Dele Momodu: In search of ‘Shock Therapy’


 Nigeria today has paid an unprecedented debt to the militants than we ever paid to the Igbos who lost over 3million of our brothers and sisters to the Biafra holocaust.

Fellow Nigerians, please permit me to start on a medical note today. The scenario I’m about to paint must be familiar to most people. A critically ill patient is rushed to the hospital on emergency. The patient requires urgent fluids in form of drips into his system desperately.

The nurses and doctors are running up and down to connect the drips but need to find the appropriate veins to insert their frightening needles. But some patients don’t have visible veins in their bodies. Sometimes, the doctors have to tie up the hands very tightly in order for the veins to shoot out. Meanwhile, time is ticking away but nothing can happen until the vein is located and certified ready to take the drips, or even some blood transfusion. In utter frustration, the doctor may have to punch the hand in the hope that it would create a shock response.

All manner of tough measures have been tried in medical science. The more complex an ailment, the more complicated the treatment. I came to the   conclusion a few days ago, that it would take a shock treatment to punch Nigeria and Nigerians out of their current stupor. I’ve become totally convinced that our present system of governance cannot give us the desired results. Nothing moves a Nigerian and we have developed an amazing resistance to stimuli. The things that happen here as matters of routine would have killed so many nations. Our treatment of critical disorders is miserably casual. We seem to have lost our veins and in the process it has become almost impossible to fit in the badly-needed drips. And our lifeline is on red alert.

If I was ever in doubt about the near hopelessness of our condition, it evaporated in the last couple of weeks. It is not my fault. Every human being feels this despondent once in a while. I’ve watched in utter consternation, how we have reduced lives of fellow Nigerians to that of livestock. We are no longer our brothers’ keepers. Many Nigerians now think and do the unthinkable. Some of our citizens seem hell-bent on breaking up the country. Others want to steal the country blind with the hope that the loot would safeguard them and their families when the rains eventually arrive with hellfire and brimstones. The greed factor has become the order of the day as public officers engage in the biggest rape of any nation in this modern world.

The first symptom of our failed status is the way Boko Haram has been striking regularly with mathematical precision. The more our leaders and their security agencies boast of closing in on the militants, the more they appear determined to inflict maximum pain on our country. Each time the Federal Government tells us it has arrested a few members of the Boko Haram high command the heavier the next bombing. It is no longer strange to read these days: Boko Haram kills 200; Boko Haram sacks Police Station; Boko Haram vows to collapse Jonathan’s Government within 3 months; America warns citizens on danger of visits to Nigeria; and the standard response is Jonathan vows, vows, vows and vows… to deal with the perpetrators of these dastardly acts. Nothing has come out of the so many promises, and the press releases have virtually turned into predictable clichés.

The sad development is that our leaders are carrying on as if all is normal at home. On a Sunday the last bomb blast ricocheted through the streets of Kaduna, destroying lives and ravaging homes, our dear Vice President, a Kaduna State home boy and its former number one citizen, entered his plane and flew out to the United States of America. While we were still mourning the unfortunate killing of our citizens, our President’s wife flew to Lagos and shut down the place in an apparent show of monumental power. In the last few days, Africa’s most powerful President, with his entourage in tow, headed to Germany. Between our former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was rated as the most travelled President in world history, and his godson, President Goodluck Jonathan, who has copied these supernatural habits, we are yet to see the effects of the so-called diplomatic shuttles on the well-being of Nigerians. No one would have grumbled if all this merry-go-round had metamorphosed into positive results but rather our economy has since nose-dived while we continue to spend money like victims of witchcraft.

