I read with unbelief Mr. President’s twitter-thread last night where he all but threatened an entire tribe with Civil War 2.0 and, juxtaposed with his soft appeal to the real criminals (bandits, killer herdsmen and kidnappers) only a few weeks ago to please lay down their arms, I came to the common conclusion that our President had lost all sense of decorum and had betrayed his bias against non-kinsmen. For a leader who had uttered no words condemning the ethnic cleansing in Benue and Kaduna state recently which claimed a combined 150 lives only last week to suddenly find his mojo against those he famously referred to as 5 percenters, it became glaring that his selective style of leadership was infused with undemocratic aloofness and ethnic bias. Indeed, we are in trouble and Mr. President represents the biggest threat to Nigeria’s unity as yet.
More and more, the state of the Nigerian nation occupies my thought but not in a good way. Our current crop of leaders lead from behind on issues of gross national importance, choosing to play the ostrich on agitations that are symptomatic of our dysfunctional society. While we continue to tick the boxes of a failed state, we have been even more unfortunate to be led in such a perilous time especially by a person like President Buhari with an aversion for truth, fairness and justice.
It is necessary to point out that all news out of Nigeria are as depressing as they are achingly tiring. There are simply no new issues but an endless torrent of recycled leadership failures that have dragged the nation back, all of which now threaten government’s legitimacy and sovereignty. I say this because it is very necessary to properly situate the recent calls for independent nation-states across the southeast, southwest and middle-belt parts of Nigeria. All of these calls are a judgement on the failure of government and governance in developing an intractable national identity devoid of the twin evil of ethnicity and religious bigotry, and the security of lives and property while providing an enabling environment for all citizens.
The President Muhammadu Buhari regime have continued to demonstrate incomprehensible ineptitude in dealing with the insecurity crisis that has crippled businesses and cost families the lives of their loved ones. Children are being murdered or kidnapped in droves nation wide, mothers and daughters are being raped, maimed and murdered while our young and old men suffer either the same untimely death in the hands of these men of the underworld or are arbitrarily arrested by the authorities. Only city states like Abuja and Lagos appear to be insulated from the security reality of the present times, but even this fact can be contested against the backdrop of recent spates of kidnappings within the Federal Capital Territory and civil unrest in Lagos state.
Rather than approach insecurity as a real issue destroying human lives and properties, they politicize it as an attempt by the opposition or dissent groups to make the country ungovernable for them. This failure to address the prevailing instability in the country is reflective of a government that have lost touch with the people and who are insulated by the perks and quirks of office from the common man’s plight.
It is this apathy and lack of action on the part of government over the insecurity in the country, juxtaposed with the nepotic tendencies of the Buhari-led Federal Government that has led to disaffection with the country, occasioning calls for secession, or mildly assessed, restructuring of the country into politically and economically autonomous regions.
Indeed, the calls for restructuring or even secession is a difficult but necessary conversation that must be had as I believe it is an honest agitation that speaks to our current reality. If for nothing else, Nigerians must be allowed the right to re-negotiate the terms of our common existence to set before the nation a new and encompassing social contract with the requisite instruments for their enforcement.
However, it is just as important for us to find a common ground for unity and aim towards creating a single national identity that eschews all discriminations on the basis of tribe, region or religion. None of these, however, can be achieved under a hostile and non-responsive political leadership and this is why my advise tarries that having learnt that elections have consequences, and with the country heading to the ballot in 2023, we must be wiser as electorates in the process of picking a new set of leaders in the future.
I say this mindful of the existential crisis we now face all over the country. Indeed, our preoccupation should be with dousing the tension and flames that have consumed the nation in recent times. As a people, we must err on the side of caution, and be dutiful to the virtues of our humanity which underpins mutual trust and respect. We must watch our utterances in these times, careful not to lend tribal or religious undertones to every probabilities before us. We must actively work to eschew violence partly by self vigilance and through demanding purposeful action from those vested with authority over the security apparatus of Nigeria.
We live in a perilous time and our only currency at the moment is hope. We must look within ourselves for the resilient spirit that has brought us this far and forge a new morale to take us on. I believe we can do so much through a united front against the challenges before us, and as such we must persevere and push on.
May I, in good faith, urge our political leaders to stop politicising issues and find within themselves the political will to address the serious crisis before us. This is not the time to see national issues through the prism of party, tribal or religious affiliations. Actions must be taken, and NOW. The very sovereignty and integrity of this nation is being threatened and only effective leadership at all levels can see the country through.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq., is a Legal Practitioner and the Principal Partner at LAW CORRIDOR, Nigeria.