Nigeria: The Gathering Storm, By Emmanuel Chigozie Osuchukwu

Posted by News Express | 23 July 2016 | 2,768 times

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Before it rains, the rain clouds gather and present a pervading gloom across the land. The rain clouds are gathering again in Nigeria. Call me a prophet of doom if you choose to, but only the naïve optimist will fail to notice the gathering storm. Nigeria is in grave danger of disintegration. The ominous signs are there that even if Nigeria doesn’t implode and disintegrate, it will never live happily under the present arrangements. There are not many countries in the world lacking in faith and patriotism; filled with so much anger, distrust, unhappiness, hatred, and hopelessness as in Nigeria today.

Let us be honest and realistic. There is hardly any region of Nigeria at rest with itself or with their neighbours. There is no region of Nigeria that innocent blood of youths, women and children are not being shed needlessly. Nigeria is currently plagued with various ethnic and religious conflicts. We have reached the point where militancy seems to be the only effective form of expressing opinion. The Niger Delta is boiling again and the Nigerian state is obviously held at ransom as its economic mainstay, oil, is rendered at high risk of redundancy. The South- east is not just angry but at the end of their tether. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) is quickly revealing Nigeria’s unhealed sore, and has confirmed what has been predicted that the Biafran nightmare is an unfinished business. The history of injustices to the Igbo man is being rehashed by a younger generation who are bent on righting the wrongs meted out to their fathers. Call them by whatever name imaginable, the new Biafran agitators are bolstered by a sense of moral legitimacy. It is only a matter of time and, if care is not taken, the Biafran agitation has a high potential of a bigger bombshell to befall Nigeria.

The entire north of Nigeria is a nightmare. Nigeria is currently celebrating the de-escalation of Boko Haram Islamist insurgency. The incessant bombings and raiding of towns and villages has greatly reduced, but Nigeria is yet to look at the socio-economic and political underpinnings of Boko Haram insurgency. Whether the new phenomenon called Fulani herdsmen is a variant or extension of Boko Haram is yet to unfold. Presently any knowledgeable political analyst would have guessed that President Muhammadu Buhari coming to power will bring a lull to armed insurrection in the North. And it has. The United States of America and Britain were not stupid to package and bring to power a man whose profile would not lend credit to democratic aspirations. Boko Haram has served its purpose and would not have much validity in Nigeria’s present political realities. In any case, now that Boko Haram and the national insecurity it engendered is no longer a priority, Nigeria’s enduring instability, deriving from its historical and political deficiencies, has come to the fore. The gloom and foreboding of calamity is very pervasive and a matter of concern.

Unfortunately, Nigerian leaders in power are continually in denial and believe that the country will survive in its current political arrangements. Anyone who queries the validity of this belief is often classified as ‘an unpatriotic, non-believer’ in one Nigeria. One Nigeria, who’s one-Nigeria? That is the crux of Nigeria’s political problems and its endless instability. There is nothing treasonable in questioning the viability of the political structure of any nation-state, including its very existence. The boundaries and the constitution of any nation are subject to review, or renegotiation. World histories, both ancient and modern, lend credence to this fact. The old Soviet Union disintegrated into several independent countries; Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia split into smaller nation-states; East Germany and West Germany re-unified into one larger country. United Kingdom, as old as they have remained one nation, are still agitating to be split into different countries. In other to quell the agitation for a complete break up, the United Kingdom recently conducted a referendum to that effect. Scotland has been granted very significant autonomy. And, that has calmed some nerves. Britain has recently voted to break away from the closely-knit European Union, after over 40 years of a strong union. Therefore, there is nothing sacrosanct in any political union. It is particularly so where harmonious co-existence is frequently tested and the chances of violent confrontations are constantly present.

Nigeria, a nation of diverse cultures and religions, is too closely tied. Only those benefitting from current arrangements are keen for it to remain as it is. Nigeria is a nation in a forced marriage. They are breathing too closely on each other’s neck, and they don’t seem comfortable with each other’s breath. As a result, the potentially great black African power has been reduced to a nearly failed state.

The greatest worry at present is that the nation is led by a leader who is a throwback to Nigeria’s ugly past.  His actions, utterances, and body language do not command confidence that Nigeria is prepared to face critical issues of co-existence. President Buhari is part and parcel of what went wrong with Nigeria, and I don’t expect him to initiate viable and effective solutions to Nigeria’s current problems. In fact, under President Buhari, ethnic rivalry and chauvinism has intensified.  There is no indication that the President possesses the requisite political skills and subtleties to tackle critical issues of Nigeria’s national survival. I recall Sheik Gumi’s interview during the last general elections. He expressed the view that Nigeria’s problems are beyond fighting corruption. And by implication, that Nigeria needs a leader who will bring fresh eyes and approaches to a changed and complicated nation, with its peculiar new challenges and demands. The time for the new approach is now. While the country’s elite squabble over how they will control a wobbly federal system, it will be worthwhile thinking of how to jettison this delusional national political system that may end up consuming everyone. Nigeria is in dire need of national dialogue to determine how best they can live together without strife. The current constitution legitimated by military Decree No. 24 is hardly the expression of peoples will. The popular Igbo adage comes to mind: Look for your missing black goat while daylight remains. It is difficult to find in the dark.

•Mr Osuchukwu, whose photo appears alongside this piece, writes from London. He can be reached on: or +447880600236

Source: News Express

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