There is not much debate that a good portion of the South East and South South are not yet in tune with the rest of Nigeria. Any poll will most evidently reveal this fact statistically. While former President Goodluck Jonathan is credited with drastically expanding this divide with billions invested in religious, and sectional propaganda and entrenchment of distrust and disunity, current President Muhammadu Buhari has not done much to bridge the divide.
A launching statement of better patronage to the 97% States who voted overwhelmingly for him over States that only gave him 5% support left the citizens weary and highly suspicious. The follow up behavior of the new administration has done little to allay the fears of these people who have been fed, I dare say, solid material by Radio Biafra on the benefits of disintegration with glimpses of the Utopian promised-land dream.
Unlike other groups in Nigeria, the Southeast especially has been galvanized in common purpose and with common dreams by a coordinated media machine. Millions are signed on to a decision and plan to separate from mother Nigeria and Buhari is doing little to bring them back. It is impossible to develop a nation without carrying its people along and more so, with a great number of people effectively in brutal antagonism.
Several military actions with increasing human right violations by the administration’s security departments further alienates those with little hope. Army brutal clampdowns on protests, killing unarmed praying pro-Biafran protesters in Abia and other locations; the government arresting dozens of innocent citizens only trying to search for their missing ones; the ‘lie’ by the DSS who selectively identified 5 of 55 graves by tribe and attempted to use this shoddy evidence to implicate the pro Biafra IPOB millions of member separatist group and then Buhari’s refusal to view videos of the the military supposedly firing on unarmed protesters coupled with a lack of attention and government impunity to recurrent armed ‘Fulani’ Boko Haram terror insurgency genocidal campaigns across much of Nigeria’s Middle belt and south, has left little to convince members in these areas to sign up to a common purpose of a one Nigeria.
Disorganization of the government with the current budget impasse subsequent to padding of the budget by the Buhari Presidency and cabinet and then re-padding by the National Assembly adds little comfort and reassurance to many. Nepotism by the CBN, secretly giving jobs to Buhari and his party bigwigs’ children and other politicians has helped the matter even less. Buhari’s regular trips all over the world in 13 presidential jets he inherited from Jonathan and has refused to cut down against all expectations, while Nigerians trek in severe hardship and as free reigning military and clan massacres and catastrophes claim lives of Change advocates, doesn’t help either.
The Nigerian President can make the disenfranchised Nigerians its priority and prevent what might be a sudden and irreversible collapse of Nigeria which may occur if or when protests are again initiated in the Southeast and south south. Visits to these regions and serious deliberation with disaffected Nigerians will help to prevent a catastrophic and possibly violent disintegration.
Buhari may want to review restoring Nigeria to a true federation with distinct autonomous regions as it was wisely first created and as he has promised in his presidential campaigns.
Greater communication with the masses on what the government is doing and how serious the government takes the concerns of the people will also help greatly to stave off a possible collapse. Over all, Nigeria’s government would do well emulating Tanzania’s “Bulldozer” John Magufuli who is leading by example and is recognized as Africa’s corruption hero and face. There is no better reassurance than leadership by example and leadership of compassion.
We did not disintegrate in 2015; it would be nice if we don’t now.
Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian