FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeFriday, July 20, 2012
eoeke@aol.com


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THE FAILED STATE OF NIGERIA (1)

irst they came for the communist,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,

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and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me
Pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)
And they did nothing.
When they came for the Igbos,
no one spoke out because they were not Igbos.
They took their properties,
burnt their houses,
killed their children’
and raped their women.
They beheaded their men,
and chased them away
from a part of a country
they call their own,
Then, they asked, why do they keep going back?
Then they came for the Christians
and no one spoke out because they were not believers.
Then they came for the Ogonis because of oil,
and no one spoke out, because they were not Ogonis.
Then they took the mandate of Abiola,
and no one spoke out because they were not Yorubas.
Then they came for the jaws because of oil,
and they said, Ijaws were militants
and no one spoke out.
Then they came for the Beroms,
cleansing their villages for cattle grazing ground
and they said, Berom man, can’t hold his land.
They asked, where the Beroms were,
when they came for the Igbos, Ogonis, Ijaws and Yorubas?
and they did nothing.
Now, no one speaks out against them,
For fear of, their jobs, the police, the army, national security and Boko Haram.
They claim they believe in one Nigeria,
but prefers to live under Sharia.
They claim the terrorist group was caused by poverty,
but provide Islamic bank for its prosperity.
They say it is not a terrorist group,
but want its leaders labelled extremists.
Soon there will be no need to speak out against, the pongrom, corruption and injustices
because everything would be what, Allah wants.

Eke 19 July 2012

The latest Failed state index published by the foreign policy magazine in collaboration with Fund for peace, ranks Nigeria 14th in a table where Somalia is number one and the first six countries are in African, and all coming before Yemen, Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, and Pakistan; which are ranked worse than Nigeria. In fact, of the first 14 failed states which scored above hundred in the index, ten are in Africa. Nigeria is rated worse than Niger, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Tanzania and many other countries which are much less endowed than her. A failed state is a country which is perceived as having failed at some of its basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. Below are some of the twelve attributes proposed by the Fund for peace to rank countries of the world, which I suppose are particularly pertinent to Nigeria;

1. Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples: forced uprooting of large communities as a result of random targeted violence and /or repression, causing food shortages, diseases, lack of clean water, land competition and turmoil that can spiral into large humanitarian and security problems, both within and between countries. Currently the activities of the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen in the north and particularly in Benue-Plateau region, provides the evidence that Nigeria satisfies this criteria. For some years the activities of MEND and the response of the government provided the evidence. The Government tactics also worsens this index. For instance, in order to address a random unpredictable attacks of villages in Plateau state, the Nigerian Special Task Force STF asked the inhabitants of the affected villages to evacuate the villages within 48 hours without the government first finding them alternative accommodation, means of livelihood and schools for their children considering that the people are farmers and the Fulani herds men wants their farm land to graze their cattle. Actions like this makes people to wonder on whose side or whose long term best interest the STF are out to achieve. Nigerian government treats the people less than Fulani herdsmen treat their cattle. At least Fulani herdsmen make sure they take their cattle to places they would find grass and are prepared to wage war against people to secure their future. How can a people have confidence in a government that treats them in such appalling, insensitive and inconsiderate manner? How can the President expect the ethnic groups being subjected to ethnic genocide to have confidence in a government whose loyalty seems to lie with the group that threaten it and its political party? How can a country protect a people attacked by unseen enemies by making them more vulnerable by internal displacement? This will make it easier for the group targeting them to organise an attack against them in the camps knowing that they are unarmed. Will the government provide twenty-four hours security in these camps? Am I the only person who sees the idiocy of this action? Berom people are now nothing but sitting ducks in concentration camps inside Nigeria where they are sitting targets for fulani herdsmen.

