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Will Nigeria survive beyond 2015?


Niran Adedokun

“…In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations”
—Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

Coming out of a screening of the screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of A Yellow Sun in Lagos recently, my friend Toni Kan Onwordi and I talked about the need for everyone beating the drums of war in Nigeria to spare a moment to see the movie.

Although the Biyi Bandele’s adaptation of this 2006 novel deliberately avoided making the subject of war a main preoccupation, the debilitating effect of armed conflict reverberates all over the movie. Relationships were forever destroyed, precious lives were lost and the innocence of the country became a thing of the past. For those of us who did not witness the war but have historical recollections limited to what our parents told us and what we have read in books, this cinematic representation brought the issues straight back home to us. As the film rolls into its last minutes, you will see that Kainene, one of the unforgettable twin sisters from whose eyes this story is told, gets missing forever in the course of the war. I felt a purgation of whatever misgivings I might have about this country and prayed that we shall never see war again. In canvassing that current gladiators on the Nigerian political scene see this film therefore, we were hoping that they would experience some catharsis, which would make them get real and stop the drum of violence and inconsideration that they are championing.

Events in the past few weeks further make me wish that a lot of Nigerian leaders would take time to relive the incidents between January 1966 when Nigeria witnessed its first military coup to the counter coup of July 1966 and the growing distrust between the various ethnic groups until the civil war broke out in July 1967. They should ask themselves if they want a replay of the situation in which Nigeria found itself for 30 months until January 1970 when the civil war ended.

What I see does not suggest to me that these men remember the past nor that they care. They are like the drunkard who daily forgets the disgrace he suffered the previous day. Unfortunately, quite a number of those who are promoting divisiveness are people who either participated in the civil war or were at least grown up enough to see its devastating effect.

A very important case in point is the recent memorandum which the Adamawa State Governor wrote to governors of the northern states. The grave allegations made by Murtala Nyako, a retired Vice Admiral of the Nigerian Navy is to say the least unexpected of his exalted office. Even if there are any truth to the allegations made against the federal government in the said memo, one would expect that someone who rose to the position of Chief of Naval Staff would understand the tact with which such issues should be tackled if he had the love for nation in his heart.

The inflamed relationship between Nyako and the presidency for over one year now however makes this assertion suspect. Being one of the five governors elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), these current allegations from Nyako smacks of the deliberate pursuit of an agenda, one which has been identified to be stopping President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential elections. It is an ambition which has generated an assortment of reactions from different parts of the country. The indiscretion of this missive which is in the public space gets more worrisome coming at a time when every hands should work together to deal with the growing dangers of Boko Haram terrorism.

And speaking about Boko Haram, it is unfortunate that our leaders have waited this long to consider a bi-partisan approach to solving the problem. We have ourselves to blame for the level to which things have degenerated.

When I first used the quotation above in May 2013, the shock of that moment was the abduction of 92 year- old former Minister of Mine and Power, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno on his way from Jumat prayers allegedly by Boko Haram elements. In the article titled ‘Boko Haram: Northern leaders and the conspiracy of silence’, I suggested as follows: “Now is the time for everyone who commands some respect in the North to speak up and save the country from this avoidable bloodletting, unless of course, there is some subtle message that the carnage is meant to send to us. We all should remember that when fire gets out of hand, it could consume the man who lit it up!”

Unfortunately, little or nothing was done such that in the intervening period, these terrorists have grown bolder, killing women and entering secondary schools to murder innocent children. They have moved from that to kidnapping school girls leaving hundreds of parents in uncertainty and anguish.

Gradually, we have lost the capacity to be shocked by anything in Nigeria. Nothing should trouble a country like the uncertainty that comes with the kidnap of these poor girls who were in pursuit of learning but our leaders are still on their ego tripping acrimony. It was even impossible for us to agree on the number of girls that were kidnaped for a while, a clear indication of the suspicion between the school, the state government and the federal government.

Nigeria bleeds from a myriad of misfortunes and people go about making divisive comments which further deepen tension. Perhaps we would understand if all the bickering and ethnic sentiments being whipped up were on behalf of the people but it is obvious that nothing but the political future of each of these leaders is their interest. To my mind, every moment of politicking we engage in until we find the kidnapped girls is a further evidence of our generic irresponsibility toward Nigeria and her people.

The other day, I heard the President making a promise that the Boko Haram insurgency was incapable of breaking Nigeria up, an optimism which I love. But we need more than mere optimism on this front. It possibly looks too far-fetched to think that this Boko Haram insurgency could lead Nigeria to another civil war or a major threat of disintegration, but it is a reality staring us in the face. God forbid that this attacks spread but one single attempt on any southern state by Boko Haram may lead into an ethnic conflagration from which Nigeria may never recover.

Apart from the current effort by political leaders at the federal and state levels to tackle this matter, traditional and religious leaders all over Nigeria must come together to devise ways in which this looming danger would be averted. As Governor Rauf Aregbesola recently suggested to the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar, Muslims in Nigeria must come together to denounce the Boko Haram insurgency. They must covert the support of Christians across the country and get communities to support every effort at taming the Boko Haram influence.

When one considers the level of animosity amongst politicians scrambling for power in 2015 and the dangers that the Boko Haram insurgency daily pose especially now that there are indications of links with Al-Qaeda, one will very easily realise that Nigeria currently rests on a very thin thread and only a concerted effort at salvaging the situation will make the country survive.

Adedokun, a Lagos based PR consultant writes in via [email protected]
You can follow him on twitter: @niranadedokun

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