By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“The only solution that works is to change the hole,
because a square peg will always be a square peg”
– Richard Templar; “The Rules of People”.
Nigeria is one place that is both fascinating and intriguing.
Nigeria my Country is fascinating because of the large number of human beings inhabiting the geographical space that at given time are some of the best people to govern anywhere in the World. Nigerians are mostly worshippers in organized religious groups whereby they are indoctrinated with the ideological belief that they should be law abiding and should pray for their leaders. The saying by the great Karl Marx that “Religion is the Opium of the people”, is true in every sense when discussing the weltanschauung (Worldview) of the average Nigerian.
Nigeria is intriguing because of the ugly fact that although the majority of the citizenry are law abiding and incredibly committed to building a peaceful, prosperous and United Nation-state, the nation is cursed with the kind of leadership that is predatory, selfish, egostic and spiteful of the rest of the human beings residing therein outside of their immediate nuclear families. Nigerian political rulers have through various levels of corrupt practices, have destroyed basic infrastructures of health; education and road including access to electricity power to the people. Ironically, the children of the politicians live abroad.
The erudite writer, novelist and globally respected English language scholar who has gone to be with his creator, professor Chinua Achebe, was perhaps one thinker who took his intellectual time to record exactly what the Nigerian problem is and this statement which he made in his smallest books the trouble with Nigeria has remained unbeatable.
“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership”.
Achebe spoke further thus: “In spite of the tendency of people in power to speak about this great nation of ours there is no doubt that Nigerians are among the world’s most unpatriotic people. But this is not because Nigerians are particularly evil or wicked; in fact they are not. It rather because patriotism, being part of an unwritten social contract between a citizen and the state, cannot exist where the state reneges on the agreement. The state undertakes to organize society in such a way that the citizen can enjoy peace and justice, and the citizen in return agrees to perform his patriotic duties”.
He then hit the nail on the head on the historicity of much of our institutional crises thus: “Indiscipline pervades our life so completely today that one may be justified in calling it the condition per excellence of contemporary Nigerian society. We see and hear and read about indiscipline in the home, in the school, in the public services, in the private sector, in government and in legislative assemblies, on the roads, in the air.”
Professor Achebe located the core of the leadership problems to the roles played by political sycophants who dominate the current government as follows: “Harnessed to the trappings of protocol and blockaded by a buffer of grinning courtiers and sycophants, even a good and intelligent leader will gradually begin to forget what the real world looks like. When a President of Nigeria sets out to see things for himself, what does he actually see? Highways temporarily cleared of lunatic drivers by even more lunatic presidential escorts; hitherto impassable tracks freshly graded and even watered to keep down the dust; buildings dripping fresh paint; well-fed obsequious welcoming parties; garlands of colorful toilet paper hung round the neck by women leaders; troupes of “cultural dancers” in the sun, and many other such scenes of contented citizenry. But history tells us of wise rulers at different times and places who achieved rare leadership by their blunt and simple refusal to be fooled by guided tours of their own country.”
Professor Achebe made valid points so also is one of the best-selling authors of our time called Richard Templar, who we quoted in the beginning as providing the clearest solution to the issues associated with state failures.
He Mr. Richard Templar suggested that the way to go is to enthrone a leadership that is characterized by merit, professionalism and competence because the problem with nation-building can be solved if the best person is made the leader. Plato in his Republic had suggested that only Philosopher kings should rule meaning that only the most competent should lead.
Achebe had earlier provided the best reason why certain good leaders became bad once in public office in Nigeria and he blamed it squarely on reliance of those leaders to the information fed to them by sycophants.
The above scholarly contributions bring us to the theme of our reflection today which is on the expanding frontiers of internally displaced persons’ camps in Nigeria.
A cursory look at page 3 of today’s The Guardian newspapers Nigeria will tell you that the issues of the growing numbers of internally displaced persons’ camps has even started to become a thing of politics.
