For the right effect, this intervention must restate the fact that Nigeria needs a very urgent revolution if it must survive. Things are going totally south for this country and not all the prayers or wishes that the 200 million citizens can muster would save it unless there is an instant revolution!
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, this is not talking about any violent revolution. No, the world has moved away from the embrace of violent disruptions to the progressive effects of revolution of ideas. The focus of leadership has shifted from the ordinary display of power hinged on short-term contemplations to emotional, people-centric governance centred on sustainable and transformative goals.
Governance in Nigeria, despite all the glaring trouble the country faces, remains largely short-sighted and uncreative. Nigerian leaders in this 21st Century thrive in reacting to issues rather than designing well-thought-out proactive agendas to impact on the present and future of the country and its people.
Here is a succinct instance. On Friday, a 58-year- old Nigerian lady, Mrs Funke Olakunrin, who happened to have been a daughter of the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, was killed on the Sagamu- Benin Expressway.
It became instant news because of the pedigree of Mrs Olakunri since, in fact, such events are a daily occurrence on this highway and so many others in the country such that Nigerians now live in perpetual fear of travelling.
Indeed, in the unfortunate incident where this lady was murdered, the police revealed that one other person was killed, while seven others were later rescued from abduction. Now, these are stories that Nigerians in the North, South, East and West are daily exposed to even though authorities at the highest levels in the person of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would suggest that these stories were not as reported.
Unfortunately, this reality moved closer home for the VP last Friday when the family of one of the most prominent persons in his ethnic group was hit by one of the numerous criminal acts that has continued to increase in Nigeria.
And as is usual with the politicians, Osibanjo was soon on the lead of a delegation to commiserate with the 93-year-old bereaved father of the latest victim of Nigeria’s inhumanity, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
During this visit, the Vice President ate his own words in which he alleged while on a visit to the United States that Nigerians were hyperbolic in the reports of kidnappings in the country. When he visited Fasoranti on Sunday, he said: “… I am here to commiserate with the families of Olakunri and Pa Reuben Fasoranti. This is a massive tragedy, as you can imagine. We have seen it replicated here and there, which are kidnapping, death and killings…”
Before then, Osibanjo had as usual promised that government would do everything to ensure that incidents like this became history in Nigeria. And one of the magical measures he promised was the deployment of soldiers on the highways!
But with profound respect to the Vice President, that offering belies any rigorous contemplation that situations like this demand from the highest level of governance. It, in fact, indicates that the Buhari administration is not giving much if any serious thought to incidents like this, which exposes the fact that this Nigerian state is gradually tending towards failure.
In flaunting the military as an immediate solution to the insanity on Nigerian highways, there are a few questions that the VP should answer. These include: What is the strength of the Nigerian military, which has continued to take on ad hoc responsibilities over the past couple of years? How much success has the military made of the numerous operations that they are engaged in across the country? How much has government done to improve the capacity of intelligence and law enforcement agencies that should tackle crimes like armed robbery and kidnapping? And most importantly, has the government realised that the deployment of military men to the highways is usually attended by another problem of misuse of power and exploitation of the citizens? How has the government prepared to deal with this?
The point is that government functionaries do not give painstaking attention to the challenges of the country. This is why they offer mere knee-jerk reactions which, when they have any effect at all, are only tentative without any capacity to solve problems sustainably. Our government folds its arms, waiting to react to incidents that detract from the citizens’ confidence rather than being proactive and anticipating problems and projecting solutions ahead of these fairly predictable outcomes.
During the First Republic, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s campaign train was doing its round somewhere around the present Ekiti State. It was said that every community he visited had a list of demands most of which were around their need for some infrastructure or the other. Replying them on every occasion however, Awolowo recognised the fact that these communities truly needed potable water, electricity and all other utilities they demanded, but he made a point that still puts him ahead as a thinker/politician over three decades after his death.
He told leaders of these communities that while the Western Region Government would do its best to provide the needed infrastructure for its people, his administration was more concerned about providing education for their children. His contention was that, with the education of every single child in the region, there would be a developed and informed human capital, which would not just realise the need for infrastructural development but ensure the same and foster a sense of communal ownership for them! The evidence of his vision still exists till date.
But current leaders do not show any understanding of the importance for human capital development or strategic planning for the development of the nation. They speak about how much poverty and ignorance have contributed to the insurgency in the north eastern part of the country, for example, yet there has been little concerted effort at reversing the burden of the increasing number of out-of-school children, which is currently put at about 13.5 million!
Proactive governance would see the issue of out-of-school children as a national emergency given the foreboding it bears for the future. If Nigeria is dealing with a seemingly unending Boko Haram crisis now, the dangers that millions of angry and uneducated children will unleash on the country and even the African continent in another 20 years can only be imagined.
It is the same with the level of mismanagement of the differences that exist among the various sections of Nigeria even though this is daily taking the country towards the precipice. Take the herdsmen/farmers crisis that has now spiralled into a nationwide conflagration capable of consuming the country, would the proactive and sincere intervention of a government interested in the future of the country not have stemmed the growing trend of violence? This should even be more easily realisable because both parties are Nigerians who need each other’s expertise for survival. Which country that truly aspires for growth and the diversification of its economy would joke with these two major groups in the agriculture value chain?
The fact is that Nigeria has grappled with a colossal failure of governance for so long; it has become so weak that it may crumble on us. Check the prostrate state of most institutions of state: the un-abating weakening of security agencies especially the police, a judiciary seemingly on life support, socio-political interactions that have become so tensed that national temperature is at a palpable breaking point, a health sector that is in shambles with medical doctors moving out in droves, just as education has become a huge joke.
Universities all over the world exist to resolve national questions and incubate the direction for national development but not in Nigeria. The relationship between town and gown that should stimulate social growth does not exist and this has left universities in the country forlorn and turning them into mere certificate issuing bodies. That is not to speak of the growing ethnic tension and insecurity that have gripped the soul of Nigeria, the near infantile political wrangling in the country as well as the pathetic denial under which the government of the day wallows.
What Nigeria needs as a matter of urgency therefore, is a government that has a vision for the country and is honest with itself. A government that has an emotional attachment to the welfare of the people without manifest regard for where it comes from or what kind of names it bears.
When history congregates to recount, the legacy of this government as of every other will be based on how much it is able to bring the people together and inspire them to collaborate for the development of the country. That is the revolution that Nigeria currently needs!