By Adewale Adeoye
Let us face it: Nigeria faces a very difficult moment, one of the most challenging in her harrowing history. This is a period of trial. In a moment of audition, the best comes out of a good artiste. In a period of trial, a country’s great leader is known. Nothing reveals the incompetence of a leader than the thorny moment of a nation. At one time, all great nations pass through perilous times. The passion of leaders in that uneasy period indicates the strength or weakness of the leader’s character. In dealing with the abduction of the over 300 girls, President Goodluck Jonathan is a big disappointment. If his aides tell him a different story, they are deceiving him. Some of them who are brilliant must have been thoroughly embarrassed by Mr President’s drab showmanship. You know a good or a bad leader first through his speech and then through his deeds. Through his speech, Mr President left ab initio impression that he would fail through his deeds. His speeches in the past have proved to be grossly unskilled, but only very few people took notice. Only a terrifying time can expose an incompetent leader who insists on leading his country on the pathway to self destruction. I do not hate Mr President. In fact, I was one of many Nigerians who sympathized with him when he emerged as the No 1 citizen. Without boasting, I can authoritatively say that among the younger generation of Yoruba people, I’m the most connected and blood-bound to the Ijaw nation and her people. I was part of Kiama declaration and for decades, offered my home, my offices, my skill and my energy, for the cause of Ijaw nation, through the Ijaw Youth Congress, (IYC) and the good leaders like Mr Felix Tuodolo, Mr Asari Dokubo and the leader of the Supreme Egbesu Assembly, (SEA) Chief Digifa Werenipre in the campaign against the unjust way Nigeria treats the oil rich region. In the most difficult moment for the oil rich region, I traversed the creeks with my comrades. But the issue now is about a festering wound that can consume all of us. We need to be honest and dare the consequences. I watched Mr President’s Sunday night interaction with journalists and I was appalled. Mr President displayed neither passion nor inspiration. He was dingy, timid and showed little understanding of the complex nature of governance. Nigeria is squelching through an extraordinarily messy period; the country does not need a messy leader, but an extraordinary leader. Nigeria is passing through one of her most difficult times. Armed insurgents have taken over some parts of the country, killing people in hundreds, on a daily basis. Last Monday, even as the world’s rage continues to glow, the militant extremist group, Boko Haram attacked Gamboru Ngala, a village near Cameroon. About 300 people were killed. For a nation that does not keep records and that cannot even file the names of missing 200, 275, 300 children, the 300 people murdered in cold blood in Ngala remain a mere statistics. If 200 people can be missing without any trace, what is the fate of only one person that gets missing in Nigeria? I guess this is the largest single case of missing persons, traced to kidnapping, in world history. To make matters worse, the President of the country said he did not know where our girls are. In what appears another comedy of tragedies, the Nigerian Police Force is offering 50 million naira for information that may lead to the discovery of the girls. So, we need to offer money to some Nigerians to locate these girls? So no Nigerian can offer the information free and in fact the police expects Nigerians to collect money to offer relevant information? It appears that looking for our pearls has become a commercial enterprise from whence some Nigerians want to make blood profit. All this point to how incompetent the man that insists on ruling our country is. This was further demonstrated in the speech the President read to the World Economic Summit. That speech lacks charisma. It lacks dept. It lacks empathy and it hurts. At this period, we all expected hope, not despair. He told the summit that he “recently gave 1b dollars” to buy some equipment to fight terrorism. What kind of information is that? What equipment? I’m sure the leaders at the summit would be wondering. He said the first time a Nigerian was involved in terror was 2009, but that is not true. How does he describe the cutting of the head of Mr Akaluka in Kano? In 1981, Nigeria contended with terrorism through the activities of the Maitatsine extremists. The fact is that Nigeria has lived with extremism for a long time. He said: “Let me appreciate you individually and collectively for your support for us, your sentiments and your presence here in Nigeria at this time. You have already supported us to win the war on terror.” What kind of statement is this? Mr President also said “we cannot allow terrorism to dictate our agenda.” Is there a country where the agenda is dictated by terrorism? He said “The government of China promised assistance and I believe that assistance will come almost immediately.” Haba, but you did not respond ‘almost immediately’ to the kidnap and you expect China’s assistance to come immediately. I’m really wondering, who is Mr President’s speech writer? At least, a speech writer help remake the floundering public image of Mr President, even if euphoric. However, President Jonathan should share the blame as much as the draconian system that produced him. When the military left in 1999, it was a deliberate plan to set booby-traps for the country and ensures a competent leader does not emerge. The military also imposed its own unitary constitution making it difficult to amend. However, it is instructive to note that while the world focuses on Boko Haram, it is a great and unpardonable error to close our eyes to the root cause of the unending killings and violence in Nigeria. It is one thing to win the war against Boko Haram, it is another thing to lay the structure that will ensure that such a criminal gang does not come in the nearest future. Unfortunately, the economic and political policies of the Nigerian ruling class tend to stifle the people thereby fueling violent expressions of discontentment. Nigeria is a country of nations with values that are opposed to each other. The best way to keep the peace is through a garrison structure. For the fact that since the kidnap of these little girls, there has not been sustained protests in the North East puts a question mark on the public perception of Boko Haram in that area. There cannot be a long-standing campaign of guerilla warfare in a territory where the local population is largely opposed to the ideology of the movement waging the war. The drive for the extermination of Boko Haram will not be complete without the drastic restructuring of the Nigerian colonial state. Unfortunately, the dominant segment of the Hausa-Fulani leadership is opposed to this proposal but wishes to keep the house in its rickety state irrespective of the cracks and the threat of an implosion and collapse on all of us. With a befuddled man at the pent house, we can only wish Nigeria badluck.