Our divided and collapsing country, By Babayola M. Toungo

This generation of Nigerians may as well be the last set of Nigerians if the record of Goodluck Jonathan’s leadership quality and style is anything to go by. A leadership steeped in ethnic assertiveness and abrasiveness with a ‘to hell with you’ attitude towards anyone outside the creeks of the Niger Delta.  A style of leadership based on provincialism, peopled by militants (ex or not), old men once indicted by a reformist government now desperately trying to reinvent themselves because ‘their son’ is in the saddle and pseudo-intellectuals like Atedo Peterside, who got the best opportunities Nigeria had to offer.

Goodluck’s government is fuelled by exploiting the fault lines in our body politics – regional, religious and ethnic – and this is why I belief, if allowed to continue, will bring the end of the country as we know it today.  I say this with all sense of responsibility.

The manifestations of this dangerous style of leadership reared its ugly head right from when Goodluck was Vice President and was desperate to shove aside the then sick ‘Yar Adu’a.  Goodluck had to rely on whipping sentiments to make his case and thus began the ascension of ethnicity in national discourse. Dinosaurs like Edwin Clark were resurrected from the dead to make a case for one of “their own”.  The north was blackmailed (of course with the connivance of some northern Quislings) into feeling guilty and the national assembly concocted a so-called ‘doctrine of necessity’, a contraption alien to the Constitution, just to please a segment of the country.  The rest, as the say is history.  Goodluck’s campaign last year was a defining moment for the country because at a point in time we were threatened with Armageddon should in case Goodluck was not elected.  The threat was given by no less a person than the minister of Information, Labaran Maku.  Rather than this dangerous brinkmanship diminishing, it is escalating and subtly adopted as state policy.  With the likes of Asari Dokubo, a confessed killer, joining the fray, I am afraid we are beginning to see the makings of the end of Nigeria as it exist today.

The most recent brinkmanship by Goodluck’s people is the recent declaration of autonomy by the Ogoni people, the unending insults and blame game on northern leaders by Clark, the passage of a law by the Bayelsa State legislature on state anthem, flag and coat of arms, the declaration of independence by the people of Bakassi and the incoherent threats by Dokubo of starving the north by denying them access to the ports to ‘import’ food and bringing out the guns.

The common denominator for these acts – south – south.  What is of interest to me is the lack of reaction from the federal government with the minister of information telling Nigerians that government isn’t aware of the declaration of autonomy by the Ogoni people led by Goodluck Jonathan’s namesake – Goodluck Diigbo.  That is the height of insult to poor struggling Nigerians.  It took the SSS (the secret police) less than forty-eight hours to “invite” Pastor Tunde Bakare for delivering a sermon on ‘How to Change Government Peacefully’.  May be because Pastor Bakare is not from the south – south.  The seditious nature of the actions of Diigbo and the Bakassi people was not viewed as serious as that of a harmless Pastor’s homily.  Is the federal government sending the wrong signal to Nigerians? Are we therefore to infer that while some get away with murder, others won’t?

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The government of Goodluck Jonathan will go down in history as the government that polarised Nigeria the most.  The acrimony of his ascension was based on the fact some people decided to build his case purely on his ethno-religious identity.  His campaign put more emphasises on this same ethno-religious hue than on any tangible programme or manifesto and his government seem to be stoking the embers for the continuation of this same dangerous trend.  I am not optimistic that Nigeria will survive this bluster if the president continues to tow this path.  But be as it may, if the country breaks up in the foreseeable future, are northern governors and northerners prepared to face a future without ‘federal allocation’?  Are we truly building structures and infrastructures meant to endanger economic growth and prosperity?  Where are those northerners running from pillar to post just a year ago telling us that Goodluck is the best thing to happen to Nigeria?

While states in the south are involved in one economic programme or the other, our governors are busy buying up estates in Dubai, South Africa and Europe.  Or building new government houses that does not have any economic impact on the populace.  It is okay for Clark or Dokubo to insult us as long as the oilfields in their backyards can continue to fund our consumerism.  Our insatiable thirst for corruption has made us shameless and undignified.  Genuflecting before Dokubo or Tompolo is now the fad.

While Goodluck Jonathan belief it is okay to “allocate” to Dokubo, Tompolo, Ateke Tom and Boyloaf $40million per annum to “guard” pipelines, our governors are retching up issues that the presidency believed are “settled” while some are going round with a begging bowl asking the deaf to give them more.  How did we come to this sorry pass? Where are those so-called leaders who always claim to be working for our interests?  Am yet to hear anyone condemn the “allocations” to these militants who can cause their underlings to drive all the way to Abuja without fear of molestation by security personnel.  While all northern cities are turned into barracks, with gun totting soldiers at every corner, bringing to a halt most businesses, militants can have unfettered access to the nations capital, driving from the creeks in convoys.  Our leaders, those at the front row of Goodluck’s campaign train, are nowhere to be found now that the chips are down.  The poor are left to their devices and this is what we are reaping in the form of unmitigated violence.

This attitude of the leadership is, in my view, what makes the Boko Haram tick.  The spate of terrorism has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity but rather a product of ‘use and dump’ insolence of our political class.  These boys are denied education and therefore denied any future.  With no stake in a polity they believe they had a hand in making, they turn to violence in order to vent their bottled up anger.  They lay waste whatever they survey indiscriminately.  This monster has to be tackled by our governors and other leaders of the region even if the federal government is lukewarm about tackling it.  If we fail, then we should be prepared for the long-term effect of this madness.

While Goodluck is pampering his kindred (the militants), our governors believe they can wish Boko Haram away. Getting angry at Clark, Goodluck or any of the lot seems to be a misplacement of anger.  Our anger should be directed at our leaders to make them realise the folly of their ways.  We do not want more allocation from the federal government.  All we want is a conducive economic environment from our leadership.

We now have a Nigeria of haves and have nots, south-south and the rest of us.  And this is dangerous because the have nots are in the northern part of the country.  I hope we won’t be last set of people to hold a Nigerian passport.  But if that is going to be for the best, so be it.

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