Nigeria is not so much frail and fragile as fraught and dire. And now, no one can tell what time it is for Nigerians, as their country braces to dance and fight at the same time.
The dance though seems more like a notion in the minds of government officials - set to start in 83 days’ time – in frolic remembrance of the 100th-year declaration of Nigeria as legal entity by British colonizers.
The fight, however, is the bogey in the minds of the populace - now scared by the horrors of living in a state of nature; stalked by violent deaths - as cracking gunshots and improvised explosives continually shatter the silence of the night, as fired by spooky gunmen running amok inside Nigeria.
Already, two separately un-covered caches of arms and armaments in Kano city, up north Nigeria, this year alone, suggest the fight is the predominant impulse, rather than the dance.
“The quantity of cached munitions so far un-covered”, according to a military source, “is so huge and sufficient to wreck an entire state; comprising artillery pieces and anti-aircraft guns to even ward off aerial counter-attack whilst the invasion of the militias’ intended targets lasts”.
Those covertly paying cash to import and freight these munitions are unlikely planning to also frolic in Nigeria’s 100th year remembrance, less for the time for doing both, but for the single-mindedness which un-erringly follows armaments’ importation for a civil war in Nigeria.
At current prices, these munitions could otherwise have paid for dancing shoes for nearly all communities in Kano were the importers dance-minded.
It was mid-year though, when both the Department of State Security and the Nigerian Army valiantly detected a secret arms’ base in Kano, this July, when Nigerians realized that far fewer people were considering dancing in 83 days’ time.
Not even a clutch of some legal residents from Lebanon; operating in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, as foreign national businessmen, were in any such 100th year anniversary funk.
Rather, they were linked by hearsay to Hezbollah, and were all along in liaison with Ukraine and Iran, whence they’d imported those arms and armaments and freighted it disguisedly into Nigeria via Kano international airport, successfully offloaded it on the tarmac, and saw it past the airport’s customs checkpoint, after a tip and a handshake.
Three months after this interception, Nigerians are yet to be officially told of the intended targets the Lebanese meant to destroy inside Nigeria or at whose request the import was made.
But given that Nigerians comprise Boko Haram militia movement that’s been dug in pitched battles against the Nigerian Army in Nigeria’s north eastern region till now, a spectre of international support for Islamic Jihad in Nigeria arose in the minds of Nigeria’s terrified populace.
Especially later this September when a statement from the Nigerian Army’s Public Relations Office said certain light-skinned Arabs were noticed amongst those fighting on the side of Boko Haram.
Nervously, the Christian community in southern Nigeria has since reacted, believing itself to be in the crosshairs of a well-planned jihad by northern Nigerian Muslims. As Nigeria’s southern Christians become fretful they may covertly arm in self-defence, thus further taking their own attention away from the planned 100th anniversary dance in 83 days’ time.
Indeed, for the first time in modern history, Yoruba Christians have begun staging shrilly public protests in both Lagos and Osun states, south-western Nigeria, where they railed against perceived Islamization of their states.
In Osun State, the Christians’ protested the Muslim State Governor’s merger of Baptist High School in Iwo - a Christian missionary school - with one or two other Muslim schools, to create a common law for the wearing of Hijab veil by the Muslim students in that Christian missionary school.
Whereas, in Lagos State, the Christian protest is much broader. All resident Christian churches met at an emergency conference a fortnight ago and issued an ultimatum to the ruling ACN/APC political party in Lagos demanding a Christian Governorship candidate for Lagos state in 2015, because “Lagos Muslims have monopolized the governorship seat in Lagos since 1999 and because the ACN never once fielded a Christian for the post of Governor in Yorubaland since 1999”.
Meanwhile, on 3rd August this year, the Nigerian army’s General Officer Commanding (G.O.C) of the Army’s 2nd division in Ibadan, Major-General Ahmed Tijani Jibrin, released an intelligence report, saying Yorubaland is surrounded by armed Boko Haram Muslim militias from northern Nigeria who’ve laid siege; forming an arc from Benin City to Yorubaland’s northernmost towns in Oyo state.
Nigerian Tribune later corroborated this heightened threat last week, reporting that traditional medicine men in Igboho and in the hinterland of Yorubaland have themselves noticed a recent spike in clientele, as northern Nigerians patronize in droves, but only wanting to buy bullet-proof charms.
With the Nigerian army’s earlier warning and its corroboration by Yoruba traditional medicine men, southern Christians in Yorubaland are keen to sense imminent armed invasion of Yorubaland.