The picture that graced that page shows a foreign embassy officials apparently smiling to the camera whilst distributing relief materials to Nigerians who have been forced to abandon their homes to reside in the internally displaced persons’ camp somewhere in Katsina , the home state of Nigeria’s current president. To the question of the identity of those who created the horrendous human rights crisis that occasioned the springing up of different IDP camps, the brief answer is to say that armed flank herdsmen are primarily responsible.
These armed bandits are known to be armed Fulani herdsmen who enjoy the political support of a group known as Miyetti Allah Cattle Owners group which also enjoys political patronage from the presidency in Abuja.
I say this with all sense of duty to God and humanity because for over three years, we have called on president Buhari to proscribe this aforementioned group as a terrorist group given their support for the violent activities of armed Fulani herdsmen, but even the media advisers of president Buhari have loudly defended this organization known to have publicly supported the violence unleashed by armed Fulani herdsmen. The President has also planned to reward them by building settlements even in strange places far from their ancestral lands in the North of Nigeria.
Aside the photograph on the page three of The Guardian of today, we were also told by the office of the president that the president commissioned a project within the IDP camp in Katsina shortly before he returned to Abuja from his latest Sallah break which he spent in Daura, Katsina state.
What worries me is that whilst we all applaud foreign donors who magnanimously donate relief materials to the IDPs, what we failed to do is to ask the relevant question to the relevant quarters why phenomenon of IDPs has widened and why there is no concerted effort by the government to prosecute terrorists and the so-called armed bandits who are mostly armed Fulani herdsmen and who are responsible for the violence that led to the expanding frontiers of IDPs.
Why are the United Nations and the international criminal court in The Hague Netherlands, too slow to bring perpetrators of terrorism and armed banditry to justice since it is now clear that the Nigerian government as currently constituted has no agenda for effectively prosecuting terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen?
Is it that Nigerians are too comfortable to watch as millions of Nigerians are thrown out of their homes into the growing numbers of internally displaced persons’ camps?
“Over 2.7 million people have been displaced, including over 1.9 million IDPs in North Eastern Nigeria”. This is what you get from the statistical documentation made by the United Nations commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The truth, painful as it is that Nigerians must task the National Assembly to wake up and speak for growing numbers of IDPs in both the North East, North West, North Central and even those who have left the shores of Nigeria to find shelters in the IDP camps located in Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The senate president Ahmed Lawan who is gradually being perceived as a rubber stamp National Assembly leader must wake up before Nigeria collapses. After all half his constituents in Yobe state live in IDP camps.
The holders of government offices may need to be reminded that the function of both government officials and the ordinary citizens is to make sure that this growing numbers of internally displaced persons’ camps are reduced by playing our respectful lawful roles to ensure that the perpetrators of terrorism and violence are not allowed to escape the full weight of justice.
The practice of granting pardon to mass killers as being adopted by government is the direct cause of the continuous regime of mass killings all over Nigeria.
Nigeria must never be allowed to snow ball into full scale state failures which is what is becoming imminent so long as we allow IDPs to spring up all over the country whereas those we have elected to serve in government are only after their pockets and have all taken away their immediate families to safe havens in Canada, U.S.A and Europe and have watched as terrorists and armed gangs inflict blood cuddling violence on the rest of Nigeria.
A nation state like Nigeria is adjudged to have failed if those who wield governmental powers fail to carry out their primary duty which the Nigerian constitution spelt out to be the provision of security of lives of Nigerians and their property and state institutions.
The critical functions of government includes military defence/national security; maintenance of domestic order; administration of justice; protection of civil liberties; and regulation of the conduct of periodic election; and provision for public good and services. Those ruling Nigeria are found wanting in the discharge of these lawful duties.
My humble appeal to the leaders of the international community is that they should take more pleasure in putting pressure actively on the government to perform the functions stipulated by law and stop the killings and these foreign entities should derive no joy in distributing relief materials to the unfortunate victims of the violence which the international community stands by and watch whilst Nigerians are killed in their numbers.
It is better to compel government to defend Nigerians or for the current officials to quit the stage because no matter how you tend to accommodate a failure in government, what you get is more colossal state failure. The World will regret it should the World leaders continue to watch as all kinds of armed hoodlums kill Nigerians.