I have repeatedly told those who lend me their ears that Nigeria is a nation that in a few years would exist only in name, much like Somalia but in many cases even worse than Somalia. Tragedies and events have continued to indicate that trajectory and vindicate my prognosis. When in the late 90’s Karl Maier wrote his book “this house has fallen” which chronicled Nigeria’s monumental corruption, social injustice, ethno-religious contradictions and envisaged a nation on the precipice of inevitable collapse; not many people paid attention, least of all the ruling elite who have made a career out of playing the Ostrich, in denial of the multifaceted crisis their misrule has engendered.
Like Daniels biblical handwriting on the wall, the handwriting has long been on Nigeria’s wall, for those who cared to take notice, indicating a grim journey of national suicide that leads nowhere but to certain destruction. After decades of looting, under the stewardship of pathologically incompetent and unpatriotic leaders who like locusts set about the vandalism of the nation, stripping it bare of any trappings or essence of nationhood, the nation is gripped in a plague of violent social unrest which is only too evident in the recent kidnapping of the mother of the minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and the demand for a ransom in excess of $1 billion from the government and the attack on the Emir of Kano which left some people in his entourage dead.
Such audacious kidnapping of the mother of a top government official and attempt on the life of the Emir of Kano, signals the increasing weakness and failure of the state and the ominous proliferation of violent groups willing and capable of challenging the state. Like the spectre of the HIV AIDS disease which is marked by the invasion of opportunistic diseases once the immune system weakens, Nigeria is facing an infestation of opportunistic groups in the face of a weakened and failing state crippled by corruption and misrule. The failure of the state is further made evident by the negotiation and payment of a sizable ransom to the kidnap gang, rumoured to be in excess of $10 million by the federal government.
Strangely enough or perhaps a self mockery, the federal government was busy celebrating the release of the mother of the minister of finance, clinking glasses of champagne and congratulating the security services for a job well done in ironically capitulating to a kidnap gang and paying ransom in a nation that supposedly has a police force, a national army, the secret services and myriad other security services. There was no sense of irony and no realisation by the federal government that the single act of surrendering to a kidnap gang in the face of all its security apparatus technically signalled her obituary as a state.
If such a kidnap saga had unfolded in Somalia, it could be understood in the context of a failed state with only a puppet group of individuals that parade as a government whose control in reality does not extend beyond the airport. It beggars belief that a nation that pretends to have a government and a retinue of security agencies could not devise a simple strategy to capture the kidnappers. They could not deploy plain clothes undercover detectives, nor special forces to capture the kidnappers at the designated location of ransom collection, neither could they track, trace and locate the kidnap gang in this day and age of sophisticated tracking technology. Indeed most mobile phones now actually have embedded within them tracking devices that automatically indicate its location. A simple tracking device could also have been attached to the ransom money which would have guarded security forces to the hideout of the kidnap gang.
A myriad of options existed to solve the crisis and act as a deterrent , but an irresponsible and corrupt leadership choose to typically surrender to ransom payment, reflecting the reality of state failure and the incompetence of a police force crippled by corruption which in the 21st century still operates like a 19th century police force. The Nigerian police force lacks a free emergency number and mandatory time limited response units (five to ten minutes response time) which form the core of modern policing. The response of the federal government to the failure of policing has been the frequent changing of inspector’s generals of police which has turned out to be a rollover of dead wood police officers without any idea or agenda of reform. The only reform the most recent inspector general has is the changing of police uniforms. How the change of uniforms is going to make policing more effective is a question that will probably never be answered.
Not a single special task force to effectively tackle kidnapping has been created, neither has any effective deterrent been established as there is yet to be any convictions to date. Kidnapping remains a bail able offence and arrested kidnappers are simply bailed and let go to continue their trade. The recent astronomical increase of the security budget in response to the complaints of lack of resources has as I had predicted failed to change anything. The extra resources have simply been gobbled up by corruption. In a nation that is monumentally corrupt, no amount of resources can change a police force that is fundamentally decrepit, incompetent and corrupt.
Suicide bombings have recently become a norm in Nigeria with the rise of terrorism. It signals the final phase in Nigeria’s death march occasioned by decades of monumental corruption and incompetence under kleptomaniac leaders. Predictably, the security services have not been able to withstand or contain the onslaught of terrorists who now commit wantons acts of mass murder on a daily basis. From frequent high profile suicide bombing campaigns to ritual Sunday attacks on churches and the random assassination of individuals, Nigerian terrorism has in scale, scope and frequency overtaken the ones in war torn countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
The chaos and massive social unrest in Nigeria was long in the making. For decades the strange concept of government has been massive looting rather than service delivery, it has also been the entrenchment of social, political and economic injustices rather than the evolution of a just, prosperous and socially harmonious nation. The consequence is a nation without a national airline, a nation that imports fuel in spite of being the sixth largest crude oil producer in the world, a nation that lacks pipe borne water, a nation without electricity, a nation that lacks roads, railways, functional hospitals and schools, a nation with non functioning steel plants built at a cost of more than $12 billion, a nation with the highest global levels of poverty- youth unemployment and a nation with frequent ethno-religious mass killings in which no one has ever been brought to trial.
Thus, the ongoing massive social unrest is the price of turning a nation into a jungle and unleashing the Frankenstein of chaos and violence that now plagues the nation. Nigeria is a failed and dying state and no matter how much the decrepit leaders and their co, travellers continue to be in denial, the reality of state failure and collapse will continue to stare them in the face. Every illness or disease has symptoms that signal that something is wrong. The unprecedented social unrest across the nation constitutes the unmistakable ominous signals and symptoms of a nation on the throes of death. Except there is radical and profound change, there will be more chaos, more violence, more dysfunction, more mass killings until the nation collapses under the weight of self inflicted Armageddon.