New Telegraph Back Page
Posted on September 2, 2021
By Ike Abonyi
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world ….” –William Butler Yeats
A deep read into The Second Coming, a poem by W.B. Yeats, one would be tempted to conclude the classic work that inspired Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is about the return to power of our very own Muhammadu Buhari to Nigeria’s political space. Why not if under Buhari’s second coming everything has fallen apart, anarchy has befallen our nation, and nobody hears anybody any longer? It’s bloodletting all the way!
The novelist copiously captures the turbulent Igbo society of old. The classic work goes ahead to be an outstanding novel that has been translated into more than a dozen international languages. The same Prof Achebe also penned another book, The Trouble with Nigeria where he squarely blamed our challenges on leadership failure. The scenario informing Achebe’s narrations in the two books has since migrated and culminated in the titling of his last book There Was A Country, a four-part memoir of the Nigeria-Biafra war.
This it-happened-tome account regrets that Nigeria, as we knew or were used to, would soon be addressed in the past. It was like the visionary writer was extrapolating into our future…in the second coming of Buhari and beyond. Here are Prof Achebe’s words on the marble: “Most members of my generation, who were born before Nigeria’s independence, remember a time when things were very different.
Nigeria was once a land of great hope and progress, a nation with immense resources at its disposal—natural resources, yes, but even more so, human resources. But the Biafran war changed the course of Nigeria. In my view, it was a cataclysmic experience that changed the history of Africa.” Today we appear to be arriving at the junction where any further direction in the journey of existence as a nation provides little that is pleasant. We are at the dead-end of our journey, exactly the right point to make a U-turn if we desire to continue as one Nigeria. To continue this journey using the same route means we are fast-tracking our demise as a nation.
Even those who inspire us by seeing invisible bridges in the past are all seeing nothing now and are desiring a change of direction for us now. We have roundly failed but instead of seeing failure as a teacher and learning from its teaching, we have preferred to make failure an undertaker.
Instead of taking a detour at this point, we are preferring, instead, the dead end. Every wise voice is saying loud and clear that it’s time to change course but the failure instinct is pushing us to the precipice because the falcon can no longer hear the falconer. In Nigeria today, it’s becoming increasingly impossible for even the best optimist to maintain a sense of hopefulness about the future. Even when hope is rooted in faith, it still needs to be anchored on something to blossom. The reason we are living is that we are hopeful about things, life, and tomorrow.
To be hopeful is to remain optimistic, refusing to be despair amidst very hard and difficult situations. Hope makes us always be in anticipation of something better. Hope tries to play down on the negatives and always expects a positive outcome in all things. Hope is the endless gazing at the darkness in the hope that light will show up at the tunnel’s end. But it does appear that Nigerians are in the habit of looking for hope outside of themselves and because of that they are stretching their faith too far. That the Nigerian nation-state is at this point it is now and everyone is hiding, praying to God cowardly is a sign that we don’t know what a dead-end means.
Dead end means you are standing in between a lion in the land and a crocodile in the sea and yet you want to live. Everything negative is in circulation in this land now and rather than react as shocked people, we just get adjusted even as the graveside is not too far.
The President who is the leader of our beleaguered nation appears to be emulating Nero’s attitude as Rome burned, as hundreds of children wallow in the forest with criminals, as their parents agonize with the closure of more than half of schools due to criminality, as criminals bring down military aircraft, attack military institutions, slay generals like chickens, and abduct officers, the C-in-C is engaged in a lavish wedding celebration for his son where unprecedented gift items are handed out to the rich in the same neighbourhood where abducted children are wallowing and self-pitying.
No doubt, the President’s son deserves to wed, but the mood in the country, caused by the father’s poor leadership, would have called for sacrifice in the scale of the ceremony. Imagine the impact it would have made if all those costly gifts to the people who don’t need them had been translated into basic needs and channelled to the families of victims of the violence in Nigeria.
His wedding would have been engraved in the hearts of not just such beneficiaries but in Nigerians and all humanitarian hearts across the globe. When a rich man is flaunting wealth he has done noth-ing new but when he touches lives with his wealth, the impact resonates and reverberates. Governor Samuel Ortom has been crying his heart out about the danger ahead and rather than listen to him we are making it look as if he is a hoax man, crying wolf where there is none. His Plateau State counterpart, Governor Simon Lalong, has been playing the good boy, not ready to tell his girlfriend that her mouth is smelling; yet he is covering his nose each time she talks.
Now Plateau State is again at the receiving end of violence as it has always been. All these are happening and will continue to happen because we have refused to heed wise counsel freely given. Let us redraw our map as a country and enable us to stay together harmoniously but we instead prefer the disharmonious co-existence that has kept us in a cul-de-sac. Lt-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) is many things to many people. In the past, he was a hero in Northern Nigeria for standing in defence of the region and leading the uprising that pulled down Maj-Gen J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi. To some he was an exceptional soldier, to others he is an extraordinary philanthropist who amassed huge wealth from oil and has used it to help himself and others through charity. Now, all his achievements belong to the past.
Today he is a known wailer and a grouch who is crying for his minority tribe of the North that he fought fiercely to maintain. The same North he fought and nearly died for is annihilating his people. So he alleges. By his background and nature, not being a loquacious person, when he raises an alarm, it should be taken seriously. In 2018, this man cried out that the Nigerian Army is colluding with terrorists to kill people in an ethnic cleansing mission.
He long talked about selfdefence before Governor Aminu Bello Masari and others joined the chorus. Such weighty allegations coming from a former Chief of Army Staff and a one-time defence minister cannot just be wished away. It took the military authorities under the erstwhile Chief of Army Staff Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai sometime before coming up with some wishy-washy defence. When T.Y. Danjuma said it, the picture was not clear to many but today we are into it, peace has gone on vacation in the country. It’s lamentation all the way. Another person who should know, who has served this country at various intelligence units, retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawumi, opened the box confirming what has been in the rumour mill that some terrorists are indeed at strategic positions in this administration. Rather than deny it if it’s not true or dare him to name names, the authorities are embarking on a wild goose chase harassing the journalist-interviewers.
The landmark revelation of the late Gen. Sani Abacha that insurgency cannot last beyond 24 hours if the government is not behind it will continue to resonate so long as conflicting stories dominate the government handling of the ongoing terror and banditry in the land.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan was honest enough owned up that Boko haram members served in his administration but the current regime has remained mute even as body language says a lot about the continuous massaging of the so-called surrendering terrorists and bandits. If in the midst of all this we still expect one to be hopeful in Nigeria, to have faith that this journey can continue using the same vehicle for the journey, we may require divine grace to see us through. God, help us.