Cry, my beloved country! by Emmanuel Nwachukwu

by Emmanuel Nwachukwu

As 2015 beckons, this year will go down in history
as Nigeria’s own annus horribilis. This has been the
year when the Nigerian State lost grip of the
security of its citizens, although government
sympathisers would have us believe otherwise,
preferring to peddle in the same lies and deception
that got us here. This is the year when terrorism,
community clashes, kidnappings, crude oil theft,
armed robbery, and jail breaks all attained new
heights of frequency and barbarity, emboldened by
the lack of punishment and a slow and corrupt
criminal justice system.

This is the year when terrorism finally took up
abode in our dear country, leaving death and
destruction in its wake. It is the year when Boko
Haram, a ruthless religious sect, finally declared war
on Nigeria with incessant bombings, mass abduction
of girls, and annexation of towns and villages in the
North-East. Far from cowering in the forest of
Sambisa, the insurgents have brought the fight to
us, even attacking military barracks. The attacks in
November were particularly brutal – over 200
murdered in cold blood in Kano after Friday
prayers and many more maimed for life. The
bloodbath in Kano was followed three days later
by simultaneous attacks on Maiduguri and
Damaturu, leaving hundreds of casualties. This
carnage has continued, largely unreported, almost
on a daily basis.

Even the recent abduction of
about 130 girls in a village near Chibok barely
made a footnote on the Nigerian Television
Authority or the African Independent Television
news until it was reported as breaking news on the
CNN, Al Jazeera and other world news media. But
for the international media that brought the plight
of the abducted Chibok girls to the world’s
attention, this sad event would also have been
tucked under the carpet as a non-event. There
seems to be a wicked conspiracy by Nigeria’s
official news media to keep Nigerians in the dark
and perhaps give the impression that the
government is on top of the situation. In Nigeria,
we seem to place very little value on life, especially
if the victims are poor.

Our TV stations and
notably the NTA tend to devote more time on the
self-adulation and self-aggrandisement of our
political leaders and their wives than to serious
national issues. So much air time is devoted to
frivolities and award ceremonies, to feed the egos
of these individuals, when the nation has more
pressing matters – millions of Nigerians are
internally displaced and many more scrambling for
a meal a day as a result of the action and inaction
of these individuals.

In any other democracy, the Kano bombings would
be headline news for the day and indeed the rest of
the month and beyond, but not so in Nigeria. The
AIT devoted more time covering Nyesom Wike’s
campaign for governorship in Rivers State, as it
had done all week, whilst the massacre barely made
the second day on the NTA news. The station
rather devoted more air time running the
embarrassing commercial on President Jonathan
that compares him with Mandela, Obama and
Martin Luther King. World leaders and observers of
Nigeria will find the falsity of the comparisons
comical, given the current state of the nation, with
crime and corruption at their worst since

More importantly, millions of our
fellow citizens that have been affected by this
insurgency, whether through bereavement,
abduction of family members or displacement, will
find the commercial sickening and disconcerting, to
say the least. Almost eight months after the
Nyanya bomb blast, the wounded are still pleading
with government to pay their hospital bills. It is
such a huge shame, especially when a public pledge
was made by the President that the government
would take care of the hospital bills of these
individuals. The mark of a civilised society is how it
deals with the vulnerable in society. In this regard,
we continue to fall short as a nation. In Nigeria
when you are poor, you are on your own.

As politicians square up for the February general
elections, there is a palpable sense of anxiety
where the country is headed with worsening
security and dwindling oil revenues. As a nation, we
have never been so divided, on religion, tribe and
ethnicity. No thanks of course to a cunning political
elite that has exploited the gullibility of the
electorate to sow descord amongst us by peddling
untruths and fear for their own gain. Where once
we had cracks, we now have chasms.

If the alleged large scale sharing of money to
delegates for votes in the party primaries is a dress
rehearsal of the general elections, then we are
sadly on course to make the same mistakes as in
previous years, – elect the wrong people. No one is
asking how these ex-ministers / political office
holders have come about the money they are now
sharing. For this bunch of individuals, success at
elections is not about service but about getting
access to the treasury; akin to winning the lottery.

It is only in a country like ours that people leave
elected office or political appointments as dollar
millionaires and nobody questions them, except
perhaps when they venture out of the country, as
Ex-Governor James Ibori discovered to his cost. In
an interview with the ABC News in June this year,
Mrs. Hilary Clinton commented on the state of her
husband’s finances on leaving office as the US
president: “We came out of the White House not
only dead broke but in debt. We had no money
when we got there, and we struggled to, you know,
piece together the resources for mortgages for
houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was
not easy.”

Nigerian politicians will find this
statement very laughable; even a lowly local
government councillor will not suffer such a fate in
Nigeria! Sadly, in a society like ours where
corruption thrives, money politics has become a
permanent feature of our elections, with the tacit
acquiescence of an electorate “conquered” by
hunger and poverty; an electorate willing to sell
votes for a bag of rice or a few naira.
Even with falling oil prices and the state of
insecurity, Nigeria still has the potential to be a
great nation. Our perennial problem has been that
of leadership, strong leadership. Residents of
Anambra and Lagos states will attest to what good
leadership can deliver for the people, as evidenced
by the successes of ex-Governor Peter Obi and
Governor Babatunde Fashola in their respective

The challenges we face as a nation, both on
the economic and security fronts, cannot be
underestimated. We have yet another opportunity
in 2015 to shun monetary inducements and tribal
and religious sentiments and elect the right calibre
of people (not party). It is possible.