NIGERIA IN SEARCH FOR AN ENDURING POLITICAL STRUCTURE: IMPERATIVE OF STRUCTURAL REFORM (Part 4)
13th of September, 2023.
Posted by: Prince Ahmed Hassan (TOHA)
BY: PROF. MIKE OZEKHOME, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt
In the last part of this discussion, after posing the question: Have we really been doomed? We answered it in the negative and went ahead to highlight notable achievements by Nigerians. We wondered whether Nigeria is a failed State. In this episode, we shall consider the phenomenon of insecurity in Nigeria and how it laid waste to large swathes of Nigeria and rendered its governments (particularly states) prostrate. Read on.
INSECURITY REIGNS SUPREME
In terms of security, Nigeria is becoming a killing field. The daily slaughter ritual in Nigeria that has turned the Nigerian geographical space into a killing field is not only criminal, but also smacks of total abdication of governance by the current government. It is most cruel, hideous, horrific, inhuman, dastardly and barbaric. The latest theatre of the absurd is Plateau state, where hundreds of innocent and helpless Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable (children, women and elderly), have been mindlessly hacked down in cold blood. Nigerians have become “walking corpses” or “the living dead” (apologies, AyiKwei Armah: “The Beautiful Ones Are not yet Born”). The government that appears overtly overwhelmed (if it ever cared at all), wrings its hands in utter helplessness and blames everything and any one, but itself. PMB says he can only pray to God for miracles. The Commander-in-Chief (C-in–C) in saying this, breaks the heart and freely donates to the citizens, helplessness and hopelessness. What is the military there for, since the Police has been overrun? Sections 130 (2) and 215 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, make the President the C-in-C of both the Armed Forces and the Police. Never before, or after the three year bloody Nigerian fratricidal civil war has Nigeria witnessed such barefaced butchery of innocent souls in a most horrendous manner that portends ethnic cleansing and genocidal tendencies.
The entire security architecture of Nigeria has been greatly compromised and doctored. The Nigerian Constitution (section 14 (2) (b), makes the welfare and security of lives and property the primary purpose of government. Any government that cannot protect its citizens is not worth being called a government by any description or appellation. We have become a laughing stock before international circles. We make merriment and hold political rallies on the cold graves of hot steaming blood of innocent Nigerians. We wanted to win the world cup at all cost, amidst vengeful slaughter of fellow Nigerians. But, God is a just and righteous God. He does not tolerate injustice, wickedness. He does not condone unearned adulation and hero-worshipping: The Bible: Job 34:12; Col 3:25; Deut 10:18; 32:4; Isaiah 30:18. The Holy Quran: 5:8; 16:90; 59: 22-24. Die hard politicians are already busy, politicking about 2019, while our citizens are daily massacred in cold blood. A governor that is supposed to be the Chief Security Officer of his state is nothing but a mere toothless crying bulldog, having been stripped of such luxury of controlling powers by sections 215 (4) of the Constitution. This section enthrones a behemoth, elephantine and immobile Police Force at the center, with the governor at the mercy of the IGP and president. That is why I have, over the years, consistently and persistently clamoured for true fiscal federalism that allows for state Police and community policing. From Agatu, Naka and Agasha in Benue state, Demsa, Suwa and Burukulu in Adamawa state, Riyom, BarkinLadi and Jos in Plateau state, to Birnin-Gwari, Dangaji, UnguwarGajere in Kaduna State; from Izza, Wudula, Blakule and Darajimal in Borno State; to Takum, Shaakaa, Donga and Ntule in Taraba State; to Maraban –Udege Village, Aisa and Aguma in Nassarawa State; from Ugbona, Okpella, Odiguetue and Igiode in Edo State, Nigeria knows no peace. Things have fallen apart. The falcon can no longer hear the falconer.
Even in Uwheru, Oreba, Ovwor, Onicha-Olona and Abraka in Delta State; to Okpanku, Ozzala, UkpabiNimbo, Ngwoko, Ebor, Umuome, Ugwuijoro and Ugwuachara in Enugu State, the story is the same: gory and hideous blood-letting and festival of blood. The greatest worry of it all is that these killers are not ghosts or apparitions. They are known. They even come out openly, thump their chests, confess and own up to their criminal acts. The Herdsmen umbrella, Miyetti-Allah, claimed the blood-chilling murder of over 200 Plateau citizens was because 300 of its cows were rustled. It boasted that no one could have expected peace without retaliation, under such circumstances. The same group has, over time, infamously given various reasons for its herdsmen’s killings: Nimbo massacre, Enugu State (deadly attack): “we killed because they stole our cows”. Benue State (several progroms): “we killed because of anti-grazing law”. Taraba State (several): “we killed because they blocked our grazing routes”. Adamawa State (many Communities): “we killed because they broke our cow’s leg”. Zamfara State: “we killed because the farmers said we were grazing on their farm lands”. Haba!