Governance in Nigeria has become a ceremonial affair with every politician trying to out-do the other in who travels the most. We are a laughing stock everywhere because our leaders have become too commonised in the company of world leaders. No occasion is too small or too big for them to attend. It must be obvious that they are merely indulging in escapism of the highest order because our leaders live more in the skies than on the ground and all for no gain or benefit to the masses they claim to serve. And when they move, it is with the force of extra-terrestrial beings. They scatter in every direction like locusts without mission invading  the choicest boutiques in town and leaving them denuded and desecrated like only an invading, unthinking and unfeeling greedy army can. Nothing in their mien would show or reflect the chronic and debilitating poverty they left behind at home.  But my question is, if they love what they enjoy so much abroad why can’t they make enough, and every, effort to replicate same at home? We leave insecurity at home and run abroad to enjoy maximum freedom, security and safety abroad.

As if that is not bad enough, the Senate rose from one of its sessions and instructed the Federal Government to unleash the full force of our security agencies against Boko Haram, as if that’s not what has been happening without visible results. We saw the lack of any meaningful progress when the same methods were deployed in the Niger Delta in those gruesome days by JTF, when rather than sack the militants, villages were sacked. The sad story of Odi is still evergreen. Even before then, an unarmed Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-travellers were killed for stoking the fire of rebellion. But at the end of the day, the ugly situation only snowballed from bad to worse. All manner of tribal warlords emerged from the creeks and held our country by the jugular.

When it became obvious that force would not work in quelling the menace, like in most intractable guerrilla warfare, the Government of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory took a bold decision to negotiate fully with the militants. His decision was based on the stark reality at the time. Why fight a war you cannot win? Why waste your resources on killing those you swore to defend and protect? If he ordered soldiers to kill the Niger Delta militants, he would have caused a major uproar and it would have been said that he engaged in mass murder because he was a Northerner. His hands and legs were therefore naturally tied and there was no other option than the peace initiative he went for. The militants were asked to turn in their dangerous weapons. And most of them complied pronto.

It is interesting to note that President Yar’Adua’s deputy at the time is now the President of Nigeria today, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. Most of the militants at that time were from the South South of Nigeria like President Jonathan. No other soul would have more details of the gargantuan resources that went into seeking relative peace in the combustive Niger Delta than Dr Jonathan. Nigeria today has paid an unprecedented debt to the militants than we ever paid to the Igbos who lost over 3million of our brothers and sisters to the Biafra holocaust. This is to show that no price is too heavy to pay for peace.

I strongly recommend that the Federal Government owns up to its failure in fighting Boko Haram. Even the Americans have not been able to contain the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. Instead they are in fact deserting the place with their tail between their legs. Let us seriously open a line of dialogue like Yar’Adua did with the Niger Delta militants. The easiest way to fight a menace is to understand the menace. No one in or out of government today really understands Boko Haram. Their modus operandi is too sophisticated to have been handled by so-called low life people. The funding is apparently huge. I’m convinced that the Nigerian system is too fluid and disorganised to confront this monstrosity. There are too many disgruntled youths all over Nigeria. This government has not demonstrated a strong commitment to fixing the unacceptable level of disillusionment that has fuelled some of the problems facing us today. Those who argue that Boko Haram is not about poverty miss an important point; rich militants always recruit their foot-soldiers from the poverty class. And the poverty class is the biggest socio-political group in Nigeria. Indeed most Nigerians whether they care to admit it or not belong to this poverty class. This group is angry, and bitter, and rightly so.

In a country where we practically paid out in excess of N1.070 trillion to some invisible,  nay ghostly and ghastly, petroleum marketers and government parastatals in the name of fuel subsidy, it should be possible to pay more attention to mass employment. There is no way our citizens would continue to see, read and hear about this atrocious wastage and believe government when it would hope to tell us Nigeria is an impoverished country. Our poverty comes from the intellectual, physical and mental poverty of our supposed leadership.  It is not difficult to galvanise Nigerians into action if our leaders can climb down from their high horses, rid themselves of their unfathomable arrogance and instead demonstrate some sobriety, seriousness and consideration for the generality of Nigerians.  A situation where those in power think they can continue to take what belongs to millions of Nigerians and give to a few politicians will always provide a breeding ground for angry youths.

It is therefore looking more and more like our lethargy can only be cured by a shock treatment.

Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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