RAMPAGE! A failed government

RAMPAGE! A failed government – We can do the analysis, and it will consistently show a government that moves in slow motion whenever it comes to wrapping its head around a new problem – whether it is Niger Delta militancy, shrinking Chad, the shift of the global economy away from oil, the plague of erosion in the South, the retreating Lagos shoreline, the advancing Sahara desert, the rise of Boko Haram, the exploding population of the young and jobless, the alarming increase in diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes; or this raging war of attrition in the Middle Belt. The pattern always seems to be – if it is not a full-blown Stage 4 crisis, ignore it. And if it is, call the army and tell it to shoot everything that moves. This – my brother – is not Governance.

Governance anticipates. You see, there is a growing cattle market on the road to so many villages in the south-eastern region. And every time I think about the looming danger therein; I wonder if it will one day be another front in this under-reported war. True. If the President was ‘from here’, I would know that he knows this; that somewhere between Enugu and Umuahia, there is a potential Agatu, a potential Nimbo. I would sleep easier knowing, that the President – the Chief Security Officer of the nation, in fact the ONLY Security Officer of the nation, seeing as Police and Army answer to no one else – is ‘from here’. Because, my brother, in this country, this fact seems to have great effect on the speed with which the C-in-C understands and responds to these types of things.

Yes. It is why I insist that tribalism – or ethno-centrism, or the tendency to see the country through the shaded lenses of my culture and place of origin, or to be primarily influenced by the interests and stakeholders that speak my mother tongue – is the true cancer, not corruption. Because it plays a big role in what we choose to prioritize – whether we rank the re-industrialization of Aba over the reconstruction of Maiduguri, or the linking of Lagos and Kano by rail over the linking of Lagos and Calabar by rail, you know? Dredge the Niger or explore for oil in the Chad Basin? Cite a refinery here or there; how can we centralize these decisions when we do not have a truly national ethos? You know? When we do not have a class of people whose loyalty to the nation – over and above loyalty to any of it’s constituent ethno-regional blocs – we can absolutely trust?

It is a problem – that a Ministry always seems to be predominantly staffed by people from the same area as the D.G, that sort of thing. It is a problem – that budgets always seem to funnel funds towards projects in the area from which the budget holder comes, that sort of thing. It is a problem – that whether or not a local issue is brought to national limelight depends not so much on an objective assessment of its gravity viz-a-viz other issues as on the participation of someone ‘from there’ in the innermost circles of government, that sort of thing. This (no mincing words) is what it is – ‘paddy-paddy’ government – the government of those in government, by those in government, for those in government. And, ehm, their ‘people’.

So, in my mind at the moment, there can only be two ways forward. One is long-term and idealistic, we evolve an additional ‘tribe’ – the tribe of those who are de-tribalized – and leave the Center to them. Don’t laugh. Just ask around, you will find potential candidates, internally disarticulated Nigerians whose ties to their places of origin have been severed (or at least sufficiently challenged) by the circumstances of their lives, leaving them with a unique and sorely needed perspective on socio-political issues.

Two, we de-centralize and become a true federation, so people can have the power to deal with their local issues, without having to refer first to a distant Federal Government which, in the moment of their need, maybe headed by someone who would need many, many, many long lectures just to understand something that is as simple as ABC to them. Honestly, my brother, is it not time to consider State Police? Dike

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
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