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Nigeria is currently passing through one of the most turbulent times of her existence since it gained independence from the British in 1960. Perhaps the times that could be compared to this period of chaos, confusion, widespread violence, leadership breakdown and political instability will be from 1966 to 1970 to the inglorious June 12, 1993 when Moshood Abiola lost his popular mandate to a dictator and the crisis that followed.
Across the length and breadth of the country it’s like a reality-television series taking place. Prior to now, Nigeria leaders used the populace as their punching bags, presently they have turned on one another. Leaders punching leaders in the full glare of the populace – by the way, that includes children. The boxing ring was set in the hallowed chambers of the Senate early this year over the budget row and the presidential state of the union address. Two opposing senators nearly kissed each other’s faces with their knuckles but for the timely intervention of the Senate president. The impasse between the presidency and the legislative assembly on the constitution is yet to be resolved. The Nigeria Governors Forum has maintained a polarized forum claiming separate legitimacy. Among the sectors, NUPENG of the oil and gas ended a 3-day strike only for ASUU and ASUP in education to succeed them. PHCN is increasing tariffs despite acknowledged poor value delivery.
The state of emergency in three northern states don't appear to have deterred the members of Boko Haram in their quest for mayhem in the region. the latest blood of over 20 children testifies to the prevalent state of insecurity in the region. The kidnapping business is thriving in many southern states. Need I mention Rivers State is raging like an inferno? Adults, youths and children have watched, horrified as an elected leader repeatedly bashed the head of another elected leader not minding the heavy presence of security men who in a normal clime should have cuffed him for attempted murder. Then the height of it, a policeman trained to protect and be “your friend”, kicking and beating an elected official.
All of these happened within the first half of one year under the watch of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Recently the president asked Nigerians to score his performance so far. I am not sure whether he read the score cards sent in by many Nigerians on several media platforms, but it was one poor result after another. Since his request, one would have thought the focus of the administration will be on how to accelerate meaningful development in all sectors of the nation’s economy. However it is one show of disappointment after another. Makes one wonder what the remaining half of the year portends. The failure of leadership has never been so apparently than it is today.
Since coming into office in May 29, 2011 President Jonathan has left nobody in doubt the direction his administration was going – nowhere. It started with his inaugural speech which basically said nothing in terms of direction and vision of the government except make the usual politically correct promises that are never justified with well articulated plans. Expectedly, the report card of over two years in office is largely confusion and more confusion.
Nigeria is currently the 8th most corrupt country in the world, what more do we expect in a culture of impunity, unaccountable leaders and perilous contradictions. The fetid air of confusion however appears to be benefiting the presidency as it has gone ahead to stoke the fire in Rivers State by calling for the probe and prosecution of the governor Chibuike Amechi and hiring protesters to block the International Airport in Rivers thereby holding hostage four northern governors who came to visit. The government is also showing no signs of mending the rift between it and the National Assembly on the issue of the budget and state of the union address. ASUP may have suspended their strike with an ultimatum to the government to accede their demands within one month. But we all know the government will again disappoint, so next year another strike. Meanwhile the ‘indefinite’ ASUU strike continues because the administration is reneging on agreements it entered voluntarily. But considering the fact that their children are not students in any of the public universities no one should blame them to not understand the level of rot in the education sector.
It is high time this atmosphere of confusion end. 2015 is around the corner and already many political juggernauts are showing signs of storming times ahead. If the present political confusion persists, “free and fair” elections in 2015 may just be the next casualty. Nonetheless, it will take a people who are tired of a putrid status quo and are ready to create and enforce the change they desire. No government is bigger than the people who made it.
Frank Onuoha is a Historian and Public Affairs Analyst.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters