Temple Chima UbochiMonday, December 9, 2013
Bonn, Germany




Continued from Part 10

The issue of poverty is not a statistical issue. It is a human issue (James Wolfensohn)

Powerlust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind (Ayn Rand)

It is not power itself, but the legitimation of the lust for power, which corrupts absolutely (Bertrand Russell)

Their insatiable lust for power is only equaled by their incurable impotence in exercising it (Winston Churchill)

hings were in a state of flux this past week, as many have coincidentally boosted this writer’s points, in this serial, with what they have said. In the penultimate part of this article, this writer wrote that the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, said that 100 million Nigerians are in destitution. Then, the presidency quickly blasted the World Bank, arguing that "Nigeria does not have 100 million destitutes". But, The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) on Monday December 2, 2013, confirmed it that about 100 million Nigerians are poor. The Corporation’s Director of Research, Policy and International Relations Department, Dr. Joseph Afolabi, while delivering his paper titled: Sustainable Banking in Nigeria: The Journey So far, said that the 100 million Nigerians represent 61 per cent. Quoting National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) source, Afolabi stated that about 84 per cent of Nigerians earn less than $2 per day. He added that about 68 million unemployed youths were recorded in 2011 (Sun Tuesday, December 3, 2013). Summarizing what Afolabi said, it then means that more than 100 million Nigerians are poor, because, if 84 percent of the population (out of 170 million) live on less than $2 per day, then we should be talking of about 139 million Nigerian destitutes. So, why did the presidency call for the World Bank chief’s head, when what she said was an under-estimation as confirmed now by a director of a federal government corporation?

After the publishing of the preceding part of this article, a reader, studying at a university in Cyprus, wrote me (this writer). Part of his mail read: “Hello Temple Chima Ubochi. Hope you’re doing great? I want to ask you a question; if there is economic problem & insecurity in Nigeria, my question is (1.) What has the Nigerian state done in tackling the security crises it is currently facing? (2.) What is the solution to this security problem? Please throw more light and emphases to these questions”. This was part of this writer’s reply to the above mail:

“Remember that some northern elites sworn to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Jonathan, if he becomes president in 2011. They have done that, but, Jonathan is afraid to arrest those behind the Boko Haram menace. He knows them, but, he wants to only face the terrorist group without facing their sponsors. The president should reveal their identity to Nigerians, if he has the liver. Remember that General Azazi, who was the National Security Adviser (NSA), accused some northerners of being behind the Boko Haram menace, he was relieved of his job, and few months later, he was killed in a military helicopter crash along with Governor Yakowa of Kaduna State, the first Christian to be the governor of that state. Unemployment and the hardship in the land make the recruitment of willing terrorists easier. So for the government to handle the insecurity in the land; in addition to the military onslaught against the terrorists, which will be inadequate, the government should tackle unemployment, poverty, ignorance and disease. A busy mind would be hard to convince to join the terrorist organizations, but, when poverty, ignorance and disease stare many Nigerians in the face, convincing them to join forces against the people and government of Nigeria becomes only a heart beat”. Just as the Dalai Lama (1935) said that “The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger and so on, are human-created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share”:

Just as Bertrand Russell (1872 –1970) wrote, “Religions which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the “ascetic””, and also, as Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828 –1910) wrote, “In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness but with qualities that are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning and cruelty”: This above mail conversation, with a reader in Cyprus, has led this writer to dabble into the insecurity in Nigeria again, after writing elaborately about it previously. There’s no way to divorce insecurity, poverty, unemployment and destitution in Nigeria from one another. One leads to the other, and the primary cause of them all is corruption. Boko Haram is unleashing more and more mayhem in the north-eastern part of Nigeria; the latest being its attack on military formations and police stations in Maiduguri. It has been alleged that sabotage, by some members of the security forces and police, led to the successful bombing of those formations and stations by the terrorists.

Just as Bertrand Russell (1872 –1970) noted that “men who allow their love of power to give them a distorted view of the world are to be found in every asylum: one man will think he is the King, and yet another will think he is God”: Sequel to the point that some northerners are fomenting insecurity to make Nigeria ungovernable for president Jonathan: One ethnic bellic, Junaid Mohammed, who was a Second Republic member of the House of Representatives and Russian trained Medical Doctor, declared that blood would flow on the streets of Nigeria, should President Jonathan insist on running for the presidency in 2015. In an interview he granted The Sun few days ago, Junaid Mohammed said: “Quote me, if Jonathan insists on running, there will be bloodshed and those who feel short-changed may take the warpath and the country may not be the same again. His running will amount to taking about 85 million northerners for a ride and that is half of the country's total population. So, there will be bloodshed. But we don't pray to get to that level, before his ethnic and tribal advisers pull him back”. Reading such senseless threat, this writer wonders why the security forces haven’t picked that northern bigot for questioning, because, it seems he knows what so many of us don’t know. He should be kept under constant surveillance till 2015, and if by then, as he threatened, any bad thing happens, he should be made to pay a price for it. This ethnic scoundrel should tell us who the Boko Haram sponsors are. He was among those who also threatened fire and brimstone in 2011, if Goodluck Jonathan submits himself for the presidential election then, and now, they have made good on their threat. This writer still questions why people like him are walking free and overheating the already charged polity? Just as an Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, has also threatened to sue security agencies if, within seven days, they fail to question Dr. Junaid Mohammed and others for making inflammatory statements threatening national security. Ajulo said "with growing insecurity in the country, a call by a citizen for more bloodshed in 2015 is nothing but a coded language, targeted at a particular set of persons to be ready for war. This should be viewed very seriously by our security agencies. I call on the Inspector General of Police, the Director of State Security Service and other security agencies of government to look into the underlying messages being passed across to insurgents by some individuals. For those who wanted to stop President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, there are modus operandi, as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as it related to changing an elected president of the country. President Jonathan was qualified to run for the office of president in 2015; he may not enjoy the right if he is disqualified by a court of law in Nigeria or voted out at the poll by the electorate. It is, therefore, my humble view that statements threatening war and bloodshed is an affront on the collective intelligence and well-being of Nigerians and, in sane climes, such provocative utterances will not go unpunished or uninvestigated".