2. Legacy of vengeance- seeking group grievances: based on recent or past injustices, which could date back to centuries, Including atrocities committed with impunity against communal groups and /or specific groups singled out by state authorities or by dominant groups, for persecution or repression. Institutionalised political exclusion. Public scapegoating of groups believed to have acquired wealth, status, or power as evidence in the emergence of hate radio, pamphleteering and stereotypical or nationalistic political rhetoric. Nigeria satisfies these criteria because of its failure to address the injustices, and genocidal atrocities committed against Igbos by the Nigeria state during the civil war, against people of Benue by Nigerian army, protecting the interest of Hausa-Fulani oligarchy and the on-going terrorist attacks and ethnic cleansing of Igbos and northern minority ethnic groups (the Berons in particular in Plateau state) who are not Muslims and Christians in the north. The atrocities committed against Ogoni people both by the Nigerian army during their occupation of Ogoni Land and the failure of Nigerian government to tackle the massive oil pollution in Ogoni land and the rest of Niger delta Region. Even though, these groups are not seeking vengeance, but asking for justice, the fear that they may seek vengeance has continued to make the perpetrators to continue with the singular aim of supressing or rendering them incapable of resistance or vengeance. This is perhaps the logic behind the continued activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen in the north and the ominous silence of the political class in the north, their tacit and overt support for them, and their objection to labelling these groups terrorist groups by the United States. This action has resulted in the hardening of position of many ethnic groups fuelling the call for self-determination and the likely hood that these groups may engage in reprisal attacks that would engulf the country in a civil conflict. May be it is a deliberate tactics to provoke them into arm struggle so that they can find the excuse to use the army that is supposed to protect them to eliminate them like they did with Biafra.

3. Chronic and sustained human flight: both the brain drain of professionals, intellectuals and political dissidents and voluntary emigration of the middle class, growth of exiles/expatriate communities are also used as part of this indicator. Nigeria also has this feature which started more than 20 years ago and now has reached epidemic proportions. Skeletons of Nigerian youth who died in their flight from Nigeria litter Sahara desert. Foreign prisons are full of Nigerians who attempted to enter the countries illegally or engaged in crimes in attempt to escape the country.

4. Uneven economic development along group lines: determined by group –based inequality, or perceived inequality, in education, jobs and economic status. Also measured by group poverty levels, infant mortality, and education levels. The sustained policy of underdevelopment of Igbo states and the refusal by the government to build or maintain federal roads in Igbo state, especially in Abia state. The systematic denial of Igbo states of federal government institutions and investments, and the exclusion of Igbos from certain positions in the country especially police and armed forces until recently, just to mention but only few examples. I am sure that others can point to other ethnic groups that have been excluded from certain posts or marginalised in Nigeria. In addition, the unwritten rule that only a northerner national security Adviser and defence minister is acceptable to the north.

5. Sharp economic decline: measured by a progressive economic decline of the society as a whole (using per capita income, GNP, debt, child mortality rates, poverty levels, business failures). A sudden drop in commodity prices, trade revenue, foreign investment or debt payments. Collapse or devaluation of the national currency, and growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling and capital flight. Failure of states to pay salaries of government employees and armed forces or meet other financial obligations to its citizens, such as payment of pensions. All these would be very familiar to the average Nigerian.

Some Political indicators

6. Criminalisation and /or delegitimisation of the state: endemic corruption or profiteering by the ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representations. Includes any wide spread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and process. Nowhere in these indexes, has Nigeria failed more spectacularly or scored higher. The president of the country is resisting the public declaration of his assets as the constitution and code of conduct demands. The members of national assembly, governors and all politicians receive disproportionate pay which can be described as criminal. Governors appoint more special advisers than there are areas advice is genuinely needed. Nigerians have lost confidence in the police and courts. No one believes anything the government says and everybody agrees that Nigerian politicians are one of the most corrupt and unscrupulous in the world. Even corrupt ex-heads of states have joined the fry and have publically lamented that the (legislature) is full of people who behave like common criminals. This is probably because they have realised that the current government is more creative in their corruption and stealing more than them. In fact, a legislator has changed the definition of bribery in Nigeria and not one of his fellow law makers have spoken out against it. Such is the loyalty of legislators to their fellow legislators that they are forbidden from condemning corruption no matter the banality or monstrosity. Bribery in Nigerian does not include the receiving of money to alter official report in favour of the person who gave the money and even when video evidence is produced, the police consider it insufficient evidence to prosecute, if the accused is a politician from the ‘royal’ ethnic group.

