Nigeria @ 60: Re-positioning working structures to strengthen national cohesion

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The vibe over October 1st celebration of Nigeria’s independence has apparently lost the savour of ecstasy. The sensations that usually colour the ceremony have over time been eroded by experience of harsh conditions of living in the Country. The disappointments over the much expected change for better living conditions have systematically watered down the hope of many and created the spirit of apathy in the minds of expectant Nigerians. While Nigeria is clocking 60 years of independence, the celebration however is coming amidst clouds of resistance and grievances.

A number of aggrieved groups which have registered their displeasure over the prevailing situation in the Country have put it forward that rather than throwing a celebration for the Independence Anniversary, a sober reflection should be the atmosphere of the day. The Coalition for Revolution (CORE), which is the organisers of the #RevolutionNow protest, had announced plans to hold a nationwide protest against poor governance in Nigeria Today, October 1st, 2020. Recall that the group led by a former presidential candidate and Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, had first staged the #RevolutionNow protest, in  August 5, 2019 and the second edition on the same date this year, held across major cities in Nigeria. While the #RevolutionNow demonstrations have been met with militarised reactions by the Government, with arrests and detention of numbers of protesters, the group had last week declared a resolute demonstration plan to protest the prevailing conditions in the Country.  In a statement released last week, CORE had called on all Nigerians at home and in the diaspora to participate in the October 1 protest. According to CORE’s schedule, the protest march will take place in all 36 states across Nigeria as well as some places outside Nigeria, such as London, Sweden, Netherlands, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Germany and Canada. According to the movement, the demonstration is to demand the reversal of “anti-people policies implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.”

The statement had partly read: “These harsh policies that have bored a burdensome hole into the pockets of the Nigerian people are coming at a time when citizens are recovering from the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global health crisis that was also mismanaged by the Buhari’s government further plunging already struggling citizens into deeper financial problems. It also comes at a time when there is an unprecedented dictatorial-style crackdown on free speech, dissent, activism, journalism and the right to associate and congregate peacefully and protest.”

The movement which clamoured for the reversal of the hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit from N148 to N151, also called for an end to what it described as a  “state-supervised and approved impunity under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari.” Also was the demand for the sacking of all service chiefs in the country due to “proven incompetence in finding a lasting solution to the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed and is still claiming the life of Nigerians daily.” It also clamored for respect for the rule of law and an end to the victimisation of critics and extra-judicial killings by law enforcement officers.

It further called for: “The release of all political detainees and prisoners of conscience across the country and the dismissal of trumped-up charges levelled against them. Payment of a living wage and social security benefits to all Nigerians so that they can live a dignified existence. An end to poorly thought-out foreign loans that would burden and enslave future generations. Swift electoral reform and the introduction of diaspora voting before the 2023 general elections. Protection of Nigeria’s environmental resources from thieves, poachers and a greater commitment to finding a solution to the climate crisis. The creation of alternative, cleaner and cheaper sources of electricity for every Nigerian household and businesses.”

Also on the list of aggrieved groups protesting the State of Nigeria at 60th is the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which had also called for a sit-at-home directive in demonstration against the Independent day celebration.

The group which urged people in the South South and Middle Belt to shun the October 1st independent celebration had in a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful, in Owerri, called on Igbo and other Nigerians to boycott all ceremonies  organised by the Federal Government to commemorate the Country’s 60th Independence anniversary. The declaration which generated reactions, was however reported to have been supported by apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The group which had also ordered the closure of businesses, schools and markets, indicated its interest to join the Yoruba in their rally for an independent O’odua Republic. The separationist group also warned it would not be responsible for any harm that befalls anyone who falls a victim of circumstances by reason of disobedience to the order.

The statement had read:  “We, the global movement of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) ably led by our great Leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, wish to announce to all Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world that Biafrans across the globe shall observe a sit-at-home in Biafraland and where permissible in the diaspora, join our Yoruba brethren agitating for Oduduwa Republic, in public protests to mark   October 1, 2020. We therefore, enjoin all Biafrans and every conscious Nigerian, especially those ethnic nationalities reeling from the triple double blow of state sponsored terrorism, bad governance and economic annihilation, to boycott every government organised ceremony designed to eulogise the failure that Nigeria has become. This is the time to let the world know how disastrously intolerable human existence is in Nigeria today.