A PROSTRATE GOVERNMENT
Nearly seven years down the line, there have been no arrests, no prosecution, no arraignment, no convictions. Rather, some five Christians were arrested in Adamawa, tried and sentenced to death by hanging, for allegedly killing one Fulani herdsman. Some lives are now more precious than others. Rather than kill cow for meal to celebrate occasions, as we know it, we now kill human beings to celebrate cows. The government not only looks the other way, but actually condones the heartless cold-blooded slaughter. Nigeria cannot continue like this. The federal government must rise up to the occasion, draft military personnel to these volatile areas and wash its hands off, like Pontius Pilate, of compromise, condonation, aiding and abetting, of this national horror. The saddest and deepest of all the national cuts and travesty of justice is that there is no one to complain to. The president himself, the very C–in–C, who had promised to lead from the front during his campaigns in 2015, wrings his hands in utter helplessness, and moans (like any of us):“There is nothing I can do to help the situation except to pray to God to help us out of the security challenges”.
Interpretation: “I am helpless; Be prepared to take what you get”. But, the Holy Bible tells us that “God helps those who help themselves” (Hezekiah 6:1). In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, we are admonished that “the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. In the Holy Quran, it is, “Allah helps those who help themselves” 13:11; (Tafsir of Chapter 022 verse 40). Is the president being fed the true and genuine situation of horrific and grisly events across Nigeria? Can he, when virtually all his security apparatchik consists of nepotic and cronystic appointees from his ethnic and religious groups only: Minister of Defence, Minister of Interior, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, IGP, DSS, EFCC, Immigration, Customs, NSCDC, Prisons, NSA, C of S, etc, etc? Are we in the Fulani Republic of Nigeria, or Republic of Northern Nigeria?
The non-prosecution of these marauding herdsmen has emboldened them to commit more crimes. Daily carnage and spilling of innocent blood have become the norm. Nigerians now appear unshockable. Many lamentably try to justify this modern day genocide with partisan political interpretations, pretending all is well. Meanwhile, Nigeria dies by installment. Most Nigerians have become more cowardly than ever before, afraid even of their own shadows. Nigerians should stand and speak up before we are all eclipsed in dismemberment. Reasonating voices appear suddenly mute. Where is the “Occupy Nigeria” group that vehemently protested against GEJ across Nigeria, especially in Lagos and Abuja. Even PMB had himself joined them. Where is General Yakubu Gowon and his praying Orchestral? Where is the voice of gap-toothed IBB? What of roving Ambassador, General Abdusallam Abubakar? Where is GEJ’s voice (even if he will be accused of partisanship, having lost the last elections)? Where are the human rights activists, emergency NGOs proprietors, CSOs, FBOs, etc? I cannot hear the voice of strong willed Ebitu Ukiwe? Where is respected Col. Dangiwa?
Why is everyone keeping silent when Nigeria is sliding towards totalitarianism, absolutism and even fascism? May God forbid “Ruandanization” of our already beleaguered contraption called Nigeria. Perhaps, to prick government’s conscience on the daily butchery of innocent Nigerians in their homes and farms, and the consequential seizure and renaming of their ancestral communities, we should implement the recent suggestion of my good friend, Senator Shehu Sani. He said: “We need a graveyard in the three arms zone of Abuja so that victims of the mindless killings in the country can be buried close to the seat of power. Then the Executive, Legislators & the Judiciary can feel the pains of the helpless widows and orphans we failed to protect.” Nigerians are crying. There is lamentation in the land. There is gnashing of teeth. Melancholy, despondency, hopelessness and regrets stare people in the face. These times are frightening.
Public trust that had initially been ballooned to a myth and anchored on the dizzying height of change mantra and PMB’s much touted integrity, has since considerably dwindled to a near zero level. Hear the sorrowful dirge of a victim of the Plateau genocide, Paul Wyom Zakka: “They told us to go to the farms because they could not provide us with jobs. We went to the farms without knowing that our produce were meant to feed their cows. When the cows came, we stopped them from destroying our farm produce; Today, they kill us daily so their cows can feed.” Thomas Jefferson, American president from 1801 to 1809, once famously said: “Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”.
From the forgoing it can be seen that, in the words of Sulaimon Olanrewaju (email@example.com), “Nigeria is a paradox; so wealthy, yet so poor; so endowed, yet so deprived. Nigeria makes more money than many countries of the world but is unfortunately ranked among the poorest because many Nigerians live below the poverty line as they earn less than two dollars a day. According to the Brookings Institution in a report, The Start of a New Poverty Narrative, Nigeria is now home to the highest number of people living in extreme poverty on the globe. Similarly, a United Nations report on Nigeria’s Common Country Analysis, says youth unemployment is 42 per cent, while the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) puts the number of out of school children at over 10.5million. Infant mortality rate is 85.8 of 1000 live births, while the country has the highest rate of under-five mortality in the world. Malnutrition prevalence, according to the UN, ranges between approximately 46.9 per cent in the South West to 74.3 per cent in North West and North East.” (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“A restructuring of an organization and or society is always a difficult time and delicate”. (Toto Wolff).