E O EkeMonday, August 6, 2012



Continued from Part 3

The initiation of all wise or noble things comes and must come from individuals; generally at first from one individual. ……..Mankind speedily become unable to conceive diversity, when they have been for some time unaccustomed to see it’…….Human beings owe to each other help to distinguish the better from the worse and encouragement to choose the former and avoid the latter’. John Stuart Mills on Liberty.

‘There are many ways of doing the right thing, anything that does not recognise this, is autocracy, and the best way of doing the right thing has not been discovered’

n the book of proverbs, the Bible tells a short story of a poor man who was very wise. When his country was in trouble, his wisdom was needed. He offered it freely and the country was saved as a result. However, after the victory the government forgot him and did not offer him any reward or recognition. The Bible concluded that in spite of the fact that the poor, wise old man was not rewarded or recognised; that wisdom and knowledge are better than riches and that they are the principle thing in life. Unfortunately, when one sees the way Nigerians differ to money and wealth, and how we pursue these at the expense of ideas, and innovative thoughts; one would think that the bible is mistaken: that money and raw power are is the principle things in life.

Our world runs on knowledge. It is knowledge that produces the goods and services people buy with money. Without the kind of knowledge I am referring to, there will be only agricultural products to buy and sell. There would have been no motor cars, trains, aeroplanes, mobile phones internet, satellites etc. The Morden life would have been impossible without knowledge. Knowledge is the instrument with which people transforms nature and bendit to their will. Therefore he who has knowledge has the real power and knowledge is indeed, power. The West became rich through the discoveries it made and continue to make, and the values it holds dear and continues up hold. They maintain order by their respect for their laws and adherence to the rule of law. They are mindful of abuse of power and empower their institutions sufficiently to hold people to account. This is how they developed. These discoveries did not just happen. No prophet, pastor or Imam prayed to God to bless them. They did not develop by enforcing religious laws, cutting off the hands of thieves or subjugating women. They used the common sense God gave to every human being to determine, what is right, just and fair and decided to follow them. These created conducive environment for innovative thoughts flourish. They encourage freedom of thoughts and allowed the questioning of accepted truths and wisdom. They embraced the scientific process and were prepared to accept the questioning of their religious beliefs and traditions.

Germany, one of the most developed and richest economies in the world has no natural resources as such, but has become rich through investing in knowledge and innovations. They have given the world Mercedes Benz, BMW and Volkswagen cars to mention only but three. It is often forgotten that, security, liberty, inventions and innovations go together and that religiosity, autocracy, ethnicism and corruption also flourish together. Countries that develop are those whose citizens are free, its leaders honest and patriotic and which invest in knowledge and research, subscribe to the rule of law and liberty; and operate honest and accountable government.

This is because honesty and freedom bring self- belief and hard work, it encourages independent thoughts and innovation, and only truly free people can think and bring about lasting change. No nation can experience true development, when its people are not free. No people can claim to be free, when there is a set of dogmas regarded as truth which they must accept or face death. No country can achieve true development when its government is corrupt and insensitive to the needs of the people and serve the interest of a few depraved elites. No country will develop when its president a public servant, refuses to comply with rules about assets declaration and probity or turn blind eye impunity. No people can emancipate and conquer ignorance when its government fails to make the necessary investment in education and values that ensure and preserve human dignity, security, growth and liberty. Countries develop because they build civil societies instead of ethnic nations defined by sectarian prejudices. Countries develop because they build strong institutions and not because they produce ‘strong’ leaders. Perhaps, it is time for Nigeria to face the facts. In my life time as a Nigeria, I am yet to see a single Nigerian politician who changes his party or allegiance because of differences in political ideologies and or convictions. They all have, without exemption, approached politics with selfish interest as foremost which is the real tragedy of Nigeria.

