Symptoms of a Deep-Rooted Crisis
EDIFYING ELUCIDATIONS BY OKEY IKECHUKWU
All the federal roads in the country are bad. Yes, some repair and reconstruction work is going on here and there. But these repairs have been going on since 1999, when the Peoples Democratic Party took over government. As I write, these bad roads are also now unsafe. The stench of insecurity in the air drowns out everything else. The airports are not safe. The once-celebrated rail lines are now as vulnerable as a day-old chick in an open yard. Poverty is king everywhere, even as our national debt is abominably high – and still rising.
Taxes are going up too. Poverty indices are also going up. Inflation is galloping away on the national landscape, even as corruption, and what appears to be the endorsement of corruption, seems to be thriving.In the midst of all these, the insincerity of politicians, especially politicians from the two dominant political parties, is going up. The wrong conception of “the purpose of the state” and the duty of leaders is the motif everywhere. What it means “to serve the people” has been overtaken by a species of ignorance that mistakes expenditure, especially wrong-headed expenditure, for positive impact on the life of the people.
Otherwise, why would the governor of one of the poorest, most devastated, most unsafe, most vandalized and traumatized state in Nigeria invest tons of scarce resources in the procurement of luxury vehicles for traditional rulers. Will this gesture improve security of lives and property, of even the very beneficiaries themselves? Will it promote economic productivity, human capital development, or what?Let us calmly admit that it is no longer reasonable to see the misfortune of out troubled nation purely in terms of the two dominant political parties. It is a leadership problem that cuts across political, religious, trado-cultural and business lines. It is, in fact, an elite problem that revolves around a conspiratorial agenda that has turned the Federal Republic of Nigeria into a criminal enterprise.
Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, the PDP, the APC, or all of them put together, are not solely responsible for our current national problems. They have their share of the blame in some way, but what we are seeing everywhere today took decades in coming.As was said here on 28 October, 2016, “We have been building a mansion on quicksand and with pillars of straw. The soil, quicksand as it is, is further infested with two species of ants, called presumption and nepotism. These ants, which feed exclusively on straw, have been nibbling away for decades. They have left us with a hollow and painted frame that conceals a lie.
This lie has been on parade for decades. It is described as an architectural masterpiece by casual observers. An architectural masterpiece that is not designed to withstand the wind? Now that the whirlwind has come, and the elements are in their element, radical modifications (in design and material) have become necessary.It is not right that a nation should be undergirded by untruth. It is also not right that a nation should be under a political economy of decay and corruption, warehoused and propagated by a business and political elite that lives in denial. When old lies are told afresh by those who know they are lying, a time comes when even the liars themselves won’t be sure whether they are lying anymore. Reason? Others would be repeating the same lies with great aplomb everywhere.
”The above observations capture our national predicament today. It is now practically too late to make a quick U-turn. Yes, it is! The abnormal, the reprehensible and the abominable have all taken root. They have blossomed. They have all borne fruit. Now is harvest time. Why, you may ask? The answer, given here six years ago is that “…we have brought up children who have seen shielded criminality as leadership.
We have a nation wherein hiding under the instruments of state to violate natural justice, equity and good conscience makes you not guilty of any crime. Look at Nigeria today! The dominant motifs are (1) skewed values, (2) a flawed national psyche and (3) an aberrant leadership recruitment process.”Hinting at some aspects of the errors of the past that have now come to haunt us, it was noted here thus: “A major misdirection of the State and people occurred on January 15, 1966, when Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu announced his military coup d’etat. That coup saw a junior officer issuing instructions to his superiors. It saw murder as an instrument for leadership recruitment and transformation.
It saw an officer peremptorily informing the nation (by mere announcement about ‘Extraordinary Orders’) that all local administration in the country was now under the ‘local military commander’, who would mete out any punishment he ‘deemed appropriate’ to anyone who disobeyed him.”It is a matter of record that that intervention “left right and wrong in the hands of individuals of, sometimes, questionable antecedents. It violated Service Discipline and set new paradigms for the collapse of esprit de corps in the armed forces.
A generation groomed along ideological lines in leadership recruitment stagnated for 12 years, until 1979. The trio of Zik, Awo and Aminu Kano, who would have since given way to the likes of Tafawa Balewa, Michael Okpara, Bola Ige and others before 1979, turned up as presidential candidates, because of the 1966 coup. This created the backlog of two generations of leaders that we are still unable to deal with today. The average age of party youth leaders, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) says it all.”Just look around you today. What are most of our youths doing? If they are not part of one leadership support group for misleading leaders, they are the bandits, terrorists, militants, or unknown gunmen. The few who represent a better future are in clear danger of being wiped out.
Consider the long list of prematurely retired military officers many of whom may well have died of a broken heart, after losing their professional calling and finding it difficult to fit into a rowdy civilian world they could not understand. They may well have left this world as frustrated and unfulfilled military professionals. “Others were last seen, or heard, as failed politicians, owners of failed banks and failed airlines, failed philanthropists, failed traditional rulers and much more. Yet they initially joined the armed forces to become military professionals, unlike some of their later colleagues who joined during the triumph of military regimes as a short-cut to wealth.
”What have we done, and what are we doing, with our very good retired soldiers, retired professors and other retired professionals? This column said, on the above-stated date, that “No nation develops by having its high-quality human capital and professionals, military or not, routinely swept out of service. Not after so much had been invested in training them! Now that events have come full circle on all fronts, and we are seeing the impossibility of sustaining untruth with layers of mud, there is no good news out there. Look again: there is only, perhaps, the dawning realization that the nation is a grand scam, perpetrated and facilitated by public and civil servants and their private sector allies.
Look again! A dismantling of Nigeria’s ‘false legs’, or pseudopodia, is afoot.”Today the nation is concerned with electing a new president. Forget zoning, “competence and capacity,” we are now being told. Would you do that if you have malaria and need a doctor? Would you that if you are looking for a mechanic to fix the knocked engine of your car? Would you ignore competence and capacity, as you seek out someone to cure your tooth ache? If the answer to the above questions is “no,” why would any sane person, or clime, want to fix a nation with a knocked engine say that deploying those who know what to do is not the way to go? As for all the talk about whether the APC is better than the PDP, or vice versa, let these two platforms for national plunder spare us their false tales of salvation. We are where we are today partly because of these two parties. Today, the nation reels. “…let the friends and admirers of Presidents Jonathan and Buhari pull themselves together and stop thinking that any criticism of the government, or person, of President Muhammadu Buhari is an automatic endorsement of the tenure and performance of their man. It cannot be.
The Jonathan Presidency could have done much better than it did, but it allowed itself to be ruined by avoidable blunders, indecisiveness, image deficits, and a consistent failure to present an inspiring comportment.” Having said that, let us also turn to the friends and admirers of President Buhari and tell them that “Insularity, with the risk of crippling itself,” has brought their inchoate government where it is today. As said here six years ago, “Nigeria’s flawed and overlooked fundamentals have come back to haunt the nation. It all boils down to the absence of truth, deep knowledge, nobility of soul, propriety in public office, dignity in self-presentation, graceful ambience, competence and decency in leadership; for which neither Buhari nor Jonathan are solely responsible.”The symptoms of national collapse are staring us in the face everywhere.
Those who should be worried are not. Those who are attempting a solution do not understand the extent, and depth, of the problem. Otherwise no one would be saying “forget competence and look for who can help you win elections.” They would have known that there duty, as leaders, is to educate those they say are their party members on “the criteria for sound, 21st leadership.” Rested.