Failure of good leadership anchored on the rule of law, transparency, probity, equity and justice is creating a very unpleasant situation in Nigeria that may continue until when we get it right.
In expressing my opinion, it is human to commend some of those in leadership positions doing the needful despite the odds from my perception rating. Mention must be made of Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum in Borno, Sen. Bala Muhammed in Bauchi, Nyeson Wike up Rivers and Nasiru El-Rufa’i in Kaduna State. I must make mention of Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos and Prof. Ben Ayade in Cross Rivers. In the National Assembly, one of the most vibrant and courageous senators ever doing the needful is Sen. Muhammed Ali Ndume from Borno South and Smart Adeyemi from Kogi South. In the House of Representatives, there are few determinants in the struggle to change the narrative. Gudaji Kazaure is one despite his poor education rating and low exposure. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi from Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam, in Plateau State despite being a first timer in the Green chamber has all along proved his worth. One doffs his hat for their struggle to better the lot of their people.
In this time of liberation struggle, a few names that rings, trenchant to this day is the late Ernesto “Che” Guvera. Che envisioned a world as recreated in the dialectics of Karl Marx – where those in the lowest rung of the social strata can command their destiny. Che fantasized about an “international revolution” which would sweep across the world beginning from Latin America. This I was lectured at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Agidingbi, Lagos in my struggling days searching for a profession to rely upon.
The Argentine revolutionary found an ally in Fidel Castro, the late Communist leader of Cuba and one of the strongest Communist ideologists that ever lived. But Castro found in him a useful marionette. Che was disinterested in acquiring political power. It was all about spreading the Marxists ideology for him. Castro, his “Comrade”, had other plans. He desired political power, and he courted it. Gaming, his guerrilla leader, Che, dauntless and irrepressible, became a pliable device in the actualization of Castro’s ambition. But he was later murdered in Bolivia in circumstances that taint Castro of culpability.
However, the Cuban struggle or those of Zimbabwe, Somalia by Al-Shabab, Afghanistan by the Taliban, Sri Lanka by Tamil Tigers, South Africa, Uganda or Ghana must not be blemished or compared in any way to the barbarous gyrations for Biafra and Oduduwa Republic by some agitating groups including the murderous Boko Haram sect that are ‘fighting’ for a mirage called Islamic State.
I do not see the agitations for Biafra and Oduduwa Republic as a legitimate liberation struggle – because there is absolutely nothing to be liberated from other than bad governance in Nigeria that is our albatross and source of worries leading most to starvation, hate, crime, strange ailments and premature death.
If the agitations are anchored on demanding good leadership for all and the right of every Nigerian to be treated equally regardless of region, religion or ethnicity, then I will rate them as liberation struggle or a better desired and timely democratic revolution.
The liberation Nigeria needs is from distressing leadership and its corollaries of corruption, poverty and insecurity. Nigeria does not need to be bifurcated into Biafra and Oduduwa Republics to make progress. The ingredients for all-around development are already in profusion here. But we need good leadership to put them to work effectively.
Sectional agitations have become merchandise. This bellicose commerce is largely sustained by conspiracy theories and ethnic hate-trading. Conspiracy theories are fed to ignorant followers and those blind followers lacking patriotic political education some of whom will give up their precious lives for a “delusive happy-ever-after country”. They are lied, fooled, cajoled and deceived to that their adversaries are those who do not speak their language and do not believe in the religion they believe. They are seduced with fallacies of ethnic superiority like Adolf Hitler corrupted Germans with the supremacist venom or the hate speech delivered by a drunkard coup plotter from the Nigerian Army, Major Gideon Orkar.
These followers give themselves and resources to this ill-fated cause – “a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth” where there will be no more night. And as they are fed more conspiracy theories, supremacist doctrines and fables of a utopian country on the horizons, they give and give to the “cause”. And of course, the “promoter” of the “struggle” luxuriates in the good things mammon can afford while they are left to rot away in expectation. A typical case of hoping against hope!
As usual, politicians find in these senseless agitations a market where they can acquire oppositional ammunition to deploy against adversaries. So, they fund them through proxies with bogus claims.
