by Senator Ihenyen
“No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
Perhaps, there is no statement that captures the statelessness in Nigeria today with such graphical and vivid accuracy as Thomas Hobbes’ words above. Nigeria is in a siege. Massive poverty and alarming unemployment have particularly reduced the top oil producer in Africa to a shameful state in the comity of nations.
Not that the Nigerian people at home and in the Diaspora are not ashamed of what this potentially great country has become but the well-engineered system of corruption appear to have rendered majority simply helpless. Somalia now has a faithful bride to look up to in the world’s lists of failing states; and other African countries like South Africa, Ghana and Namibia will not be a party to such loveless matrimony of underdevelopment.
Mention it: corruption, poverty, illiteracy, low life expectancy, human development index, unrealisable MDGs by 2015, poor maternal health, number of children out of school…we never disappoint in the global rankings! We are a reliably “good people, great nation”, but bad leaders, no vision.
When the President of the most populous black nation in the world cuts short a state visit, cancels another and summons an emergency meeting with the Security Council, to say that things are getting out of hand would be an unforgivable understatement. The security situation in the country has continued to worsen.
There is no doubt that the President is worried over the state of the nation’s security with recent events such as the killing of soldiers and policemen by agents of terror in the country. Of course, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the buck falls on his table. He is accountable for any action or inaction of his security chiefs which threaten the safety of lives and property of the Nigerian people. It has gone beyond the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy for a government to ensure the security and welfare of the people as a primary purpose. According to section 14(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), sovereignty belongs to the Nigerian people from whom the government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.
Let’s get back to the basics. Section 15(4) and (5) also, in effect, provide that the state shall foster a feeling of belonging and involvement among various peoples of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties, and shall also abolish corruption and abuse of power.
Our daily headlines in Nigeria demonstrate the exact opposite with sectional champions becoming demi-gods of violence in virtually every part of the country, and pathologically corrupt politicians being granted self-interest driven state pardons and treated as sacred cows.
“The determination of this government is to reduce, through human capital development initiatives, the population of persons who can be recruited for these evil purposes,” says the Presidential adviser, Abati, speaking on the outcome of the recent emergency meeting with Service Chiefs. Of course, we know that the government is “determined”, but what about the results? After all, President Jonathan did express his dissatisfaction over the “best” his security chiefs claimed they have been doing to curb the rise and rise of insecurity and terrorism in the country. Should the educational sector be different?
Ten million children are out of the school system in the north, the rate of illiteracy remains high in the country, no jobs for our graduates, but sufficient knee-begging amnesty for unrepentant terrorists and armed robbers. Government contracts worth millions of dollars are awarded to local militia groups and hungry “area boys” while poorly motivated law enforcement agents such as the police wish there were still road blocks to “keep the body together.”
Back to the basics, section 16 of the Constitution provides for the economic objectives of the government. It includes the duty of the state to harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy to every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.
Of course, our cycle of corrupt, irresponsible and unaccountable political leadership has, through government actions and inactions, ensured that these “economic objectives” remained so – mere ideals too dangerous for the political convenience of our ruling élite. Unjusticiable, they must remain, if the blind ploughing of state wealth must continue with impunity.
In a country where political leaders make dangerous utterances side-by-side with political vagabonds, sectional bigots and urchins, what do you expect? Nothing less than the rule of lawlessness where drunkards beat their chests dancing to the rising drums of civil war, while political players with eyes of greed on power ensure they never run out of wine. We are all drunk, one way or the other.
Asari Dokubo is one of such drunkards after his message of “violence by violence… bullet by bullet… blood by blood.” Kingsley Kuku, a Presidential adviser on Niger Delta amnesty issues, is another drunkard, emptying a dozen bottles in one swoop, when he literally said it’s Goodluck for 2015 or no peace and development in the Niger Delta. Buhari was once drunk too, it is believed, after threatening to tear the nation apart if he lost in the 2011 elections. Not surprisingly, without invitation, some Northern leaders have now joined the drinking table. Faruk Aliyu, a former legislator, must have had a little too much, when he also made a most provocative statement “on behalf of the north.” The President’s seeming helplessness (or is it silence) appears to amount to supplying the wine.
Interestingly, it had been reported last weekend that during the high-level emergency meeting summoned by the President with Service Chiefs and other national security agents that a source disclosed that Service Chiefs did raise an issue on the “unguarded utterances made by some politicians and influential people”. According to the Security Chiefs, such utterances are one of the serious threats to security in the country, but that does not seem to have impressed President Jonathan.
Let’s get back to the basics before it’s too late.