How to move Nigeria from ‘this cowtry’ to a country, By Victor Ikhatalor

Posted by News Express | 14 April 2021 | 799 times

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•Victor Ikhatalor

There are some around and about who hold that it is perfectly normal in 2021 for herds of cattle to stop traffic on our roads, litter our streets with dung and rampage through our farms, destroying lives and livelihood.

They say it is an everlasting God-given right for pastoralists to continue the perpetuation of an age-long way of life that is now synonymous with bedeviling criminal enterprises, exposing the wider society to danger and, yes, putting genuine herders in harm's way.

Mind you, the typical day of those who say these things revolve around waking up in air-conditioned well-appointed domiciles, being driven around in ostentatious airconditioned vehicles, navigating through air-conditioned offices and cocooning at day’s end in luxurious air-conditioned well-guarded abodes.

Is it remiss of them to want to uplift the herder and his kin from age-long drudgery and deprivation? Is it remiss of them to, like the revered Mallam Aminu Kano, seek the upliftment, enlightenment and emancipation of the talakawa (down-trodden)?

No! They must have pliant masses, and so they sustain the drudgery and deprivation. Illiteracy and poverty are necessary ingredients to create more biddable subjects; so they foster the culture of dependency as historically grasping mis-leaders have always done, for only then can their perfidy, debauchery and nefarious hold on power be maintained.

They are not unique. They have kith and kin across the nation whose creed is money and power. From North to South, East to West, Nigeria is bedeviled by an elite-ruling class that in all their bastions employ a gamut of destructive tools with the sole aim of continuing the subjugation of the people.

Rather, unfortunately, to the continuing distraught and impoverisation of the Nigerian people, we have been conquered through the effective deployment and weaponisation of illiteracy, poverty, ethnicity and religion, by politically desperate actors whose only recommendation and basis for induction is that they are astonishingly very nimble with their fingers and have been able to master the dark arts of jiggery-pokery in determining electoral outcomes.

The extent of our national conundrum is evinced by their own spectre of a class of unrepentant, dyed-in-the-wool town-residing bandits who – while still perpetuating the looting of the public till – pontificate and gnash their teeth at the upsurge of rampaging forest-dwelling bandits who derive their moral equivocation from them.

For mis-leaders, there is certainly no correlation between rising violent crime and over-a-third of a fit and able population jobless and unable to find work. For them, there is no relationship between widespread insecurity and Nigeria being the poverty capital of the world. Our political types do not see the clear outcome in arming deviant youths for election-rigging purposes.

It is totally lost on them to relate that being at the top echelon in the world as the breeding ground of poverty and holding numero uno status in the world as unemployment czar has translated to first in Africa as the leading kidnap-for-ransom nation while being among the top three kidnap hot spots in the world.

Surely, if they had any “gumption” on how to dissect these troubling connections, they will make haste and literarily “move heaven and earth” to seek a paradigm shift for the better. That is what would be expected of leaders who were truly “of the people”, right?

Terror practitioners of all shades will not let up. They have realised that we do not have democratic government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Quite a few of them have had “work experience” with our political types and so they know that we only have an abridged version of civil rule, which certainly only caters for a few.

Since 1999 (start of the 4th Republic), Nigerian government at all levels have, under flimsy and conjured up veneers of legalese, continued the perpetuation of the most wicked and mindless annexation of a humongous portion of the people’s resources in the guise of “cost of governance.” This wanton fleecing of our commonwealth is at the root of a most virulent distrust by the governed towards government.

So, “perception engineering” will no longer work with “societal deviants”, for they know that their criminality and that of majority political types is only differentiated by the cloak of “government functionary” under which the later operates. So long as we continue to be stuck with our bandits in power (BIPs), so long will our many bush-fires continue.

To comprehend the enormity of the nation’s challenges is to firstly understand that Nigeria is a place where every process that has to do with government business at all level is deliberately designed to work opaquely, or not at all. This corruption jinx – seemingly never to be demystified, but rather deliberately nourished – has been the perpetual state of being of successive administrations in Nigeria.

African traditions and contemporary religions attribute demonic spirits as the source of unremitting problems that defy logic, and will not let go. Is a class of people who will not remove their knees from our necks even when they see we are out of breath and dying not truly demonic?

Some say they want to break up Nigeria. They clamor for Biafra, Oduduwa, Arewa, et al. Will peculiar demonic spirits not still roam in these new constructs? One who is plagued by bed bugs in his house will find his blood is still being sucked even when he moves to a new home if the bugs (known to burrow into everything, multiply alarmingly and frustratingly resistant to most remedies) have not been well and truly rid of.

Being forever plagued by mis-leaders has been the true and lasting bane of Nigeria; and if she deconstructs on the morrow, that afflictive legacy will live on even in its splintered parts in a rinse and repeat cycle. A Yoruba adage is apt: “Do you cut off your head just because you have a headache?”

What, pray, will be the fate of Amaka and Babajide, of Yetunde and Abdullah, of  Itohan and Usman, of Ejiro and Ikenga – what will be the fate of Nigerians in their millions who have intermarried – those who have become more indigenous to their adopted homesteads than to those which their names are linked?

What will be the fate of millions of Nigerians who are invested in the Nigerian project by the commitments of love, family, property and livelihood? Have they or their forebears sold whole populations of ethnic nations different from theirs into slavery while unleashing unparalleled terror? Rome did that to other Italian nation-states, but today there is only Italy.

There are numerous examples around the world of now viably forged countries where ethnic nationalities that constitute them were known in times past to have fought interminable wars of attrition and slaughtered themselves. Would millions of Nigerians deserve the disintegration of their world because they are under such burden of history?

And, so we have got to a point in this nation where mis-leaders and the mass of the people alike have found themselves mired in a “catch 22” situation. George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier adequately contextualised the reality of our society when he wrote: “We are living in a world in which nobody is free, in which hardly anybody is secure, in which it is almost impossible to be honest and to remain alive.”

Frustrations with the “cowtry” Nigeria are justified, and feelings can make one, indeed, “fit to be tied.” However, the burden of Nigeria’s failures must be put squarely on our mis-leaders. Our most crucial effort is to engender a system that gives us the ability to elect good leadership, and to bind same to the will of the people. Nigeria’s future, if she must have any, can no longer be determined by her “perennial mis-leaders,” much like the fate of a herd of cattle is reflective of the herder’s disposition.

We must jettison our nonsensical junta-inspired constitution. We must decentralise power and have a constitution that is indeed of “we the people.” We must collaboratively restructure our polity to the extent that all segments of it will “feel” joint-ownership.

Only a legal and moral restitution set on a foundation of social justice for all will elicit a commitment to temperance from divergent interests. Only by these steps can we move from a “cowtry” to becoming a country – nothing else will do.

•Victor Ikhatalor, Twitter:  @MyTribeNigeria; e-mail:


Source: News Express

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