So Far, So…


Nigeria is 57 years today. If the directive by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for all churches in the country to dedicate the day for prayers for the salvation of the nation is adhered to, then, for the first time, adherents would be marking Independence Day without festivities.
This scenario indeed, captures the mood of the nation today. Hitherto, the national Independence Day anniversary celebration had been a period of celebration of our nationhood, our independence from British colonial rule.
It was a time to brandish and wave our Green-White-Green national flag to celebrate our sovereignty and rededicate ourselves to love and unity, peace and progress.
Today, peace and progress have become scarce commodities in our national life, because love and unity are presently endangered. Insecurity occasioned by the criminal activities of murderous herdsmen, Boko Haram terrorists, ethnic/religious violence and kidnapping have made the nation one of the most unsafe places on earth.
The ugly development has been compounded by pervasive corruption and the failure of leadership to point the way out of the threatening calamity.
In rallying Christians to prayers, CAN President Rev Samson Ayokunle urged them to pray “against blood-letting, violence and civil war”, noting that the unity of the country has been under consistent threat, with citizens polarised along various divides. The only way out of this quagmire, he said, is for worshippers to pray for divine intervention.
Indeed, Nigeria has not been this divided since independence. The quest for secession by the  Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), its proscription, the military intervention and the on-going controversial debate over restructuring  have compounded the challenges facing the nation.
Buffeted on all sides, what the nation needs today is a leadership that has the courage and political will to address the imbalance that is largely responsible for these agitations.
Across board, the nation needs leaders that will no longer pay lip service to peace and unity of the nation. Nigeria needs true statesmen and patriots who can take the country to the next level.
Since the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates as a united British colony in 1914 and its independence in 1960 under a federal Constitution fashioned by the people, represented by the leaders of various ethnic nationalities, Nigeria has ever since, not had a constitution fashioned by the people.
Two constitutions in 1999 and 1998/99 authored by the military which seized power in 1966 were approved by the Supreme Military Council. It is against this background and the imbalances in the socio-economic fabric of the nation that the growing calls for restructuring find relevance and justification.
Prof. Ben Nwabueze, elder statesman and chairman of The Patriots which comprised elder statesmen who had been at the forefront of the agitations for restructuring said the demand aims to reform the governmental structures and attune them to the needs and wishes of the people.
“In a wider fundamental locus, restructuring is a call for the country to make a new beginning under a new constitution approved and adopted by the people at a referendum”,  Nwabueze said.
The import of this is still lost on many sectional champions as the word restructuring conveys toxic meaning to them; even as the nation operates a federalism that is unitary in practice.
The imbalances that exist in statutory allocations, states creation, federal appointments, infrastructure development, among others, have led to the loud call for the practice of true fiscal federalism.
It is also the attendant marginalization and neglect that threw up self-determination agitations by IPOB, Niger Delta militants, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), among others.
It is instructive that an extensive two-year study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) titled, ‘Journey To Extremism’ which was released last month, indicates that exposure to state abuse and marginalization, not religious ideology are better predictors of radicalism.
The study also indicates that those living on the periphery of their country with less access to education and health services are more vulnerable to be recruited to violent extremist groups. With millions of unemployed graduates from universities without jobs over the years, it is easy  to situate the increasing restiveness across the country.
Against this frightening backdrop, militarisation of the polity is counter-productive. Indeed, the current multiplicity of military operations in virtually all the six geo-political zones of the country paints a picture of a nation at war with itself and runs contrary to the tenets of true democracy.
We believe that those who the citizenry had entrusted their powers to govern, should seek the root causes of the agitations and violence in the polity and make patriotic efforts to douse the tensions.
At 57, very few Nigerians can afford smiles on their faces today because of hardship, marginalization, violence and insecurity. It is becoming fashionable to emphasise what divides than what unites the nation. And rather than  live for the common man and the under-privileged, leaders and those in authority are building empires and reserves for themselves and descendants to the 10th generation. This, indeed, is a recipe for violence and disintegration.
Two years into his government, President Muhammadu Buhari has come short of his electoral promises as his health status and frequent visits abroad to consult his doctors, have become a disincentive to effective governance.
The underperformance of his cabinet members which is reflected in the pervasive economic downturn and hardship faced by the citizenry despite the nation’s recent dubious exit from recession, had led to shrill calls for him to reshuffle his cabinet
At 57, Nigeria ought today to be celebrating achievements on the path to industrialisation and a buoyant economy like its third world counterparts such as Korea and Malaysia.
Regrettably, today, we celebrate under a pall of fear, insecurity and threat of disintegration.
This is why President Buhari must rightly read the mood of the nation, see the merit in the call to address the imbalances in the polity and stem the rising  agitations, violence and insecurity.
Indeed, it is an act of divine providence that in this challenging march on the road  to nationhood, Nigeria has remained together, for which we should be thankful to God.
So far, so…? Nigerians are the best judges of our governments, past and present. But, the least we ask is equity and a better life for the citizenry.
Happy 57th Anniversary, Nigerians!