No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected- Julius Caesar (100-44BC)
An interesting sidelight to this topic was elicited by a conversation with a group of young people during the Sallah public holiday in Lagos. They were humane and well-informed. The discussion which lasted for about an hour focused primarily on the strategic interplays, conflicts and considerable uncertainties of the past weeks.
Among other things, it did explicitly expose the underlying ‘civil but cold’ relationship between Nigerians and their leaders at all levels. As well as trumped-up hidden tensions to where they can be seen and possibly be dealt with.
Synoptically, away from their expression of frustration over their inability to secure jobs years after graduations, they were particularly not happy that young Nigerians with genuine certificates are roaming the streets without jobs in a country where according to reports over 721 people are working in six government agencies with forged certificates.
The number they noted may appear ordinary compared to the teaming graduates seeking employment; but the stunning thing about the occurrence is that it exposed the government’s incapacity and lack of a mechanism to function as social and economic watchdogs; uncover the roots of national malady which goes deep into the venality and incompetence of leadership in the country.
Undoubtedly, this all-time-high unemployment coupled with other sociopolitical challenges which the nation grapples with the fallen standard of education, lack of modern infrastructures, epileptic power supply among others, have naturally characterized us as a nation in crisis- a kind of predicament that a combined team of security operatives cannot quell.
As a consequence propels unexpected social, economic and political developments that presently frightens the public; embarrasses the Federal Government; but the credibility and decency of Nigerians under serious scrutiny at the global stage; brought about threat to life and loss of lives and property, as well as promotes criminality and protests.
Except in a peripheral way, this crisis cannot exist without ingrain usefulness. Particularly as it serves a note of warning to our nation to plan and change the operational systems via constitutional restructuring of provisions which are not producing the desired result,
Returning to my conversation, the most crucial impart is in its signpost of relevance and role the attachment theory as propounded by John Bowlby can play in resolving our present impasse.
Essentially, Bowlby, a British psychologist in 1958, pointed out that ‘if a primary caregiver responds inappropriately and/or inconsistently, the infant learns to assume that he or she is powerless to affect the larger world and that his or her signals have no intrinsic significance where the universe is concerned. A child he added, who receives really erratic and inconsistent responses from a primary caregiver, even if those responses are occasionally warm and sensitive, develops anxious resistance/indifferent attachment.
The above like in the generality of mankind describes the disposition of Nigerians towards the leaders they ones considered as caregivers. Nigerians and youths, in particular, have over time been treated with contempt, ignored and visited with a series of erratic attention from their nation and they are beginning to feel angry.
This claim is not without some examples.
On October 1, 1998, on page 38, of the Guardian Newspapers, some group of bright and well informed Nigerians among other similar efforts in the past to move the country forward, presented a road map to the great society of the future.
The issues discussed by the road map centred on transparency and accountability, poverty alleviation and sustainable development, globalization and restructuring of the oil sector as well as human capital developments.
Two decades after that proposal, the challenges listed are still alive and active on our shores as successive administrations neither deemed it necessary to look into nor considered adoption and implementation of such a road map or those that came after.
What about the 2014 confab report?
Nigerians with critical interest have called for the adoption of the report as a template to solving our national problems as the holistic implementation of that report is germane to the survival of the Nigerian which is right now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war, but such calls have severally been rebuffed- a development that is doing this country more harm than good and quickening its disintegration of the country.
Remember, when citizens of a country express their opinion and feelings over an extended period of time without evoking a meaningful response, they naturally begin to feel angry. And if the flow of communication provides little opportunity for citizens to express themselves meaningfully, they naturally begin to feel frustration and powerlessness’
These again provide a link as to why the call for revolution and wave of secessionist sentiments are sweeping across the country with many demanding that the marriage of 1914 be ended as the basis for its continued existence has severely been weakened. However, the very vociferous agitation for Biafra’s restoration by Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, led by youthful Nnamdi Kanu has been the loudest of the separatist movements.
While those of us who believe in the unity of Nigeria may not agree with the call to dismember Nigeria, the truth must be told to the effect that the whole gamut of restiveness of youths, whether in the Southeast, South-south, North or Southwest, and resurgence demand for the dissolution of Nigeria stems from mindless exclusion, injustice and economic deprivation.
As an illustration, successive governments in the country were reputed for having no programmes to sustain Nigerians. Unemployments have frustrated many youths, and this has energized them for crime. Their fathers and grandfathers embezzled millions of Naira meant for development projects. They used the money to acquire arms for illicit political projects. They have armed the youths to unleash terror on their perceived enemies. And now the youths are not willing to drop the guns so easily.
Working under this stalemated condition, the question is; how is the nation going to reverse this situation? And fundamentally address the suspicion on each side (government and the people)?
Achieving meaningful progress that will change this narrative in my views may be difficult. But it is not only our patriotic duty; it is our moral duty at the most fundamental level to fight for both mind restructuring and political reconfiguration of the country. This is a revolution that we must all support- and doing it without hampering the rights and opportunities of coming generations should be our ought most goal.
To get started, rather than lose ground, Nigerians should remember that a nation succeeds or fails by the way they challenge the unknown and cope with fears. And requires a prolonged effort to affect a challenge, and change the backward nature of the nation.
Besides showing our people the right direction and nurture their potentials for innovation, creativity, self-confidence, determination and leadership, the government must cease the initiative and address the following sectors- education, health, power and infrastructure. These sectors must be given priority.
As an incentive, Mr President needs to find those nations that have met the problems we currently face, find out how they tackled it, and how successful they had been.
Jerome-Mario Utomi Writes from Lagos, via[email protected]