Col. Abubakar Umar (1949), a former military governor of Kaduna State, one of the few detribalized and upright northerners, a man who has a pedigree, a hardihood and a person who would get this writer’s vote any day he wants to be the president of Nigeria, in an interview granted to the Punch, said that Nigeria is facing its security challenges such as Boko Haram insurgency, kidnapping, robbery, oil theft, Niger Delta militancy, phenomenal piracy on our seas and youth restiveness. He also added that a new development, which we are not paying attention to, is the Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes that are engulfing the northern part of Nigeria. Cattle stealing have led to many deaths in that part of the country.

Just as Bertrand Russell (1872 –1970) noted, “much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power”, the Boko Haram onslaught is caused by lust for power. Col. Umar posited: “It is difficult to know how to solve a problem if one doesn’t know the cause. In the case of Boko Haram, for example, it is very difficult to understand the inspiration of their dastardly acts. What could have made a person approach some people to engage in the killing of innocent school kids? Why are innocent people being slaughtered? Where is the religious justification for throwing bombs at churches and mosques; killing and maiming worshippers? Such acts are senselessness and irrational. There are some supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan who believe that the Boko Haram insurgency is the creation of some northern politicians, claiming that they threatened to make the country ungovernable for the President; that it’s the punishment for his failure to abide by the Peoples Democratic Party’s zoning agreement, which denied the North the presidency. There was war during his (Jonathan) completion of late President Musa Yar’Adua’s tenure and you’ll agree that this war still persists, with the heavy impact of the insurgency of the socio-economic life, particularly in the north-eastern part of Nigeria where there has been a state of emergency in the past six months. There are some northern politicians who benefit from the insurgency. One can generalise by saying that our security challenges are as a result of corruption at the centre. For example, most of the Boko Haram members are youths that could have been valuable to the country; they have nothing to aspire to and nothing to lose. As James Baldwin (1924 –1987) rightly observed, the most dangerous person is he who has nothing to lose. When we say there is so much deprivation, anger, insecurity, and we find them very strange, the Boko Haram members are used to it. It is a way of life to them, which they want to fight. When we look at the Niger Delta militants, they were chaps that were unemployed and they watched helplessly how their oil resources were being cornered by irresponsible, greedy, reckless and immodest elites. When they (militants) saw the kind of structures in Abuja, they envied the elites who had such structures and resorted to self help through militancy, oil theft and so on. Of course, in our kind of democracy, about 70 per cent of our oil revenue is devoted to recurrent expenditure; it is devoted to indolent public servants, 85 per cent of which is for salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly. You remember that (the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria) Lamido Sanusi had to confront the lawmakers. The solution is good governance. Our politicians should be more responsible and bring down the level of corruption. No country can survive with the prevailing rot in Nigeria. It is a major cause for concern. Unfortunately, all our efforts at confronting the security challenges are breeding more insecurity in the sense that if we deploy security forces, especially at the roadblocks, they demand and accept bribes and let you go. When you look at the number of security operatives doing this, you see that it is going to be very difficult to address the security challenges”.

As this writer was thinking along that line, help came from the former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. AbdulRaman Dambazzau (rtd), when he, few days ago, at the 11th Convocation Lecture of the Igbinedion University in Edo State, blamed insecurity in some parts of the country on weak policing institutions, including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), calling for a "total reform of the security system" to tackle terrorism, which he said, requires a multi-dimensional approach. Dambazzau noted that the military, in an effort to secure and rescue the country from the shackles of insecurity arising from the high level criminal activities, has also joined in policing the country and, by so doing, has "taken over the responsibility of the police force", a development he described as an aberration. Dambazzau expressed disappointment that the various law enforcement agencies have not been able to successfully tackle insecurity in Nigeria, stressing that even with the state of emergency declared and the cutting off of the General System of Mobile Communications services in the Boko Haram ravaged states of the North-East, there are still security lapses, blaming the situation on police inefficiency. In his words: "It is safe to assume that the rates of these crimes are growing higher, while there is no capacity for effective policing. There is a growing concern over the efficiency of the Nigeria Police and the effectiveness of current law enforcement strategy. We need to have a professional policing outfit that is well-trained, equipped and funded to carry out law enforcement and other tasks critical to the security of any nation. The public has a lot of distrust in the police to the extent that people would rather not report their complaints to them; and sometimes, individuals take the laws into their own hands because they simply do not trust the police. There is the urgent need to re-examine the recruitment policy that would ensure strict vetting or background checks for potential recruits. At every level of their career, training must be continuous, including such specialised training in criminal investigations and forensic science".

Just as Washington Bailey (1818 –1895) wrote then in his Speech in Washington DC, commemorating the 24th anniversary of the Emancipation that “ Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe”: The former army chief, Gen. AbdulRaman Dambazzau, made an incontestable point there when he observed that Nigerians have refused to believe in the call for unity in diversity but rather, since independence, "we have indeed regarded Nigeria as either a mere geographical expression or the mistake of 1914. After over 50 years of independence and about 100 years of the North and South amalgamation, we are still grappling with the idea as to whether or not Nigeria is real”.

In order not to digress afar, and then lose sight that this article hinges on unemployment, it’s worth noting that long-term unemployment may accelerate ageing in men as research has found that Men who are unemployed for more than two years show signs of faster ageing in their DNA.

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To be continued!





Continued from Part 10