Nigeria is a country living in denial of its division, challenges and chequered history. Anybody who lays claim to the fact that the country is one is living in illusion or outrightly delusional. Before and after independence, there was already misunderstanding and suspicion accompanied by regional power intrigues. People could not see the cold war brewing among the regional trio. The three regional leaders of Azikiwe, Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello did not buy into the same thinking and understanding of what Nigeria should or ought to be; this reflected in their dress codes, mannerism, regional policies, and commentaries. While the Southeast and Southwest were ready for independence, the North had to be waited for three years to be ready. The pre and post independent political events and the unfortunate civil war were sore reminders of our continuous troubled history. Since then, there has been this growing suspicion and mistrust amongst the major ethnic groups. And no government, military or democratic, has made genuine effort at resolving Nigeria’s lingering problems. Committed leaders of war torn nations were able to make history by uniting their people and return to global arena. What did our leaders do? They were more interested in setting up cosmetic committees and conferences designed ab initio to feather their political nests than addressing the governance deficit, general societal malaise and decadence.
Until when someone is willing to address the numerous demands and grievances of all and set out a genuine mechanism of peaceful coexistence, the nation will continue to be in disarray. It is laughable when President Buhari and those in government gleefully echo the commitment of government towards ensuring that to make Nigeria one is a task than must be accomplished. In fact, government is gradually losing or has lost its credibility with unfolding events. Government loses its credibility when people now believe regional elements who they have seen to be committed to fighting their causes. When government generally fails its people, the situation we find ourselves in Nigeria today will definitely surface. Often times emergency regional leaders like Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and even leaders of Boko Haram and banditry groups are creations of a clueless government. They stand for their people and render those services government ought to have rendered but refused to – nature abhors vacuum. We seem to under estimate the power of non state actors like Nnamdi Kanu but, it is becoming more glaring that despite labeling him and his group as terrorists, people still believe in him more than all the governors of the Southeast put together; so is Sunday Igboho and even Shekau. It is also amusing to hear we are committed to securing the lives and properties of Nigerians wherever they live, while on the contrary, government is clearly seen to have failed time and time again or had simply set its eyes on something else. Boko Haram are even more emboldened to attack military formations while bandits ply their trade unhindered. The abducted Kagara school children have been added to the number. One could imagine that the seeming commitment always comes in form of generic press statements issued by Garba Shehu and co, who are tired of doing one thing all the time to achieve a different result. Who takes the presidential media aides seriously now? When it was obvious that the ex-service chiefs had ran out of ideas to tackle insecurity in the land, the same government left them on the saddle for additional years with a reward of non-career ambassadors after retirement.
The #EndSARS protest had widened the already existing divide between the North and South. While the protest against the high level of impunity amongst SARS units and general police brutality in the country was successful in the south; the north seemed unperturbed. Most states in the north did not participate in the protest giving credence to the fact that something was amiss. There is a consensus that SARS activities have gone overboard. Therefore, a country not decimated by the contours of tribe, ethnicity and religion should have stood with one united voice in the quest to end the atrocities of SARS. Today, the quit notices issued to Fulani herdsmen living in other parts of Nigeria leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The killings and burning of Hausa businesses in Ibadan added another ugly dimension. It is condemnable to kill the innocent and stereotype a group. The group also stereotyped should wash itself off of such elements which gave them a bad name. Is it a coincidence that almost everybody is pointing accusing fingers at the Fulani? Government officials and individuals concerned are feasting on the rage of the moment; some are threatening fire and brimstone. I must caution that fanning the embers of violence with your monthly data plan while in your cosy home is misguided. Every region now has its own narrative championed by those who have no business in leading. But the question is: have we really addressed the generic problems and issues? The answer is NO! Those who should seek for the balm of Gilead are the trouble makers themselves.
Having spent most of my adult life in the north and still counting, I can authoritatively say that the north is a fertile ground for business, growth and development. Many are those who had nothing upon arrival in the north but are millionaires today. People of the north are very accommodating, trustworthy and friendly. The life of an average northerner is simple and lived for that day because tomorrow will take care of itself. The expanse of land in the north is an asset yet to be tapped by both government and individuals. The import of rich assets like land for agriculture and agri-business has not caught the attention of northern leaders. Nigeria more than ever before is comfortably seated on a tinder box. When leaders choose to genuinely address most of these known contending and conflicting issues, peace will definitely return.