Tony Momoh’s contribution to the debate on Nigeria’s future prompted by a report by United States experts that Nigeria would become a failed state within 15 years. The piece was written in May 2005.
Predictions have to do with what will be because of what is. That is that we see in a future timeslot what happened because of what took place in the past. That future will be the present in relation to today which then we should be referring to as the past.
We are in the month of May, 2005. We now refer to May, 2011 as the future, but on May 29, 2011, we will be describing that day as the present, and will be looking back to May, 2005 as the past, as six years ago.
If we bear in mind that there is a permanent present in the affairs of God, and which we divide into present, past and future in our dimension, we would not be angry or overstressed by the predictions of America that Nigeria will, within the next 15 years, be a failed state.
The Americans are correct, and they are wrong. They are correct because the signs of today point to no other direction than that we are heading for the abyss.
They are wrong because man is a mere creature, not the Creator. The designs of the author of Creation are therefore beyond man’s ability to comprehend and interpret.
He can therefore not envision any mission designed for the advancement of life in any part of creation. What if there is a mission for Nigeria, something which only those called for it can sense!
This presentation is therefore meant to address the correctness and wrongness of the American prediction, and to ask that our leaders take the American pointer to right the wrongs of history and help the mighty hand of God in achieving a mission ordained for us so that the mission can be achieved in joy.
If we do not take the pointers to heart, the mission will still be achieved, but through so much suffering that we would have given more thought to our current mindless outpourings.
First the rightness of American predictions. Says the document on Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa’s Future, “While currently Nigeria’s leaders are locked in a bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave, there are possibilities that could disrupt the precarious equilibrium in Abuja. The most important would be a junior officer coup that could destabilize the country to the extent that open warfare breaks out in many places in a sustained manner. If Nigeria were to be a failed state, it could drag down a large part of the West Africa region…”
In our characteristic way of doing things, even failing to know that as swimmers, people are watching our backsides which we ourselves cannot see, we have described the views of the American experts as glib talk arising from “dubious or diabolical benchmarks.”
The tragedy is that many of us agree with this reaction that does not seem to be grounded on a serious analysis of the parameters that the Americans seemed to have used.
What are these parameters, and are we at all to blame for the inadequacies detected? We should look at these before we proceed to why the Americans are wrong.
The team that spoke in America is one which has been monitoring the goings-on in this part of the world for years. They have information on what we know and what we do not know, but which has happened even in the darkest places of political manipulations.
They have information on every Nigerian of note in every shade of life, right from the time they were emerging in the area they are now associated with.
Someone in the American embassy informed me when I entered university in the 60’s that he saw a file on me at the embassy and told me about things which I had written but which I no longer had records of. Those records would not be lost, but would have been enriched by what I have been, done, been through over the years.
Nothing to them is useless. They keep them and analyse the state of mind of the one who produced what is right there before them, the group he is a member of; who he works for, what he does, where…
They groom you to influence the way you behave, and if you refuse to wear their thinking cap, you may even be listed for elimination. Many of the recruits are in the military whose dossiers show how many courses they have attended, and in which military schools.
The recruits are not only in the military. They are also in institutions of higher learning, in businesses. It is even part of the recruiting process that we send our children to American schools and pay dollars right here in Nigeria so that they would be trained in American ways of life, even when we should know that Nigerian children should be brought up to see the world through Nigerian eyes.
Issues the experts considered included globalization and the impact on political development and economic growth, patterns of conflict, terrorism, and democratization.
Let us look at some of them:
We have nothing that would compete on the world market. We import almost everything we consume. We are no more than a dumping ground for everything.
We have become a tokunbo country, and are being turned into a tokunbo people. It is true we have oil but we are unmindful of the fact that those in whose land the oil is located are distressed and no one seems ready to recognize the consequences of being driven to the wall.
We also refuse to know that oil was the gift of the last century and that this century will, in a short period of less than 30 years, be discussing the ban on use of oil because of its polluting properties in a world that will be aching for a thorough clean-up.
Purer and more environment-friendly sources of energy will be downloaded sooner than we think, because this downloading we call inventions are no inventions in the cosmic sense. They arrive as gifts of the Light when the time is ripe.
We have not made use of the gifts we have now. We have been pocketing the money and that is why nationality groups are running one another aground about who next should present the President.
If we knew what awaits rulers of the next few years, many of us would take cover from public office, especially if we want to take office-holding as a business!
On Political Development
We chose a new dispensation grounded on due process in 1999, but things are becoming more complicated en route by the day. Every government is said to be God-ordained and anyone in power is said to be there on God’s anointing.
But the abuses associated with democratic practices, especially in developing countries, and Nigeria is a leader in this regard, can only lead to destruction, not growth, not development.
The 2003 elections were globally flawed. God would never have ordained such blatant thieving.
The 2004 local government version that would have helped to restore some confidence in the walk on our chosen highway buried our practice of democracy.
We now have a no-party situation because the political parties are ideologically neutral, have nothing to tell Nigerians that is consistent and predictable apart from falling over themselves to introduce despicable dimensions to robbing the public treasury.
The fight to stem the trend can only be cosmetic because we are unwilling to address the causes. If 2003 repeats itself in 2007, then the very foundation of the country would have collapsed because the people in whom sovereignty resides would have been told that they do not count, and cannot be counted in the running of their affairs.
