NIGERIA: A Nation In Dire Strait


One does not need the rare gift of clairvoyance to see through the palpable hopelessness, anguish and anomie across the Nigerian landscape in these uncertain times. Sad enough, the country becomes a clime peopled by innumerable economic and social underdogs consigned to the abyss of abnegation and despair by a crop of malignant elite leadership bereft of any visionary fervent and futuristic promptings.

Through these years of inept leadership oscillating between corrupt politicians and their kleptomaniac military collaborators, the nation has finally crashed at a labyrinth where the pathway to national rebirth and regeneration remain foggy. Even the only 'visible' tunnel has been clogged by the monstrous inanities of clannishness and the obduracy of the 'ancient regime' and their pawns.

From the crushing economic pains of the day, to the social dislocations and mounting insecurity everywhere in the land, coupled with the ignorable and dodgy power play at Abuja, a common thread runs through all these: a nation in dire strait!

But before we got to this precipitous crossroad, the signs were as visible as the day that the route we have taken these 55 years after flag independence, was doomed to lead to perdition. We soon became despondent and needy in spite of our huge human and material resources, no thanks to the profligacy of our leaders. Even the docility of the followership who largely assumed the shameful role of chorus singers as the looting and brigandage lingered, further nailed the coffin of the deceit that went for governance.

Now, the economy is in an avoidable recession as spiral inflation, job losses, unprecedented unemployment and crippling poverty reign supreme with no visible respite in sight. Equally so, the oil boom has given way to a doom, and like the dog who discountenanced the hunter's whistle, we have strayed into the wild forest and now at the mercy of the wild breasts.

And still not cherry, the land is equally inflicted by the cancer of hatred, which has manifested in forms of tribal distrust and killings. Everywhere around us, there are palpable hostilities occasioned by a resentment rooted in economic pains and political alienation. The daily cry is that of restructuring of the polity, ostensibly to put an end to the colonial lie called united Nigeria.

But as we wobble and grope along this uncertain path, and with our ever 'all- knowing' leaders believing, erroneously of course, that we are on the right track, the more the reality stares us on the face like the monster that we are only playing the ostrich.

But can these perilous times be allowed to consume us and make this African giant, though with feet of clay, sink deeper into the abyss? Should all men and women of goodwill in this country allow this macabre dance of the insane to continue while they resign in utter resignation and bewilderment?

Truth is: from ages, great nations have emerged from the ashes of their woes, and this new dawn comes about with visionary leadership. For instance, the persecution of the Jews by Hitler's Nazi strengthened and made them to think home which culminated in the State of Israel in 1948. Germany after World Wars 1 and 2 lost her choice overseas colonies to the Allied Powers and was slammed with all manners of sanctions aimed at crippling her from becoming militarily strong enough to terrorize Europe again. Even Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima, which consequently ended World War 2, was in economic mess and in ruins. But today, these nations have become world powers not only in terms of economic stability, but are more united, thanks to visionary and purposeful leadership.

Though Nigeria fought a 30-month civil war, and the victors in their frenzy of having defeated and silenced the belligerent Igbo, failed to tap into the human ingenuities exhibited, especially by the Biafra side during the war, to rebuild Nigeria. The post-war oil boom era ushered the nation into a new world of easy money and made our leaders and the people an indolent and complacent lot who never cared how to seize the opportunity of the boom to build a buoyant economy.

But had we explored and improved on those novel technologies deplored during the civil war, perhaps today, we won't be thinking about when we will have a 'Made in Nigeria' car, or how to produce enduring industrial machineries to feed our teeming population.

But in spite of our sorry state as a nation, the pertinent questions on many lips are: Can President Muhammadu Buhari seize this moment of great national despair and etch his name in gold? Or will he, like many of his predecessors, come as a spectator and end up as a mere footnote in history? Can this former army general whom destiny smiled at last year after three failed previous attempts at the presidency, rewrite the history of this ailing, but potential great nation?

The inexplicable fact is: Buhari can seize this moment and rebuild Nigeria into a socially cohesive, economically vibrant and politically sophisticated nation. But this rare feat can only be achieved if the President jettisons partisan politics and evolve a holistic strategy of assembling the best minds across the country on a rescue mission for a nation on her knees.

One believes that in this period of grave national emergency, the era of we- can- do- it- alone as a ruling political party is far-gone, such an illusion can only push the nation further deeper into the cliff. And let us not delude ourselves; future generations won't forgive us for squandering their tomorrow at the altar of inaction and buck- passing.

Buhari must, like the World 2 American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, declare an equivalent of our own Marshal Plan. The present executive ground standing and official rhetoric about a near future robust economy and stable polity amid policy somersaults are no longer convincing to the discerning minds. We must expeditiously begin to rebuild this crumbling edifice called Nigeria before it comes down heavy under our feet. God forbids!

Emmanuel Nwagboniwe, a media practitioner, wrote from Lagos.