Moreso, that no similar infiltration is reported in the south-south or the south-east of Nigeria, both of which areas are doubly secured by the Military Joint Task Force and by fully armed militias boasting nuclear-trigged missiles.
Whereas, so far, no fewer than 600 suspected Boko Haram Muslim militias have been arrested in Lagos this year. Although in a surprising counter-attack on 30th June, “unknown gunmen numbering 50 broke into the medium security Olokuta prison along Ondo road in Akure, Ondo state and set 175 inmates free in a daring attack that took place around 12.00 midnight”. The gunmen used improvised explosives to tear through the Ondo state prison walls.
The gun-men were later said to be Boko Haram militias, according to the Army G.O.C in Ibadan, who also said the inmates freed were suspected Boko Haram members previously arrested.
This successful jail-break was signal enough of Yorubaland’s vulnerability, moreso that on even date, ten (10) other Yoruba traders from Ibadan, almost wholly Muslims, were murdered in Mugunu area of Borno State by suspected Boko Haram members, where they’d gone to buy cows. “The attackers stopped us along the way and asked us to come down from our vehicle and lie down. They started shooting us one by one,” said Taoheed Adewuyi, 32, who was shot likewise but survived.
Nigerians’ furrowed brows in this threatening ethno-religious war, as pathos, contrast with the cheer etched on the faces of Nigeria’s government officials - all wreathed in smiles in their colonnaded private villas, cracking up in laughs; like raiders of the treasures of a lost ark, after spending tax-payers at will for their personal luxuries, even as Nigeria direly enters a war situation.
With Nigerians robbed in trillions of Naira by their government officials into beggary – and with no financial account rendered to those governed; making official thefts in Nigeria anecdotal rather than statistical, and with government officials doing so with derring-do, and daring the people to do their worst, Nigeria’s hottish space gets dangerously humid for an uprising.
“Nigerian leaders lack shame and carry on as if not minding to be publicly called thieves,” said a British journal, with dripping scorn, but the truth of this honest to goodness depiction of Nigeria’s officials, also bears a silent contradiction of terms.
For openers, nobody can be a “country’s leader” and a “thief” at the same time since the latter is a refutation of the former; because leadership means clarity of thought plus honesty of purpose - both of which negativize thievery.
If thieves thus strut the State Houses in Nigeria, they don’t become “leaders” simply by strutting it.
Rather, the benighted system of government in Nigeria, ensconcing thieves in the state houses, has a completely different name in political science, excluding the word “leaders”, because in a “kakistocracy” – which is the shambolic governmental system in Nigeria - there are no “leaders” but vagabonds living by plunder.
In effect, due official thefts, Nigeria is now more or less a leaderless country, adrift and lost at sea.
“The whole Nigerian society has failed,” President Jonathan himself intoned on June 15th this year, but more recently, at the 53rd Independence Day anniversary of Nigeria last week, he’d expatiated that “corruption is actually not the number one problem with Nigeria”, but rather number three or four on the scale of the country’s emergency, according to him.
Irksomely, President Jonathan also sought to play a careful hand by defining corruption discreetly from stealing, and holding both as separate, but not a few intellectuals hissed at his pettifogging, since corruption is the main artifice for treasury theft.
Likely that President Goodluck Jonathan has not grasped the depths of Nigerian society’s emergency, still less understood it. For he’d last year pleaded the alibi of not having inherited a good country which went bad under his watch.
But such sophistry does not attenuate public anger at the current mind-boggling official thefts, including the wholesale stealing of one-quarter of Nigeria’s annual budget through oil subsidy reimbursement scheme under President Jonathan last year – an offence carrying death penalty were it to occur in China, indicating the severity of Nigeria’s oil subsidy fraud in the laws of sane climes, despite it being underplayed in a court roulette of perpetual adjournments by contrast in Nigeria.
And now, as Nigeria slips into a war situation, the present horror is not just of a failed society, as President Jonathan minimises it, but of a complete erasure of the line that should exist between right and wrong in government circles.
As the idea of government in Nigeria then falls into disrepute, without any helm or radar to steady or steer the country, the slender reed left holding Nigeria together is the troika of the Police, the State Security and the Nigerian Military – whose uniformed men lay down their lives for a grateful nation by doing a yeoman’s task of hugging the country at the precipice from falling into the abyss where Nigeria is looking straight at the moment.
…Seyi Olu Awofeso is a Legal Practitioner in Abuja