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Heightening Despondency: Society To Rescue Itself, By Andrew A. Erakhrumen

Sep 4, 2023

It is now a no-brainer to say that Nigeria is dangling from a dangerous precipice! Nonetheless, this clearly clear alarmingly dire precariousness is being increasingly ignored by successive people in government; even as well-meaning Nigerians/non-Nigerians have been worryingly complaining about, and proffering solutions to, underlying challenges encountered by the country! Instead of acknowledging and working on well-intentioned patriotic messages, for the benefit of all, governments’ people’s usual strategy has been to work on the messengers by tagging them as political enemies; issuing worthless press releases and propaganda that explain nothing but inanities and emptiness! The cheap paper upon which the words are written is worth more than those words. Although, the current central government has not started baring its fangs in this regard perhaps because it is still trying to establish itself! Past actions and inactions of these power-drunk prigs have shown that they were not prepared for governance but, unknown to many, only aimed at power-mongering. Surely, a government whose foundation was based on lies cannot function without the easily-predictable senseless propaganda and blame game. Sadly, Nigerian governments are now more confounded than those they claim to be governing! Understandably, frustrated Nigerians are heaping blames on governments for the debilitating socio-economic dislocation in Nigeria.

This frustration is understandable because “the buck stops” at governments’ desk, using the phrase popularised by Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) a former president of the United States of America. We will be fair to quickly add that Nigerian governments’ crass non-responsiveness and irresponsibility did not start today! They have been with us for decades; so, they are not new to Nigeria and Nigerians except that each succeeding government ‘improves’ on its own capacity to be irresponsive and irresponsible in governance by taking this nonsensicality to another unprecedented height! Therefore, we will be pleasantly surprised if any positive difference is achieved, in terms of democratic deliverables, from the current groups (in power) at all levels! We sometimes find it difficult to believe what Nigeria has turned into. It is difficult to resist asking: how did we get here? Like other societies, Nigeria grappled with some challenges before ‘independence’ but in January, 1966, the seeds of many upheavals now being experienced got sown through a military coup! For almost sixty years later, this ‘unconstitutional’ means of attaining power is, again, spreading in Africa! Nigeria became a “no man’s land” / “occupied territory” post-1966. Most pre-1960 Nigerian leaders and those with master plan/compass needed to help Nigeria’s ‘ship’ in navigating through stormy waters were sidelined; hence, this ‘ship’ got hijacked by ‘sea pirates’.

Afterwards, Nigeria progressively degenerated to where the dregs of society got empowered to audaciously lead the country’s best! A country where intellectualism got scorned! The victimised were punished and blamed for asking for their rights! Nigeria mimicked a slave camp! The foregoing was a fertile ground for “modern feudalism” operational today! Nigeria is now where the dark days of military rule appear to be better than what is being experienced with civilian administrations! In that case, Alfred Rewane (1916–1995), whose name at birth, we were told, was Ogbeyiwa Erewarone, cannot be more correct that “…..Yesterday, we yearned for a better tomorrow. But today, we mourn the loss of a glorious yesterday…..” Thus, since we have been having charlatans and con-artists as people in government for long in Nigeria, it will be a case of asking for too much by expecting them to give what they do not have. This sad story is, simply, a repetition! Nigeria has always missed it concerning the kind of leadership they truly yearned for and those forced on them. Well-meaning Nigerians have a vivid picture, in their mind, of the type of leadership they believe has the capacity of spawning positive growth and development. We are referring to high quality human capacity here; a type of leadership that has eluded Nigerians for a long time! Most of those holding public offices, in the country, today, are not leaders but dealers and usurpers!

Disdainfully, these fuzzy characters even go about with an entitlement mentality. They and their progeny think they have a perpetual mandate to be in government even with their incompetence, exhibiting vain arrogance in failure they are supposed to be shameful about! Shamelessness is one of their creeds! What a shame! This nonsense must be confronted and liquidated if we must move forward in this country. We wonder what they discuss with leaders from countries where there is relative sanity. We wonder how they feel when they abandon their health sector in shambles at home and move overseas to take treatment for headache! Perhaps, they do not know that they are being laughed at by people in those places! Something must be gravely wrong with most of the people in power in Nigeria and many countries in sub-Sahara Africa! They need help! Yes, these misleaders are from the (Nigerian) society where followers are also neither insulated nor excused from the madness! They are involved! It appears to be a case of fastest and best! The fastest crook being the best to get into power and its corridors! Those who read us know that we do not single out individuals or political parties in this matter because they are the same! The ‘different’ parties and their members have no distinguishing ideology! It is all about what to extract! Particularly concerning are those pretending, pre-1999, to be part of pro-democracy movement. Many did not know that they were only interested in stealing (from) the country’s commonwealth. Right now, these slimy and untrustworthy ‘civilians’ are more undemocratic than the military regimes they, then, sought to replace!

Nigeria is now being run by fascists! If this is not yet perceptible by majority of the populace, it is because Nigeria’s version of fascism is still being disguised. It will be fully unveiled and unfortunately, this will be done in active collaboration with some silly, wretched-minded, oppressed people! Poverty – any type of poverty – is, really, a disease! This is not only about money and wealth because if it is, then, those that call themselves Nigerian political leaders may not have been dismal in their output! They should be aware that they are occupying positions they should not occupy if our clime was sane! Here, we mean where the tail does not wag the dog! There is something wrong with their collective psyche! They are so poor, according to Robert Nesta Marley (1945–1981), all they have is money…..money is numbers and numbers never end….. Culture and values might differ but many Nigerians have always been hoping for a better tomorrow. Rewane’s thought, quoted above, comes to mind, here, again, as it is marvelling that people are expecting a better tomorrow from the current misleaders the same way they expected a better today from others in the past! These are ‘leaders’ with designed-to-fail ‘developmental’ plan for the country. However, no matter the perceived hopelessness in the horizon, solutions to Nigeria’s challenges should not be expected from outside it! Inward-looking is important, here, believing that to reinvent and cure are a people’s tasks. These may be difficult but not impossible! They have been achieved elsewhere!

Erakhrumen teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.