30th September, 2011
No doubt, Nigeria will be 51 tomorrow. And leaders in the country would be in celebratory mood, believing that Nigeria with over 150 million people has continued to be one country is enough reason to organise a bash.
President Goodluck Jonathan, last Sunday, took a swipe at those who have held tight to the belief that the country was like China, heading for the rocks and very soon, it would broke into pieces.
According to him, whatever plight the country is facing now is just a passing phase which would make it come out stronger and better. At an interdenominational service to herald the celebration of the 51st anniversary of Nigeriaâ€™s independence held at the Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, the nationâ€™s capital, which has been under siege of insurgent groups like Boko Haram and Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, the president under tight security lashed at his critics and those who have continued to cry out over the state of the nation and the impending doom that it would experience with the snail-speed approach of the countryâ€™s ruling class to issues that could make the country retain an enviable place among the comity of nations.
â€œIf you listen to some of the things people say or write in papers, some people would want the president to be a lion; some people would want the president to be a troop commander who would crush everybody on sight. Some Nigerians will want the president of this country to be like a lion, a tiger, somebody that acts like a fighter; they will want the president to operate like an army general, to display like kings in the biblical era, like the King of Syria, King of Babylon, Pharaoh of Egypt. Unfortunately, I cannot be one. God knows why I am here.
“Unfortunately, I am not a troop commander. I am not an Army General. Some would want the president to be like David or other warriors in the Bible, unfortunately, I am not one of those.
â€œThe only prayer I need from you is for God to use me to change this country. I donâ€™t need to be like Nebuchadnezzar, David or other great men to change this country. But with your prayer, I can change this nation; we can make the difference. Someone had written in the papers: is Nigeria on auto pilot? I tell them that Nigeria is not on auto pilot. God is in-charge and God will take us to the destination he has destined for us,” he said.
He also reminded his critics that throughout the remaining days of his tenure, he would govern the country his own way and that instead of such fierce criticisms and reeling out of the challenges facing the country, they should rather proffer solutions.
But the presidentâ€™s comments at an event that was supposed to be meant for the dousing of already frayed nerves because of the victimisation of the citizens of the country as a result of maladministration over the years, has resulted in the peopleâ€™s blood becoming hot. Many of them have continued to ask the motive behind those comments with some saying President Jonathanâ€™s comments so far have exposed the country to ridicule and shown to the people where it was headed.
â€œI am not really sure what to make of uncle Jonathanâ€™s Independence Day sermon. Also, I am not sure what the speech writer of that sermon intended to achieve. But I can add that again, Uncle Joe has been made to look and feel flat before the eyes of those he claims to lead. It takes a fool not to realise the enormity of the problems confronting us as a nation (are we really one?).
â€œIt equally takes an idiot not to realise that situations such as the ones we are in requires a leader with a lion’s claws and energy, a Goliath and Davidâ€™s hearts combined, an astute statesman and fighter to confront them. The country has never been so divided, so porous and so dangerous to live in. It is an act of stupidity for the writer of that speech not to realise that it will take more than a good man to fight the biggest problem that we have in Nigeria: corruption,â€ an analyst, Jones-Nduka Chris Odiaka lamented.
Reeling out some problems as usual, he said two years into the so called amnesty, the Niger Delta region is still not developed, the industries have not sprung up as promised; the riverine areas have not been opened up. Instead, what the country has is a situation where some half-baked illiterates and indeed knuckle-headed illiterates who learnt to shoot are taking salaries that run into millions on monthly basis.
â€œWhile the majority are left in even more pains as a result of the oil spillages destroying their lands and means of livelihood, gas is still being flared, bunkering is at its highest level so much so that Shell (SPDC) is almost closing down or at least has shut down some areas of operation. While other world leaders are looking up to their citizens to work and make the country work, uncle Jonathan is depending on God and asking us to pray even more. God does not operate in that manner. As the Christians will say, â€œGod helps those who help themselves.
â€œUncle Jonathan has not done enough to be lifted by God. If anything, he has not done anything except curtail Patience, his wife, from showing off her ignorance in most places she goes to. As they say, a people get the leadership they deserve. Maybe we deserve Uncle Jonathan after all; at a time that Nigerians had the opportunity to stop Jonathan from running for the Presidency, they allowed infatuation and wrong reasoning to take over.
â€œOutside the Presidency, all other key positions are occupied by northerners; from the Vice President, to the Senate President to Speaker of the House, the Chief Justice of the Federation and Head of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. With his slow pace of work, it is obvious that Uncle Jonathan did not intend to run. Appearing as a man with no mind of his own, the hawks have taken over and are dictating how state affairs are managed. We can only but hope that Uncle Jonathan will get a knock on the head from his God such that he will say ‘enough is enough’ and do the needful.
â€œThe number of jobless young men patrolling the streets of Nigeria runs into millions. So many ladies will never experience the joy of wife-hood because those to marry them are still living with their parents. Uncle Jonathan should ask for that divine intervention to rule as David did, the wisdom of Solomon, the brutality of Rawlings, directed at you know who, and a humane heart to know that millions are in pains.â€
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, the former Minister of Tourism & Culture and later Aviation Minister, in his analysis, further broke down the comment by the president for the ordinary man on the street and maybe to remind him that he had goofed.
According to him, the comment contains deep and instructive words â€œyet I do wonder whether Mr. President understands the spiritual and practical implications of what he is saying. If he says that he ”is not a David” how can he then possibly slay the ”Goliaths in the land?” If he says that he ”is not a general” how can he be an effective Commander-in-Chief who commands the respect and confidence of his army and his officers?
â€œIf he says that he ”is not a lion” how can he overwhelm the animals in our jungle that seek to destroy and ravage our land? The lion is a noble and courageous animal that defends it’s pride and family and protects it’s own. That is why it is known as the ”king of the jungle” and that is why our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Himself is known as the ”Lion of the Tribe of Judah”.
â€œEvery king worth his salt must have the spirit of the lion and the warrior in him to a certain extent. It is a fundamental pre-qualification for good quality and inspirational leadership and that is what distinguishes the pretender and the usurper from a real king. May the spirit and weakness of Ahab not be our President’s portion even though his words seem to have ensnared him.â€
Continuing, he said history proves that weak kings and weak leaders always pull down and destroy great empires and strong kingdoms. He urged the president to find out about the Roman Empire under Nero, Claudius or Caligula. â€œIf you still have any doubts after that then read up on Russian history or watch an excellent old film called ”Nicholas and Alexander” about Tsar Nicholas the 1st, the last Tsar of Russia and how his strong-willed wife and his consistent display of weakness shamed and brought down imperial Russia, destroyed the 300-yea-old royal dynasty of the Romanovs, led directly to the First World War (which in turn led to the Second World War and then later the Cold War), caused the communist revolution, led to the Russian civil war, resulted in the murder of his whole family and ended in the establishment and creation of the most evil and godless empire that has ever ruled half of the world- the cold and all-powerful Soviet empire,â€ he lectured further.
The Director of Studies of the European Centre for Advanced Studies, Cambridge , UK. Dr Anthony A Kila, in a fear-laden article recently said there is a worrisome disconnect between the state of affairs in the country and the attitude of those in charge of such affairs that needs to be pondered upon. And against the claim that other world leaders are favourably disposed to the Nigerian government, he said residents within Nigeria and her citizens as well as observers beyond the shores of the country are familiar with the need it has for basic services such as stable electricity, good roads, efficient healthcare and functional schools worthy of such description.
â€œUnemployment and insecurity of lives and properties must be added to this long sad list of needs and we have had various opportunities in the classrooms, living rooms and board rooms to point out that unemployment and issues with security are very closely linked to the lack of those basic service earlier mentioned. I know more than a few respected development experts that will strongly argue that unemployment and threat to security are direct results of lack of basic services such as stable electricity, good road, efficient healthcare, functional schools.
â€œJust in case Mr President is far from the grapevine, I have some information for him: the word on the street is that Goodluck is not looking so lucky anymore more and the fear is that his goodluck seems to be personal only to him not for the country.
â€œBeyond and above the belief in good luck and the fear of the end of the world, the simple reality is that as things stand today this state is shaky. The problems some are witnessing and many are enduring is a result of continuous neglect of maintenance and lack of good management of public affairs, it is a culmination of incompetent and uncaring actions by people devoid of a strong vision and the will to serve their communities for a greater good and with a sense of national purpose.
â€œWhilst we cannot objectively hold responsible the present administrations, from the local councillors, to local and national legislators up to the presidency, for all the woes betiding the country, I personally accuse them of lacking to posses and to demonstrate the fierce urgency of now, necessary to deal with the grave challenges the country is facing,â€ Dr. Kila said adding that official reports show that most of those in power neither understand nor feel that we have an emergency here in our hands. They seem not to know that as things stand today, Nigeria is high up in the list of states likely to fail.
â€œBy the way, the country is high on that list not because someone hates her or one professor says so, it is high on that sombre list because violence is erupting predominantly within societies in which the state and the federal government seems to be losing its monopoly on the use of force to warlords, organised crime, and armed rebellions. The country is high on the list because Nigeria seems incapable to sustain essential public services, provide for the public welfare and promote equitable economic growth. The government does not appear capable of maintaining domestic tranquillity and there are serious doubts in some quarters about the countryâ€™s ability to provide for the common defence,â€ he continued.
Again, Fani-Kayode, in his characteristic manner of analysing issues, believes the problem of Nigeria started in 1914 with the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates, saying that action by the British was the landmine with the intention to ensure that the countryâ€™s unity failed.
â€œThis is not only true but it is not even peculiar to Nigeria. As a matter of fact of the three major artificial amalgamations that the British colonialists established and forged into one nation only Nigeria still remains together as one country and from all indications it may not remain that way into the distant future,â€ he noted.
He said the other two were the Sudan (which has now broken into the two countries of Southern and Northern Sudan) and India (which broke into the three countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh not too long after independence). Both of them experienced brutal and prolonged civil wars and periods of ethnic and religious tensions and strife before they finally agreed to split up, dissolve the forced marriage and go their separate ways.
Other countries which witnessed such forced marriages, according to him, include Malaysia (which immediately after independence broke into the two separate countries of Singapore and Malaysia), Indonesia (which later broke up into the two countries of Indonesia and East Timor), Czeckoslovakia (which later broke up into the two countries of the Czeck and Slovak republics), Yugoslavia (which later broke up into the five countries of Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Monte Negro and Bosnia- Herzogovina), The Soviet Union (which later broke up into dozens of separate countries).
Despite this long years of being together, Fani-Kayodeâ€™s fear is that if nothing is done to curb the present tension, the countryâ€™s unity will not last. But Jonathan insists he will rule the country his own way.