The Make Or Break Decade For Nigeria Is Here, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
Right now, we not only need an intelligent constitution purged of ethnic and religious supremacy, we need a national democratic agreement on how sustainable development can be navigated in this make or break decade. Nigeria is imploding in slow motion because it is fielding its third-eleven in politics, unlike in the creative industries.
As the country gets ravaged from within and from without, it is very important to take a dispassionate look at the “settlement” that ended military rule in 1999. That consensus has broken down. By settlement, I am referring to the hurried hand over from the military to their civilian wing in 1999, after the death of Abacha. At the time, there was the semblance of a common purpose. In return for an amnesty for the corrupt military elite, the consensus was that there would be a democratic government, no matter how deformed. The settlement ensured, sadly for the country, that an Argentine type “Trial of The Juntas” after the “Dirty War” was avoided.
The transition to civil rule in 1999 was unlike none before it. There was no constituent assembly nor was there time to form real political parties. In 1977 to 1978, proper political parties with well worked out manifestoes – like the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) and many others – emerged. There were real ideological configurations among the political parties of that era. In contrast, 1999 threw up a hodgepodge of strange formations, as the military retreated into the barracks. The nature of that transition is the reason why we have these laughable political formations masquerading as parties. Unfortunately, they cannot give the country a roadmap for the future. To progress, the country must fashion a new agreement to rekindle hope in whatever is left of this republic.
Apparently, the settlement has clearly exhausted the limits of its possibilities, after the death of President Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who had shown some promise. Right now, we not only need an intelligent constitution purged of ethnic and religious supremacy, we need a national democratic agreement on how sustainable development can be navigated in this make or break decade. Nigeria is imploding in slow motion because it is fielding its third-eleven in politics, unlike in the creative industries. A national democratic agreement can only come into play by forging a pan-Nigeria alliance of like minds across the length and breadth of the country.
Lacking in intellectual preparation and worn down by infirmity, Buhari is clearly better suited to be a colonial era type governor-general or a ceremonial president. Abba Kyari and Mamman Daura have, like the proverbial lizard, crawled in through the crack in the wall. It is not just on security issues; they are everywhere. There are rumours of foreign exchange racketeering…
It is painful to accept but it is beyond telling that President Buhari has been a colossal disappointment. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus engaged Cassius in a conspiracy against Octavia and Mark Antony, as they fought for control of the Roman Empire. He said: “There’s a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries.” This quote is a fitting metaphor for seizing opportunity. 2015 was high tide for us as we elected Buhari with so much euphoria, pomp and ceremony. We went gaga, while sold on his hyped “integrity”. We felt our messiah had come. If he wasn’t the messiah, he would be John the Baptist, so we thought. Despite the tremendous goodwill, Buhari worked very hard and conspired to fail. His performance on all fronts has been a dismal failure. He ushered in a new regime of mediocrity and ethnic chauvinism. His administration has been a study in inefficiency and rank hypocrisy. The name Buhari has taken on the taxonomic reference for loss of opportunity and failure.
Under Buhari, Nigerians are getting picked off highways like locust and slaughtered on their farms. Venturing out of state capitals has become a nightmare. As I was putting my thoughts for this article together, the national security adviser (NSA), Major General (rtd.) Babagana Monguno’s letter on the security situation and the meddlesomeness of Abba Kyari hit! Ordinarily the “exclusive” by PREMIUM TIMES should have been a bombshell. Unfortunately it is being met with an air of resignation. The conventional wisdom has for years been that the chief of staff, Abba Kyari, is Buhari’s Svengali, who controls his very thought and (in)action. I was the first to call him “President” Abba Kyari for his role. For those in doubt, the body language and indiscreet whimpering of Aisha Buhari has clearly indicated that the chief of staff and the éminence grise are in full control of the president. Just as in the film The Manchurian Candidate, the Russians in the period of the Cold War put a stooge in the White House, the revamped Kaduna Mafia have captured a validly elected occupant of Aso Rock. The script is unfolding!
Lacking in intellectual preparation and worn down by infirmity, Buhari is clearly better suited to be a colonial era type governor-general or a ceremonial president. Abba Kyari and Mamman Daura have, like the proverbial lizard, crawled in through the crack in the wall. It is not just on security issues; they are everywhere. There are rumours of foreign exchange racketeering, arbitrage and corruption all over the place. The NSA is clearly exasperated; he will have to grin and bear it – nothing is going to change. Nigeria does not have a deep state or a military industrial complex, as first revealed about the U.S.A by President Eisenhower, in 1958. A deformed state like Nigeria has not reached that level of sophistication. What we have is a committee of public safety led by an entitled duo. The service chiefs take Kyari seriously because he is the real McCoy. Babagana Monguno is NSA in name only. The committee of public safety, who have no clue about military strategy and tactics, conventional or unconventional, are in full control. Whether we like it or not, the reversals will continue till 2023. It seems to every onlooker that economic interests is interwoven with a half-hearted war on an ill-defined insurgency. That is why there is no discernible strategy to win the war and end the loss of lives and property. I am sorry, Monguno’s cry is absurd. He is not relevant. Sadly, Kyari and company will do whatever they want with him and us. They do not want to risk a change of service chiefs because it could erode their sphere of influence.
From the converging chaos, it is clear that the Buhari sideshow is descending, as Marx said of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, “from tragedy into farce”. People must start calling for a new replacement for the 1999 settlement now. If Nigeria erupts in flames, these folks are old in their late 70s or 80s. They don’t have much to lose.
All said and done, Nigeria is behind in a race against time. I don’t know how it can be done, given that those in charge are tone deaf and they do not care. But for what it is worth, a replacement of the outdated settlement of 1999 must be worked out now. We need a genuine programme to emphasise production and make the country an export-oriented economy, ready to compete in the fourth industrial revolution. We have a very short time to rescue Nigeria.
From the converging chaos, it is clear that the Buhari sideshow is descending, as Marx said of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, “from tragedy into farce”. People must start calling for a new replacement for the 1999 settlement now. If Nigeria erupts in flames, these folks are old in their late 70s or 80s. They don’t have much to lose. They will spend a few years in London and die there, while United Nations peace keepers will ration biscuits and soup to you all. This is the time to speak up. Do not sit on your hands hoping “e go better”. This people no send o! If you don’t cry for your beloved country now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.