Nigerian politicians often change parties or switch allegiances because they were not offered opportunity to contest a particular post. To them, politics is not about service to the people and building a strong and free nation, but about fulfilling a selfish ambition and feeding an over bloated ego rooted in greed and desire to control others. There is no evidence that they are team players or motivated by noble values, the type that motivated Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Kenneth Kaunda, Kwame Nkrumah Nelson Mandela, Patrick Lumumba Julius Nyerere and etc. This is perhaps why they are often consmed in intraparty squabbles. Rather they behave more like machineries who are in politics because of what they would gain and not out of convictions or something they are ready to give up their lives for. I have searched for the type of patriotism and loves of one’s country which I have seen motivates politicians in other countries but have not seen it in Nigeria. This lack of ideological convictions sets the average Nigerian politicians apart from many politicians in developed countries and people like Nelson Mandela. This would perhaps explain why they find exploiting ethnic and religious prejudices and differences easy ways of getting what they want without understanding that their action weakens the ties that bind the country together and primes it for demise. This is why they prefer to engage in teeth for tat fight for power, instead of reaching a compromise for the best interest of the country and people. Herein lays one of the main weaknesses of the Nigerian democratic experiment and one of the reasons why it has not evolved and now dithering on the abyss.

Nigerian leaders have consciously drawn a document that legitimises graft and injustice and protects criminals and law breakers. They carved out part of Ibo villages, renamed them and separated them from Igbo states because of the presence of oil. The current Nigerian constitution is one of the most fraudulent documents that legalises fraud and makes prosecution of corrupt politicians difficult, if not impossible. There is no constitution that has been amended the way the Nigeria constitution has been amended. The natural resources of the country are appropriated to the federal government in a way that satisfies the greed of those in power and impoverishes the ethnic nations on whose land they resides. The continued existence of the land use act, promulgated by the military regime is another feature of our aberrant democracy and an indictment of politicians who claim to believe in democracy and federal system of government. How can a government suddenly acquire ancestral lands that belong to people and then corruptly allocate them to a few in an unfair and unequal manner? The use of oil allocation is another unfair and fraudulent face of our democracy. These anomalies must be rectified if Nigeria will have a future. Government officials use government money to build what they call official residents, only to buy it at a thousandth of its real value. This is abuse of position of trust and corruption. This has been a constant feature of Nigerian politics and has to stop, if Nigeria will continue to exist in its current form. The very small corrupt elites who have ruled Nigeria since independence have reduced it to a failed state by their depraved values, ethnic and religious prejudices and greed. Few in Nigerian government think clearly, correctly and honestly. They prefer to prevail by force or bribery instead of by the force and coherency and logicality of their argument and position. They are operating by the rule of the jungle in a world where evolutionary development has exposed its primitivity and stupidity.

Nigeria is one of the most endowed countries in the world and potentially one of the richest. Today she is ranked 14 amongst failed states and more than 80% of its population live below poverty line. It has high rate of murder, violent crimes, infant and maternal mortalities. It means that Nigeria is not pulling her weight, but actually loosing what would make it a viable country. This is a very sad and unfortunate commentary on our country and people. The real questions are: why has Nigeria failed? Is there a remedy for a failed state? Is there any hope or future for the geographical entity called Nigeria? Are we living in the last days of Nigeria? What shall we do to avoid the circling vultures from feasting on our flesh as we descend into self-destruction in the battle to save a sinking ship and stop those who wish to abandon ship?

Nigeria urgently needs a government that will provide the leadership, wisdom, sense of belonging, unity of purpose and response this time demands. This is not a time for selfish political bickering or the jostling for post motivated by ethnic considerations. It is a time for courage to speak the truth people do not want to hear. Nigeria needs its bests from the north, south, east and west at this time, no matter who they are, and who does not like them; to survive. This is not a time to appease people by political appointments, but a time to ensure that the people with the right experience, honesty, sincerity and patriotism are found to fill strategic positions. This is a time for a government of national unity. This is our most intelligent option at this time. Failed states usually disintegrate, unless drastic steps are taken to steam the drift, Nigeria will disintegrate no matter who is the defence Minister, Chief of army staff, National Security Adviser. Nigeria will disintegrate no matter the politicians say or promise, if the government fails to take the right strategic decision and action this difficult situation demands. Nations rise and fall, not by the pronouncements of its leaders, but by the values they hold dear, defend and if necessary ready to die for. The question is, what are these values in Nigeria?

