By Bolade Omonijo
Raising the alarm is not always a bad idea. On certain occasions, it is good to point attention to dangers ahead when those placed in position of authority are too engrossed in taking care of self interest that they could jeopardise the collective interest.
This, indeed, is a perilous time; a time when no one seems to bother about the health of the nation and the country seems to be on autopilot with the attendant dire consequences. I am not an alarmist, nor do I believe in sensationalism, but the whole truth must be told.
Is the Nigerian nation about to prove Campbell right? Is the state about to disintegrate? If the current trend continues, how long can the state last? Many have argued that it is wrong to say Nigeria has failed, but they are quick to admit that it is failing. Almost all agree that the quality of leadership has progressively declined over the years and that the current set is the worst we’ve had in the past 51 years.
The Fund for Peace came up with a checklist of features of a state considered to have failed. They include: Loss of control of territory; loss of monopoly of the agencies of coercion; inability to provide public services and inability to interact with other states in the international community.
On the other hand, the Fund describes a failing state as one with a weak and ineffective central government; one where there is widespread corruption; non provision of public services; involuntary movement of people and one witnessing sharp economic decline.
The question is, where would you classify Nigeria? Index of Failed States attempted to help in answering the question. Of the 177 countries surveyed, Nigeria, in the past five years has been identified as one of the top 20 worst cases. For 2011, Nigeria was ranked 14th, maintaining the spot it earned the previous year. Before then, in 2009, the country fared a little better in the 15th position. Isn’t that sufficiently alarming? Meier said the House has fallen. Many disagree and attribute his verdict to an attempt to smear the country’s image. The American State Department said, if the current trend continues, Nigeria would have disintegrated by 2015.
I may not agree that Nigeria has failed; that it shares the same features as Somalia or Afghanistan, but it is bad enough that it is evidently failing. It is more disturbing that the current leaders cannot arrest the rot and decline. They lack capacity and capability. For about one year now, the entire North appears to have collapsed. The forces of coercion have been unable to check the murderous activities of the Boko Haram sect. Despite a state of emergency declared in 15 local councils across four states, the bloodletting continues daily. Even with the imposition of curfew in Kaduna State, there have been clashes. So, what is the state doing? President Goodluck Jonathan considered his foreign mission more important than the loss of lives and the threat of disintegration. There is no evidence that there are new ideas. The speeches have always been the same. The Police Force issues the usual warning and assures that it is in control, while our friend,
Mr. Reuben Abati, runs to the press with a statement that the government is doing everything to arrest the trend. By the way, didn’t the President promise that he would have found a solution to the criminal acts by this June? Perhaps he would tell us what he has done whenever he appears before the House of Representatives to show he is neither a weakling nor a sleeping leader.
Self denial will not help. We must admit that this government and its predecessors have failed Nigeria. It is doubtful if the government realises the danger posed by the army of unemployed young school leavers. Boko Haram forces have taken over the North; Kidnappers have a free reign in the Niger Delta and the South East, while the armed robbery menace has never been this bad in the West?
The state may not have failed, but it is sick. Only quack doctors are available to minister to her. To save this country, the few patriots left in the National Assembly and the civil society must seize the initiative. This house must not be allowed to collapse, finally.
In the words of Josiah Gilbert Holland, I pray:
GOD, give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honour; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, Lo! Freedom weeps.
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.
May the good Lord save our country.