Chidi Onumah: Nigeria won’t break up

Published:18 Jan, 2013

NigeriaHow many times have we heard the expression “Nigeria won’t break up”? This clichéd expression has become the chorus of Nigeria’s ruling elite; an elite that will not raise a finger to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria if it becomes necessary to do so.

Like every bankrupt ruling class, ours never ceases to find an opportunity to proclaim its commitment to the country and her unity. One such opportunity offered itself a few days ago during the Inter-Denominational Church Service to mark the 2013 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebrations at the National Christian Centre in Abuja.

The Armed Forces Remembrance Day, also known as Remembrance Day, was celebrated on November 11 to coincide with the Remembrance Day for veterans of the World War II in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The date was changed to January 15, in commemoration of the surrender of Biafran troops to the Federal troops on 15 January, 1970, an action that brought the Nigerian Civil War to an end. January 15 is also remembered for another important event in Nigeria’s tortuous road to democratic governance and nationhood. It was on that day, 47 years ago, that the first of many military coups took place, ending Nigeria’s First Republic.

It is understandable, therefore, if presidential emotions run high on Remembrance Day. While lauding the Armed Forces and other security services for their efforts to “keep the nation one and in peace” the President assured Nigerians that the country would not break up. “Some people talk about disintegration of Nigeria, now even at political levels, some people take it as a weapon… when they want to discuss politics. But my conviction, and I believe that of most people here and those listening to us, is that Nigeria will continue to remain a united nation,” the President averred.

Two months ago, at the height of the debate about another petrol price increase, the President had likened the pains Nigerians were experiencing to a boil on the face of a five-year-old girl. Then, he had suggested surgery for the little girl with an assurance that “if she bears the pain and does the incision and treats it, after some days or weeks, the child will grow up to be a beautiful lady”. The President was saying in essence that Nigerians should be ready to bear the pain of his government’s agonising policies.

This time around, President Jonathan likened Nigeria to a 100-year-old marriage which, in his wisdom, is indissoluble. “Nigeria will not disintegrate… I know Nigeria will remain one”, the President assured his audience. “In 2014, we will celebrate our centenary, 100 years in existence. It will only take two mad people to stay in marriage for 100 years and say that is the time you will divorce and we are not mad. If there are issues that have been brewing over the period and we have been managing, we will continue to manage.”

I wonder why the President keeps coming up with these pedestrian comparisons. First, there are not many people in the world who live up to 100 years and there are even fewer who are married for that long. Even if we assume that the President was speaking metaphorically, there is no law that says people who have been married for so long can’t go their separate ways. You don’t have to be mad to divorce after being married for a long time. Sacrifice, yes, but marriages survive based on trust, love and respect, not because of how long. No marriage can survive for too long if it is based on abuse, neglect and deprivation.

Mr. President, we can’t continue to manage after over five decades of independence and almost a century of amalgamation and billions of dollars in earnings. Every Nigerian, including those whose actions have brought the country to its knees, has become a professional manager. No country can survive that continues to patch rather than fix once and for all the long-term structural problems that continue to hold down its progress.

Waxing patriotic, President Jonathan had this to say about the motherland: “I always say that Nigeria is great not because of our oil, because we have people that produce more oil than us but we are appreciated and still reckoned with because of our size and diversity both for human beings and environment. These are areas we should exploit for unity and development”.

Mr. President, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is that Nigeria is only great in our imaginations. Nigeria is big for nothing! We are not respected in the comity of nations; our citizens are mistreated around the world, sometimes because of their actions, and other times simply because they have a green passport. What is there to respect? Even with the abundance of human and natural resources, we have one of the highest maternal  mortality rates in the world. We are ranked amongst the most corrupt nations in the world and we are in competition with Afghanistan, Chad, Angola, DR Congo and Pakistan, for countries with persistent polio transmission. To our eternal shame, while Afghanistan’s polio programme has been described as “consistently performing at a reasonable level”, Nigeria’s “has slipped back in a quite alarming way”.

That President Jonathan – like those before him – has to use every opportunity to proclaim that “Nigeria won’t break up” is reflective of the state of our union. Forty three years after the civil war ended, we have a virtual war on our hands. The same issues that existed before the civil war began are still with us, except that today they have grown worse. The President is unable to visit certain parts of the country; fiends are murdering at will in the name of religion; militancy has become profitable; armed robbers and “freelance assassins” prowl the country while kidnapping has become a lucrative profession; poverty, anger and disillusionment are rife; and our corrupt public officials have graduated from 10 per cent to 150 per cent kickback. What this means is that our rulers, and their collaborators in the private sector, have become so brazen that contractors are guaranteed to receive full payment for a contract that was never started, let alone completed. And they are entitled to an additional half of the total contract sum after a review of the contract in line with the rate of inflation.

Indeed, we are witnessing a scenario worse than the country breaking up. The real fear shouldn’t be the country breaking up because that is a harder and much longer route to travel. The real fear is the possibility that anarchy will envelop the country and we will go the route of Somalia, the poster child of failed states.

