By Emeka Alex Duru
It is necessary that we confess that the title to this piece is not original to us. It is taken from the last work of accomplished author and essayist, Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo, in which he made a thorough analysis of the missteps of successive administrations in Nigeria and how they landed the country in its current sorry state.
The work amplified some points earlier raised by Karl Maier in his book; “This House Has Fallen – Nigeria In Crisis”, where he painted the country as one in huge stress. Maier, who lived in Nigeria as Correspondent for a London newspaper, had likened the country to a battered and bruised elephant staggering toward an abyss with the ground crumbling under its feet. He warned that should the edifice fall, the impact will shake the rest of West Africa. The fears raised by Nwankwo and Maier are presently with us.
Nigeria is a paradox. It is an entity endowed with enormous human and material resources but has failed to get on its knees, over 60 years of political independence, due largely to the rascality of its leadership class. Rather than record significant success, the nation has been on reverse gear, with each dispensation appearing worse and sinking deeper than the previous era.
In all indices of measuring good governance, such as rule of law; health services; the social service delivery in areas of electricity, roads, education, employment and ease of doing business, Nigeria is virtually in deficit. The state of insecurity is particularly frightening. There is hardly any day that Nigerians are not being slaughtered in tens or hundreds, for one reason or another. Apart from armed gangs robbing and killing with relative ease, kidnappers have also been on the prowl. Because of the worsening security situation in the country, people are now living in perpetual fear as they are not safe on the highways and even in their homes.
It is this rising culture of insecurity, more than any other factor, that is rousing the question on the continued existence of Nigeria, as a country. And no matter how hard the leaders try to paint or bend things, the situation in the country, is dire. Except a few – just a few, who may be feeding fat on the remains of the carcass that the country literally represents, most citizens would rather not wish to be associated with Nigeria as their country.
Elsewhere, security of life and property, is listed as the primary function of government. But that cannot be said to be the case here. As we write, we are yet to know the number of Nigerians that may have been dispatched to their early graves, today.
Last Tuesday, just in a day, there were gory reports of bandits invading an Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camp in Benue State and slaughtering seven inmates. That was on the heels of the criminals killing a Divisional Police Officer (DPO), eight policemen and two vigilantes in Kebbi state. The same day, 19 people were killed in Igbariam Anambra state; abductors killed two students of Greenfield University in Kaduna state; hoodlums attacked Lagos state university and destroy several vehicles; gunmen killed nine persons around Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State; soldiers attacked at Amasiri, Ebonyi state; Police Area Command in Okigwe South attacked and five policemen killed. In Niger State, Boko Haram insurgents ran wild and hoisted their flag in Kaure area of the state.
The situation is indeed, scary. Gradually but steadily, we are losing it at all fronts. Any Nigerian who does not feel sufficiently concerned with the persistent drift of the country to the status of a failed state, deserves pity.
I had argued elsewhere on why Nigerian leaders must steer the country from the ominous path to Mogadishu. Mogadishu is the capital of Somalia. Somalia is an interesting case but a huge irony. This is a state with people of one religion, language, ethnicity, common history and ancestry. It has all the natural potential for greatness but has become a reference point for state failure. Many even consider it a collapsed state, with armed gangs in control of various sections of the country. The danger in allowing the situation in Somalia replicate here is that the existing complexities of the Nigerian state and its multiple fault lines, will make the Mogadishu debacle a child’s play by the time the bubble bursts. Sadly enough, Nigeria is approximating to this sorry curve.
There is no how this ugly story can be told without apportioning some blames to the present administration in the land. On its way to power in 2015, it had promised to make life better for Nigerians, refloat the economy, enhance the political space and widen the frontiers of democracy and individual freedom. But six years after, many Nigerians, including those that voted for the government or facilitated its path to victory are in various forms of regret. As if its low performance profile is not enough, the administration carries along with such nauseating arrogance that sells the impression that it does not really bother at how the people feel.
It rankles, for instance, that when the administration came to power in 2015, unemployment rate was a modest 8.2 per cent. It grew progressively worse to 13 per cent in the Q3 2016 to 18.88 per cent in 2017, 23.3 per cent in 2018, and 33.5 per cent in 2019, according to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports. The rate would have gone up by now. In other sectors, the situation is hardly different. For four years running, we have shared odious slots with Iraq and Afghanistan as the three most terrorised countries in the World. A report by an international organisation, the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI), has just placed Nigeria as the third worst governed country in the world. It ranked Nigeria 102 out 104 countries under survey, with a score of 0.319 points ahead of Zimbabwe and Venezuela. It is that bad!
So, when the government, humours itself that it is on top of the situation, Nigerians and the international community know that it is a lie. When its officials prance about claiming increase in standard of living for the citizens, they are readily mocked by statistics. The truth is that this house, called Nigeria, is falling.
A strategic plan is therefore needed to put a halt to the disturbing trend. As a way forward, the government must admit that there is trouble at hand and formulate policies to tackle it. The era of chest-thumbing and grandstanding, is clearly over.
It is time to let Nigerians make input on how the country should be governed. The bravado of embargo on discussions into the current skewed national structure, must give way for the realities of the day. The veil on negotiating an equitable Nigerian nation, should be lifted. The constituting units must be allowed to discuss the forms and modes of their existence with one another. The time for restructuring the country has come. That seems the only way to avoid the looming anarchy in the land.
* Duru is the Editor of the Niche Newspaper