Home OPINION COMMENTARY Night Has Fallen On Nigeria, By Charles Ofoji

Night Has Fallen On Nigeria, By Charles Ofoji

Charles Ofoji

For Nigerian leaders, political power serves only one purpose – it is a self-serving instrument for self aggrandisement. Little wonder, political power in Africa’s most populous country has churned out thousands of overnight billionaires, at the expense of a choking populace.

When the late Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Chukwudifu Oputa JSC was delivering his judgement sometime in the 80s in the famous Johnson case, referring to the unfair treatment meted out to the foreign partner by his Nigerian partners, the then “Socrates” of the Apex Court compared the case to a hungry poultry, where each chicken was eager to grab as much grain as it could, not minding in the struggle which chicken was hurt. Oputa concluded by saying that it was unworthy of gentlemen.

That statement he made then paints a true picture of Nigeria of our time. For Nigerian leaders, public office is a rat race of pilfering the commonwealth without giving a damm about what happens to the common man. As they crazily looted the treasury, they did not pause to ponder. Also what they foolishly failed to ponder while they were milking the cow called Nigeria dry, was what kind of a country would they live in with their ill-gotten wealth amidst artificially created hunger and poverty?

The chickens have come home to roost. Nigeria, as it is today – an impoverished and severely unsafe country – is the end product of the foolishness of the Nigerian elite. Depraved corruption is the cause of all the troubles we have in present day Nigeria, including the Boko Haram insurgency.

If Nigerians had enjoyed 20% of the benefits normally meant for citizens of the world’s 7th largest producer of crude oil, there would have been no Boko Haram. Because the people would have a good life and would have no time for extremist thoughts. About three hundred of our girls of the future generation would also not have been kidnapped and Nigeria would not be getting the very bad press it is getting at the moment due to the missing Chibok girls.

Amnesty International last week chastised the Nigerian Military for failing to respond to early information it got about plans by the terror group, Boko Haram to attack the Chibok School. This has been vehemently denied by the Military, although two conflicting responses emerged from the Defence Headquarters.

Surely the military is guilty of both not doing enough to prevent the raid and not doing much to bring back the girls, as angrily demanded by an outraged populace and the international community. However, what this writer fails to understand is why Nigerians could not understand that we lack an army which is capable of dealing with this insurgency, no thanks to corruption.

As a result of idiotic corruption, the defence budget has been seen, over the years, as a big cake to be shared by the top military brass and their political collaborators. This is why we have a ragtag army and this is why our military cannot deal with the threat of Boko Haram without international help, not withstanding the trillions of Naira that has gone down the drain-pipe called defence.

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The Nation is told that huge amount of military personnel has been deployed to the North-East to face the insurgency. Good talk. But no one cares to ask if adequate logistics have been put in place. The United States of America, for example, do not send troops anywhere without first setting up a make-shift camp, which would have grocery store, clinic, laundry, cafeteria, sport facilities etc.

But the Nigeria Army sends its troops in harm’s way without caring for their welfare and safety. It is useless to talk about lack of adequate compensation for the families of soldiers who fall in serving their fatherland. Yet, Nigerians expect too much from our soldiers. Because they know that if they died in service, their families will suffer, this is why they chicken out when they are expected to provide security.

If not for corruption, Chibok would have been a flourishing town with good policing and good communications network. It would have been impossible for any group to take away such number of girls in lorries. Those girls suffered the fate they suffered due to a ravenous elite, whose greed left Nigeria a skeleton of a nation. It is very sad.

Even if President Jonathan, now with international military help, finds and brings them back as he promised (and as Nigerians legitimately expect), those girls’ lives may never be the same again. It must be a hell of ordeal for them to be held captive by a brutal terror group.

Nigeria is cursed by new generation leaders, who think that leadership is a jamboree. They were forced down on the nation by a corrupt military. They are emergency leaders, with 90% of them not even prepared for leadership. Our leaders don’t care about the masses; neither do they care about their country. This has now turned out to be their nemesis. The Igbos say that a sheep that foolishly urinated on where it would sleep will stand when the night falls.

The night has fallen on our dear country. The darkness is intense. Due to corruption, Nigeria is now a pariah state, where there is no security to lives and property. The military is not to blame. I hold the political class responsible for all our troubles.

Those missing girls maybe found and brought back. Boko Haram maybe defeated one day. When this happens, then we will realise that our problem is not just Boko Haram and a helpless military that could not fight them. 85% of our employable youths are unemployed. And they have no hope of finding work. There would be plenty to agitate for in the years ahead. Other militant groups would crop up.

Ultimately, our unwise leaders would have no hiding place. If they think that they will get away with the injustice they meted out to their fellow countrymen and women, they had better check through history again. In post Boko Haram Nigeria, the leaders will ultimately be held to account for stealing the dreams and twisting the destiny of a people.


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