By Sunny Awhefeada
A society bereft of good leadership is condemned to perdition. Doom comes slowly, but surely to such a society. Such an entity eventually gets to eat itself up if no redemptive intervention happens. And when it is time to eat itself up it will consume everybody and anybody in its path, the governors and the governed. It happened in Liberia, Rwanda, Zaire, Sierra Leone and so many other places where leadership once went bananas. The failure of leadership if not arrested often ends in tragedy for all. This lesson ought not to be lost on those who now rule and ruin Nigeria. Unfortunately, Nigerian leaders are stiff-necked. That was why 1966 happened.
That was why our engagement with history remains one interminable nightmare from which we can neither wake up nor escape. We are ensconced in a horrendous reality defined by the worst form of barbarism. And we seem to have resigned to our calamity as we await capture and death “turn by turn”. Frightening as our situation is, the ruling elite appear comfy and unperturbed. They live a different reality defined by smug comfort made possible by their unfettered access to our commonwealth. But the bell of danger is also beginning to toll for them. And we are all beginning to see that in truth the rich and the powerful also cry. Time is ticking for us all.
Nigerians are daily confronted with incidents of gory killings and government whose purpose is the welfare and security of citizens appear helpless and grossly incapable of remedying the situation. Nigeria has been plunged into anarchy and our experience makes us appear like the victims of Mark Anthony’s prophecy in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar wherein after taking a look at the dastardly murder of Caesar did say: “Domestic fury and fierce civil strife shall cumber all the parts of Italy. Blood and destruction shall be so in use and dreadful objects so familiar that mothers shall but smile when they behold their infants quartered with the hands of war” The Nigerian scenario aptly fits the tragedy envisioned for Rome by Anthony after the murder of Caesar. Since the return to the present dispensation in 1999, we have taken roads that shouldn’t have been taken and abandoned roads that should have been taken. Unpatriotic and self-seeking leadership has been our albatross and today our ship of state appears to have been wrecked. Once upon a time, corruption topped the list of our legion of problems. Today, insecurity has displaced corruption when in the first place the former was a consequence of the latter. Insecurity has become so alarming that we are beginning to lose our ability to feel or empathize. Our humanity is being attenuated day by day.
The very recent murder of about to be military couple, Audu Linus and Gloria Matthew, seriously calls to question our claim to humanity. Both soldiers were journeying to the homestead of Gloria in the East when Nigeria’s unknown gunmen apprehended them, got them brutalized and eventually killed and butchered them. The gory incident was recorded on video and released to the world. How callous has society become? Just before the tragic fate of Audu and Gloria was the sad end of a colleague, Professor Ovaborene Isaac Idamoyibo who was abducted by the ubiquitous unknown gunmen, held in captivity for many days and was eventually released to die after the collection of heavy ransom. Before Professor Idamoyibo was Dr. Chike Akunyili who was badly shot by the unknown gunmen and left to die after writhing in pains. These are just a few examples. Many Nigerians are daily murdered by mongrels in human forms. Among the hounds are terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists, cultists and even security agents. They are ubiquitous, yet “unknown”. And we are the victims. You encounter them everywhere you turn. And Government remains helpless and unable to do anything about the situation.
Things are fast falling apart for Nigeria. And if the truth be told, the citizens are fighting back. For many years the Nigerian State played the predator and preyed on the citizens. Injustice and inequity when they climax have a way of fighting back with blind vengeance not minding whose ox is gored. This is the tragedy we now contend with. In trying to exact their revenge on the State, the avengers end up hurting fellow citizens. Sober and deep reflection will reveal that the security crises across the country stem from resistance against years of exploitation and injustice. The people are disillusioned having been pushed to the wall and they are now fighting back. Those who are falling over themselves buying expensive presidential nomination forms are blind to the many and telling indices of insecurity which point to our failed state status. Non-State actors now dictate the rhythm of life in Nigeria. They are shutting down schools, they are making travelling a dangerous engagement, they declare sit at home and people obey. They abduct and kill security agents.
Our present ordeal is simply a corollary to failed leadership. I have always argued that 1999 marked a turning point that should have inspired our leaders, if we do have leaders, to redirect the affairs and destiny of Nigeria for good. That year not only ended a turbulent century, but it was also the moment that ended military rule and ushered in anew dispensation. Unfortunately, a bogeyman called Olusegun Obasanjo took over as President and turned Nigeria into a trading mart. He put self above nation and lacked the statesman character that was needed to navigate the nation through a brewing storm. Obasanjo fiddled while the storm gathered momentum. The storm has today become our undoing.
Obasanjo’s successors with the exception Alhaji Umaru Yar’ Adua, didn’t understand the essence of power or the purpose of government. Their attitude to nation building has not only been lackluster, but clueless in an embarrassing way. They put Nigeria in reverse gear. We have lost our humanity because leadership has failed us.
But we must stop agonizing and begin to organize ourselves for a new reality. A people deserve the kind of government they get. Let us rethink our priorities and refocus on how to redeem our beloved country. The task at hand might seem daunting, but it is not impossible. We need to redeem ourselves, we need to redeem our nation and reclaim our humanity. The time for that task is now. Common, patriots let us do it…