This Boiling Cauldron, By Dele Agekameh
…the country is witnessing a lot of fractionalisation on all fronts: the executive and the legislature are at each other’s jugular; the hitherto peaceful herdsmen are suddenly on the rampage killing and maiming people all over the place; ethnic bigots and chauvinists have also not been left out…
We have travelled this road before. And it is as if tension and political upheaval have become part and parcel of the country’s evolution. In the early 1960s, there was so much confusion which gradually snowballed into a major conflagration in the form of a civil war that lasted for more than three years, with deaths and destruction on its trail.
From then on, a rash of military regimes followed. These regimes also had their down sides in the form of the many struggles of different bands of coup plotters to upstage and undo one another in the quest for political power. A halt was later placed on the activities of these soldiers of fortune when, in 1999, democracy or democratic governance was ushered into the country after many years of military interregnum.
One would have thought that our politicians have learnt some bitter lessons in the past that would prepare them for a better understanding of governance. But if we ever held this belief, today’s politicians have made nonsense of our democratic adventure by slipping into the old dog-eat-dog approach to power. At the moment, the country is beset by a wide range of intractable issues which, if not carefully handled and quickly doused, could lead the country to another major political conflagration.
In the first instance, the country has had an absentee president in the last 73 days or so. During this period, it is apparent that some evil-minded individuals have taken advantage of his absence to upset the country’s centrifugal force. And like the common refrain, ‘when the centrifugal force can no longer hold the periphery, things will certainly fall apart.’
It is clear to every discerning mind that we are gradually approaching the precipice. And to avoid the looming calamity, we all need to pray and pray hard. Besides, the troublemakers among us should think twice and put the interest of the whole country into consideration rather than narrowing everything down to their parochial interests.
It is clear that the uncertainty surrounding President Muhammadu Buhari’s health condition in the United Kingdom has given room to all manners of speculation and innuendo. Several rumours are flying all over the place and this is shaking the confidence of investors both within and outside the country. It is an open secret that the president has almost become a lone ranger in his fight against corruption. Even though he has been doing all he could to put a stop to the cankerworm, those around him, especially those his wife, Aisha and Senator Shehu Sanni recently tagged “hyenas and jackals”, seem not to be particularly interested in the crusade.
Now that the president is out of the country for treatment, political jobbers have turned the issue of his ill-health to a unnecessary distraction and political soap opera, instead of assisting in continuing with the fight against corruption….
Now that the president is out of the country for treatment, political jobbers have turned the issue of his ill-health to a unnecessary distraction and political soap opera, instead of assisting in continuing with the fight against corruption so that we can salvage this country. This is why those who can read between the lines have kept on saying that corruption is, indeed, fighting back. When you look at it critically, corruption in Nigeria has become so entrenched in our body politics that it may take many Buharis to entangle the country from it fangs.
The president left the the shores of the country on Sunday, May 8, for medical treatment in the UK and the nation was told that the duration of his stay in London would be determined by his doctors. Quite alright. The same president had earlier embarked on medical vacation in the same country in January and spent 49 days. Upon his return then, the president declared that he had never been that ill. This statement was in sharp contrast with what his handlers and top government officials had consistently sold to the public that he was hale and hearty.
So, when he left on this second wellness voyage, his detractors, mostly from the opposition party as well as some fifth columnists in his own party, went to town with a lot of conjectures. The result is that, today, the country is witnessing a lot of fractionalisation on all fronts: the executive and the legislature are at each other’s jugular; the hitherto peaceful herdsmen are suddenly on the rampage killing and maiming people all over the place; ethnic bigots and chauvinists have also not been left out as the Arewa youth and their counterpart in the South-East are also trading tackles; while the drumbeats of restructuring are louder than ever, etc.
As it is, all attempts to broker peace between the executive and the legislature, have so far, not yielded any tangible result. Instead, what we witness on a daily basis are accusations, counter-accusations, boycotts, threats and the issuance of inflammatory statements from both sides. As for the herdsmen who are up in arms against their host communities, it is a tell-tale of bloodshed never before witnessed at any time in the country.
As a result of this, many people have either been killed or displaced with their houses burnt to ashes and their economic well-being ruined. It is like a war on its own between the herdsmen and the pastoralists in many parts of the country, which is fuelling speculations that a new form of Jihad might be in the offing.
Who knows, Nigeria might be lucky yet again this time around because the country has a history of survival each time it is dragged precariously to the precipice. But then, the question is: Should we always overstretch the elasticity of God’s benevolence over us due to our inherent human foibles?
The same goes for the needless altercation between some radical youth in the Northern part of the country and their fellow countrymen from the South-East. The bone of contention is the incessant threat by some indigenes of the South-East, under the aegis of Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State Of Biafra (MASSOB), to secede from the country. Things came to a head towards the end of last May, when IPOB, under the leadership of the restless Nnamdi Kanu, who had just been released from months of incarceration, called his people to observe a sit-at-home to press their demand for secession. The exercise was largely successful in most parts of the South-East, as the roads were deserted on the appointed day.
The success recorded by the order might have infuriated the radical youth from the Northern part of the country who simply resorted to the Mosaic law of a tooth-for-a-tooth by issuing an ultimatum to the South-Easterners living in every part of the Northern states to vacate the North, effectively by October 1, 2017. Their argument is that since they are so desirous and desperate to leave Nigeria for their phantom Biafra, they should quicken their exit by severing all relationships with the North henceforth.
Since then, this issue has aggravated the tension in the land, as each group strives to hold on to their gun powder. Even though the initial ferocity may have reduced, there are still residual fears that come October 1, 2017, some die-hard Northern youth may decide to carry out their threat. Those who hold this belief are good students of history. They have not forgotten the pogrom that preceded the civil war in 1966 when Ibos were mercilessly massacred in the Northern part of the country.
The above issues and many more, including the wide and renewed clamour for restructuring the polity, have provided a platform for agitators in the country. And if there is any one group of people that is so worried about all these developments, it is the National Peace Committee led by former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar. The Committee met in Abuja on Monday, July 17, to deliberate on the latest developments in the country and proffer ways out of the quagmire.
Who knows, Nigeria might be lucky yet again this time around because the country has a history of survival each time it is dragged precariously to the precipice. But then, the question is: Should we always overstretch the elasticity of God’s benevolence over us due to our inherent human foibles? A word is enough for the wise!
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