BY SIMON REEF MUSA
Unlike in the past when prominent Nigerians celebrated independence with fanfare and called for citizens to unite, yesterday’s 60th independence celebration was devoid of expression of hopes for a brighter future. Calls from prominent Nigerians on the need to review prospects over our continued existence as a united nation prognosticates uncertain storms that may torpedo the Nigerian ship if the nation’s challenges are not properly handled.
Nigeria @60 is a tale that is most incomprehensible to many minds. Despite early potentials shown initially at independence, the intervention of the military in politics in January 15, 1966 padlocked our hopes to rise and attain the dreams nationhood.
If the coup led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu was aimed at retrieving the country from the corruption of our founding fathers, subsequent jackboot regimes turned into a journey of endemic corruption as the military got exposed to the lure of political offices. Even when the military returned power to the civilians, they could hardly survive outside power as they quickly returned to the corridors of power in the dying hours of 1984.
No less than 16 years of uninterrupted military governments, punctured by the enthronement of the Chief Ernest Shonekan-led Interim National Government that lasted less than three months, left discordant tunes on their legacies.
Amidst the clamour for democracy, members of the armed forces caved in and surrendered power to a former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, who then had been thrown into prison for an alleged plot to overthrow the military regime of Abacha.
Over 21 years of democracy have brought us to yet another brink of despair. If Nigeria was a pariah nation in 1999 at the commencement of this unbroken democracy, we are now standing walking the staircase of monumental uncertainties, with many sections calling for a review of Nigeria’s unity. The monster of corruption has kept us perpetually to the floor.
The brotherhood that kept us one as a country has been broken as various ethnic nationalities are now demanding for the Balkanisation of the Nigerian state.
The monsters of violence and bloodshed have taken over our land as the North-east and North-central zones are now cynosures of human barbarities. Against the backdrop of continuing violence unleashed on communities, not a few are seeing better days ahead. The bond that holds the nation as united is about to break down. The maggots of destruction are about to have a field day, while the butterflies of our nation are a fairy symphony of the nation we seek.
The hanging clouds of fear and uncertainty are about to rain down on our national dread. Considering the bloodshed and destruction that are trailing our national life, we seem close to Armageddon. When Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday warned of an impending storm of disintegration if the challenges of our nationhood are not urgently and properly addressed, he attracted the angst of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) who warned against igniting an inflammable discourse.
After waging a bitter 30-month civil war to stop the disintegration of the country, our leaders have always kicked against any prognosis that lend credence to possible bloodshed of our nation. Before now, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had received bashing from presidential aides when he declared that Nigeria has never been so divided than now. Reviewing the challenges and problems that are forcing our country to tread the path of Rwanda, the Ota farmer accused the present government of superintending over a failing country.
Trailing the path of Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate and a critic of governments, Professor Wole Soyinka, though not a fan of Obasanjo, did not spare the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of nothing doing anything concrete to rein in the bloody activities of criminals who have seized the space to unleash terror on vulnerable communities.
Despite warnings from veterans of war that present leaders should spare no efforts at staving off further national bloodbath as no nation has ever survived two civil wars, the clouds of threatening prospects for yet another bloody confrontation is yet to fizzle away. As it is, Nigeria is dancing on the precipice as there is no day that passes without news reports on terrorists killing and kidnapping citizens.
The tragedy of our country is not found in its multifarious problems militating against it; it lies on the lackadaisical attitude of national leadership to evolve strategies at resolving the nightmare that has engulfed. Just when there is an opportunity to commence a walk into our desired destiny, the forces that have kept us in the backwaters of underdevelopment and despondency would always rise to stifle our efforts.
Despite attaining political freedom three scores years ago, our country has continued to be only a potentially great nation. Even with our natural resources that have made us the envy of the world, we have overcome India to become the headquarters of global poverty. Our greatness is as enormous as our weakness just as national leadership has become our disappointment as citizens.
Nigeria @60 is a throbbing portrayal of a nation whose citizens have given up and resorted to divine powers to correct the multifarious ailments that have kept us in the Plato’s cave of disillusionment. Against the seed of rational reasoning, the citizenry have rented out democracy to a cabal that now controls the electoral system in a bid to game the system with the sole purpose of perpetuation and domination.
We all have lamented for too long and embraced neutrality on issues that matter in national life. Nigeria’s disintegration will not end our national woes and usher in an Eldorado for us. As long as we see leadership as a platform for realising personal dreams, so long will our sojourn in our deserts of despair.
We cannot hope to build a nation where we allow a greedy cabal to hold on to the reins of power. Our commitment towards building a great nation cannot be realised when we maintain neutrality on issues that matter. We are greater together when we work and walk in unity in developing our nation.
Fortunately, democracy is not revolution as it remains the only source of resolving our problems. What is needful now is for the people to take back Nigeria from the brigands that have robbed citizens of their rights. Balkanising Nigeria cannot serve as a long term solution to what has bedeviled us as a nation in the last 60 years.