Chiedu Uche Okoye
Will Nigeria survive beyond 2015 as a united and indivisible country? Nobody knows the fate that will befall Nigeria in the future. But America’s projection about Nigeria’s future is scary, and not cheery. And not a few Nigerian prophets and seers had given prophecies that Nigeria would disintegrate. Ominous signs of political trouble hang over our political landscape what with the exchange of vitriol and incendiary comments between Retd General Buhari’s supporters and President Jonathan’s foot soldiers. Over the years, Nigeria has proved to be a cat with nine lives regarding its emergence from political troubles not dismembered.
The Nigeria-Biafra civil war, which raged between 1967 and 1970, did not lead to our country’s disintegration. The annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, which triggered off violence in the country, failed to throw Nigeria into a civil war. In the recent past, ethno-religious conflicts marked the north. And we experienced the Maitatsine uprising, which was squelched and nipped in the bud.
Although we surmounted many political troubles to remain as one country, we’ve not known true peace and unity. Who doesn’t know that unity is a sine qua non for progress in a country? Lack of unity among the diverse people(s) that make up Nigeria is one of the reasons why Nigeria has not achieved its potentialities. Nigeria, as it is currently constituted, is divided along ethnic and religious lines. Ethnic hatred and religious bigotry reign supreme among us.
Our ethnic and religious fissures come to the fore during periodic presidential election. Then we make choice of our president not based on the presidential candidates’ leadership and personal qualities. And our ethnic and religious prejudices and biases and the imposition of leaders on us by kingmakers do pave way for the emergence of semi-literate and unscrupulous people as our leaders.
2015 is Nigeria’s election year. And it is some weeks away. And as to the presidential election, the battle for the seat at Aso Rock is a toss-up between the unreconstructed Retd General Buhari and the meek president Goodluck Jonathan. The ethnic chauvinists, religious bigots, sycophants, and side-kicks have lined up behind their preferred presidential candidates for pecuniary reason and primordial considerations and sentiments.
But has President Jonathan acquitted himself well in the discharge of his official duties as our president? He lays claims to reviving our railway transport system. More so, he is credited with stamping out corruption in the pension board. But poverty has remained endemic and pervasive in our country for all our oil-wealth. High rate of unemployment in the country is posing a challenge to the PDP-led government. Our educational system is in a shambles; and the health sector in tatters with medical personnel engaging in incessant industrial action.
Sadly, members of the President Jonathan’s campaign team are not telling us how President Jonathan will fix the ills that have held us down for so long. Rather, bashing the APC’s presidential candidate has become their past time. Buhari-phobia has afflicted them, and it reigns supreme among them. Instead of formulating and articulating policies on how to tackle our economic woes and revamp our dysfunctional educational system and comatose health sector, they are obsessed with Buhari’s alleged non-possession of academic qualifications. And surprisingly, the thuggish governor of Ekiti state, Mr. Ayo Fayose, took the smear campaign some notches higher to a morbid level. His covert death -wish for Buhari drips of recklessness, insensitivity to our sensibilities, incivility, and desperation for political power. It is reflective of PDP’s desperation for political power. But Retd General Buhari is not the messiah we are waiting for. Buhari came into the public consciousness many years ago. He was Nigeria’s former head of state between 1983 and 1985. During his rulership of Nigeria, he evinced and demonstrated dictatorial tendencies. He jailed some people based on retroactive laws and decrees. When he seized power, he clamped Jim Nwobodo, Alex Ekwueme, and other southern politicians into jail while showing lenience to his ethnic compatriots and co-religionists. He was ousted from office many years ago; but, since then, Buhari has not evinced and demonstrated traits and tendencies that are proofs that he has been transformed to a democrat. If anything, he once threatened that monkeys and Baboons would be drenched in blood if the 2011 general elections were not free and fair. His categorical and unequivocal condemnation of Boko Haram group came too late. Perhaps, it is for the sake of politics. Buhari is perceived as an ethnic jingoist and religious bigot for these reasons
More so, the unconstructed Buhari is with provincial ideas. What are his views and takes on the economic situation prevailing in today’s Nigeria? Does the aging Retd General Buhari have the intellectual wherewithal with which he can tackle our multifarious national problems? The indisputable fact is, the APC, which is progressive only in nomenclature, erred by making Retd General Buhari its presidential candidate. He is not the man for the times. Likewise, President Jonathan seems to be overwhelmed by Nigeria’s problems. His tardiness in responding to national issues illustrates his incapacity to lead Nigeria to a great height. So should we entrust the fate of Nigeria and Nigerians in the care of President Goodluck Jonathan for the next four years?
The fact is, the duos, who are the front runners for the presidential post, are not the messiahs Nigerians are looking for. Neither of them is imbued with revolutionary zeal and nationalistic fervour. Now we should look beyond the duo for Nigeria’s messiah and national redemption.
•Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State