Thursday, June 14, 2018

Nigeria: Their Tomorrow Will Surely Come!

By Dan Amor
Are Nigerians hopeful of the day after? The collective answer to this rhetorical question is a resounding NO. If Nigerians are no longer hopeful of tomorrow, they deserve pardon. For, never in the history of mankind have a people been so brutalized by the very group of people who are supposed to protect and take care of them. They ought to be pardoned knowing full well that their manifest state of hopelessness has extended beyond disillusionment to a desperate and consuming nihilism. Which is why the only news one hears from Nigeria is soured news: violence, arson, killing, maiming, kidnapping, robbery, corruption, rape.
*Buhari, Obasanjo and Abdusalami
It is sad to note that Nigeria is gradually and steadily degenerating into the abyss. Even in a supposedly democratic dispensation, a sense of freedom, a feeling of an unconditional escape, a readiness for real and absolute change, is still the daydream of the whole citizenry. Everything is in readiness for the unexpected, and the unexpected is not in sight. You cannot possibly conceive what a rabble we look. We straggle along with far less cohesion than a flock of sheep. We are, in fact, even forced to believe that tomorrow will no longer come. Quite a handful of us are simply robots without souls, as we are hopeless because we are conditioned to a state of collective hopelessness.

Our record of civilization is ultimately a record of barbarity. Consider: in 1979, Nigerians went to the polls to ward off the debilitating effects of military rule in their country. This exercise ushered in a democratically elected civilian government. Unknown to Nigerians, this gang of debt-ridden politicians suddenly developed into a monster. The result was the conspiratorial looting of the national treasury into their private pockets. And Nigerians were worst hit for it. The government introduced a supposedly punitive fiscal policy styled "Austerity Measure", through which a people already denied the good things of life were asked to make further sacrifices. Millions of Nigerians lost their jobs, and there was wailing and gnashing of teeth all over the place as a result of grinding poverty among the people, whereas the corrupt politicians were swimming in affluence and under the best security system one could think of. But their tomorrow eventually came. On December 31, 1983, the martial lords came calling with their logic as traumatic as it was compelling and sacked their compatriots in 'agbada' with a consummate pledge to sanitize the leprous political system.
For the first few months, there was a ray of hope in the system due to the marvelous ingenuity of Tunde Idiagbon, their second-in-command. Yet it was not without some avoidable ambiguities due to the bigotry inherent in the character of Gen Muhammadu Buhari, the commander-in-chief who was also passionately intolerant of dissent. Whereas some of the looters were hurled into various detention camps, there existed some sacred cows here and there. Certain blue-blooded aristocrats whose veins human blood does not flow were made to look as though they were above the laws of the land. The men of command and diktat who permitted this level of double standard also vented their spleen on men of the Fourth Estate of the Realm. The import of their Decree 4 was to the effect that all was well provided no voice was raised against their draconian rule. Public outcry was to the effect that the sledge hammer employed by the khaki boys was too heavy for the flies. The men of terror thought otherwise. But their tomorrow finally came.
Even those who overran them with a superior commandist logic did not fare better. Their regime was more beguiling than their predecessors'. There were more pains, more anguish and more deaths that most Nigerians were now yearning for the day after. The regime introduced a time-worn capitalist economic policy which structurally sapped and decimated the good things of life out of a majority of Nigerians. There was untold hunger in the land, just as there is today as Naira, the local currency was devalued to an unacceptable proportion and inflation rate rose above sea level.
Again, the people's popular verdict given on June 12, 1993, that a drastic change be effected in the system, was vehemently resisted by the deans of the martial clan. There was bloodshed, burning, looting and maiming. In the end, the deans saw their tomorrow coming and quickly stepped aside due largely to the cataclysm that came with the people's power. Their dark-goggled colleague who was like second-in-command still forced himself on the nation as a maximum, iron-fisted dictator. No Nigerian actually understood his hyperbole, not even the acclaimed winner of the annulled mass decision for change.
The dark-goggled, stern-faced maximum ruler clamped his 'enemies' including his erstwhile martial superiors into jail over a phantom coup plot. Others were either shot, bombed or chased into exile in foreign lands. The custodian of the people's mandate himself died in prison. Following the dictates of the Law of Karma, the dictator himself saw his tomorrow coming. On June 8, 1998, he died in the arms of some beautiful Indian girls inside the biggest prison in the land called Aso Rock Villa. One of the jailbirds in his gulag who was helped out unhurt was eventually crowned a king for the second time.
Unfortunately, he saw himself as a messiah whose attitude to governance was to gallivant the whole world in customized 'agbada', parroting like the dreaded 'Etulubor' masquerade while looting the national patrimony into his private pockets but pretending he was fighting corruption. After his eight years of dictatorship in mufti having been denied a third term, he succeeded in foisting his sickly protégé on the nation thus posting the country on the page of arrested development. But his successor, the gentle but sickly teacher-turned politician gave amnesty to Niger Delta youths and brought sanity to the much abused restive region. The demise of the much adored and honest intellectual who acknowledged the depraved electoral system which brought him to power ushered in another intellectual as president through the Doctrine of Necessity.
He introduced economic and democratic reforms that moved the country to the enviable status of the fastest growing economy in Africa. He even went as far as providing a platform on which Nigerians of all shades, tribes, creed and occupation gathered to debate the future of their country. He did not give credence to the politics of bitterness (do-or-die) as he insisted that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. Even though there was so much looting of public funds under his watch, he did not invent corruption and the monster of official sleaze during his administration was not close to the bazaar of massive looting that was the hallmark of military banditry for more than 35 years. But he was a victim of elite conspiracy and was summarily rigged out of office on March 28, 2015.
As a principled politician who would not feel pleased with the killings of innocent Nigerians, he called his challenger and conceded defeat. He congratulated his opponent, a feat never before recorded in our annals. His exit brought to power a relentless virtuoso of the power game who would not brook any nibbling to remain on the throne. At first, he made a proclamation on the day of his inauguration that he belonged to everybody and he belonged to nobody. As he began to consolidate his hold on power, it dawned on Nigerians that the emperor with messianic impudence actually belongs to his kinsmen and not all Nigerians. He lined up his tribesmen including retired and tired ones as members of his kitchen cabinet. So brazenly lackluster was his regime that his wife had to warn Nigerians that he is not in control but a cabal.
Three years into his reign of trepidation, Nigerians are already crying for relief. Aside from unprovoked killings of innocent Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country, under him the people are weighed down by extreme poverty. Prices of essential commodities and other food items are skyrocketed while the value of the national currency has nosedived several octaves below its counterparts. His plot to annex the legislature and the judiciary into the executive arm of government is ongoing with the wanton intimidation of the National Assembly with corrosive state power. Under his watch the country is manifesting the highest index of human misery. In the history of our nationhood, Nigerians have never been this bruised as there is no one whistling a happy tune in the streets. The signs aren't too hard to see: they are the signs of internal decay, the dry rot of apathy and indifference.
Also, Nigerians have never been as divided as they are today. Yet, what we hear daily from them is that they have delivered on their campaign promises to the people and that there is no alternative to their regime. Driven by inordinate ambition to remain in power and the need to win the support of the South West greatly wronged by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, they have hurriedly declared that date our new Democracy Day. They have also honoured the presumed winner of that election who was made to die in their gulag with the highest national honour of the land and some targeted players in the June 12 crisis the second highest national honour of the land. Yes, it is good gesture, but for the wrong motives. See what desperation can cause? Is this the CHANGE Nigerians voted for? Our nation is detained in the past. But their tomorrow will surely come.
*Amor is an Abuja-based public affairs analyst 

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