The President admonishes “us all (to) stand up and condemn those who say otherwise about our unity. Those who call for our  disintegration or who make similar  statements should be condemned by all Nigerians”. I agree with the President. Now also is the time for all Nigerians, including the President himself, to rise up in one voice and condemn those ills that breed terrorism, anger, disillusionment, poverty and threaten the unity of the country. Ills such as corruption, abuse of power and suppression of the rule of law.

Ultimately, Nigerians would have to take control of their destiny and decide the shape of things to come. If in the end the country survives the doomsday prophesy, it won’t be because the present administration has done anything to stem the slide.

 

Chidi Onumah (conumah@hotmail.com)

Related Posts

Recent Posts

?Governor Ahmed to launch Kwara Infrastructure Devt Fund (IFK) on Monday.

Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed will on Monday, 26 September, perform the official launch of the State Infrastructure Development Fund (IFK). The alternate Chairman of the IFK Implementation Committee, Alhaji Abdulwahab Yusuf, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said that Governor Ahmed will also sign an agreement with the independent for trustees of the scheme. According to him, the event will hold at the Government House, Ilorin and will be witnessed by stakeholders in the banking, business, education...

#UNGA: Zamfara will benefit from my UN General Assembly trip – Yari Abubakar

The governor of Zamfara state, Yari Abubakar, who embarked on an official trip to New York for the 71st session of the UN General Assembly has promised to put to great use, some of the deductions he made at the session which lasted for several days.   Also in attendance, was the President himself who spoke so much about poverty, terrorism, unemployment, security & climate change among others.   Mr Yari Abubakar reiterated in a statement made available to the media, the importance...

‘President’ Ambode: Lagos to link inner roads to Smart city project

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday said plans are afoot to link inner roads in the State to the Lagos Smart City Project, just as he expressed readiness to commence deployment of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras in October across the State. Governor Ambode, who disclosed this in Coker Aguda area of the State at the commissioning of some of the 114 roads, newly constructed in the 20 Local Government Areas (LGs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs),...

Shade Of Life: Ebonyi People are myopic, they don’t behave like Igbos – IPOB

The Indigenous People of Bifara, IPOB, has lampooned the people of Ebonyi State for spurning the sit-at-home order it passed. The group had in a circular issued few days ago, asked Ndigbo nationwide to spend the day indoor in protest against the continuous detention of the leader of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. The directive, however, witnessed non-compliance as normal activities and vehicular movements were unperturbed across Ebonyi State. The Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Ugochukwu Nweke while reacting to the development, described the...

Buhari approves 56th independence anniversary programme

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the programme of events for the commemoration of Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary. Bolaji Adebiyi, Director of Press in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja. Mr. Adebiyi said an interdenominational thanksgiving church service had been scheduled for September 25 at the National Worship Centre, Abuja at 4p.m. A public lecture and Jumma’at prayers are slated for September 30 at 11 a.m. and 1...

PDP may declare Dariye’s seat vacant – Dachom

Former Organising Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Plateau state, Mr. Mike Dachom, has said that the party might declare the seat of a former governor of the state, Mr. Joshua Dariye, vacant following his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress. Dariye was governor of Plateau State under PDP from 1999 to 2007. Dariye, before his defection, represents Plateau central senatorial zone in the Senate under the PDP. He first got to the Senate under the Labour Party in...

Nigeria loses N800bn to auto policy

The President, Shippers Association, Lagos State, Mr Jonathan Nicol, said the Federal Government had lost about N800 billion to the auto policy on imported vehicles. The 70 per cent tariff and levy on imported vehicles which took effect in 2015, had reduced vehicle imports by more than 50 per cent. Nicol on Friday said that other ports outside Nigeria in Benin, Togo and Ghana now accepted the vehicles and developing their economies with proceeds from the imports. According to him, with the...

MTN denies paying bribe to reduce NCC fine

South Africa’s MTN denied it paid a bribe to Nigerian officials to reduce its fine to 330 billion naira ($1.05bn) as part of settling a dispute over disconnecting unregistered SIM cards in the West African country.   MTN said in a statement on Friday there had been allegations that a top official in the Nigerian presidency took a payment towards reducing the fine.   The telecom group was initially fined $5.2bn last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM...

Your anti-corruption policy scaring investors – Sen. Bruce tells Buhari

Senator Ben Bruce (PDP Bayelsa East) on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to adjust his approach to the anti-corruption crusade, saying the policy was scaring investors. Bruce, who disclosed this while contributing to the Senate’s debate on the economic recession in the country, said Nigeria should not expect foreign investments as even local investors had stopped investing. He said that people who had money to invest were no longer doing so because the anti-graft agencies were harassing any person with...

EPL: Mourinho feels heat as Wenger marks anniversary

Jose Mourinho has vowed to silence the critics when Manchester United face champions Leicester, while his old rival Arsene Wenger hopes to celebrate a memorable milestone with a rare success against Chelsea on Saturday. Mourinho finds himself under fire less than two months into his United reign after three successive defeats and an unconvincing League Cup win at third tier Northampton. United are already trailing six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and another setback at Old Trafford this weekend...