Penultimate Sunday, Mujaheedeen Asari Dokubu, a ‘repented’ Niger Delta militant declared himself, the new president of the mirage called Biafran Government in the old Eastern Nigeria. But what I found amusing was his call, which he knotted in a Biafra flag-waving bromide, for volunteers to join the struggle. Was he calling for support from the volunteers to his ‘presidency’ or for his Biafran Government that does not exist? Dokubo from his public utterances since the defeat of his godfather in 2015 needs the immediate attention of a psychiatrist to save him from roaming the streets and ending in the bottom of the creeks. Surely, there is no more free money for Dokubo to squander lavishly on commercial sex workers or women of easy virtue that roam the streets of cities for a pick.
It is worrying that the commoditization of people’s disaffection with the government is now a thriving business. The captains of these agitations know that there is yawning discontent with the leadership, particularly in some sections of the country. So, they exploit these emotions and play on them for a selfish political interest that remains baseless.
Really, if Nigeria had responsive leaderships, the chances of rogue people like Sunday Igboho, Ganiyu Adams and Nnamdi Kanu emerging as ethnic champions or crusaders or revolutionaries with mass followership could not have surfaced. It was the system that created them and supporting them to remain relevant in emptiness.
Nigerians must approach these agitations with sobriety and not lend themselves to anyone’s personal agenda ignorantly. Without going to war with ourselves on a very simple but sensitive matter, we can through a referendum end the 1914 amalgamation that fused us together despite sharp differences in several aspects of life.
But so long as we remain as Nigerians, we must keep making demands on and holding the government to account for our retrogression and skipping-off the path of honor. How did we reach where we are today? What must be the causes and those responsible?
That should be our bounded duty as a right. Anyone advocating violent secession knows it to be impossible in today’s Nigeria, but the real agenda is secreted underneath the advocacy as displayed by NADECO in 1993. In as much it remains the right of those making agitations for their safety in a failing system, it is also the right of those opposing the agitation to remain safe.
As for some of us, it is not an issue of liberation but that of revolution through the ballot box in 2023. For Nigeria to regain its lost glory as the Giant of Africa, we have a duty to support the amendment of the Electoral Law. We must call for the insertion of certain clauses that have to do with educational status of contestants beyond what is stated presently, experience in public service, exposure and above all, mental health status. The present Act must be amended to give us better leadership not mere claimants or opportunists lacking the pre-requisite credentials to be where they are.
Finally, let me exemplify what may be of interest to all. All ethnic nationalities no matter how big or small deserve recognition and sense of belonging in the political arithmetic. For instance, in Benue State, Idoma and Igede are always edged out from the governorship race by the larger Tiv ethnic nationality. In Plateau State, Jahr, Basharawa, Badawa, Burum, Jukun, Mupun, Aten, Buji, Ngas and Mhwagavul, Afizere, Miango and other ethnic nationalities are yet to taste power in the democratic dispensation. Chief Solomon Lar was from Plateau South of Tarok ethnic nationality fired the first shot in 1979. Next was Sir Fidelis Tapgun (Plateau South) from Goemai ethnic nationality. Chief Joshua Dariye of Plateau Central governed the state from 1999-2007 of Mushere ethnic nationality. Chief Jonah Jang from Plateau North of Berom ethnic nationality governed from 2007-2015. Barr.Simon Lalong from Plateau South (Goemai) took over from Jonah in 2015 till date.
In an ideal situation of equity, fairness and justice, the next governor should come from Plateau Central. In Plateau South senatorial zone, the highest elective office any politician can aspire to occupy from Wase local government is that of the House of Representatives. The reason for the marginalization is known to all. The senate position seems to be an exclusive ‘right’ of Goemai and Tarok ethnic nationalities. Late Sen. George Baba Hoomkwap (Goemai) was the first to occupy the position in 1979. Next was Sen. Silas Jenfa (Tarok), John Nanzip Shagaya (Tarok), then Sen. Victor Lar (Tarok), Sen. Cosmos Niagwam (Goemai), Sen. Jeremiah Useni (Tarok) from 2015-2019 and now Nora Dadu’ut (Goemai) is on the seat. For the system to grow as expected, zoning of elective offices ought to be rotational and enshrined in the Electoral Act. The case of winner takes all is retarding the progress of the democracy and creating hatred within the system.
Honestly, one admires how Langtang North/South, Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam respect the sanctity of rotational representation to the House of Representatives. That explains why the constituencies are steadily progressing beyond imagination. Let other federal constituencies copy that experiment for the good of their people from 2023.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues