The Coming Anarchy


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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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The Coming Anarchy




 Ujudud Shariff


culled from DAILY TRUST  - January 20, 2004

By now, it appears beyond all reasonable doubt that Nigeria is not only becoming a "failed" state but also fast slipping into anarchy. If you are yet to appreciate the magnitude of the seriousness of this state of affairs and you did not attend last Thursday’s Media Trust Dialogue in Abuja where all the speakers and contributors unanimously agreed on the failure of the Nigerian state and the journey to anarchy, you better start thinking of all possibilities, probabilities and eventualities. Better still; start looking for the papers presented by Dr. Mahmud Tukur, Professor Jonah Isawa Elaigwu, Chief Kanu Agabi, Dr. Usman Bugaje, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi and Professor Miriam Ikejiani-Clarke.

The coming anarchy, which is the title of this discourse to describe the conclusions of the conference and the state of affairs in Nigeria today, is borrowed from a frightening book with the same title published in 1994 by Robert D. Kaplan, a correspondent with the Atlantic Monthly. This book in question, predicts the slipping into anarchy of several countries in the West African sub-region primarily due to the failure of their governments to discharge their responsibilities. Though we are not reviewing the book, we are recommending its reading for anybody interested in knowing the root causes of the crazy and bizarre happenings in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and even Nigeria. We are also not reviewing the seminar whose proceedings the organizers promised to publish into a book form very soon.

Browsing through the multitude of problems facing Nigeria and comparing them with what obtained in other parts of Africa, it is amazing that there is still a country called Nigeria. To the religious amongst us, one can only attribute this miracle to Almighty God, who in spite of all odds, decided to still keep this country together. All the factors and ingredients that bred anarchy in several countries have been very rife for some time in this country. Anarchy, as we all know, is the breakdown of law and order where the rich and powerful rule with impunity creating state of insecurity and blossoming of crime. It is also about the failure of state institutions to render their services. In our beloved Nigeria, the education sector, especially at the tertiary level, is collapsing; NEPA is still epileptic in spite of billions of Naira spent in the last five years; the health sector, to quote Professor Elaigwu, is "sick"; the industries are folding up; values such as morality, honesty decorum and decency have become old fashioned. The decadent condition of our roads to my mind is treasonable bearing in mind the over three hundred billions of Naira is said to have been spent in the last four years. The National Assembly should urgently conduct a public hearing to ascertain the where about of the money. We are in short, in an urban jungle where rules are hardly respected and everybody is doing things at the dictates of his/her whims and caprices. If you begin with the treasonable comedy unfolding in Anambra State, it is enough to see how the system is fast crumbling in our very eyes. Imagine a whole Executive Governor being abducted and nobody was yet to be arrested since July 10 2003 let alone being prosecuted! In addition, just glance at the weird judicial ruling of Justice Stanley Nnaji, the Chief Judge of Enugu State who with a wave of hand "dethroned" Governor Chris Ngige and the super sonic speed with which our super cop, Tafa Balogun dashed to enforce the satanic ruling.

Looking at all the comedians, jesters and other characters in this comical absurdity, it is enough to conclude that the driving motive is greed sliced by ego. Both the godfather and the godson are excessively greedy while the god grandfather is intoxicated by ego. The cover stories for many news magazines in the country last week are predicting the total breakdown of law and order in the state. The dreaded armed militia, the Bakassi Boys are now back and allegedly providing security for the governor. The police, as you will recall, are playing games with the governor’s security unsure whether to respect the constitution by enforcing the ruling of the Enugu Appeal Court to leave Ngige alone and restore all his rights and privileges or listen to the voices from above.

Similarly, it appears the judiciary that is the beacon of hope for common man has also joined the madness. Unfortunately, it is being bastardized through the questionable unjudicial rulings of some judges. The National Judicial Council (NJC) must therefore wield the big stick on these cash-and-carry judges who are soiling the integrity of the whole judiciary. The judiciary must clean itself of the rottenness. Otherwise, sooner than later, the whole system would collapse and sweep away both the guilty and the innocent. One therefore still wonder why Justice William Egbo Egbo, the judge that started all the judicial wuru-wuru is yet to be sacked even after being on suspension for a couple of months. This is expedient because every juridical experience belongs to the common patrimony of humanity.

If you go back to the last April elections especially in the South South and Southeast, there were credible reports from election monitors, of state-sponsored terrorism and other acts of political violence to the extent that elections were not even conducted in many areas. Armed thugs in connivance with some security agents took over the areas and unleashed a reign of terror and ensured the "victory" of the ruling party. The tragedy is that the government that is supposed to provide security for its citizens turned out to be the perpetrator of all types of violence and terrorism against the very citizens.

