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EDITORIAL : Nigeria And The Naysayers



There is no doubt that Nigeria is buffeted on all sides by myriad of problems that are giving the nay-sayers the opportunity to indulge in prognosis of a negative kind. Before now, some foreign powers had predicted that the nation would disintegrate in 2015.

They based their calculations on the political mood at the time which gave the erroneous impression that the political class would engage themselves in self-destruct and possibly take the nation down with it. But that did not happen.

Now some politically exposed persons are beginning to get involved in the absurd game of foretelling the demise of a country with immense potentials and which Africa and, indeed, the world look up to for leadership if certain issues were not resolved in a manner that suits their purposes. Of course, there are issues to be resolved, and such are not peculiar to Nigeria.

The appropriate thing to do is for the leaders, in and out of power, as stakeholders in the Nigerian project, to proffer ideas that will help bring solutions of a kind that will restore normalcy and engender lasting peace and stability. It will not be patriotic, in our opinion, for anyone to suggest that if certain measures are taken, then the worst possible will happen.

We recall a recent outburst by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in which he called for an urgent repositioning of Nigeria or disintegration of the country will be inevitable. For the avoidance of doubt, this newspaper will support all and every measure put in place to make the country stable and prosperous and that includes restructuring so as to give all the federating units their desired place in the polity, restoring the safety of lives and property.

Obasanjo declared that the Constitution of the country is being breached, in his view, wilfully and wantonly, a situation he claimed was worsened by the state of insecurity across Nigeria. While we admit that this analysis of the goings-on in the country are apt and worrisome, it is also pertinent to point out that most of the issues, fundamental as they are, pre-date this administration.

It is also imperative to state that the same constitution the former president is moaning over was breached to facilitate his perpetuation in power if not that the will of the people prevailed at the last minute. We affirm that across the nation, insecurity is one is sue Nigerians have a common view on regardless of their tribe, language, religion, geographical location, gender, age or social position. It is also indisputable that criminality of Boko Haram, terrorists, herdsmen/farmers, bandits, kidnappers, militants, armed robbers, holds the nation hostage and demands urgent steps to remedy the situation.

But such lamentations by a highly placed citizen like Obasanjo are discouraging and create the wrong impression that the nation has reached her tethers’ end. It is accepted by all Nigerians that there is an urgent need to reform the basic structure of Nigeria’s federating units so as to foster unity, equity, competence, good governance, security, stability, healthy competition, justice, fast socio-economic development.

However, we argue that his assessment of what is on ground lacks two characteristics- sincerity and patriotism. He was in power for eight years as a democratically elected president. Let us discount the period he was in office as a military head of state. If he were sincere enough, that was enough time for him to put in place modalities for achieving these things he is advocating now.

We have not forgotten his battle with the then Governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the issue local governments and their funding. It took the Supreme Court to resolve the issue in favour of Lagos state.

If he had been less politically opportunistic and supported that plan by Lagos State, most other states would have followed suit and the process of restructuring would have been initiated back then. In our opinion, the matter as it relates to repositioning the country is serious enough and ought not to admit of grandstanding from any Nigerian no matter how highly placed.

Security, as important as it is, cannot be a job for the government alone. We are appalled that someone of Obasanjo’s standing who had the honour of leading this country twice as a soldier and a civilian, will start thinking along the line of the country disintegrating.

Nigeria, like every other nation, has her own fair share of challenges but it will be cowardly, in our view, for those who are in a position to handle intricate issues that face a nation and her people to begin to develop negative thoughts that seem to them as the easy way out. Patriots don’t run away from crisis, they confront them head on. That is what everyone in the country including his contacts in the international community expects of him.