By John Dan Obioma
DATES represent landmarks in history by which important events are recorded or remembered, whether good or bad. In other words, dates periodize events by preserving and keeping them in perspective from decay and extinction. Needless to say, not all dates are important. The relative weight of an event makes the date attached to it more significant. These essentially refer to conclusive dates such as 1776 (American war of Independence); 1789 (French Revolution); 1917 (Bolsheviks Revolution in Russia); 1945 (atomic bomb on the two Japanese cities — Hiroshima/Nagasaki) 1989-1991 (the disintegration of the former Soviet Union into independent Republics by Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and glasnost); September 11, 2001 (Terrorist attack on America by Al-Qeada) to mention just a few. The world also remembers 1914 – 18 and 1939 – 45 years marking the first and second world wars, when humanity witnessed the worst holocausts in history. For Nigeria, the years: 1914, 1960, 1963, and 1967 – 70, are quite symbolic as they mark the amalgamation, independence, republican and civil war stages of her growth respectively.
There are other dates, however, that are not conclusive but predictive and speculative. They are used to foretell future events, as Nostradamus did, or for planning purposes like national economic development plans/phases, or to warn, educate and guide conduct like the Holy Scriptures prescribed.
Nigeria, like many other less-developed countries (LDCs), has never really found her feet in taking her destiny in her own hands, despite her vast human and material resources. Most appalling is the fact that there is hardly any aspect of her socio-economic and political structure that is sufficiently developed to give her a competitive edge over other countries. On the contrary, what we see is a turbulent nation at war with itself, a nation where lawlessness, wickedness, corruption, sycophancy, tribalism, terrorism/militancy, overlordship and deliberate marginalisation/subjugation, have conspired to cripple a blessed country.
Looking at the internal dynamics at play in Nigeria, political observers, both local and foreign have agreed on two issues: (a) The unity and unification of Nigeria cannot be achieved as long as internal insecurity continues to plague the nation and frustrate her development. (b) If the security situation continues to worsen uncontrollably, as Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart logically stated, “the centre will not hold,” and Nigeria may collapse. The USA government was quite unequivocal in this analysis a few years ago when it said that in case of a break-up, the USA will support the Niger Delta for obvious reasons. Also, the late strongman of Libya, Col. Muamar Ghadafi made a castigation out of the issue when he said that the myriads of challenges facing Nigeria, arising from her unwieldy political and demographic structure, could be resolved if only the country agreed to break up into manageable units. The logic is sound: insecurity hinders development and persistent insecurity severs socially interwoven linkages and sense of belonging among the people, leading to a break up. But why 2015? For several reasons, 2015 is seen as both a prophetic date and a transition year. It is prophetic because the drumbeats of anarchy are sounding louder and louder, as if proclaiming the inevitability of schism.
When a people’s sovereignty or legitimacy to stay together is threatened, they ought to be proactive in handling the situation and not reactive, they ought to be aggressively optimistic and not cynical, they ought to be repentant from their evil ways and not continue in wickedness. When the people of Nineveh received the news of their condemnation by God through Prophet Jonah, the king immediately proclaimed a fast throughout the kingdom. They repented from their evil ways and asked God for forgiveness. God saw the sincerity of their hearts and warded off the calamity that had awaited them. In Nigeria, many genuine men of God — Christian and Muslim clerics alike, often speak against the evil and wickedness that ravage our nation in high and low places, yet wickedness multiplies everyday because there is no determined effort on the part of Nigerians to eschew evil and corruption. It’s like one being aware of the sword of Damocles dangling over one’s head but does nothing about it. As a transition year, 2015 constitutes a knotty political equation begging for solution, as several indicators suggest.
It’s like a dangerous bend on a road that is unavoidable and likely to cause accident if not handled carefully. In his political campaign in 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to run for only one term of four years. Today, he is being pressurised to recant his statement and announce his interest for 2015 struggle. Unimpressed, the president had to speak out: “we are just talking about one year of a government of four years. Why should we begin to talk about 2015? Let us keep away from whether someone is going to contest or not. Let us focus on governance; it is not yet time for anybody to declare or not to declare interest”. That notwithstanding, Chief Edwin Clark the Ijaw warlord, publicly declared a couple of weeks ago that President Jonathan would run for a second term.
Moreover, as far as PDP is concerned, Goodluck’s first term is over. The mega party is now sharing political power and making preparations to win again by all means in 2015. This has probably prompted General Buhari, whose exit from active politics was mooted last year, to also declare his presidential ambition for 2015. Indeed, to give PDP a run for their money and power, opposition has been refortified in what appears like a grand coalition between Buhari’s CPC and Tinubu’s ACN against the PDP in the 2015 polls. The duo have already told Nigerians to expect change in 2015. Such premature declarations and preparations are capable of heating up the polity and escalating political/religious intolerance.
In another development, the North is anxious to reclaim its “estate” — Nigeria, by 2015 at all cost. They look at Jonathan’s tenure as a denial of North’s mandate cut short by Umaru Yar’Adua’s death. Backed by Boko Haram, they have vowed to crush any obstacle to this agenda. Likewise, the Igbos of the South-East are determined that nothing shall stop them from producing the next president. Since the North, West, and now South-South have produced presidents, the Igbos see 2015 as their own turn, at least, to throw up the garb of their political marginalisation. This is obviously going to be a collision of interest between the North and South-East. How it plays out, the year 2015 will tell.
Meanwhile, other aggrieved political parties which lost in 2011 elections due to alleged massive rigging by the PDP are waiting for 2015 to puncture the political balloon of PDP. They have vowed to resist PDP’s policy of selection rather than election, which has made it impossible for Nigeria to produce the right leaders. This hint was dropped earlier by Gen. Buhari, who, acting as their spokesperson, has predicted unprecedented violence and bloodshed in Nigeria, if PDP should repeat its rigging formula in 2015. In other words, the post-election violence of 2011, which escalated into uncontrollable Boko Haram insurgency, may worsen in 2015, if the PDP “wins” again into Aso Rock. The corollary is that if power does not go back to the North by 2015, or simply put, if the PDP wins the next presidential election, it may elicit violent reactions that could spell doom to the corporate existence of this country.
This calculation is frightening, especially since the president and party chairman of the PDP cannot be allowed to come from the same zone (North). Also, as part of matters arising, there is increased tension and fear of a religious war in the country, following the cold-blooded bombing of Christian churches in the North for three consecutive Sundays now. The death toll, including the maimed, is in their hundreds and Boko Haram has warned that this is just the tip of the iceberg.Reprisal attack on mosques, and Muslims in the south is imminent going by strident calls for southern christians in the North to return home. If this happens, 2015 may be a far-fetched date for the dooms day. To be continued.
Obioma is an Associate Editor with The Economy magazine