehow Abiola and Abacha died after one another.

It took the re-emergence of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo for the Northern military to anoint a civilian fit enough to be trusted with power.

Now General Muhammadu Buhari is on the saddle, and trouble is all over the land.

“What is to be done?” That was the question posed by Lenin before the Soviet Revolution.

Nigeria cannot forever continue flying giddily in the skies like a plane without a pilot.

-Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, a poet, journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos 


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