The deafening silence of the political class and the elite club, in the light of the grave abnormalities enveloping the land, is worrisome. Could it mean resignation out of anger, frustration and disappointment? Could the deadly silence be out of fear and apprehension? Whatever, the silence is unhelpful and uncomfortable.
Never before in the history of this country, has frightening insecurity, crippling poverty and ethnic divisions become so intertwined, intermingled and interwoven to the extent that despair and fear of tomorrow has become the major discussion at every small gathering from Maiduguri to Lagos, Sokoto to Calabar and Katsina to Port Hacourt.
School teachers, civil servants, market women, farmers, artisans and students, nobody understands exactly what’s going on. School children are abducted in their hundreds, food trucks are blocked from going South, technically-defeated Boko haram seized and holds on to Dikwa for a whole week, and successfully commandeering costly military trucks and other quite expensive equipment from our Army every other week.
Ethnic militias, armed bandits, ruthless herdsmen and kidnappers dominate the news. Every nationality in every region fighting back from fright over the silence of the Presidency on the very deep claim by the Fulani that they own every inch of Nigerian soil. The silence of Aso Rock over that frightening claim by the Fulani and the backlash it created, threw up a new Nigeria nobody ever imagined.
A Nigeria where Yoruba nation begins to raise money for the new super hero, Sunday Igboho, a disturbing new Nigeria where skirmishes between the army and a security network leads to fighter jets being drafted to Orlu, an emerging Nigeria where every man runs under the canopy of, and defends his region, religion and ethnic nationality, while still pretending we are nationalists.
We turn a blind eye to the sad fact that travel advisories are issued against our country, that no foreign investor will draw near a country every body is advised to stay away from. Our currency keeps getting weaker against every foreign currency, life keeps getting harder and tighter on citizens, as electricity tariffs, petroleum products and even food, keeps getting out of reach. And in the face of these difficulties, ethnic tensions, insecurity and unemployment continues to rule the land.
Politicians organise provocative and offensive birthday celebrations in Dubai and other exotic holiday locations in the world, acquire mind blowing properties all over the world and glibly tell us they are taking us to the next level.
None of the vicious kidnappers and bandits making life miserable for citizens are ever brought to book, rather they are generously renumerated, so they could actually acquire more deadly weapons, including rocket launchers, visited and glamorized by religious leaders, who warn us not to call them criminals, and goes ahead to exonerate them and blame their victims instead.
In all these strange developments, politicos are busy plotting about 2023 elections and husbanding scarce resources towards maintaining their stranglehold on power. Non state actors have grown stronger and political divisions sharper. All the ingredients of a failing or failed state, starring us all in the face.
Now, judging from the tradition and style of the government of the day, everyone is expecting a military operation or series of military operations to commence, not faraway from now. The big question remains: if past military operations failed to resolve the issues and restore peace and harmony, how come we still trust and depend only upon military action against civilian population, as the only possible solution to our multi faceted and structurally inspired absurdities?
The silence in the land could be described as the calm before the storm. The artificial calm in the face of grave divisions, deep anger, nauseating nepotism, unbelievable insecurity and great hunger and suffering, could go bust in event of military intervention that’s never gonna solve our problems. At best, after the military intervention, the unresolved issues will naturally rebound in a greater and more complex manner, as shown by history.
The elite and elders of the land are forced to keep quiet and stay out of trouble, preferring to survive through influence peddling. Every body knows the reason Nigeria is wobbling and almost at the point of implosion: the unitary structure imposed by the military and the unwieldy 1999 constitution.
Every body knows the constitution amendment jamboree embarked upon by the national Assembly, cannot and will not resolve the issues. Every body knows that only a new people’s constitution, anchored on true federalism and power devolution, affirmed at a referendum will save Nigeria.
Every body knows that the biggest problem to Nigeria’s survival isn’t the multitude of groups, organisations and militias agitating for one thing or the other, those guys are merely the victims of the suffocating and unjust structure, who are simply reacting to the uncomfortable situation they find themselves in the only way they think they can.
Every body knows that the biggest problem facing Nigeria today are the holders of power, who for expediency and convenience, anchored on hubris and craving to perpetually rule and dominate others, refuse to accept the truth that Nigeria will die, if the political structure is not reconstructed through a fundamental restructuring that will throw up a new people’s constitution, effectively discarding decree 24 of 1999, aka the 1999 unitary constitution, inspired and drafted by the military.
We all know that the silence in the land is out of fear of the leadership of the land. The truth remains that, the birth pangs are not signs of peace and joy, rather they represent signs of foreboding. This is the dreaded season of the calm before the storm.
Which brings us to the infantile blockade of food from the North, instituted and ostensibly enforced by the ethnic body that is trying hard to force Southerners to accept the frightening 5 year new normal of tolerating our mothers being constantly raped in their farmlands and our folks consistently beheaded and decapitated in their farms as a permanent feature and new way of life.
Instead of showing remorse and mending their ways, they are obstinately struggling to use other means of blackmail to subdue the South and continue their vicious rampage and bloodletting, truly childish. They forgot that the last time we were blockaded, we manufactured weapons, refined petroleum and built an international Airport at Ulli.
Nobody told them that blockades usually brings out the best in us. That the total blockade of the late 1960s pushed us to create surface to air missiles- shore battery and devastating bombs- ogbunigwe. How could they forget so soon that our people’s ingenuity thrives and shines when pushed to the wall.
How could they know that our people are excited and prayerful the blockade lasts a few years, so we will be forced to think out of the box and develop a truly independent agricultural development plan. If the response to our plea to stop leading your cattle to destroy our farms and quit slaughtering our farmers, is food blockade in an attempt to continue your unprovoked onslaught on our people, then, to your tents O Israel.
We are of the view that the childish ill advised food blockade is a blessing in disguise for our people.
Evang.Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko is the founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and ecretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA)