By Sylvester Asoya
It would be unfair to single out President Muhammadu Buhari as the sole troubler of Nigeria. After all, government, in an ideal world, is a collective action by a group of people basically for public good.
However, this narrow definition of power as ‘a collective’, does not in any way take away the weight of the president’s complicity in the on-going national emergency.
Many still remember how the newly elected Buhari in 2015, set the tone for a Nigeria that now terrifies. To a lot of people, the president actually established the mood of today six years ago with his highly vitriolic remark about rewarding only those who voted for him and leaving in the lurch, other Nigerians who did not support him. Today, we are living with the consequences of that prejudiced and narrow-minded disposition.
But it is important to state that the president’s position at the time was clearly an addition to Nigeria’s reactionary and bitter politics that began long before independence. Therefore, those who describe Buhari’s presidency today as Nigeria’s unmatched catastrophic years in politics, have a justifiable reason to say so given what is happening now. More so, critics who undervalue this administration for whatever reason are always quick to draw attention to what has become of Nigeria under Buhari and the All Progressives Party, APC.
Nigeria is indeed, in crisis.
The point is that the president made good on his promise with his skewed political appointments and a dubious patronage system that continue to favour a particular section of the country.
With every passing day, Nigerians romantically remember Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the leader many regard as a statesman and an unusual Nigerian patriot with a generous heart. In 1999, Obasanjo did not ‘harvest’ votes from Zamfara and Kwara, two Northern states that produced his National Security Adviser and Chief of Staff. The former president later appointed his Minister of Defence from Kano, another state that was in the hands of an opposition party in 2003. Obasanjo, a Southerner, did not punish the people from these Northern states for their ‘political misjudgment’. He also did not exclude them from the business of government because he knows that in leadership, everybody matters.
The question is: how can I explain nepotism and vindictiveness in a free world to my young children?
Nigeria is now a big theatre of war essentially because our leaders are at a loss. The most worrying part of our reality today is that Nigeria is fighting on all fronts. The country at a time like this is fighting bandits, arsonists, separatists, foreign invaders, kidnappers, militants, unknown gunmen, herdsmen, saboteurs and extremists. Instead of seeking solutions, the powers that be are busy issuing threats and pursing illusionary targets. The world knows that Nigeria is already a distraught country on the edge, so the more divided and confused we are, the more difficult it will be to save the country. Therefore, it is a sheer waste of precious time for anyone to believe that we can win this war on multiple fronts all at once with our current stance.
As we play the blame game, we must remember that absence of equity and failure of governance created the vacuum that brought a new generation of opportunistic agitators whose actions, like those in power, are threatening our peace and existence. The truth is that these war mongers and the big men in Abuja are manifestly unaware of the fact that there is strength in diversity. To understand the issues, they should read up on the power of multiple points of view. Diversity, beyond everything, promotes creativity and innovation; the earlier our gladiators come to terms with the good in our heterogeneity, the better for everyone.
Unfortunately, there are signs that those running Nigeria are not only deficient in character but also in learning and this is the major challenge. For instance, the Asaba Declaration by Southern governors last month revealed a lot about us and the people in government. That historic meeting and the after effects clearly showed that some people in charge of doing very important state duties in Nigeria are below-average persons who need education, even in their field of expertise.
However, the hope amidst the chaos and carnage is that most Nigerians now subscribe to issues around restructuring, state failure, leadership recruitment process, open grazing and a new Nigeria. Another feeling of great joy comes from the fact that young people are also beginning to question the recklessness and indiscretion of those in authority who love to exploit our fault lines. These youngsters: artistes, activists, artisans, professionals, influencers, students and others are changing the narrative and interrogating our misleading shared interpretation of who we are. They are concerned about Nigeria’s survival and are already speaking from their different corners of the world in clear and unmistakable terms.
The lunatics, as they say, may have finally taken over the asylum; but we must look for a way of saving the sanatorium for the good of all before the escapees do further harm to themselves and the correctional facility. After all, tomorrow is pregnant with hope; no one knows what it will bring. But as we wait on a mentally and physically healthy tomorrow, we must remember yesterday and engage today for the sake of that future that we desperately want.