By Godwin Etakibuebu
Turning and turning in the widening gyre. The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Achebe used this opening stanza of William Butler Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” from which the title of his novel was taken, as an epigraph to the novel. In invoking these lines, Achebe hinted at the chaos that arises when a system collapses.
Chinua Achebe’s “the center cannot hold” is an ironic but extremely factual, in capturing today’s Nigeria, under President Muhammadu Buhari. Chinua Achebe [November 16, 1930 – March 21, 2013]’s novel was a 1959 product; and for the author’s ability in capturing Nigeria’s situation very succinctly and clearly in 2020s, makes him – Achebe, another great man in world’s history “who saw tomorrow”. The first in that category was Michael Nostradamus [December 14 – July 1566]; a French Astrologer, Physician and reputed Seer.
Let us run quickly across some happening in Nigeria to ascertain that things have really fallen apart, leaving the Nigerian Ship sailing in a terrific oceanic wave of confusion. Maybe, we should start with the latest pronouncement from the Federal Government – a statement that came out only yesterday; Sunday, February 21, 2021. Captioned “FG: Governors to have final say on petrol price hike, meet Thursday”, this is what the Federal Government of Nigeria has to say.
“THE final decision on petrol pump price increase will be taken by the 36 states governors at their meeting on Thursday, the Federal Government has said. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige disclosed this Sunday night after a bipartite meeting of the Federal Government and the organised labour at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa Abuja said the government has finished with labour leaders on the issue of the petrol price increase. The leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) represented the organised labour at the meeting.
Ngige told journalists that labour had investigated the report of the Technical Committee on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, Pricing Framework as agreed at the last meeting and made their submissions, even as that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, presented their own report. He explained: “The labour side saw that they (NNPC) were making some points and as I said, it is a work in progress. Governors are going to discuss this on Thursday.
They have discussed this at the National Economic Council, NEC, and so everybody is involved because we find ourselves in dire straits. There is no money for subsidy.
“The NNPC has explained. What they are doing is import-dependent. Deregulation is import-dependent but they are doing bulk purchasing. So, they can get discounts. They are also using a foreign exchange that is discounted for them. They are not buying from the parallel market. So, all these things will be put in a basket and a price will emerge from it.”
Ngige maintained that the Federal Government has finished with the organised labour on the issue of fuel price.
There are issues here to be further interrogated. First amongst many confused issues is the fact that this same federal government had announced to the country, on Thursday, July 9, 2020, through Timipre Sylva; Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, during a press conference, why the federal government could not continue with payment of subsidy on importation of petroleum product. The government emphatically outlined reasons for putting an end to subsidy regime. This is what the Minister said:
“More so, when the subsidy was benefiting; in large part the rich rather than the poor and ordinary Nigerians. Deregulation means that the Government will no longer continue to be the main supplier of Petroleum Products, but will encourage private sector to take over the role of supplying Petroleum Products”.
What the Minister told Nigerians was that the government has deregulated that sector of the Nigeria economy. Yet, we kept seeing the same government regulating petroleum prices through one of the subsidiaries of the NNPC until this latest announcement, where the responsibility of price-fixing for PMS is shifted from the federal government to State Governors – a word of confusion indeed.
Let us take some steps further to another zone where absolute confusion has beclouded Nigeria, but not without saying that we shall come back in another day to discuss the fraudulent subsidy regime; a means through which Nigerian governments dealt mercilessly with Nigerians.
Nigeria submerged totally in the deep seas of insecurity. We have the Boko Haram Insurgence devastating the North East, and which has been on for the past 10 years or more. We have the Bandits; which was “crowned” in Zamfara State, ravaging the whole of the North West and North Central. And of course the Fulani herdsmen; rated in 2014 as the fourth deadliest Terrorist Group in the whole world, operating with its deadly trademark across the length and breadth of Nigeria. These; the Fulani Militia, are soldiers across frontiers.
We have kidnappers operating all through the country and this Group is being led by those we can comfortably refer to as Occupiers of Nigerian Forests. The Ritualists, which have been traditional in Nigeria over the years, are still reigning supreme all over our land. Those that operate as armed robbers; these are not new to the Nigerian Crime Community, remain in place still.
Of course the “politician-robbers”; they are the Dealers parading themselves as Leaders. And they are never in short supply to a bedeviled country called Nigeria. The political-robbers that are well overloaded at the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary are speedily running Nigerians out of existence.
It shall not be fair for me to conclude that all these malaises are creation of this government under President Muhammadu Buhari. No, such conclusion would be absurd and great falacy. Yet, there are some of these terrible ventures that have come to the top of the mountain in escalation during the tenure of President Buhari. And the president seems not to have an answer to them.
Let us decode the metaphor of Boko Haram for today before drawing the curtain because this journey will take us to next week if justice must be done to the subject.
President Buhari; before he was sworn-in May 2015, for his first tenure, vowed that he would put an end to Boko Haram “within 6 months” of his government. The first thing he did immediately after being sworn-in, and after the appointment of his Service Chiefs, was to deploy all the service chiefs from Abuja to Maiduguri – for confronting Boko Haram insurgents. That brought hope to Nigerians who then believed that the man [Buhari] would fulfill his promise of 6 months. How did he perform on this promise within the last Five years or thereabout?
What we have seen over the past years left Nigerians hopeless. Ditto the international community. We saw service chiefs that could not deliver on positive reports of overcoming Boko Haram fighters. We saw service chiefs; and the government that appointed them, telling lies; using technical languages that “Boko Haram has been technically defeated, downgraded or technically decapitated”.
Nigerians started calling on President Buhari to step his service chiefs down, having been proved that they [the service chiefs] were bereft of ideas to confront Boko Haram. Mr President would not yield to Nigerians’ patriotic calls but instead, the government officials; paid from the tax payers’ fund, insulted Nigerians to no end. They – those sycophantic government officials, assured themselves of feeding enough lies to the President; a man they have enslaved through instrumentality of lying.
Eventually, a few days ago, at the Chamber of the Nigerian Senate, while the “stepped-down” service chiefs [rewarded with ambassadorial appointment – an appointment which could have been within the wisdom of President Buhari] were being screened for desirability of the nomination, they now told Nigerians; and President Buhari of course, that “it will take Nigeria another 20 years to overcome Boko Haram insurgence, Banditry and other vices in Northern Nigeria”.
What a revelation!
What a shame!
What a disgrace to a country sailing in terrific wave of confusion!
This court adjourns till next week.
Godwin Etakibuebu; a veteran Journalist, wrote from Lagos.
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