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The state, the cartel and the cabal

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By Mike Kebonkwu

THE year 2020 started with great hopes and expectations but before we could cast off the coast came the Corona Virus (Covid 19), a pandemic that changed about everything in the world.  Thank God we made it to 2021 and with our ever resilient spirit; we hope to soldier on fearlessly in the midst of ever increasing insecurity and economic hardship. Let us open this discourse with this poser: Who is actually in charge in Nigeria today?   We shall come to this very shortly.  First, I am reminded of this saying amongst the Ika ethnic group of Delta State that, “If you do not like your image or reflection in the mirror, breaking the mirror does not change who you are; change yourself or your image”.

Now looking at our poser, one is wont to argue that there is a de facto and de jure government in place therefore, the state represented by the government is in charge.   The Nigerian state has virtually been reduced to an ineffective and inefficient bureaucracy like the “Kalokalo” machine that takes in and dispenses cash from gamblers.  The government is not able to meet its primary responsibility of providing security for citizens.   It is even struggling to pay the over-bloated workforce of the civil service; owing them arrears of salary.  When the government bares its fangs, it is to issue threat and intimidate opposition flexing its muscles to invoke the coercive power of the state instead of positioning itself to do things differently.

The APC government has been so fixated and obsessed with power just for the sake of power.  This is the reason why government officials perceive every criticism fair or foul as a call to overthrow the government or undermine its legitimacy.  Just as 2020 was grinding to an end, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah came under the aperture of the smoking gun of the combative three musketeers and the president’s minders in Aso Rock Villa who accused the clergy man of inciting religious disharmony and calling the military to take over power.

Reading through the Homily of the cerebral Bishop and the profundity of the depth of the issues he raised on what appears, and rightly too to government total loss of control of the security in the country, one cannot agree less with his submission.  Other people have made similar calls but no one had taken them seriously.  The government is now jolted because this time, the call is coming from none other than a venerable and redoubtable personality who wields a measure of respect and influence.

Bishop Kukah is an evangelical activist on the pulpit who cared less about being politically correct.  He is not in the mode of a radical left-wing revolutionary activist who would want to overthrow a government by unconstitutional means.  By his calling and orientation, he is a conservative who is not opposed to the orthodoxy of the status quo ante provided the oppressor yields some space and ground to the lumpen proletariat.   He did not ask for more than justice, equity and security for every Nigerian irrespective of religious persuasion or ethnicity.

The year 2020 was a most traumatic and agonizing year for most Nigerians who survived by the whiskers. While other nations of the world gave reliefs and grants to businesses and palliatives to the people to stay afloat, our government hiked electricity and gasoline tariffs making worst  the already bad situation.

In the midst of the hardship and loss of earning arising from the lockdown, insecurity enveloped the entire country with bandits, insurgents, kidnappers carving out territory to themselves from north to south.  Even security operatives and policemen have been kidnapped for ransom but the government still gives the impression of being in charge but the reality on ground appears to suggest the opposite.

That the Boko Haram insurgents remain a dominant force to reckon with in the northeast contrary to all the posturing of the security forces.   Bandits control northwest while herdsmen hold sway in the north-central to the Middle Belt, heading southward.  Kidnappers and armed robbers are in charge of southeast, south-south and southwest.  Nigerians are not safe at home, on the road, in business places and even in the farm.  As we progressed in this state of anomie, the government tries to convince us that it is in charge.

The only thing the government may have succeeded in part in doing is the crushing of the peaceful EndSARS protesters through disproportionate use of force because it felt threatened by the direction of the protest and the demand of the patriotic youths.  The government also succeeded in crushing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) who were agitating for a fair federation.  And the last in the list of success of the government was the crushing of the Coalition of the Northern Groups who became concerned about the total collapse of security in the entire region after the wholesale abduction of over 600 boys from the Science Secondary school Kankara in Katsina State, the president’s home state.

The security forces have not deployed the same measure of force it applied on peaceful protesters on the insurgency in the northeast, bandits in the northwest and herdsmen that have become ubiquitous anywhere you go.  The government rather prefers to negotiate with the insurgents and bandits paying ransoms to them while they go after the perceived leaders of the EndSARS protesters, clamping on their bank accounts and prosecuting them for terrorism related offences.

The cartels and cabals have taken over Nigeria, period.  The cartels are political merchants and power brokers in Nigeria.  The cartels birthed the Ecomog which was a group of miscreants that was used to intimidate political opponents and rig elections in the northeast that later metamorphosed into Boko Haram.  The cartels sire the hoodlums and touts that are used as electoral machines as well as assassins to eliminate opposition.  The cartels are in charge of the killer herdsmen across the country that is the reason why they are never brought to book.

The cabals are the once that distribute political powers according to their pleasure and fancies.  They are sustained through fetish and satanic manipulations in their confraternity.  This is the reason why it is difficult to remove any of them whether they are under performing or not and whether they deliver on their duty or not.

It is only in a failed state that nomadic herdsmen or other unauthorized persons will wield assault rifle on their back without a qualms or fear of being arrested.  This is what has become common place across the country today.  Neither the federal government nor the state governments could secure citizens any more. Nigerians have virtually abandoned the roads to insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and armed robbers.    Taking on Bishop Kukah or calling for his arrest is chasing shadows, unfair and misplaced.  Those who are lying to the world about the state of affairs in Nigeria are the ones that deserve to be condemned.  They are the political elites who indeed have become agents of destabilization and responsible for the pervading state of insecurity that we have found ourselves.

In the face of the despondency that has enveloped the country, the president has never seen the need to address the nation or empathize with victims because as a people we do not place much value on human lives and sufferings.  At the last count, he was in his village in Daura  a few kilometres from the scene of the abduction of over 600 boys in Kankara, he did not deem it fit to visit the school.

When the president was invited by the National Assembly, his minders said that the House has no power to summon the president to address it on the state of insecurity.  In the first place, the president did not need to be invited before taking it upon himself to address the people who entrusted him with the power of the state.  Is Nigeria a feudal state or an absolute monarchy that the president cannot be summoned to account to the people, one may ask?  We should be careful not to drive genuine patriots underground to avoid a repeat of EndSARS protest.   We must save Nigeria from the cartel and cabals who are merchants of fortune who do not mean well for Nigeria.

  • Kebonkwu Esq. writes from Abuja.

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