7. progressive deterioration of public services: a disappearance of basic state functions that serve the people, including failure to protect citizens from terrorisms and violence and to protect essential services such as health, education, sanitation, public transport. Also using the state apparatus for agencies that serve the ruling elites, such as the security forces, presidential staff, central bank, diplomatic services, and customs and collection agencies. These are currently the norm in Nigeria. There are more policemen protecting politicians in Nigeria than are available for normal police duties. The civil service has been destroyed by turning it into an instrument in the hands of politicians by making the top post political appointment. Every change in the civil service since Babangida first attacked it, has been to increase the power of politicians over civil servants and bring them under their control to remove the valuable role they play in checking corruption and maintaining probity in public offices. Recently, the Christians Association in north Nigeria made a statement that they have lost confidence in the security forces to protect them from the activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen and gave notice that they would be compelled to seek means to defend themselves. They accused the security forces of complicity in the terrorist attack against them. The state of roads in Aba is another example of the collapse of public services. In countries with governments that are alive to their responsibility to the people, Abia state would be declared both a crime scene and disaster area, in view of the extent of corruption , abuse of power and impoverishment of the people and region; successive governments of the state have unleashed on the people.

Anybody who is still in doubt about the reasons why Nigeria was classified as a failed state should please look up the rest of the twelve criteria in the in Wikipedia or simply Google failed states. Ranking is based on a total of scores of the 12 indicators of state vulnerability- four social, two economic and six political. The indicators are not designed to forecast when the states may experience violence or collapse. Instead, they are meant to measure a state’s vulnerability to collapse or conflict. All countries that score above 30 show features that make parts of their societies and institutions vulnerable to failure. For each indicator, the rating are placed on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest intensity and (most stable) and 10 the highest intensity (least stable). The total score is the sum of the indicators and is on a scale of o-120. Nigeria scored 101.1. The best country remains Finland which cores 20. I believe that every Nigerian should read the twelve indexes of failed states so that they can understand what the developed world mean when they call Nigeria a failed state and do not use it as excuse to continue their ethnic nationalisms in the name of self-determination and the government can know how to respond and address the situation.

However, the characterisation of a state as failed remains controversial because the so called states often have governments which are struggling to find solutions to the problems that justify their classification as failed states. Nevertheless, as Ken Menkhaus of Davidson College in North Carolina wrote, “the last thing a kleptocrat needs is a good Judge or robust ministries that could be power base for rival robber barons. Where governments have become deeply complicit in criminal activities…..perpetuation of state failure is essential for the criminal enterprises to operate”. Nigeria has a National Executive Council full of corrupt ex-presidents who caused the mess we are in today and other equally elites who assisted them in their robbery of the treasury. They have all being conferred with Nigeria’s highest national honours, even though all they did was leave Nigeria worse than they found her. They do not have what it takes to change Nigeria. They are more interested in ensuring that they hold on to their loot and undeserved pay and allowances, than doing what it takes to change Nigeria. The council is not fit for purpose and should be disbanded. How can Babangida, Buhari and Obasanjo etc., be held accountable for their crimes against the Nigerian people and state, if they are members of the executive council?

Therefore, it would seem that it might not be in the interest of the Nigeria ruling elites to address the problems that locate Nigeria in position 14 on the failed state league table. It is also possible that what the Nigerian government would not do is to create a political, social and economic environment that would enable honest political players who would like to address the problems to emerge. This is the real dilemma and paradox of labelling a state as failed. Whereas those who are suffering from the policies and practices that maintain the failure see it as failed, those who are benefiting from its dysfunctions and criminality see so called failed states as paradises and would stop at nothing to oppose change. It is important to note that the failed state index and failure does not mean that there is no way back. Some years ago the West African state Guinea approached the United Nations for help because of the problems that made it to be classified as a failed state. Its honesty has resulted in it receiving help to address its problems. Nigeria can at least start by being honest with itself by acknowledging that it has a serious problem, instead of castigating those who point out the problems it must address to become a developed nation.

Nigeria should be concerned that it is labelled a failed state because it deters investors. No objective minded individual would examine the twelve indexes and not agree that Nigeria is indeed a failed state. Where people might differ is on what the right response should be. Many now believe that Nigeria should move towards more autonomy to the different region. This is a very attractive option as it would seem to be one of the few options that gives it a chance of still existing as a country in view of the problems I have discussed above and will discuss in future articles.

For a country so endowed in material and human resources as Nigeria, it would seem surprising, unfortunate and tragic that it should find itself in the position it is today. Startling as it may, it is possible to understand why it could not have done better. The rest of this article would discuss the human and socio-political factors that may account for this unfortunate turn of events and provide insight into what could be done to remedy the ills, and give Nigeria a chance of succeeding.

To be continued.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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