The foreign heads of government and dignitaries who came for the countryâ€™s centenary celebrations had hardly settled down in their posh hotel rooms and comfortable quest houses when the news that the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists had struck again filtered in.
This time in Adamawa, killing and maiming, as had become their style, without a single thought to the fact that they were callously and nonchalantly taking lives they had no power to create.
The death toll is still rising as we speak. A couple of days earlier, they had struck at a secondary school in Yobe and snuffed out the lives of over 50 young minds.
These kids were their parentsâ€™ hope. They were the Nationâ€™s hope. Had they not been killed so mindlessly, they would have matured to play critical roles in their families, communities, state and the nation.
If these terrorist actionsâ€” two in the week of the centenary celebrations, and now almost every dayâ€” were intended to embarrass our President, they certainly succeeded. And if they were meant to ask questions of our security and unity, the two themes of the centenary celebrations, they also succeeded.
We canâ€™t be a player in regional security when we have not been able to secure our own back yard; when our children are being slaughtered at will; neither can we talk of unity when the fabric of work and family is tearing at the seams.
Just the other week, Chief E.K Clark said pointedly that the country would not break up under Jonathanâ€™s government. He cited certain critical situations that had threatened the unity of the country in the past to buttress his point. If the country didnâ€™t break up during operation â€˜wetieâ€™, the Northern pogrom, the Civil War, and June 12, then it would not break up in 2015 according to his argument.
I only wish it was that simple and logical. In science, when you put grains of salt in small but continuous doses into warm water and stir to dissolve, a time will come when it will not dissolve a single extra grain. It is called saturation point.
Or when you chase even the tamest of domestic animals down a narrow alley with sticks, when it reaches the end of the road, it will turn around to confront you sticks and all. It means you have pushed it to the wall. Or when you ride on the bent back of the poor as if it is a normal means of transportation, the day he decides to straighten his back is the day he asserts himself. It is called liberation or freedom. No one unfortunately, knows exactly when these can happen.
What elder E.K Clark should do if he is indeed an elder worthy of national respect, and if he indeed does not want the country to disintegrate under the watch of his townsman, is to warn him of the danger of adding that extra grain of salt to the body of water that is reaching saturation point; or of pushing the meek and lowly towards the wall as his predecessors had done; or of allowing the rich and the priviledged to keep riding on the bent backs of the poor. Poverty, inequality and lack of social justice can breed many Boko Haram adherents in different parts of the country, not only the north.
Simply put, certain things must be done if we want Nigeria to remain one in 2015 and beyond. And from where I stand, they seem as clear as dayâ€¦..
First is equality. It seems that certain sections of the country are currently being quietly favoured with key, strategic positions. This must be addressed to avoid the mistakes of pre-1966 Nigeria when these people held sway and sought, subsequently, to dominate the country.
Second is the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The rich are stupendously endowed in a country of massive poverty; where ten million children are out of school. Many of these noveau rich are parasitic and add no value.
Now I come to the crucial ones. Corruption, whether we admit it or not, is destroying the country and it is more pervasive, more brazen, under this administration.
Then security; it is a sad commentary that the presidency has not been able to do anything tangible to provide security for the people of the Northern Nigeria in general and North East in particular. Boko Haram started with suicide bombing. Now it has become so emboldened that it comes in day time in a convoy of vehicles to perpetrate destruction and mayhem.
The news we hear that our soldiers retreat when Boko Haram attacks is disconcerting to say the least. Each time there is an attack, and the President comes on air to say: â€˜ I can assure youâ€¦â€¦â€™ I cringe. His assurances have meant nothing to our brothers and sisters in the North. They have meant nothing to the psyche of the nation. We continue to have terrorists in the North and kidnappers and oil thieves in the South.
Finally, the 2015 election must be reasonably transparent if the country is to avoid the tipping point. INEC and the Presidency must ensure that we the people are allowed to choose only those we want to be in power. Do we want a change or more of the same? We have to be able to decide that.
Many in PDP and APC are seeking political jobs in 2015 when they have under performed in their previous posts. They rely on stolen money, thugs and INEC â€” not we the peopleâ€” to push their ambitions through. Acceding to their inordinate and undeserved requests might be the saturation point, the pushing to the wall, I talked about.