Once Upon A Country?

July 3, 2020
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Time was when we could walk the streets of Nigeria without a glimpse of soldiers or much of the policemen on the streets. Those were the days when the people held the army in awe and accorded them such enviable respect that parents then proudly sent their children to recruitment centres and the defence academy. That was when they and theirs were confined to well-kept functional barracks… that was when “obey the last order” was exactly as it was; obedience without complain. Any thought of mutiny or disobedience was simply not in the cards.

Before 2015, our streets were littered with dull-looking soldiers strutting around with guns that look like they have been dug out of Lord Luggard archives, some held together with hastily torn out rags as makeshift strings. They manned roadblocks, harass hapless citizens with no clear aim of or idea of what they are supposedly checking or looking out for, leaving one befuddled. With what we witnessed then on our streets and highways, it was apparent that our army had obviously been left behind in combat development. The respect they commanded gradually gave way to naked fear where they are now perceived as the other enemy as the initial enemy continues to elude them and plunge the nation more and more towards the precipice.

In year 2020, how much has changed? Boko Haram decimated, yes? But we are faced with more security challenges now and the entire Northwest is endangered. What is going on here? Failure of the security apparatus in its entirety? There seems to be a conspiracy of sorts against the Northwest… when did we miss the boat?

No doubt, we were a nation on the edge of precipice not only because we were prosecuting a war, we apparently were not interested in winning but also because we were to say the least, not interested in ourselves as a people. This was us pre-2015. Have we transited from that situation today? I personally wonder. The difference we say is in the commitment shown towards defeating the Boko Haram insurgency. However, not same has been exhibited in fighting banditry and hooliganism of all forms in different parts of the country.

While we have ‘supposedly’ now won the war against the insurgents, we are confronted with a different kind of war in which even the “Generals” are afraid to be on the roads. Kidnappers and other forms of banditry have taken control of the roads and poor Nigerians have to struggle with the ‘high and mighty’ for limited seats on the only train service in northern Nigeria. Even the train seats are being “black marketed” by staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation motivated and encouraged by these “VIPs” a most unfortunate exhibition of who we are as a people.

We have gone myopic … so myopic that our sense of capability has been taken hostage by no other than the so-called ‘civilised world’; we are myopic in our assessment of our self-worth, myopic in our conception of our collective well being, we are myopic in our understanding of development, we are myopic in our thoughts of leadership, myopic in who should lead us and where to lead us or even where we want to be. We are a people content to watch our collective destiny destroyed on the podium of materialism, egotism, and ethnocentrism. Indeed cry the beloved country for we have lost our sight!!

In addition to all of these is the total unruliness and lawlessness being exhibited by our security personnel attached to “our VIPs”. Shooting at the Villa? What was any one of them thinking? This is it? The security personnel and entire apparatus so populated with people with scant idea of security protocol? This is huge!! We are in trouble.

This is the baggage we carry to the international scene; this myopic and total display of intellectual incapacity is what has shaped the international community’s idea of us and what we are. Long forgotten are those times when the mere presence of Nigerian leaders and Nigerians forced the world to listen, you know those days when people of my generation woke up to such laudable declarations as ‘Africa has come of age, we will no longer…’. Where is that spirit of leadership that sets us apart from the pack? When we joined the frontline states and practically took over its leadership. What has happened to us that we completely abandon ourselves to the whims of mediocres? We put them there by proxy. Because when those you vote in fail to confront and take charge of their commands you let in ego mania with zero sense of responsibility. Every arm of security involved in this fiasco should be made to answer. Yes, they must answer.

Yes, we have a country, one in which mediocrity, and jest rule. We have a country in which we as a people only care for our own very personal well being not the general well being. Indeed we have a country.

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