Reps begin investigation into Jibrin’s budget padding allegations.

The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Friday in Abuja, commenced public investigation into allegations of fraud made by Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin against the House. This followed Wednesday’s resolution of the House which mandated the committee to investigate the allegations, bordering on breach of privileges of members. It would be recalled that the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, accused the leadership of the National Assembly of padding the 2016 budget. In his allegation, Jibrin alluded that the corruption...

Khama should ‘go hang’ for telling Mugabe to step down – Minister

Ian Khama’s call for President Robert Mugabe to step down hasn’t gone down too well with the Zimbabwe government: the Botswana president should just “go hang” Mugabe’s former spin-doctor says. Or he should concentrate on Botswana’s desert, Jonathan Moyo says witheringly in an article for a private weekly in Zimbabwe. Khama’s call on his ageing neighbour to step down after 36 years in power was greeted thankfully by many Zimbabweans on social media, where the current wave of protests against the...

Bayelsa first lady, Rachael Dickson gives birth to quadruplet

Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and family may have to continue in celebration as after many years of childlessness, his wife and First Lady of Bayelsa State, Dr. Rachael Dickson delivered of a quadruplet – a bouncing baby boy and three baby girls.   We gathered that the mother and children are doing very well.   Saint Mienpamo, Special Assistant on Research & Social Media to the Governor says the ”Governor’s joy knows no bound.”   The latest news has been tagged a double celebration as...

Electrician jailed 3 months for stealing N11,000 phone

A Jos Chief Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 22-year-old electrician, Abdulgafar Musa to three months in prison for stealing a Nokia phone valued N11,000. Musa, of No. 66, Shehu Street, Jos, was charged with theft. The Magistrate, Mr Jovita Binjin, sentenced the convict after he pleaded guilty to the crime and begged for leniency. In his plea, the convict said “It was the devil’s hand work; jobs are not coming and I needed money to eat and also give help to...

Recession: Those demanding asset sale are economic predators – Sani

A Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, has described proponents of sale of the country’s national asset as “economic predators and profiteers who want to take advantage of the situation in the country.” Mr. Sani, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, said in a statement on Friday that “Nigeria’s capitalist forces raped Nigeria to recession and now they want to kill and bury it.” Nigeria is currently going through one of the worst recessions in its history, due...

Stop expecting too much from Buhari, pray for him – APGA chieftain

A Chieftain of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Katsina State, Alhaji Umar Tata, on Friday urged Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari with prayers to lead Nigeria out of its present predicaments. Tata, the party’s governorship candidate in 2015, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Funtua, Katsina state. He cautioned Nigerians against over reliance on the President, saying that “he is human and capable of making mistakes.” According to him, what is...

NEMA returns 5,403 citizens to their homes from IDPs camps

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has confirmed the return of 5403 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to the home after their stay in Camps. The returnees include 1517 in Mafa , 750 in konduga, 1200 in Ngamboru and about 1,936 are due to return to Dikwa This is coming at a period Governor of Borno State Alh kashim shettima and a team of NEMA North East zonal staff led by Zonal coordinator Alh Muhammed Kanar spent the night in Bama in...

Police Uncover Fraudsters’ Den In Ogun

The Ogun State Police Command has uncovered a “fraudsters’ den” at Pokuku Village in the Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state. The den, which was nicknamed “Pokuku Shrine” was until Wednesday allegedly used by suspected fraudsters to carry out different forms of criminal activities such as fraud, according to the police. The state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Ilyasu, on Wednesday said the police raided the shrine after an intelligence report on criminal activities being perpetrated there. The shrine,...

Bayelsa State Gov Dickson’s Wife Gives Birth to Quadruplets

Wife of Bayelsa State governor and first lady of the state, Rachael Dickson, has put to bed quadruplets (four babies) today. The team of four babies includes four females and one boy. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, chief Press secretary to governor Seriake Dickson said in a statement released moments ago: "This is particularly good news for the family and Bayelsans because this bundle of joy is coming after many years of praying and waiting upon the Lord. "Governor Dickson thanks friends, family members and Bayelsans...

Patience Jonathan: EFCC places witnesses against under security watch

As the trial of former aides of ex-First Lady, Patience Jonathan, begins on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has placed its 13 witnesses in the case under security watch. The witnesses, including a banker and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) are expected to tell the court how four slush accounts were opened for the former First Lady. It was gathered that the accounts were opened by the ex-First Lady’s former Senior Special Assistant (Domestic/Household and Social Events to...

Gov. Dickson hails judiciary as APC, Sylva lose at Appeal Court

The Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, has commended the judiciary for its steadfastness in protecting the sanctity of the ballot and upholding itself as the bastion of the nation’s democracy. Dickson’s comment came on Thursday afternoon following the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the earlier judgement of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, in his favour. Both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld the election of Dickson, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party...