Opinion: Nigeria has both the good and bad sides

by Eric Teniola


I do not see such in the present day Nigeria. Right now there is a war going on in the North-East, no one knows when the war will end or how it will end. Even if Boko Haram wants to end the war, the military who are reaping from the war as their gold mine will not want the war to end.

The weekly British magazine, THE ECONOMIST has good tidings for Nigeria in 2014.The magazine wrote under the title, DIGGING DEEPER “Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with nearly 180million people. It will soon be established as the continent’s biggest economic power. Nigeria’s GDP is currently calculated on the basis of prices in 1990, which means that some fast-growing bits of the economy are not given their due weight. The figures will soon be overhauled. Ghana found the size of its economy had been understated by 60% when it rebased its GDP statistics in 2010. A similar boost would see Nigeria overtake South Africa as the continent’s largest economy.

Nigeria is still a low-income country and has plenty of room for further growth. In this sense it mirrors the continent. Most of Africa is poor. Average GDP per person is $2,500 as measured at purchasing-power- parity, the exchange rate that would equalise the price of goods and services across countries. That compares with $9,000 in China. With just a few sensible policies there is ample scope for catch-up growth in Africa to carry on in the years ahead”.

These comments were contained on page 77 of the magazine’s annual report. It was written by Mr. John O’Sullivan.

In another article titled “Ripe for Rebellion?” written by Laza Kekic on page 84 of the magazine, Nigeria was listed among the VERY HIGH RISK countries.

Other countries listed in that group are, Argentina,Bahrain,Bangladesh,Bolivia,Bosnia,Egypt,Greece,Guinea,Iraq,Lebanon,Libya,Sudan,Swaziland,Syria,Uzbekistan,Venezuela,Yemen and Zimbabwe. According to Mr. Kekic” The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of THE ECONOMIST, measures the risk of social unrest in 150 countries around the world. It places a heavy emphasis on institutional and political weakness. And recent development has indeed revealed a deep sense of popular dissatisfaction with political elites and institutions in many emerging markets.

According to the writer, Nigeria risks instability in 2014. It is instructive that countries like Chad, Papua New Guinea, and Togo were classified as just HIGH RISK COUNTRIES while nations like Australia, Denmark, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland were classified as very low Risk countries. Mr. Kelic concluded that “Yet Political reactions to economic distress have historically come with a lag. Austerity is still on the agenda in 2014 in many countries and this will fuel social unrest.

Apart from the 100 years of the celebration of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorate of Nigeria which will take place in 2014, three other events will take place. They are the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states and the National conference.

Many countries are approaching 2014 with hope and optimism. For example, Brazil is hoping to host the World Cup in June while the United States of America will have its mid-term election in November and Panama Canal will have its centenary celebrations in August, all with enthusiasm. I do not see such in the present day Nigeria. Right now there is a war going on in the North-East, no one knows when the war will end or how it will end. Even if Boko Haram wants to end the war, the military who are reaping from the war as their gold mine will not want the war to end.

The war in the North-East is the most disturbing. North-East is too important to be ignored like any other part of the country. For whatever affects one part of the body affects all. Even in terms of politics, North-East accounts for 13% in the INEC voters list compared to North-West which has 28%, North-Central-1.7%, South-West- 22%, South-East-10% and South-South-13%.

Borno state for example has 2,380,884 million voters while Adamawa has 1,816,094 million voters, Ogun state has 1,941,170, Ekiti has 764,726 voters, Ondo-1,616,091, Bayelsa-591,870, FCT,Abuja-943,474, Kaduna-3,905,387,Kano-5,027,297, Lagos-6,108,069, Oyo-2,572,140, Rivers-2,429,231, Sokoto-2,267,509,etc.