Who can deny this scenario as capable of recalling the operation wetie horrors of the 60s?
On Patterns of Conflicts
Have we not been witness to what has been emerging since the annulment of the 1993 Presidential election which Moshood Abiola won?
In spite of the fact that amends are said to have been made through the emergence of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, have we agreed to forget June 12?
I am not American, but I did do a book entitled Experiment with Disintegration in 1993 when I saw the dangerous rollicking of our ship of state.
Abacha came and left, but the seeds of youth restiveness had been sown countrywide. The respect, accommodation and active support for OPC, MASSOB, AYC, NDVF and other youth movementsonly point to what is to come when this country explodes in our hands because we have been misreading the signs.
The conflicts are not only emerging at nationality levels. The religious groups are getting more interested in what others do wrong rather than what they themselves should do to be acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
Political parties are not going to be caught napping the next time around if we do not make politics a service before 2007.
The youths countrywide seem to be speaking more with one voice than the leaders who are more interested in what they can get out of Nigeria than what, for a change, they can give to their country.
All the youth organizations have a common stake in a strong viable Nigeria. I am frightened when I see them speak with so much concern that I wonder whether those governing this country ever send feelers to such fora.
I recall youths of the Niger Delta telling us boldly in Calabar at the meeting of Nigeria Delta Ethnic Nationalities that they are waiting for us to tell them when Nigeria would be restructured to reflect true federalism and resource control. They said they were not asking whether such a step would be taken!
The truth is that where justice is denied and the structures that should protect everyone are seen to be twisted to achieve diabolical ends, then terrorism becomes attractive to the deprived.
If people push for change now, it is because that is the only way they see a light at the end of the tunnel. Those with rigid postures at the current talk-shop have a message in the American predictions.
We know that we have not been obeying the rules of the road since we started the walk on the democracy highway on May 29, 1999. Everyday that passes shows that we are unwilling to make our democracy work.
We have blatantly abused the ballot. We are angry at dissent. We repress protests of any description. We even kill when we become impatient with those who prod us.
We have not equipped the managers of due process in elections to work. INEC is not funded, and is not equipped to produce a register of voters or update it or conduct any credible election.
Are we wanting democracy to grow when we look at individuals and want to make law that will entrench injustices that cannot be defended? We told military men to quit the military, wearagbada and go into the political arena and seek votes.
Now, we want to scheme them out of power because we believe we have the civilian number at the conference to make recommendations which are short-sighted.
What is the difference between those who announce take-over of power on radio and those who take power by writing up results of elections they did not win? To the restive youth, there is no difference between six and half a dozen.
On the Intervention of Young Military Officers
This can only be one attempt to restore sanity to walking the road taken. But those who try this option will fail, and this is the greatest threat to Nigeria.
The reason they are likely to fail is that no coup d’etat in Nigeria that was ever resisted succeeded. All the coup attempts that succeeded were radio coups.
As Nigeria is structured today, on tenuous lines based on iniquitous inequities, the danger we face is more that of mindless killings than coups.
Each nationality group will have to find their ways to their tribal tents and defend their homesteads. And that is where coming together will be more difficult.
The Americans have read the signs well and any attempt to fault them here is unfortunate.
So, looking at what is at present, all the signs point to a Nigeria that will be a failed state in fewer years than the 15 projected by American experts.
But we can make use of the current National Political Reform Conference to attend to issues of Nigeria, not issues that must elevate the constituent parts.
The Nigerian chain needs strengthening, and this can be done when we reduce drastically the cost of running government now. It is too high and everyone knows it.
In other countries where democracy is the chosen path, people go into government to give service, and are poorer doing so. Here, we take government as a business and go in there using the questionable means of ungodly businessmen.
I spoke to this issue comprehensively at the lecture I gave at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs on May 25 to mark the 80th birthday of Chief Bob Ogbuagu, public relations guru and one of the few surviving nationalists who fought for a Nigeria they thought could make the difference in world affairs.
The difference Nigeria will make in world affairs is ordained and that is why it will not break up, why it will not be a failed state.
How it will come about belongs on High.
Those who have an opportunity in leadership positions today to smoothen the re-engineering for high spiritual recognitions that will ground it, should not miss the present opportunity to do so.
The National Political Reform Conference should be seen as more important than we have taken it. We must train the Nigerian of today to make the missionary that will work for the Nigeria of tomorrow.
That outing will be more smooth when we decongest the political space, reduce the expensive structures, make politics less paying, zero in on the welfare and security of the citizens and seriously avoid those things that divert our attention to fighting effects of causes we deliberately or inadvertently accommodated.
What the Americans are telling us are the visible signs that can destroy a vision and a mission. But while we are trying to destroy a vision through what we think we can gain today from temporary advantages, missions do get achieved in spite of the greed, in spite of the shortsightedness of those called to prepare the ground.
And now that we know that Nigeria does not just have a future but a mission, can we not make the fulfillment a happy and joyful one by deliberately working to smoothen the path being so clearly shown to us
by the quality of people being incarnated as Nigerians?
You think there is accident in this wonderful creation of God?
Yes, the Americans are right in their material calculations. No, in the cosmic ordering, they are far off the mark. Time shall tell.