By Casmir Igbokwe
Nigeria is an interesting country. Almost on a daily basis, one strange or dramatic phenomenon engages the attention of the citizens. Last week, some media reports indicated imminent bloodbath in the South-East. The reports were sequel to an alleged approval given by President Muhammadu Buhari to the security agencies to launch a major offensive in the region. Some of us were still trying to decode these reports when, suddenly, President Buhari’s war with Twitter ensued.
The President had warned that all those who wanted the destruction of the system would soon have the shock of their lives. As he put it, “Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand. We are going to be very hard sooner than later.”
For threatening war and promoting violence, Twitter removed the post. The micro-blogging giant had similarly removed the posts of Donald Trump when he was the President of the United States. Currently, the same Trump is on suspension from Facebook until 2023. Heavens have not fallen.
But for Nigeria, removal of Buhari’s post was sacrilegious. Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, quickly issued a statement denouncing Twitter. He followed up by announcing a ban on its operations in Nigeria. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, added his voice by threatening to prosecute any Nigerian found violating the ban.
This is laughable. Twitter did not ban Buhari. It simply removed a post it considered offensive. For that reason, all Nigerians have been subjected to a breach of their freedom to access information. For no justifiable reason, I have been banned from using a platform that enables me to reach millions of people worldwide. Shall we ever cease to make mockery of ourselves?
The Federal Government’s action is a manifestation of the dictatorial tendencies of this regime. It is a throwback to military dictatorship which, incidentally, Buhari was part of. Sometimes, they rationalize their actions by tying them to national interest which they consider superior to the rule of law.
One wonders if this obscure national interest also encompasses reminding a people of their traumatic past. In the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970, over three million Igbo perished. Some were maimed for life. After the war, the Yakubu Gowon military junta promised to effect rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation in the South-East. Rather than fulfill this promise, the Federal Government has constantly reminded the region that it is a conquered territory.
Today, there is serious tension in the South-East. Allegations are rife that security agents indiscriminately arrest and sometimes kill innocent youths under the guise of hunting for members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The other day, a Germany-based Nigerian, Mr. Oguchi Unachukwu, was killed at a checkpoint in Owerri, Imo State, by personnel of the Nigerian Air Force. He was on his way to catch a flight to Lagos from where he was meant to board a flight to Germany. Some others have been wasted in a similar manner. Many easterners now dread travelling to their country homes. In some places, burials are now conducted via Zoom so people can participate without risking their lives by travelling.
No doubt, the killing of security men in the South-East by the so-called unknown gunmen is condemnable, just as the kidnapping and killing of students and travellers in the other parts of the country. No place is safe anymore in Nigeria. People are traumatised. The solution is not to isolate a particular region and remind them of their traumatic past. It is not in issuing threats upon threats.
It is in taking an unbiased action against criminals anywhere they are in the country. If there is a crime somewhere, security agents are supposed to go straight to the scene of the crime and smoke out the perpetrators. If they want to send fighter jets anywhere, Sambisa Forest, the headquarters of Boko Haram insurgents, or some other forests harbouring bandits across the country, should be the starting point. Invading the South-East and harassing innocent youths as they are wont to do will definitely not augur well for the peace and unity of the country.
The good thing is that critical stakeholders are not silent in the face of the mistake called governance in this country. The bad thing is that the Federal Government has refused to take corrections. It has continued to be very combative with critics.
The other day, a United States-based organisation, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Harvard Kennedy School did a research on the state of affairs in Nigeria. Their conclusion was that the country was at the point of no return. They said it had shown all the signs of a failed nation. Some of the signs include insecurity, weak rules of law, corruption, limited political participation and voice, discrimination against various classes and kinds of citizens, poor educational and medical services, and violence. Rather than take the report in its stride and look for ways to make amends, the Federal Government dismissed the group.
But is it not obvious that we are a failed state? As the U.S. group noted, “All failed states harbour some form of violent internal strife, such as civil war or insurgency. Nigeria now confronts six or more internal insurrections and the inability of the Nigerian state to provide peace and stability to its people has tipped a hitherto very weak state into failure.”
Comatose economy is at the root of Nigeria’s instability. Millions of youths are unemployed and there is no prospect of their ever getting gainfully engaged. This scenario will get worse because there are no concrete actions being taken to ameliorate the situation.
I was in Kano last week for the Nigerian Guild of Editors’ convention. What I saw there almost drew me to tears. As early as 7am, hundreds of kids cluster in many streets. This is the period they are supposed to be in school. Obviously, these kids will grow without mastering any skill. You wonder what the future holds for them and for the society. And you think insurgency and banditry will ever end?
Buhari, Malami, Lai Mohammed & Co. should realize that they are the real problem with Nigeria today, not Twitter or Facebook. They are in a position to initiate policies that will change the fortunes of Nigeria for good. They have the power and authority to rescue the country from joining the league of failed states. But they have chosen to chase shadows. Nigeria is collapsing on account of their bad policies. History has a place for them in the hall of shame.
Re: Nigeria and problems of rigid presidency
The complexity of the Nigerian setting requires a fit, proper and detribalised president who truly understands and honestly aligns his governance to our peculiar background while playing down his tribal attractions for the common good of all Nigerians. So much of what you have pencilled down are what have, unfortunately, defined the Buhari presidency.
The president operates and sees Nigeria from a Fulani world view and closes his eyes to the recurring oddities of his administrative style. His mind is, unrepentantly, burdened by suspicion: hence, he must only entrust the security apparatus of the country and other sensitive positions to his people to be sure of his stranglehold on power, and if as a last resort ‘cede’ the presidency to the man he and his people can trust on guided terms. In your words, you submitted ‘I see danger ahead’. No, the danger is already here. Look at the artificial insurrection in the South East! Do lives matter in Nigeria these days?
-Edet Essien Esq. Cal. South, +2348037952470
There is no contradiction to the fact that Muhammadu is fraught with rigidity and insensitivity since his era as head of state. Consequently, his rigid posture and insensitivity to issues led to his overthrow in Aug 27, 1985 as announced by Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (now of blessed memory). I wonder why he mustered the majority of votes cast in 2015. I wonder why the electorate did not vote him out.
-Chinedu Ekwuno (JP), 08063730644
Casmir, please tell Mr. President that this is not military but democracy, if he can’t give restructuring as requested by Nigerians, he should resign so as to get somebody who is ready to give us what the majority want.
– Sobalaje Ayinla, +2347017410377
Dear Casy, since independence, we haven’t had this type of government. British laid this evil foundation by favouring Fulani in our leadership at the expense of other tribes. Today in Buhari’s presidency, only Fulani and their cattle are Nigerians. The rest of us are now conquered people. After INEC rigged him in, Buhari handed the government over to Abba Kyari and Miyetti Allah. Since 2019 till date, has he made live broadcast to the nation? He has Fulanised and about to Islamise us because our southern political leaders are cowards. Malami and co. are Nigeria’s nemesis.
–Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495
It is a mistake made in 2015. I believe it will not repeat itself again in 2023. Commencement of constitutional review is a welcome development but they should review the constitution in a manner that everybody would be carried along to move Nigeria forward.
-Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535
Dear Casy, rigidity in leadership is the absence of good conscience. The results?:- 1.Sadism on the part of the leader; 2.Twists and Turns in the running of public affairs instead of retreating and re-strategising to face reality for public good; 3.Withdrawal of followership; 4.Encasement or imprisonment of the leader by sycophants via encouragement of the leader in his (leader’s)line of thoughts and actions; 5. By the time Divine retribution catches up with the leader, most if not all of the sycophants, would deny him like the biblical Peter and vamoose! Liken all of the above to Nigeria’s situation and you would be left with the conclusion as to how and why Nigeria is on the drift towards tailspin now; from near comatose economy to insecurity and….. name it! Solution? Prayer for divine turnaround since the men in power have become impervious to voices of reason!
–Steve Okoye. Awka. 08036630731.
Casmir, Nigeria is so unlucky to get a hypocritical government which cannot be relied upon. The check and balance that is the beauty of democracy is no longer available. The president issues his intentions which are usually one-sided and everyone accepts it as the official policy. The change that was sold to us has since turned into chains. And the next level has graduated to unprecedented misery. Every part of our lives today is misery. Buhari has earned an enviable position in history of this country as the worst President.
-Pharm Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922
Dear Casmir, Nigeria could still work if there is selfless leadership. South Africa got Nelson Mandela, Tanzania got Julius Nyerere, Ghana got Jerry Rawlings and they developed. Umaru Yar’ Adua proposed a listening government but for death. I suggest Citizenship Journalism so every street will have WhatsApp group, every town union run a magazine and every leader chartroom Congress on website with his or her constituency.
– Cletus Frenchman Enugu, +234 909 538 5215
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, June 7, 2021