Fifty years is always a milestone anywhere in the world, though I have tried to investigate – but failed to understand – why people look forward to being fifty. It must be because they most likely will not do a second term of it.
And so it was at the venue of one of those “fifty is nifty” celebrations that politicians and the so-called statesmen dusted their phrasebooks and re-activated their oratory modes. The event was meant to be. Those who know the chairman of Leadership Newspapers Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah, should not be surprised that he rolled out the drums on his fiftieth birthday. Actually, the previous high profile outing he celebrated, when he was turbaned the Kakakin Nupe (mouthpiece of Nupeland), was even more elaborate than what happened on Tuesday at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
But the Abuja event would always grab more headlines than the Bida cultural funfair. Tuesday’s event turned out to be a political birthday, no thanks to the mess we’ve found ourselves in as a nation.
As I reflect on what speaker after speaker harped on at the event, I can’t help but wonder why so many problems were enumerated without a single solution proffered. It is only fair for me, at this juncture, to warn that this article will carry elements of what some may term sentimental and judgemental. And I’m not sorry about it at all.
We the citizens of Nigeria may not know what President Goodluck Jonathan knows about Boko Haram. Of course, we don’t receive intelligence reports as he does. However, whether the National Security Adviser (NSA) Andrew Azazi was quoted out of context or not, Nigerians don’t need a crystal ball or any octopus – living or dead – to confirm the truth in what he said in Asaba. We’ve heard about how Boko Haram was a ‘harmless’ religious sect providing spiritual direction for the former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff. We’ve heard tales of how he defaulted in the arrangement and incurred the anger of the group. Haven’t we read newspaper advertorials in which Sheriff, Danjuma Goje (former governor of Gombe and current senator) and Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State tendered unreserved apologies to Boko Haram? The group has since grown to be the nation’s singular most threatening element; and this growth became unprecedented immediately after the last general elections which unbalanced the PDP zoning equation. Doesn’t the NSA’s statement make sense to us?
Unfortunately, all the chairman of the event at Nda-Isaiah’s birthday, General TY Danjuma could say was that “Nigeria is on fire”. I was tempted to ask the retired general who set the fire, but for fear of the obvious response that the Jonathan’s administration has failed in all ramifications. Yes, Jonathan has failed, and I was one of the few “southerners” who felt and said this before he was elected. However, it wasn’t Jonathan’s failure that set the fire Danjuma was referring to. Rather, it was the president’s emergence in the first place. And then we ask: What is wrong in Jonathan emerging as president? Again, we go back to the vintage statement by the NSA.
Why is it very convenient for northern leaders to point accusing fingers when they themselves had failed more woefully? What notable efforts have the northern elite put into stemming the Boko Haram tide? The other day in Kaduna, at the Arewa Elders’ Forum meeting in response to the insecurity in the North, all they did was to identify the problems without proffering solutions. They said poverty, unemployment, bla bla bla triggered Boko Haram. If I may ask, how many jobs have they created for their hugely illiterate and poverty-ridden population? Their governors want more federal allocation, but what have they done with the one they’ve got so far? As I write, Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State just returned from overseas, where he had been since he won the last gubernatorial election few months ago. How can such a state wash itself clean of breeding societal vices? Yet, when it happens they want us to be Nigerians in it together.
Our togetherness becomes fruitful only when they are disadvantaged. Like now that they have not produced the president, they’ve succeeded in unleashing Boko Haram on us all and want us to bear it as Nigerians. If truly the sect is fighting the government, how come they bomb churches, kill innocent Nigerians, target media houses and schools? Does government dwell in those places? You went to where worshippers were serving their God and killed, among others, three professors from the south and you say you are fighting the government? Of course they are too illiterate to know the consequences of killing three professors in an underdeveloped country. Those were three generations killed in one!
Yet, it doesn’t make the headlines when yandabas and al-majiris in Kano rape and kill an innocent lady for dressing provocatively. It doesn’t call for a jihad when a teacher was lynched in Kano because her student, who she prevented from cheating during exam, accused her of manhandling the Quran. What are we talking about here?
Many faulted the late Obafemi Awolowo for saying he was first a Yoruba man before was a Nigerian. But in truth, is this forced marriage called Nigeria worth the sweat? If the northern leaders were first Nigerians before they were Hausa, would there be Boko Haram and all they could do is fold their arms? Would there be Boko Haram killing innocent people if General Buhari had won the last election? Abeg, abeg...
Like I told a friend recently, President Goodluck Jonathan’s incompetence and failure have made stars out of hitherto failed politicians, especially from the north. With the exception of a few, northern leaders should keep their mouths shut and do what should be done to safe Nigeria – if there exists anything like that.
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