FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeSaturday, August 18, 2012
eoeke@aol.com


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THE FAILED STATE OF NIGERIA (6) (CONCLUSION):
WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO CONFRONT THE PROBLEMS AND START TRUE NATION BUILDING

Continued from Part 5

remain persuaded that the attempt to locate all the problems of Nigeria in the north is simply projection; the use of one the most primitive defence mechanisms to deal with a problem. The rest of Nigeria cannot continue to blame the north for their corruption and stupidity. The north cannot stop any part of Nigeria from developing. It did not stop Sam Mbakwe from asking indigenes of the old Imo state to donate money to build Owerri airport and Imo state University in Okigwe. The north did not ask the Iboris to misappropriate fund meant for development of their states. The north cannot stop Jonathan from dealing with the problems of oil pollution in Niger delta and the social , economic , environmental and political problems created by the way and manner Shell has explored and drilled oil in the Niger Delta region. The north does not force anybody to be corrupt and use money meant for education, health and infrastructure development to buy private planes, armoured security cars, houses in Dubai, London, Washington and New York. The north did not fix the criminal remuneration of our legislators and does not force them to take it. Yes, the north is a big part of the problem, but not the only cause. If the rest of Nigeria did what is right, the effect of the intransigence, greed and sectarian attitude of the north would have been less and even more obvious.


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Nigeria can do better. We can make better use of the facts and evidence to arrive at a better solution to our problems. We do not need to act on our beliefs and prejudices. We can build a new Nigeria which finds solutions to the present problems and creates the right environment for those who are so inclined to pursue self-determination in a peaceful and democratic way and manner. When a land is infested with termites, it is wise to first clear it before dividing it into farm plots. Otherwise, every farm will have to deal with termite at some point and woe betide you, if the anthill is located in your farm. The problems that are destroying Nigeria exist in the north, south, east and west. Our best option is to first solve them together, so that if east, north south or west decides to go their separate ways, they can have a better chance of making it through a peaceful and democratic way and manner. The disintegration of Nigeria will only become inevitable, if we continue to neglect true nation building, fail to address institutionalised corruption and continue to turn a blind eye to injustices, impunity and ethnic and religious prejudices.

When the economic condition of Greece and Italy became very precarious, they appointed a caretaker government to put things in order. Greece now understands what it has to do to make things better and has elected a new government to guide them through this very difficult time in their history as a nation. Italy is still under a caretaker prime minister. He is focused on securing Italy’s future. With due respect, the current leadership of Nigeria does not seem to have what it would takes to save Nigeria. I think the Nigerian ship is worth saving and it requires the cooperation of patriotic Nigerians. However, unity cannot be achieved, if the north continues with its desire to dominate and have its way at any cost. We cannot have a united Nigerians if those who are behind Boko Haram and members of the terrorist group are not brought to justice, and victims of their crimes adequately compensated. Any peace brokered with Boko Haram which does not satisfy the victims of its atrocities would not last. The victims of the heinous crimes committed by Boko Haram would seek revenge and we would be left with a vicious circle of violence like the one in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

All ethnic groups in Nigeria will have to accept justice as fairness, equality of all before the law and tolerance, if Nigeria will survive. Nigeria urgently needs the present government to produce a credible and convincing action plan to right the ills of the country or make way for a caretaker government to put things right. We need to address the injustice of state boundaries. We simply cannot go on like this. Nigeria is not working and the state of our union is broken. We have people who are capable of fixing our problems. The west would benefit more from our demise. They would sale more weapons to three or so countries than to one. The countries coming out of Nigeria would be smaller and easier to manipulate. It would also seem that corruption would be more difficult to control, if the current people leading in Nigeria metamorphose as leaders in the new countries as they will have their experience in Nigeria to guide them. Just look around Africa, the smaller countries have dictators that are more difficult to remove. We need to wake up and save our country and future of our children.