The north currently occupy the position of, the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of House of Assembly, Inspector General of police, Governor of Central Bank, National security Adviser and Chief justice of the Federation yet the country continues to deteriorate. This is very intriguing and raises very serious questions about the competence, commitment sincerity and patriotism of those currently at the helm of affairs in Nigeria. At the moment Nigeria has a government dominated by Hausa-Flulanis and Ijaws, yet cannot find its direction. This clearly shows that the problem is not the ethnicity of the leaders, but their incompetence, moral bankruptcy, greed and ignorance. The wrong types of Nigerians are in control and have been in power for too long, and Nigeria needs to elect competent, honest patriotic and intelligent and detribalised leaders to give it a future. Hausa-Flulanis, should elect competent people, and not appoint people because they come from royal families. Yorubas should elect honest and sincere people with national outlook and not because they believe in their supremacy, Igbos should elect leaders who believe in justice for all, not corrupt and will not sale the truth for money and not because they believe in Biafra and so on.

The currently skewed nation of Nigerian government makes nonsense of national character and suggests that there is a conscious plan by a particular ethnic group to hold on to power and dominate the rest. If not how come only people from the north are occupying the most important positions in Nigerian government? What about the Yorubas, Binis, Ibibios, Effiks, Ishekiris etc. Do they not have equal rights like the Hausa-Flulanis as Nigerians? Whatever happened to equal opportunity? It is obvious that there is a conscious effort by a group in the north to hold on to the most strategic posts in the country to consolidate their hold on power. Unfortunately, by doing so, they have exposed their incompetence, lack of patriotism and sectarian agenda because Nigeria is unravelling in their watch. The more of the important positions in the country usurped by the north, the worst the country has become. However, this will not stop Nigeria from unravelling. Nigeria’s future lies in all the ethnic nations that make up Nigeria embracing justice as fairness, equality, rule of law, true democracy and agree to change the status quo with the view to making it fair and equal. Our most likely scenario is the Syrian or Sudan example. The worst would be the Yugoslavia style disintegration in which the country would be consumed in an ethnic war and no ethnic group would win and then disintegrate after genocide has been committed. I will once again repeat that there are no winners in wars. Everybody loses in wars. Our future lies in a common peace founded on justice for all.

As the ethnic nations become more and more disenchanted with Nigeria, the government will be giving more and more excuse to use the security forces to suppress opposition like they did in Ogoni land, Niger Delta and against MASSOB, but has failed to do in Maiduguri against Boko Haram and in Jos against Fulani herdsmen. However, those who would be compelled to use violent means to seek self-determination will meet strong, decisive and brutal suppression by the government, which is why groups like MEND, MOSSAB and OPC are better off choosing democratic means for their struggle; if they have concluded that the new Nigeria offers them no future. The north is firmly in control of the security apparatus of the country at this time, and is single minded in using it to keep Nigeria one to maintain her undue and underserved advantage. The north's hold on the security apparatus explains why the attempt to bring the threat of Boko Haram poses to the security of the country is faltering. It has no intention of using its leverage to crack down on the Islamisists or address the injustices which I have outlined in this essay. Many of their ex-generals have said that much and they are not bluffing. All they want is a Nigeria where they will continue to get their oil blocks irrespective of what the rest of the people think. They covertly support Boko Haram but claim they do not know its leader, yet they resist the attempt to label the group a terrorist group by offering ridiculous excuses. They are prepared to go to war to maintain a unity founded on injustice, instead of fighting a scourge that is consuming all because it enables the government spend more money in the areas of the economy they dominate. Nigerians should study the relationship between the Pakistan Military, United States aids to Pakistan and the Taliban to understand what might happen or happening in Nigeria today.

This is what Nigerians and the current Nigeria leadership should realise, so that they can know what they are up against, in changing Nigeria for the better, before deciding on their strategy. When the citizens of a country, are openly calling their leaders criminals and corrupt, that leadership has lost credibility and failed. When the long suffering citizens of a country are openly articulating the injustice they are subjected to and rejecting it, it is the time for the government, no matter the strength of its army to listen to them. When innocent citizens of a country are attacked and murdered at will by a group with narrowly defined sectarian objectives, while the security forces deployed to protect them turn a blind eye, and the government incapable of providing the leadership and the reassurance the people need, that country has failed and must rethink its cooperate existence. History does not need to repeat itself in Nigeria. The failure of people to learn condemns them to repeat the mistakes that enable history to repeat itself. The big question which begs for response is, will responsible and patriotic , Igbos, Ibibios, Effiks, Tivs Ishekiris, Ijaws, Yorubas, Hausas, Flulanis, Ijaws etc., meet to discuss the best way of living together, or will each group retreat and regress into their primordial modes, to prepare for war of self-determination. in which there will be no winners?

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.