Anyone with a sharp intellect and discerning eyes will tell you that Nigeria may fall apart, perhaps within the next decade. Frankly, you need not be that insightful to know that this will come to pass. The signs are there in terms of the crumbling foundation, the internal rumblings, and the loosening at the seams. Everyone seems to know this — everyone but the elite. Maybe they know it, but are just in a state of denial or illusion.
Through the ages, we have been told that those angry gods want to crush, they first make mad. With the likely exception of a few, the Nigerian elite seem possessed. They seem possessed by the spirit of iniquity, indifference, exploitation, and subjugation.
Otherwise, how else do you explain the current Nigerian enterprise? Without sounding apocalyptic, the day of reckoning is at hand. At this junction, let me make a few things clear. First, by “falling apart,” I do not mean that Nigeria will cease to exist as a republic. No. I simply mean that the people will be so fed up that they will take their country back; the status quo will be rejected. It may not be in the form of the classical revolution, but blood and guts will be spilled. Secondly, Nigeria needs not go through forced reformation. It can be done peacefully: the political, economic, and governing systems can be reformed to accommodate the gripes and grumbles of all vested interests within the Nigerian boundary.
Who are the elite? You may ask. Generally speaking, the elite and the ruling class are two separate and distinct classes of people. But they need not be. Nonetheless, we see this to be the case in Nigeria, where the distinction and the separating lines have been blurred as a result of the unique dynamics and phenomena within the Nigerian polity. As a result, one could be a member of both the economic and political elite. The Yar’Adua brothers, both deceased, were good examples of this. David Mark, a retired general and the current Senate President is a living example. Others include Adamu Ciroma, Olusegun Obasanjo, Raymond Dokpesi, Olusola Saraki, and Abubakar Atiku.
And while Aliko Dangote, the richest Black man in the world is a member of the economic elite, he can hardly be considered a member of the ruling class. This is so because Dangote, publicly at least, rarely swims in Nigeria’s political river. Frankly, many members of the elite do good things. They do great things. But unfortunately, the vast majority are leeches; they are like the fabled vampires that suck blood and suck life out of humans. The majority of the elite in Nigeria are anti-progress, anti-growth, and anti-development. Ambassador John Campbell even called them “insensitive”. For the better part of 52 years, they have brought the nation to a standstill, and drained life out of it.
Take the political arena as an example. Not only do the elite make fresh entry into the political arena difficult, they make the cost of entry overpriced for decent people. They select and coronate vile and empty men as governors and as presidents. In many cases, they appoint complete nincompoops as federal ministers and heads of government agencies. Many of the advisers look after their own interest and not the interest of the country. At the state level, many commissioners are not even smart enough to run Amala-buka at Osogbo or Ibadan, or pepper soup joints in Warri or Port Harcourt. Yet, these are some of the men and women entrusted with the nation’s destiny. How could these be?
Since 1999, at least, we have been a witness to mediocre leadership. In one election season after another, our best and brightest have been excluded. As a result, the cesspool keeps getting deeper and murkier. For how long would the people tolerate this? As bad as the political arena is, the economy is even worse. Consider the waste and inefficiencies. Consider also the corruption and the unmitigated stealing. Damn! It is conceivable that many Nigerians wouldn’t mind some of these acts of larceny if basic things like clean water, electricity, quality education and quality health care, and employment are provided.
Also, it is possible that many Nigerians wouldn’t mind their leaders’ shortcomings if the roads and bridges were not death-traps. They have since become burial grounds, as someone pointed out. But when you steal and steal and then corrupt and bastardise the economic and political space, what is there for the people? What hope is there for them and their children and for the future generations? On what are the people to anchor their hope? At some point, therefore, the people would rebel. They may carry arms. They may storm the various government houses. They may waylay and then forcefully expel the president. They may target individual members of the elite class. Whatever they choose to do, and however they choose to do it, will certainly be disastrous for all those who have been exploiting and subjugating the people.
If the elite think that Nigerians are docile, well, they should have a rethink. If they think that Nigerians are pacifists, well, they should reconsider. If they think that Nigerians can be easily manipulated, oh well, they should also reconsider this outdated perception. They should because we now live in a new era, a new world. Things are changing at a speed much older generation cannot fathom. The elite may be good at many perfidious acts, but they must understand that the masses — especially those below age 45 — are getting fed up. In the not too distant future, therefore, Nigerians are likely to say, “all bets are off!” And when that day comes, the elite may have no place to hide. There may be no safe landing.
Here is a lesson in history: Elite usually come out strong in places where they have self-purged. Otherwise, revolts, rebellions and evolutions usually force them to pay the debt they owe the people. And many ended up paying with their blood. If the Nigerian elite are to avoid such a doom, the time has come to treat the everyday Nigerian with the much deserved respect and dignity.