“If you want to see an end to terrorism and organised mediocrity, now is the time to register your anger by ensuring that you and your household sit-at-home on October 1, 2020. Do not risk the lives and well-being of your children by allowing them to gather in groups in the open where terrorists may find it easier to blow them up or kidnap them. There is credible intelligence that terrorist groups are planning to slaughter our children should they venture out to celebrate or march on October 1st. This order is to highlight our position and resolve as Biafrans that we are no longer interested in proping up a crumbling terrorist state. The leadership of this great movement in conjunction with supporters of Biafra freedom across the globe have concluded every arrangement to let the whole world know and understand that we are no longer part of this shambolic monument to terrorism and failure.

“As this long expired man-made contraption marks her abused independence on October 1st this year, we IPOB will appropriately declare our intention towards the full and irreversible restoration of Biafra sovereignty and independence for all oppressed ethnic groups in Nigeria. Complete and total lockdown of Biafraland and other terror ravaged areas of the Middle Belt come 1st of October 2020 is sacrosanct, irreversible and non-negotiable! Wholesale slaughter of innocent Judeo-Christians and state sponsored ethnic cleansing cannot be going on in our land at the same time as  fake jamborees are being organised by the same sponsors of terror attacks in order to deflect our attention from the imminent danger we are all in.

“We therefore urge that all markets, schools and businesses in Biafraland and beyond be shut down as a mark of respect to all those who have died as a result of terrorism against innocent civilians especially Christians, ethnic cleansing in Southern Kaduna and elsewhere across the Middle Belt. Everywhere in Biafraland must be under lock for Nigeria and the world to know that we are all united in our march toward total freedom. There should be no public events or ceremonies in Biafraland to avoid any needless loss of lives.

“We also advise those terrorists recruited into Nigeria’s security forces to face the monster they created in places like Sambisa forest, Katsina, Sokoto, Yobe, Borno and other parts of the North where  terrorists have been killing both soldiers and civilians in large numbers. Nigerian army and police should direct their attacks on these northern terrorist groups and leave innocent and unarmed Biafrans alone. But should they feel as usual to descend on the innocent on that day, they should know that the world will be watching and that we are a people that can never be obliterated from the surface of this earth.”

Moreover, IPOB appears not to be the only indigenous group trailing the line, as the Yoruba One Voice (YOV), a diaspora coalition had also vowed to go ahead with its proposed rally for the self-determination of O’odua nation slated for October 1. The Yoruba indigenous group  had said that the rally tagged “O’odua Republic” was designed to create awareness for self-determination and to draw global attention to happenings in Nigeria. The group which is seeking self-determination had argued that, that  is the best means and alternative to save the nation from impending implosion “as the country is failing by the day.” Describing  Nigeria as a ‘forced marriage’ which has “not been working,” the group said while Nigeria will be  60 by October, the “truth is there is  nothing to show for it.”  According to YOV’s Director of Communications, Zacheaus Somorin, in a statement, the group was in 176 countries across six continents and was the umbrella body for over 300 Yoruba organisations in the world. The statement had partly read: “The rally is to sensitise the world on the need to liberate the Yoruba from the shackles of bondage. We have made our position known to our people in Nigeria. The reason for seeking self-determination as the best means and alternative is to save the nation from impending implosion. The country is failing by the day. In Nigeria today, life is of no value. There is raging insecurity, electoral rigging, corruption, nepotism and cruel mis-governance. Nigerians at home are mostly affected. There is need for us to rise against political enslavement by a section of the country. It is all about our image, it is all about our identity as member of a  nation. This ‘forced marriage’ has not been working. Nigeria will be 60 by October and truth is there is nothing to show for it. Nothing except  bad leadership. So, we need to change the narrative. We need to fight against these lawlessness and huge misappropriation of national fortune.”

It is essential to state, without bias, that Nigeria is bleeding and therefore needs emergency response to prevent irreparable loss. The era of waving   the palms of wellness as soothing balm, when all is far from being well, should be jettisoned to face the practical realities. This is quite germane to addressing the basket of challenges bewildering the Country. From the political workings of the Federation to the socio-economic spheres of life, the Country has been thrown into shambles.

The current pressure and strains across the  fabrics of the Nigerian society call for no less than a re-organisation of structures to re-position Nigeria on workable foundational patterns. In this light, an overhauling of the prevailing systems is significant to change the drumbeat from the structural postures which over the years have proven inefficient and counter-productive to the desired transformation and development Nigerians have been longing for. A continuous adherence to the existing principles navigating the socio-economic and political workings of the Federation is a recipe to continuous confusion and backward development.

As Nigeria clocks 60 years of independence with little or no tangible development to show amidst great resourceful potentials, it is essential that agenda setters and policy makers arise to the reality of the woes of the Country, for a charge to change the drum beat for re-organisation of the navigational workings  suitable to modern development, which Nigerians have long been expecting. This is  highly essential in harmonising and bridging the fabrics of the Country which are gradually pulling apart.