I met a friend in Abuja recently and when I told him I was going to Idanre my hometown to spend the Christmas, his mood changed and I asked him why he felt sad, he said he is from Damaturu in Yobe state. He told me that all members of his extended families including nephews, cousins, uncles and of course in-laws have abandoned their houses and jobs in Yobe and are presently staying with him in his house in Abuja for safety. “You cannot imagine what we are going through over there and I can’t describe it all wahali”, he said. That is the story of a Nigerian not an Afghanistan in the present day Nigeria.

The lives of the innocents have been lost, homes have been burnt, families scattered, hopes and aspirations dashed, and yet there is no end to the war. The economy of the North-East is grounded, it will be another twenty years before it can be brought back to normal. There is a strange thing going on in that part of the nation. We can’t shy away from it.

All efforts must be made to end the war or the continuous escalation of it will be too grave to contemplate.

We have been trapped in the war and getting out of it is becoming very, very difficult. I am told that the military contractors are smiling to the banks as the war rages on in the North-East. What we need to do if we want the war to end is to overhaul the command structure of the military. It is of no use maintaining the command structure when it is clear to all that the structure has failed. The other option is the one suggested by Robert Greene in his book “THE 48 LAWS OF POWER”. It is called scapegoatism.

On page 203 of the book, Mr Greene argued that the “The use of scape goats is as old as civilisation itself, and example of it can be found in culture around the world. The main idea behind the sacrifices is the shifting of guilt and sin to an outside figure- object, animal, or man- which is then banished or destroyed. The Hebrews used to take a live goat (hence the term “scapegoat”) upon whose head the priest would lay both hands while confessing the sins of the Children of Israel. Having thus had those sins transferred to it, the beast would be led away and abandoned in the wilderness. With the Athenians and the Aztecs, the scapegoat was human, often a person fed and raised for the purpose. Since famine and plague were thought to be visited on humans by the gods, in punishment for wrongdoing, the people suffered not only from the famine and plague themselves but from blame and guilt. They freed themselves of guilt by transferring it to an innocent person whose death was intended to satisfy the divine powers and banish the evil from their midst. It is an extremely human response to not look inward after a mistake or crime, but rather to look outward and to affix blame and guilt on a convenient object. When the plague was ravaging Thebes, Oedipus looked everywhere for its cause, everywhere except inside himself and his own sin of incest, which had son, offended the gods and occasioned the plague.

This profound need to exteriorize one’s guilt, to project it on another person or object, has an immense power, which the clever know how to harness. Sacrifice is a ritual, perhaps the most ancient ritual of all; ritual too is a well-spring of power. In the killing of de Orco, not Cesare’s symbolic and ritualistic display of his body. By framing it in this dramatic way he focused guilt outward. The citizens of Romagna responded instantly. Because it comes so naturally to us look outward rather than inward, we readily accept the scapegoat’s guilt.

The bloody sacrifice of the scapegoat seems a barbaric relic of the past, but the practice lives on to this day, if indirectly and symbolically; since power depends on appearances, and those in power must seem never to make mistakes, the use of scapegoats is as popular as ever. What modern leader will take responsibility for his blunders? He searches out others to blame, a scapegoat to sacrifice. When Mao Tse-tung’s Cultural Revolution failed miserably, he made no apologies or excuses to the Chinese people; instead, like Ts’ao Ts’ao before him, he offered up scapegoats, including his own personal secretary and high-ranking member of the Party, Ch’en Po-ta.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had a reputation for honesty and fairness. Throughout his career, however, he faced many situations in which being the nice guy would have spelled political disaster- yet he could not see as the agent of foul play. For twenty years, then, his secretary, Louis Howe, played the role de Orco had. He handled the backroom deals, the manipulation of the press, the underhanded campaign manoeuvres. And whenever a mistake was committed, or a dirty trick contradicting Roosevelt’s carefully crafted image became public, Howe served as the scapegoat, and never complained”.

Pope John Paul II wrote: “War should belong to the tragic past, in history. It should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.”



This post is published with the permission of Premium Times Newspapers

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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