Another serious element of anarchical tendency is the escalating wave of all manner of crimes thereby creating fear, uncertainties and insecurity. Ethnic jingoism, tribal conflicts, religious bigotry, armed robberies, assassinations, arsons, brigandage and other forms of lawlessness and violent crimes seem to be the order of the day. In deed, the situation is taking different dimensions these days when bandits would make demands for ransom in writing to both individuals and communities and come to collect at the appointed date and time. Armed robbers are even more daring and more sophisticated where they even lecture their victims on why they take arms. Recently, there were these reports of the encounters of two former ministers with the men of the underworld where the young robbers lectured the former ministers on the need to create jobs for the unemployed. What is amazing in this escalating crime wave is that things are deteriorating as more efforts are made for the police to stem the tide. One can only imagine the billions of Naira spent on the police by all the three tiers of government across the country in the last four years.

The situation in the Niger Delta clearly demonstrates the state of lawlessness in the country where armed militias are virtually in control of the environment. Sometimes in the name of resource control, terror is unleashed on the country through acts of vandalisation and general unrest in the region. The ethnic dimension the brigandage is assuming further complicates the situation as the militias and barons struggle for the control of illegal oil bunkering and the oil companies operating in the area. This explains why Warri is reduced to a war zone as the Itsekiris, Ijaws and Urhobos struggle for superiority. While the restless youth fight it out on the battlefields, their mothers and grandmothers are not left out as they are deployed to occupy oilrigs and terminals. Similarly, the youth more often than not abduct oil companies’ workers to demand for ransom all in the name of pressing for social amenities in the areas.

Moreover, ravaging poverty, over population and unemployment have forced mass rural-urban migration that further complicates the traditional socio-economic structures. The devastation done to our environment by desertification and deforestation have accelerated this migration as arable lands have shrunk. This has also fueled inter-tribal wars and conflicts over land between communities. The urban-lumpen proletariat who more often than not are unskilled and illiterates are further dehumanized thereby leading to the further weakening of traditional family ties of being your brother’s keeper. The situation more or less is now a dog-eat-dog situation where everyone is for himself/herself and God for us all. Further more, this situation is said to be partly responsible for religious fanaticism and bigotry that easily metamorphose into crises as many of the unemployed and the uneducated take to religious extremism for succour. As we all know, over population coupled with poor planning led to the overstretching of social facilities thereby culminating into urban decay and proliferation of ghettos around the major cities and towns. The ravaging poverty sweeping all over the land where the middle class is gradually being phased out of existence further compounds this alarming situation. The lesson here is to always remember what the labour unionists always say: poverty anywhere is a threat against prosperity everywhere.

Another victim of breakdown of public institutions as a manifestation of anarchy is the deteriorating quality of education. Partly due to poor funding of educational institutions at all levels and incessant strike actions by ASUU and other unions in our tertiary institutions, the system is only producing quarter-baked graduates all over. It is indeed very sad how we left our universities and other institutions to collapse. The recent statement credited to the Bauchi State Commissioner for Education to the effect that more than seventy per cent of the pupils that sat for examinations into secondary schools could not even write their names properly must be a source of serious concern to all those who love Nigeria. Who should one blame: the government that is spending billions of Naira on education, the teachers or their supervisors? Governor Mu’azu should not take this matter lightly and should overhaul the whole system to punish those responsible for this embarrassing and unacceptable poor standard. I believe this frightening situation is not limited to Bauchi State alone but could be said to be a reflection of what might be happening in the North in general. Our Governors must therefore be more alive to their responsibilities. The emergence of the ‘Taliban’ in Yobe and Borno states recently should be an eye opener to anybody interested in what the future holds for the North. Whereas the "Maitatsines" of the 1980s consisted of mainly "Almajirai", the "Talibans" are generally educated or semi-educated with quite a number of them finishing secondary schools.

Finally, it is our hope that we should all focus our eyes on the unfolding anarchical tendencies and see if we can avert the doomsday. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is already calling for mass action against the "system". The wind of uncertainty and despair is blowing all over and should not be allowed to turn into a whirlwind . The President and other elected leaders must listen to the complaints from the people and act accordingly. Our other leaders must also speak out on behalf of the people before things go out of hand and breed further insecurity. They should not pretend as if nothing is happening but only to rush to the media and start appealing for "dialogue". The simple truth is that the people are poor, hungry and angry and cannot make further sacrifice through imposition of more hardship. To avert this coming anarchy the government of the day must re-examine its policies before it is too late. Enough is enough.




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