By Chiedu Uche Okoye
Nigeria’s political troubles and the vexed issue of her disunity date back to our pre-independence era. We should remember that we had the 1953 Kano riot during which the northern people produced the nine point programme and threatened secession, thereafter. And soon after the country had become a sovereign nation-state, it descended into an internecine civil war, which raged for thirty months and caused the loss of millions of human lives.
In addition to the political troubles, which have continuously beset our country, the north has remained a hotbed of religious crisis, and an epicenter of murderous religious rage. Some years ago, Gideon Akaluka was decapitated and his head hoisted on a pole for allegedly desecrating the Koran. Before then, Nigeria had experienced the Maitatsine religious uprising with its concomitant and calamitous consequences.
Worst still, now, an insurgent group with sanguinary proclivities has emerged in the north-east. The Boko-Haram group, which has a huge distaste and dislike for western education, wants to install a theocratic Islamic government in the north. Its stock-in-trade is the detonation of bombs in public places and the abduction of school children. Some of the abducted Chibook and Dapchi school girls are still held in captivity in the Boko Haram’s enclave.
The murderous activities of the deadly group have caused the displacement of people from their ancestral homes in the north-east. Now, we have a huge humanitarian crisis on our hands in the northeast. More so, for fear of being killed by the insurgents, the displaced people cannot return to their ancestral homes to resume their agricultural activities. Owing to this, the production of food crops there is drastically hindered. So, is Nigeria not susceptible to suffering acute food shortages, soon?
But as it is in the north, so is it in the Middle-belt region, especially in Benue state. The Fulani cattle herders, who claim kinship with President Buhari, devastate farmlands there with their unrestrained cattle grazing activities. When challenged for destroying farmlands, they would execute nocturnal attacks on their host communities, catching them unawares and killing natives of those towns. Those itinerant cattle herders overtly carry arms with which they perpetrate murders. However, they are seldom arrested for that, not to talk of them being arraigned for violating our gun law and homicide.
Are we unconscious of the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency and the Fulani cattle herders’ menace have the potentiality of sparking off ethno-religious conflict in Nigeria? But has President Buhari done his utmost best to rein in their murderous activities? The answer is a categorical no. That is why he is accused of collusion in the Fulani cattle herders’ blood-letting campaigns in many states of Nigeria. Is he showing lenience on them as they belong to the same ethnic stock as his?
President Buhari, who is an unreconstructed religious bigot and ethnic irredentist, has failed not only in addressing our security challenges, but also in tackling our vexed issue of corruption. We know that corruption is the cankerworm choking life out of Nigeria. However, he has turned the corruption war into a witch-hunt of his political foes.
Again, President Buhari has failed to fix the infrastructural rot in Nigeria, especially federal roads in the south-east. The Anambra state section of the Enugu –Onitsha expressway is in a deplorable state, now. It is worse than roads in war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Cambodia.
Can our plaintive cry for the fixing of the road rouse and bestir President Buhari to action? He should fix our wobbling economy, too. Our naira is weak against other currencies. As he has failed to diversify our economy, he cannot create jobs. Those unemployed Nigerians are hungry, angry, and disillusioned. The APC’s slogan as well as chant of change does not resonate among them, again. The APC’s campaign mantra of change was a ruse with which APC’s chieftains beguiled millions of Nigerians into voting for APC in the 2015 Presidential election.
Expectedly, now, the Atiku and Obi political candidature for the 2019 presidential election has continued to excite us. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not possessed of Messianic and Sainthood complexes like the deluded Buhari. A man without his head in the clouds, he has human foibles and character flaws.Atiku, who is keen on offering us good political leadership, is a practical man. His treatise on the restructuring of Nigeria is a workable road map that can revamp our comatose economy and entrench unity in Nigeria. Who does not know that the restructuring of Nigeria is central to Nigeria’s survival?Nigeria, as it is now, needs holistic restructuring in order that it can become an economically prosperous and united nation-state.
And Atiku’s running mate, Mr Peter Obi, has intimidating leadership credentials. While in the saddle as the Anambra state Governor, he resuscitated our comatose schools by returning them to churches and doling out money to school principals for the maintenance of those schools. Schools in the state were given school buses and computers, too. And he brought about the rapid industrialization and economic progress of Anambra State by his parsimonious husbanding of the state’s lean financial resources.
Today, Nigeria is at the cross-roads of national disunity, economic backwardness, technological underdevelopment, and security problem. It is a troubled country gasping for breath and searching for redemption. So, let us not look beyond Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi in our search for political redeemers, who can rescue Nigeria from the morass of underdevelopment. They are politically experienced, pragmatic, and loyal. And they ooze with nationalistic fervor and fealty.
Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State