Business as usual while Nigeria burns

It is so sad and disgusting that as millions of our country men and women are living under Syrian circumstances especially in the North-East, the noise hooting from Abuja and several state capitals is all about politics.

The murderous gangs who continue to terrorise the nation after abducting our girls have since left the evil Sambisa forest. They are prowling everywhere killing, maiming, abducting and displacing millions of our fellow citizens in villages and cities. There is no Marshall Plan to contain them frontally other than the usual platitudes and on a daily basis, we witness tragedies of human life wasted through bullets and bomb blasts all due to the indiscretion of our leaders.

The situation is sobering. Eight local governments listed as Ngala, Kala-Balge, Marte, Asira-Uba, Bama, Gwoza, Mafa and parts of Kodunga and Abadam are under the control of Boko Haram in Borno State, the worst affected by terrorism. Swathes of land as much as 20,000 square kilometres are reported to have been seized across the triangle of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

Thousands of Nigerians are on the move. A “Daily Trust” report this Tuesday (November 4, 2014) indicated that 12,000 Nigerians have relocated to Niger. Apart from thousands of others who have become refugees in Cameroon, the recent attacks on Mubi have swelled the rank of our internally displaced fellow citizens. According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) during the week, some 10,496 displaced people are in Yola camps alone.

It is so serious that the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Zanna Mustapha, has warned that “if the federal government does not add extra effort, in the next three months, the three North-East states will not be in existence”. Though the government is acknowledged to be doing its best, the Deputy Governor was quick to add what many Nigerians know that “its best is not enough because rather than going after the insurgents, it is the insurgents that are going after us.”

This scenario should make people lose sleep in Abuja and deal decisively with the dire situation. Unfortunately, it is business as usual as the politics of defection and declaration of ambition is the one taking the centre-stage even while the nation burns. What is worrisome is that there is nothing to suggest that our leaders are sufficiently angry at the situation of things.

It is worth reiterating that Aristotle, the classical philosopher, said, “Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy”.

The right people to be angry with to the right degree now are the Boko Haram and their identified collaborators. Those that the government-appointed Australian negotiator, Dr Stephen Davis, insists are Boko Haram sponsors should not be walking free, if we are serious and sane. The government should be seen to be angry with them.

Then, the right time is now to redeem the lost part of Nigeria from the grip of murderers who hide under the banner of both Islam and Christianity to terrorise Nigerians. The right purpose is to return Nigeria to Nigerians, return people’s farmland to them and regain our lost peace and security.

How many Nigerians have to die before the security situation is addressed frontally? How many Nigerians have to suffer from the atrocities of murderers and terrorists especially in the North-Eastern states before the Federal Government brings back our peace? What is the essence of government if Nigerians are not safe and people have to suffer, like citizen Adam Feti, who said he “trekked for about 15 kilometers with my wife and seven kids” from one village to another till he got to Niger Republic?

Nigerians are not impressed any time the government minders rain abuses on their opponents. It is high time the President and the Federal Government re-directed their energy to what matters most to most Nigerians and stopped dispensing sweat on the perceived shenanigans of the opposition. The role of the opposition is to oppose and the role of government is to govern. If the government does its job very well, real and perceived noise makers can as well be wasting their time but the problem is that the government is failing abysmally at doing its job.

Two things are urgent. First, let the Federal Government mobilise all resources, military and political, at its disposal NOW to liberate every inch of the country from the grip of terrorists and fortify the remaining parts of the North-East against further attacks.

The second thing is that the government should de-escalate the tension that pervades the polity. A situation in which Government is undermining itself through unconstitutional actions is unwholesome. The issue of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal’s defection to another political party is an unnecessary distraction. Violating his rights without recourse to the rule of law can only aggravate the situation. Let the courts decide his case.


Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi has gained a reputation for courage, audacity and even effrontery. As veteran columnist Mohammed Haruna puts it, Amaechi has cultivated “the cheeky habit of tweaking the president’s nose every now and then.”

But apart from his voluble attacks on the President, he sometimes speaks before he thinks like all those who talk much. This is neither desirable nor acceptable.

In a recent African Independent Television (AIT) programme in Abuja, as monitored by “The Nation” newspaper, apart from noting that “Jonathan rules like Abacha, says Amaechi”, as the headline was cast this Tuesday, the Governor added a dose of nonsense: “There is no morality in governance, and there is no goodness in governance, if you want to be moral or be a good man, go to church.”

That utterance is unfortunately myopic and patently untrue. It was informed by the jaundiced notion that there is no morality in politics, as advanced by Niccoló Machiavelli whose poisonous thoughts have led many leaders astray.

If morality, from the Latin “moralitas”, has to do with “manner, character and proper behaviour”, it beats one imagination how any self-respecting leader would say there is no character in governance. Anything devoid of character is useless and counter-productive.

From the ancient to the present times, morality and goodness are expected from those in governance. Aristotle and Cicero prescribed morality for political leaders as well as their followers. In stressing morality, Aristotle said, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Before anyone makes Mr. Amaechi’s misspeak a quotable nugget, it is necessary to reject his misinformed postulation. There is morality in politics and there is goodness in governance. This is why we expect our leaders to be good, to be just and to be law-abiding as a moral obligation.