Frank talk

The Politics of Unity

Unity is not necessarily a bad idea, for this country. But currently, Jonathan’s pretences, assumptions and politics about it are sounding like feeding post-graduate students with elementary school knowledge. Many people’s lives have been ruined by this very idea. Many more, I am afraid, will be ruined still while his politics about unity continues. This is a serious matter.

You cannot continue travelling on a road without counting the mileage. We have come a long way and should glance at the speedometer. You have to know if you should continue the journey, considering the cost of it; and to know if you will have enough fuel to return to base, if you have to.

Nigerians have been travelling on this rickety vehicle, that breaks down now and again – a very tortuous journey. The bad road, full of pot-holes, has not helped the journey either. Some have been on the dangerous vehicle for a life time and died, with nothing to show for it. The vehicle is showing signs all the time that the engine will knock. And somebody is telling me that he is the driver with abiding faith in God, instead of stopping the journey to make the jalopy safe. If there is a discussion among the passengers, he won’t allow them to talk about whether to continue the journey or not. Nobody should talk about the capacity of the vehicle to continue and complete the journey, and do the return journey as well. Of course there is no return journey in Nigeria’s journey. We have to keep moving until we get to an unknown destination. Yes we have a destination – what you call development. But what is it? We don’t know. All we know is that we face uncertainty every day, as well as uncertainty about where we are going.

However this decision to continue on the trip, to stop so far, or to turn back towards home is that of the driver (the president) to take. The driver feels that his heroism lies in the senseless, risky and suicidal continuation of the fortuitous journey. He wants to be hailed as one who arrived at that unknown destination, despite all the odds. This may lead to a point of no return or to a bloody accident claiming the life of everyone in the vehicle. This is the fear of those of us supporting the national confab.

“I am not the President to allow the disintegration of Nigeria. It will not happen in my time, “Jonathan has said. Admittedly, that’s what every president in Nigeria (past, present or of the future) would say. A friend of mine assures me that Jonathan is hundred percent correct in saying that. I agree.

But I think heroism lies rather in saving lives, even if it is at the expense of losing the vehicle. The president must accept that the Nigeria he is driving as a vehicle is bad and about to crash. That’s why the national confab now in place is a very popular and welcome idea. But what is the point trying to repair the vehicle while it is in motion and the passengers are at risk if the malfunctioning of it should lead to an inevitable crash?

The president is optimistic that the unity of Nigeria will yield good results at last. The promise of it is what he continues to assume will be realized. He pleads with us to adopt the same attitude. But there’s what is called “faith without work”, hoping against hope. I cannot mix this optimism with the unrealistic and costly ambition of the president to continue driving the rickety vehicle with people in it at the risk of their lives. What matters to him, is that heroism, and not the safety of the passengers, who are dying as I am writing this. He wants to drive us to the bitterest end? Complain from now till the heavens come down, that’s none of his business.

Take for instance, the killings in the north. This is a crackling, deafening noise in the engine of Nigeria. Is the Nigerian government telling me that boko haram elements will be wiped out in order to stop the uprising? What does it mean to say that the war will soon be won? Eradication and defeat of boko haram means eradication of the entire north, because there is no northerner who is not in it. It is a total northern armed struggle for independence. They want self-rule and independence. Boko haram is their alibi about it. Do not be deceived. The difference with Biafra is that the Igbo put all their eggs in one basket and went to war. All the eggs were easily broken. The Yoruba only talk about their own issues. They use njakiri to fight. It is a matter of tactics. Watch, the north will drag this war on for donkey years. They will wear Nigeria out, and have their way eventually. Nigeria will surrender to the north eventually. Nigerian money is to fund it. The north has always wanted this scenario. Even before de-colonization as a movement was initiated by the south, the northerners excused themselves initially from the move. They called it ‘araba’ then. Boko haram, which started since four and half years back, is the manifestation of it today.

After Nigeria’s cruel war against the Igbo, any Igbo seeing what is happening in the north today would say, yes, let it go round. O biara e gbum gbuo onwe ya. Any Igbo talking of boko haram is wasting his time. It is the implosion in Nigeria that will set the Igbo free. Our only involvement is if any Igbo life is lost in the katakata, be it a soldier, a policeman or the ordinary victims in the civil populace. Nkem dirim. Period.

The Igbo should charge their human losses to Jonathan and the federal government, not to the north or boko haram. If boko haram or the north should answer for the lost Igbo lives, what it calls for is going over there to avenge or on reprisal, deterrent attacks. If what is happening in Boko haram areas were to be happening in the South East, this area would have been leveled and put out of existing since by the military, with unthinkable speed and fury.

Indeed the north is eating its cake and having it. They championed the removal of the Igbo-lead military command that was making decisive moves to extinguish the boko haram fire. They replaced it with a lukewarm, northern-lead command that would sympathize with their people in boko haram and treat them with kid gloves, at their detriment of course.

If Nigeria were unite-able, the boko haram rebellion would have united them and the war would have been a brief affair bringing everything immediately under control as soon as it started. But how do you send Satan to fight Satan? They can only meet at the war-front and team up to launch a more vicious attack on you who sent them. They will turn the weapons you gave them against you and dislodge you.

Perhaps it is good tactics to send Satan against Satan, deploying the enemy against the enemy. The Nigerian case will prove this.

The politics of unity will be simpler to understand if you took a look at it his way;

A man who asks two or more polygamous families to move in together and form one family, what does that man want? What do the united families want? Of course you know that unity is the last thing you will expect in any polygamous family. Neither can you have peace there. Now several of them are put together to answer one name, feed collectively from one pot and do all things in common. That’s what Frederick Lugard and co. did in Nigeria and left. That can be nothing but a war-front as we have it in Nigeria today. Separating the families is as hard as letting them stay peacefully together. The united family has been genuinely trying to live together, but it doesn’t work. That situation has left a hefty elephant in their parlor, which has made the place her permanent abode. You can’t remove it. A na-ebu ala e bu? That elephant is the in-fighthing, the jealousies, the back-biting, the betrayals. There is the consciousness that the united families are indeed different. There, they must have differences that are irreconcilable. To be the successful bigman, heading the large, irreconcilable family, the head of the families goes on grandstanding and on ego trips, denying that there is an elephant in his home. Meanwhile he and his members just manage to survive the unbearable conditions in the family from day to day. What do you call that unity that has no peace in it, and in which people are dying in great numbers, in various avoidable circumstances?

The way out of a quagmire like this is not an extra-ordinary thing. It is common sense that everybody in Nigeria is capable of, removing ego, emotion, personal interest and selfish aggrandizement. What we’re talking about here is existence and life, not infrastructure.