Many African countries have responded to this state of affairs by military coup and giving the army more roles in government. Nigeria has experimented with this and found out that a corrupt and bad leader is the same whether he is in military fatigue, or flowing agbada. What we need is to urgently ask honest Nigerian to take over power in Nigeria and rescue the country or guide it through peaceful disintegration. This is one way to avoid a violent outcome. This is simply because our political system at this time is far too corrupt to throw up men and women with noble characters, vision and wisdom to rescue Nigeria. Nigeria needs it’s so called eminent leaders now, to rescue the country. The omen is not good. We currently have the level of violence that is seen in a country at war. Nigeria is world largest buyer of armoured vehicles and security equipment. Money that should have been invested in job creation and growing the economy is spent on security. We have fallen into the trap set by arm manufactures for developing countries. Our government is happy that an Israeli company is building a factory for the manufacturing of bullet proof jackets and other security equipment in Nigeria. Our president thinks that it is a great thing.

The fact could be that this company is selling so much security goods to Nigeria and has decided it makes economic sense for it to site the factory in Nigeria, knowing that the security situation in Nigeria will continue to deteriorate. Moreover, with the way Nigerian leaders think, and behave, that people would need more of their bullet proof jackets to stay alive. They have probably thought hard about it, and know that Nigeria would rather use its army to keep the country one than allow a peaceful disintegration or provide the leadership that would address the grievances that compel people to self-determination. They have most likely concluded that Nigerian leaders are too corrupt and short sighted, too ignorant, too religiously and ethnically prejudiced and gullible: to do what it takes to solve the Nigerian problem.

No foreign company invests in a country it does not have a future in. The behaviour of certain companies in a country can give an insight into the direction of the country and what the powers that be, thinks of its future. More arms producing and security companies may come to Nigeria; it is the clearest sign that Nigeria is very unstable and not a place for any reasonable person to go on holiday. The question remains, what has this company chosen Nigeria as location of its factory? Why is the company not investing in our utilities, transport, real estate, travel and tourism. How many foreign companies are in tourist industry in Nigeria? How many people choose Nigeria as a holiday destination? This is what shows how good a country is. America has a department that promotes America as a tourist attraction. What would the Nigerian minister of tourism tell the world to attract them to Jos, Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Abuja, Calabar, Port Harcourt or Enugu for holiday? These companies are saying, you guys want to kill your selves, ok, we will make some ‘bucks’ from you while your people die stupid deaths. Imagine a Nigeria where tourism is booming, the government accountable and less wasteful, and Nigerians in diaspora continue to remit the millions they send to Nigeria? Such a country would be awash with business and development.

If the armed producing company thinks that Nigerian government is capable of doing anything to reverse the trend in the coming years, it would not have sited a company in a country they recognise as failing. They know that there will be a huge market for their products in Nigeria in the coming years. The arm manufactures, who are the only one who benefits from the way Nigeria is running its affairs have decided to produce the arms we will need to kill ourselves in our country, to make it cheaper for them. Talk of maximizing profit. My people are indeed destroyed for lack of wisdom. What is wrong with the brain of black leaders? Does gaining power suddenly turn African men into monsters?

Even at this late stage, Nigeria can be saved. All it requires is bold and intelligent steps with determination to do the right thing. We may need to consider the following options:

  1. Forming a caretaker government and a national salvation council, made of distinguished, honest and patriotic Nigerians to produce a strategic plan to save the country.

  2. The president to confer with the national assembly and declare a five Years state of emergency and abolish the thirty six state structure and return Nigeria to six regions. During this period the government should implement aggressively the recommendations of the national salvation committee. We do not need thirty-six governors, thirty-six state Houses of assemblies and a national assembly that consumes 25% of our recurrent expenditures. They are a drain on the resources and many of the politicians, are no different from common criminals.

  3. Taking steps to enable Nigerian to elect people to write a new federal constitution that would see Nigeria divided into six geopolitical regions with regional police forces answerable to the minister of internal affairs and an independent police complaint commission with power to punish police men and the police force. It is very important that the current members of the national assembly do not write the new constitution or continue to amend it to protect their selfish interests. They are just too corrupt to resist the temptation to ring-fence their existing undeserved advantage and disproportionate remunerations. They are unlikely to accept measures that would reduce their powers or make them accountable to the law which are really what Nigeria needs. We need a new constitution written by those who believe in the rule of law and want to eliminate corruption and injustice from Nigerian. We do not need a constitution written by those who have benefit from a very corrupt Nigeria, do not see the evil of mega legislators pay, and think that taking money to influence or embellish a report or taking bank loan on behalf of the house and sharing it amongst themselves are not bribery and corruption.

  4. While the constitution is being written, Nigeria should immediately revert to regional government and establish regional assemblies and regional police forces. Nigeria cannot afford to give into the blackmail of governors to gain control of the police so that they can intimidate whoever they want. They are more likely to use the state police for evil than good, going by the evidence.

  5. The money saved from abolishing state governments, and assemblies should be invested in education, health and other social infrastructure.

  6. The government should produce open voters register and ensure the all Nigerian from the age of 18 register as voters. The government should also make it possible for people to register and vote on line if they are serious about ending rigging. Every voter can be given a pass word and once a person has voted he cannot access the voting site again.

  7. The electoral law should be reviewed to make it easier for independent candidates to run for offices. Members of political parties are not usually good at fighting corruption. Nigerian politics needs injection of independent minded patriots who would have no qualms about confronting corruption in all its ramifications. We desperately need Nigerians with moral back bone, integrity, that cannot be frightened, bribed or compromised with sexual favours.

  8. The post of the president would be rotated amongst the regions of Nigeria in such a way to ensure that each region recommends three people from its area from which the people will chose the president, and the powers of the president should be streamlined and the office made more accountable and cost efficient. We need to know how much the presidency costs Nigeria and end official corruption in form of security votes.

These are the things Nigeria must do, if it would survive the serious wounds the north through Boko Haram, and government corruption have inflicted on her. The danger remains that a sectarian group will use the activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen to declare unilateral independence from Nigeria which will force the Nigerian army to occupy the region and worsen the suffering of the people. (This was written before Ogoni declared independence and Bayelsa state launched their national anthem and coat of arms) . This will be the most stupid way for any group to extricate itself from Nigeria. Biafra tried, paid dearly for it, and failed. It would be sheer idiocy for any people to try it again under the circumstance.

Nigeria needs to invest aggressively in its social structure. Immediate implementation of payment of national unemployment benefit to enable government end oil bunkering and reduce crime is needed. The government should also focus on ensuring justice, liberty and security for all by introducing the over due reforms in our criminal justice system. We cannot continue to put ethnic and religious interest over and above national interest and succeed as a country. We need to urgently bring graft under control and lay the foundation for a culture of honesty and integrity in public and private lives. Ours is a country being destroyed by institutionalised corruption, religious delusions, and bad government; and the only solution is to fix them through enlightenment and pursuit of justice and liberty. Nigeria will become a lucrative market for arms manufactures as many other countries realise that we will go the way of fools because of our corrupt and ignorant leadership.

Bullet-proof jackets do not save from violent death or ensure security. They only save life if the person is shot with the kind of gun that does not penetrate it. In any case, the killer can always shoot his target in the head or neck. Nigerian government should wake up. Our security lies, not behind high razor sharp barbed wire walls, armoured cars and bullet proof jackets, but in good governance, respect for the rule of law, tolerance of diversity, prosecution of criminals, defence of people’s fundamental human rights and ending of government corruption. As long as Nigerians politicians remain corrupt, Customs officers and police men depend on bribe, and files go missing in ministries and appear when bribes are paid, Nigeria, will finally fail.

As I have argued elsewhere, Nigeria appears to be like a patient who suffers from deliberate harm. If the behaviour continues, the chances that the action of the patient will lead to his death remain high. Nigeria will destroy herself and those who are now agitating for an ethnic nation of their own will discover that children carry the genes of their parents and that their ethnic nations have inherited Nigerian’s self-destructive gene. Unless all the ethnic nations that make up Nigeria first join hands to sort out the current problems destroying Nigeria, no viable nation state will come out of Nigeria for the simple reason that today the disease that is killing Nigeria exists in all ethnic groups. Nigeria should first of all change the political system to enable the people choose honest leaders and set in motion affective system for addressing corruption before considering self-determination if we must disintegrate.

Our leaders should please read the hand writing on the wall and do what is necessary to save Nigeria. Our country has no reason to fail. We urgently need to get rid of our failed leaders by lawful means to save our country. I hope that history will be kind to us. To whom much is given, much is expected. God does not destine human beings or countries to succeed or fail; outcomes are determined by the choices people make and what they make of the opportunities they have. I rest case on Nigeria.

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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