Nigeria gained its political independence from Britain in October 1960. After independence, it adopted Westminster Parliamentary system.
Prior to independence it was thought that independence would usher in a new lease of culture; political, social, and patriotism. It was generally believed that the indigenous politicians would easily correct the mistakes made by the colonialists. It was a mere wish. The opposite was the result.
The first post-independence national programs; census and general elections were failures. The census was manipulated just like the one conducted by the colonial masters before independence. No region wanted another to outnumber it. So, the figures were inflated at the regional levels. General elections were worse. They were demonstrations of primitive brutality, tribalism, and bigotry. The crises led to the overthrow of the federal government by the military and eventual civil war that lasted for thirty months and took the lives of two million citizens.
It was assumed that the severe pains of the civil war would be a good teacher against incompetence and corruption in public office which was the major cause of the avoidable civil war. It was another hope dashed and an opportunity lost.
At the end of the war, the federal military government proclaimed “no victor, no vanquished”. And promulgated a policy of “reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation,” popularly known as the three Rs. This policy would have launched Nigeria onto the true course of reconciliation and rebuilding. It was sabotaged by the bureaucrats and their cronies.
In 1979, military handed over to a civilian elected government. Truly at this time, corruption regenerated and became endemic in every facet of public life. Politicians became more desperate and there was concerted effort to alienate those from the region that lost the civil war. The region was neglected in the allocation of federal infrastructure, appointments, and employments.
Barely four years, 1983, after the last military regime, the military boys led by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari struck again and took over the federal government, accusing the political leaders of incompetence and corruption. Eighteen months into his regime, he was overthrown by a set of another military personnel. For the next twenty years, 1999, the country was ruled by a particular region, religion, and culture.
There was an interregnum from May 1999 – May 2007. At this time, the Northern region that has ruled the country for most of the time right from Independence in 1960 – 1999, became anxious and restless and wanted to return to power by all means. In 2007, President Olusegun Obasanjo naively fell a prey to their trap and handed over power to one of them, Umaru Yar’Adua, wanting to balance the power shift and rotate it between South and North of the country.
President Yar’Adua died in office. Northern politicians, religious and traditional leaders refused his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, to complete his term. By constitution, the mantle of leadership automatically fell on the deceased president’s deputy. It was a tug of war for Northern leaders to allow him to finish Yar’Adua’s term because he is a Southerner and a Christian.
Jonathan wasn’t a strong leader. The leaders from the North made the matters worse for him with reckless and malicious propaganda. Boko Haram which started during the time of his predecessor became stronger at this time. During the political crisis that emanated from Yar’Adua’s death, some Northern politicians vowed to make the country ungovernable for Goodluck Jonathan.
Those people worked behind the scene to fortify Boko Haram. The Islamist group became a dreaded insurgency. Their attacks were relentless since they were aided and abetted by some prominent Northern political class. They attacked public gatherings, government offices, religious centers, schools especially girls and abducted the students.
International community did not understand the situation as a wicked domestic propaganda against the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. So, in 2015, both Washington and London supported Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, believing that he was competent to restore stability to the country. This was done without listening to the indigenous voice that Buhari lacked both physical and mental energy to pull the country out of the wood.
Jonathan magnanimously conceded defeat and handed over to Buhari since the major world powers were against him. President Muhammadu Buhari launched his government with:
- His infamous statement of 97% against 5%.
- Lopsided federal appointments including service chiefs and the police.
- War against Boko Haram is war against the North and Islam.
- Don’t fight the terrorists, negotiate with them.
- Proliferation and fortification of terrorist groups – Boko Haram, Islamic State of West Africa Province, Fulani Bandits, Fulani Herdsmen, etc.
- Thirty-five thousand citizens killed by the terrorists, and the numbers still increasing.
- Five million Nigerians displaced, IDPs, by the terrorists, and the figures still increasing.
The above mathematical impossibility was made by President Buhari on assumption of office demonstrating how he would rule the country. Those who voted for him would receive 97% attention and those who did not vote for him overwhelmingly would be given 5% attention. Since then, he has made good his threat. His appointments do not reflect federal character, an option that is in the constitution championed by the North. His appointments are mainly from the north of the c country, one religion, and same ethnic group.
His administration which came into being as a messiah has divided the country more deeply. Now, there are agitations for referendum, restructuring, and outright separation. He doesn’t believe in dialogue and hates basic criticism.
Over the weekend of Easter, a heavily armed unknown group in large numbers stormed correctional facility in the city of Owerri in the Southeast of the country and released about 2,000 prisoners including hardened ones. Notorious armed robbers and those standing trials for murder. They are now roaming the streets of the city, engaging people with their nefarious activities.
If the international community continues to ignore the evolving situation in Nigeria, the country will descend into another civil war. Domestic leaders have shown gross incompetence to mange the affairs of the country well; creating justice, peace, unity, and stability. No country can progress without culture of patriotism and merit in public place.