In the Holy Bible book, Matthew 26:41, Jesus Christ advised his disciples to “watch and pray” so that they would “not enter into temptation”. What God is saying in this quoted passage is the necessity for all His children to walk and tread in consciousness in all we do because one single mistake is more than enough to derail us, even in a well-planned journey. Nigerians need to pay more attention to this advice because forces of “darkness” still hover around us as a people and a Nation.
Some years ago, there was a major threat of this country [Nigeria] breaking up. That was the fact that confronted us when the Nigerian civil war broke out with the crack of the first bullet of that war coming from the Federal Government troops in a small village of Garkem, near Ogoja, on July 6, 1967.
That avoidable war that was fought for two years led to about two million lives being lost on both sides. Yet, we could not prevent it because we took too many things for granted. Things that bordered on human arrogance, corruption, nepotism, promotion of tribal egotism, uncontrollable greed of some national leaders, total disrespect for rule of law and many other evils brought us to the point where the centre could not hold anymore. Sadlyenough, 45 years after the war ended, all the national maladies that led us to it are recklessly still at play, even at larger level. If this is true, then the fact remains that our inability to learn anything from the calamity of our past while we seemed to have forgotten all the lessons of the failures of yester-years, we are most likely to come face-to-face with the country breaking up still. There are other indicators that we may want to evaluate.
Towards the last days of Olusegun Obasanjo’s second tenure as president, the so-called “Police man” of the world, America and some European countries predicted that if care was not taken, Nigeria may “break-up before the end of 2015”. However, 2015 came and is almost gone without Nigeria breaking up, many thanks to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s efforts at up-holding democracy. This success must not blindfold us into believing that the so-called “doomsday conspiracy of the false prophets”, as some Nigerians would like to refer to the prediction, is over. No, as long as the indicators remain germane in our everyday national life, the nearer to the precipice the Nigerian Nation gets. This is where we need to combine prayer for Nigeria not breaking-up to doing what is right for our prayers to be answered. The truth that needs to be told is that there is no way Nigeria will continue without falling apiece given the way we are being presently governed by these fraudulent dealers parading themselves as leaders. I need to cite some pointers and comments from a few notable God-fearing citizens.
Speaking at the 25th Anniversary of the Scriptures Union of Nigeria in Abuja on October 31, 2015, General Yakubu Gowon, former Military Head of State, warned of a looming danger to Nigeria. “We face great consequences, if we don’t follow the path of rectitude”, the most respected leader warned, adding that “if we do not arise to bring our youths into the path of rectitude, then their future will appear gloomy, and, therefore, we cannot build a virile nation of trust, integrity and good governance”. He mentioned many other calamities bedevilling the nation. What that man of peace who fought and brought peace and unity back to Nigeria by declaring “no victor, no vanquish” at the end of the Nigerian civil war, has just told us is that unless we watch and pray over most of our national behaviours as a people, we may soon come to that point of total disintegration.
In addition, l read with adorable respect, the book of another principal actor in the Nigerian civil war, Brigadier General Godwin Alabi-Isama, appropriately titled: THE TRAGEDY OF VICTORY. He gave good historical back-ground of both the circumstances that led to the first-ever military coup of 1966 and the Nigerian civil war, including an account of the military operation throughout the war, with particular reference to the exploits of the 3rd Marine Commando – first commanded by the late Brigadier General Benjamin Adekunle before General Olusegun Obasanjo took over. In his conclusion, he said that all the maladies like “corruption, tribalism, nepotism and other evils which led to the first military coup of January 1966, and eventually to the civil war, ”which ought to have been eliminated remain with us till today”, adding: ”This Is What I Called Tragedy Of Victory”.
My summary in this work is to warn that the Federal Government of Nigeria has a responsibility of showing good example in leadership to the remaining two tier of government – states and local authority. The incumbent Federal Government needs to show its sincerity, respect and total commitment to democratic ethos and ethics, human rights and rule of law plus promotion of welfare of the Nigerian people. There must be paradigm shift from “languages of body movement” which can never be a replacement for sound and enduring economic policy, from uncharted navigational course on fight against corruption to a defined path of wealth creation that shows in the lives of the citizenry. A man [surrounded by a selected few of brain-washed sycophants] who is guided by myopic idiosyncrasy in running a country of 180 million people with two-third of this population being internationally proven egg-heads, can only push Nigeria to a precipice.
There is too much poverty in the land today. The Nigerian people are daily being alienated from government’s security machinery which has failed to protect them, hence the emergence of tribal militias and cultists to “protect themselves”. This is the same way the ‘’Mafia and Mafioso” started in those hilly northern cities of Italy some decades ago. By the time these groups become well established, the “roads to Niger Delta militancy, Movement for the Restoration of Biafra, Arewa Defensive Front, Cattle Rustlers, Fulani Herdsmen, Odua People Congress and even Boko Haram would have been paved with gold”. These are the fastest groups that can quicken the break- up of any country. So we need to watch and pray for Nigeria not to break-up. Will PMB walk Nigeria into this grace?
*Mr Godwin Etakibuebu, a commentator on current affairs, wrote from Lagos.