President Muhammadu Buhari led his country’s delegation to the United Nations 71st General Assembly meeting in September, 2016 in New York. During the meeting Buhari requested from UN’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to help Nigeria negotiate with the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram for the release of the abducted Chibok school girls. The alleged abduction of about 276 high school girls in April 2014 from their school in the middle of the night made news headlines around the world. It was further publicized through the Twitter hashtag; #Bringbackourgirls. When the wife of the United States President Michelle Obama joined the campaign on Twitter to condemn the dastard inhumane act of the Islamist terrorists the news went viral worldwide. Pressures came from several quarters to bear on the then Nigerian government of President Goodluck Jonathan to expedite efforts at trying to free the captured girls from the jihadists.
Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau did not make things easier either when he boasted that he would sell the girls into sex slavery and do worse things to them. It did not take very long for him to make good his threats. Based on the horrific stories of some of the girls who were said to have escaped from their captors and, especially those of a particular girl who fortunately, could not detonate the explosive device with which she was laden in the marketplace; some of the people’s worst fears were finally confirmed. It became clear that Boko Haram was using some of the girls for their suicide bombing missions in markets and other public places. As the girls’ ordeals continued, the international community held its breath, wishing for some spectacular rescue mission to happen. Some people expected something, maybe similar to the famous Israelis’ 90-Minute rescue mission in Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in July, 1976. Sadly, and to the prolonged pain of the girls, the parents and the country, no such thunderbolt mission was forthcoming. Jonathan’s government became discredited.
With a built up frustration which turned into outrage there was a worldwide condemnation of the Nigerian government of Jonathan, a Christian president from the south for being unable to rescue the girls. So, the prevailing local and international anger set the stage for the need for the emergence of a Nigerian political messiah whose path was prepared by the pains and griefs of the captured girls’ families and a host of well-wishers scattered all over the world. At this point, any impostor; the devil himself or better still, an unschooled former dictator whose only credential is his place of origin, would have filled in that position of the anticipated Nigerian redeemer. Coming from and representing the section of the country which believes they are born to rule the rest peoples of the Nigerian union, Muhammadu Buhari was very qualified to be that redeemer. The most important thing that this Nigerian savior, as most saviors, needed to offer was a promise of future redemption both of the girls and a country without corruption in a future time. Though, in no time it became glaring that there was a major difference between the Nigerian savior and most other saviors, it did not matter anyway.
An important qualification of most saviors is eloquence or the ability to use words and say the right things at the right time in a coherent and comprehensive manner. But a Nigerian savior, because of where he comes from and the powerful people backing him, could mumble some unintelligible nonsense and the rest of the world which thinks that “Nigerians” do not know the difference would cheer. In the opinion of those cheering, a Nigerian or an African savior does not really need intelligible words to communicate with citizens or to participate at the world stage in discussions of international concerns. The body language, not verbal language of a Nigerian and other African leaders is enough. These great deciders who back these African saviors know what is best for Africans, after all.
Perhaps it was surmised that the kidnapped girls’ ordeals did not need any verbal explaining. Everyone already knew all there was to know about them. So, whoever that had the guts to (or at least promised to do these things in a future time) rescue the captured girls from the Sambisa Forest (one of Boko Haram’s strongholds) and can also destroy the well-known Nigerian problem of corrupt and sharp practices with the same blow, such a person is qualified to become Nigeria’s president. In the opinion of the great deciders, Nigeria’s complex problems can conveniently be reduced to just one: Corruption. Corruption has been “accepted” as the only thing responsible for all the deplorable human conditions, poverty, social and political crisis that are endemic in the Nigerian country. Therefore, Nigeria’s leadership candidate did not need to verbally articulate the problem’s ramifications and how he intended to solve it, everyone already knows.
However, just to satisfy some who still doubted and avoid making the whole charade to appear too simplistic, some superficial or maybe mischievous? analysts of the Nigerian problem also added leadership failure to the list of reasons for Nigeria’s failure. It had long been agreed to by all the “expert” analysts of Nigeria who “know the best,” that the faulty colonial structure of a united Nigeria should never be broached as the probable cause of the country’s failure as a nation-state. It is more convenient to blame leadership failure and political corruption that are mere symptomatic effects of the real problem which is colonial structural failure. Yet, the truth is that the faulty colonial state structure is the foundational problem of the Nigerian country. But hitherto, the great deciders are still to accept this immutable truth; that Nigeria needs to be divided into smaller countries in order to solve Nigeria.
Written by Osita Ebiem
A Cabinet of the Biafra Government in Exile.
Published by Yahgozie