11 Jul 2016
Which Way Nigeria?
These days if you are Nigeria’s neighbor, you go to sleep with one eye open. That is the same with some people living within the territory of Nigeria. This is a country that emerged in the seventies from a bitter civil war as the most promising melting pot of Africa’s hope and aspirations. The oil boom, an Afro-centered foreign policy, relatively functional institutions and religious tolerance characterized a country that was envied by many an African. Few in Nigeria today can remember that one US dollar in the early eighties was 60 kobo or 60% of one Naira. Today you will need a bag of about 280 Naira to purchase only 1 USD!
According to Nobel Prize laureate Wole Sonyinka, ours is a wasted generation. It is indeed painful for us to be witnesses to the slow destruction of African countries that are blessed with abundant natural and human resources by inept and corrupt governments. Nigeria’s situation is of utmost importance because of the size and complexity of her population and economy. If something serious were to happen and Nigeria starts falling apart, it will send a multidirectional destabilizing tsunami that will overwhelm the whole West and Central African Sub Region.
That is why it is necessary to cast a watchful eye on developments in Nigeria especially which direction the anti-corruption drive of president Buhari is going. During the course of four decades, corruption had become a principal tool of governance. It had infiltrated all facets of life to the extent that it was threatening the country’s very existence. Outlaw groups have been able to acquire sophisticated weapons and rain mayhem on the rest of society. Today, the Nigerian state does not monopolize the means of coercion. Boko Haram, MEND, NDA and other groups lurking in the dark share this privilege with the government.
Nigeria embraced Western capitalist democracy but greedy and spineless politicians gradually turned it into an ethno-religious pseudo-bourgeois klepto-democracy. Whenever it was the turn of their partners- in- crime (the khaki boys) it was also governance by graft. So has emerged a clique of opulent and avaricious Nigerians who are completely disconnected from the millions of suffering masses. The attempt by the Buhari administration to ask for accountability from alleged looters has met with what Nigerians refer to as ‘Corruption fights back’.
Why do you think the courts will expedite action on the various cases of graft before them? It is obvious that the lawyers and associates within the judiciary will prefer that these cases drag on as long as possible. That is the only way they can get their own piece of the pie from the Sarakis and Badehs of this world in the form of legal fees etc.
It is in the light of these worries that we watch with concern the flare up of violence in the Niger Delta. As militants blow up oil installations and pollute the environment in the process, Nigeria is bleeding economically and social cohesion is weakening. In 2011 UNEP estimated that for the past four decades in the Niger Delta about 546million gallons of oil had spilled on an area of 600sq.miles and it will take 30 years and cost $1 billion to clean it up. We are now in 2016 and the spilling is being accentuated by militant activities. As Nigeria slides into recession, social tensions can trigger unrest that will come to exacerbate the already saturated security challenges. This is the worst moment for Niger Delta militants or any other militant group to confront a government that is on thin financial resources and is already bogged down with Boko Haram
We hope that by some miracle, patriotic consciousness will steer Nigerians away from the path of auto destruction.
Njei Moses Timah