NIGERIA – A NATION OF MANY CONTRADICTIONS
Dr Uche Diala.
Nigeria has millions of well educated, sound and patriotic citizens from all parts of the nation parading world class qualifications in varied disciplines from home and abroad and actually doing great exploits at home and in Diaspora. Yet school drop outs, agberos, yandabas and their ilks call the shots and many of the educated actually listen to them and proudly sing their praises, even as they threaten to push us off the cliff.
While we speak all the fine grammar, do intellectual gymnastics and brainstorm on how to move the nation forward, all it takes to be noticed, celebrated and even worshipped in today’s Nigeria is to be rascally, uncouth, toutish and anti-society. Then you command your own ‘army’ of gullibles and even traditional rulers, religious leaders and government officials pay homage to you. How tragic?
The era of the likes of Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule (Danmasanin Kano), Dr Tai Solarin, Prof Wole Soyinka, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa (add yours), when brain (not brawn) and civility moulded the opinion and leadership seems like light years away now.
I heard the name Sunday Ighogho for the first time a few days ago and I actually thought he was one of the many Yoruba intellectuals until I read the exposition by former Senator Babafemi Ojudu on him. According to Senator Ojudu, Ighogho was actually a “political thug”. How typical.
No pun intended. Just the fact. As a matter of fact, Sunday Ighogho is not alone in that unenviable class of Nigerians. Actually one can look across the Nigerian landscape and identify several individuals like him. I will mention only five for the purposes of this exposition.
As listed by Wikipedia, “Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo (born 1971) predominantly referred to by his sobriquet Tompolo is a former Nigerian militant commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and the chief priest of the Egbesu deity, which is the Niger-Deltan god of war. Tompolo’s name has often been associated with insurgency, impending danger and war within Nigeria due to his affiliation with militant groups, his influence amongst militants and his ownership of multiple war-ships.”
“Born to a royal family in Okerenkoko, the traditional Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South Local Government Area in Delta State. Ekpemupolo had his basic education at Okepopo Primary School in Warri.”
2. NNAMDI KANU.
According to Wikipedia; “Nnamdi Okwu Kanu (born 25 September 1967) is a British Nigerian Biafra political activist. He is the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). … Kanu is the director of a UK registered radio station named Radio Biafra.”
Kanu attended Library Avenue Primary School and went to Government College Umuahia for his secondary education. He studied at University of Nigeria, Nsukka and never graduated before moving to the United Kingdom.
According to Wikipedia, Asari “(born 1964), formerly Melford Dokubo Goodhead Jr. and typically referred to simply as Asari, is a major political figure of the Ijaw ethnic group in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. He was president of the Ijaw Youth Council for a time beginning in 2001 and later founded the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force which would become one of the most prominent armed groups operating in the Niger Delta region. He is a Muslim with populist views and an anti-government stance that have made him a folk hero amongst certain members of the local population.”
“Asari received both primary and secondary education in Port Harcourt and was accepted into law school at the University of Calabar but dropped out after only three years in 1990, citing problems with university authorities as his reason for doing so. He made other attempts to complete his education but his activism caused him to quit on his degree at Rivers State University of Science and Technology for reasons similar to those at Calabar, Cross Rivers State, Nigeria.”
4. ABUBAKAR SHEKAU According to Wikipedia; “Abu Mohammed Abubakar bin Mohammad al-Sheikawi (also known by the alias Darul Akeem wa Zamunda Tawheed, or Darul Tawheed; “the abode of monotheism”; born 1965, 1969 or 1975 is a Kanuri man known as the current leader of Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant group that has declared loyalty to the Islamist militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). He served as deputy leader to the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, until Yusuf was executed in 2009.”
“In 1990, he moved to the Mafoni area in Maiduguri and studied under a traditional cleric before entering the Borno College of Legal and Islamic Studies (now called Mohammed Goni College of Legal and Islamic Studies). Shekau left the college for ideological reasons and without earning a degree.”
5. GANI ADAMS
As listed by Wikipedia; “Chief Ganiyu Adams, popularly known as Gani Adams (born April 30, 1970), is a Nigerian activist, politician and traditional aristocrat.” Gani Adams was born at Arigidi-Akoko, presently known as Akoko north-west local government area of Ondo state.
“Gani Adams began his educational career at Army children’s school in Otukpo, Benue state. But because of the nature of his father’s job, they moved to lagos where he completed his primary education at Municipal Primary school in Surulere area of Lagos State in 1980. After his primary education, he proceeded to Ansar-Ud-deen Secondary School at Randle Avenue, Surulere. After his secondary education, he later went to train in furniture-making and interior decoration, which he completed in 1987.”
I am not really sure that these individuals belong in the same basket (it depends on who is doing the consideration) but apart from similarities in their resumes above, surely a number of peculiar characteristics join them viz; belief in brute force, populism at all cost and by all means, attention seeking, dissent, a divisive and disruptive mentality, warmongering and ethno-religious bigotry.
No doubt these individuals may ironically (some say ignorantly) be viewed by some in their respective narrow traditional, ethnic or religious enclaves (especially those they have successfully brainwashed or conned) as some sort of activists or freedom fighters but their records, activities, associations, words and actions (and their consequences) clearly tell a different story. No one achieves any thing positive or for the common good by being divisive, disruptive, criminal minded and destructive.
Another characteristic that runs through these individuals, which is more relevant to this submission is their penchant for hobnobbing with politicians. As a matter of fact, almost all of them at one time or the other (especially since 1999) have been stooges, accolytes, lackeys and or thugs to politicians who used them to achieve their ulterior political motives. At least until they grew out of their control. The reason that many of such politicians are finding it difficult to ‘unmount the tigers’ they rode to power.
There is no arguing the fact that these characters and others like them alongside their enablers in high and low places have had their hands deep in almost any and every ill especially in the area of insecurity that have bedeviled Nigeria from 1999 to date.
It is rather unfortunate that such characters (who often times have no legitimate or verifiable means of livelihood) have been given platforms and empowered often directly from the public coffers by unscrupulous politicians and now they seem uncontrollable or too wild for the politicians to reign in and the nation and indeed the rest of us have to contend with them and deal with the consequences of their excesses. What a tragedy?
One question however remains critically begging for answers: Why do many Nigeria politicians and even some governments at several levels feel more comfortable dealing with such shady and nefarious characters and prefer to hobnob with them and empower them than the plethora of decent, well educated, intelligent, patriotic and law abiding Nigerian citizens?
Another critical question is: How did we get to this point of warlords calling the shots all over the country and appearing like a law unto themselves? What led to this anomy and what can can be done about it?
The answer to these questions would be very critical to finding a way out of our current quagmire. This ought to be of concern to all Nigerians across tribe, class and creed. It is not the one we just read and pass. We must triage this and come up with causes and viable solutions.
While we are it, let us also ponder over how a Nigerian youth after 10 years of academic excellence is rewarded with a set of glass cups while another Nigerian youth after 90 days of showcasing immorality on live television gets rewarded with a
N30 million cash prize, a two-bedroom apartment, an SUV and a trip to Dublin.
A Nation Of Too Many Contradictions Indeed.