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OPINION: A desperate and disparate country

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OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

We are there, at the crossroads. We, all of us, in lockstep and with our eyes wide open have led Nigeria to a dire straits. In some other situations, mostly bad ones, we say to ourselves that Nigeria has happened to us. But in the issue of where Nigeria is, we happened to the country.

Nigeria had been disparate, incompatible and incongruous, from the get go or even long before its founding. Somehow the country has managed to remain one through guile, deceit, sheer force, conspiracies and desperate hope that its nations could be forged and fudged into a nation.

For those who nursed and nurtured the desperate hope that a nation would spring from Nigeria’s many nations, most did not contemplate that a Buhari would happen to, and on Nigeria in 2015. And then that he would remain at the topmost level of governance for seven years and going to eight.

The greater tragedy is that, going by all estimations and analyses, the extant regime of the All Progressives Congress (APC) political party has drawn Nigeria backwards by one generation or 30 years.

Under this President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari everything, almost everything, Nigerians thought were unthinkable have happened and are continuing to happen.

Our diversity has been used against us. Appointments to sensitive and critical national offices had been weaponised. The military appears to be the first option for internal security. Serving government ministers routinely and brazenly fork out N100 million Naira to purchase forms to contest for the office of the president without qualms. It’s a bazaar. Nobody is asking anybody any questions. And nobody is afraid of being queried for spending above their legitimate income. It’s a season of anomie. The country has surely gone to the dogs.

It has been so bad that within the last month, there had been desperate calls, suggestions and proposals on how best to rescue this sinking massive ship. Many segments of the society have come to the realisation and acceptance that Nigeria is dying in the hearts and the minds of many, probably most, Nigerians.

Within the month of April the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had called on Gen. Buhari to resign as president; the Yoruba sociocultural body, Afenifere had said that the country has been rudderless; while a very senior lawyer and a university founder, Chief Afe Babalola had proposed that the upcoming 2023 general elections be suspended and that an Interim Government should be emplaced at the expiry of the tortuous eight years of Buhari’s regime on May 28th next year.

Read also: OPINION: Why are ethnicity, zoning dominant issues of 2023 elections?

The desperation of Nigerians on the direction of their country is palpable and their despondency is now nightmarish. Whoever said that a country first dies in the hearts and minds of its citizens long before it starts losing portions of its territory must have had Nigeria in mind.

Some Nigerians who have the opportunity and the privilege have been voting with their feet, fleeing the country in droves. Professionals, artisans, skilled, unskilled, literate, barely literate and illiterate are in the mad rush for the exit.

Who will not in light of the dark diagnosis by local and international agencies of where Nigeria is and where it is headed. It’s foreboding.

What would you do when a group like Afenifere that speaks for a section of the Yoruba nation says that the President of our country has demonstrated lack of capacity to tackle the multifarious problems plaguing Nigeria. It says “the situation in the country is now so dire that there is an urgent need to approach the issue in a more decisive manner. In view of the seriousness of the situation and considering the fact that the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has shown that it is incapable and unwilling to tackle the identified problems, Afenifere hereby strongly advocate for a Government of National Unity (GNU).

The group said that the government of national unity it is canvassing should focus on three key areas- tackling insecurity, restructuring the country and birthing true democracy.

To highlight the desperation of Nigerians, Chief Babalola said the country would be better served by an Interim Government for six months after Buhari. He said talking about elections in 2023 for a country on the verge of collapse would be the height of collective national foolishness. For him the proposed interim government should take insecurity head on, deal firmly with the country’s failing economy and draft a new Constitution to fix our broken politics. He said that he “decided to talk because this country is now different from the one I used to know”. In the Nigeria he Advocates, lawmakers would receive allowances only in a parliamentary set up while the executive presidency system should be abolished.

But the Northern Elders Forum had no time for niceties. It was blunt and straightforward in saying that Buhari has sufficiently demonstrated incompetence and lack of capacity to deal with the problems confronting Nigeria.

For this group, Buhari should just resign and go home. And immediately too. Waiting for the end of his second term should not be an option. It said “Our Constitution has provisions for leaders to voluntarily step down if they are challenged by personal reasons or they prove incapable of leading. It is time for President Buhari to seriously consider that option, since his leadership has proved spectacularly incapable of providing security for Nigerians”.

Neither the calls for the President to resign nor the anxiety about the direction Nigeria is headed is new. Indeed NEF had asked Buhari to resign in 2020 over same reasons. The only difference now is that there’s an urgency in their tone because the situation of the country has deteriorated further.

But this regime is tone deaf. And its apologists and those who expect to benefit from the rot are still in the business of deflecting and minimising the country’s dire situation. They argue that restructuring is an amorphous proposition and an invitation to Nigeria’s break up. They are lying. And they know it. In like manner they have dismissed suggestions for interim government or government of national unity by claiming they would be unconstitutional. But countries have been known to take drastic and dramatic and unconventional actions when faced with “clear and present danger” as is the case with Nigeria today. The Doctrine of Necessity that enthroned Goodluck Jonathan as president over a decade ago was one of such occasions.

Nigeria of today is in worse shape than then and yet some of us are playing games.
Nigeria is not working. And doing nothing about it is not an option. Doing the same things we have been doing for years and expecting a turn around in the fortunes of this country would amount to living in a fool’s paradise. The day of reckoning for the minority across the board who have turned Nigeria into a vast killing field and crime scene may not be far off. The anxiety is that the collateral damage from the fight back of the dispossessed and long-suffering citizens could be frightening. But somehow this carnage on Nigeria must end.

AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha…


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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