-BY ALABA YUSUF
“Only a severe fire situation would necessitate a rat to seek refuge in a snake’s’ den.” – Yoruba proverb
These are undoubtedly not the best of times for Nigeria. The doom-boom of insecurity and lack of safety have combined to dehumanise Nigerians from the state of fellow compatriots to that of a fearful lot and frightened strange bedfellows. Nowadays trust, unity, equity and security are almost taking a leave of our beloved country. Who will bell this cat of misgivings?
For some years now, we have been battling a relentless war of attrition on many fronts which does no good to any nation. What with the hard-hitting fatal Ebola in the South and the barbarism of Boko Haram in the North? In addition to this ugly trend is the unending industrial scale of oil theft in the Niger Delta, depleting millions of dollars and bleeding the national economy to death from the jugular!
The precarious situation sits Nigeria uncomfortably and delicately on the string-balance of what some observers have called ‘signs of a failing state.’? I hear God forbid! Hmmm, no one wishes to wear the toga of morbidity against his country. But the signs on the wall smacks of war, belligerency and bellicosity rather than songs of unity and progress. This warrants the declaration of a state of emergency on all aspects of our national life; education, health, power, infrastructure and jobs inclusive.
The sad scenario has been compounded by over politicisation of an incredibly horrible episode in our national history. Nigerians no longer feel safe anywhere in their country. Only recently, 480 Nigerians soldiers had to do what military spokespeople called “a tactical manoeuvre into Cameroun”. This retreat came after a rattling battle with insurgents, who are said to have overrun many towns in Borno State. There the Islamic rebels are reportedly flying a Caliphate flag and laying territorial claim to vintage towns in Borno and Yobe States. The United States and all civilised people are now worried stiff over Nigeria’s ill-fate. “The situation is deepening disturbing more so when the world is looking forward to 2015 elections in Nigeria with great expectation. No one should be frightened from performing their electoral duties,” says an American representative. How do we now forestall an ISIS operation in Iraq from taking roots in our country through Boko Haram insurgency?
Meanwhile, nobody has yet accounted for the over 200 abducted Chibok school girls, despite the undying agitation for their release by the Dr Oby Ezekwesili-led #BringBackOurGirls group; a just cause supported by a world of men and women who hold in sanctity the fundamental rights of humanity.
Curiously, the rose of democracy has found itself sandwiched amongst the thorns of militarisation in a country begging for true development. It is an irony and a real life anathema. The threat of invasion and the need to protect territorial integrity have made the case for the Federal Government’s imposed state of emergency in the North East of Nigeria quite understandable. But a recent NOI poll result claims that 55 percent of the population wants the shackle on their freedom of movement and association removed immediately.
Here’s the dilemma. How do you allow unlimited citizens’ rights in a zone of war? On the other hand, how do you ensure free and fair elections in a place where the citizens cannot exercise their electoral rights and protect their votes from being rigged? That is another cross road.
This puts Adamawa State on the radar, if not in the eye of the storm, of democratic survival in a military zone. The forthcoming governorship Bye-election in the State will no doubt become the litmus test for Nigeria’s young democracy. How do you aggregate people together, democratically, in the face of Ebola, Boko Haram and military curfew?
And what is the way out of this unpredictable quagmire? There is an urgent need for Adamawa stakeholders to work out a modality to entrench democracy in their homestead. It may be novel to the country on how to sustain democracy amidst the threat of terror. It is a task that must be done.
Hence the call for unity and understanding by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on this matter should be embraced by all in Adamawa. Peace is priceless, for war is worrisome. Hence, politicians across the major divides should seek ameliorative means of weaving religious faiths and ethnic leanings in the state together, to wean this nascent democracy of ours to adulthood. There’s absolutely no gain but pain if Adamawa is taken for granted and impunity is allowed to snuff the life out of an unusual democratic process.
The situation in Adamawa, if well managed, may well become the true panacea to many of the unresolved political debacles in the country. Lest the failure of Adamawa bye-election stand in the way of the 2015 General polls! This issue was never discussed at the recently concluded National Confab. Now is the prime time for an Adamawa Summit. For only a severe fire situation would necessitate a rat to seek refuge in a snake’s’ den. All hands must be on deck to find a suitable solution to this grave challenge. After all, Nuhu Ribadu and seven other PDP gubernatorial aspirants have been compelled or convinced to step down for a ‘consensus or anointed’ candidate!
The Turaki Adamawa, as usual, must lead other statesmen and traditional leaders in this struggle to bail out democracy in the North East of Nigeria, where there is a palpable hegemonic interplay of democracy and milito-cracy.
Alaba Yusuf is a public affairs analyst and strategist based in Abuja.