Sleeping men on our walls: Nigeria’s terror and What we call Democracy

This is not the usual blame game. This is not about the gaping failure of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces or is it about calling for his resignation although I am sorely tempted to make it all about him and with good reason too – a man afraid to wield his shield of power for the fear of being called a dictator, a man who trivializes brazen looting of public funds, simply waving aside huge chunk of missing funds on the excuse that “America-will-know” and legendary for setting up redundant committees while making promises we all know he can’t keep. Oh! How I am deeply tempted but I flee. I flee because I don’t want my articles hunting me like Reuben Abati to criticize is to talk cheap but to proffer unsolicited solution is well..…expensive (never minding that no one is probably going to use it) and more importantly to speak. We must be heard and we must matter.

And no, this is not about a critical evaluation of the State of the Nation nor is it in anyway linked to recommendations for winning the war against terrorism. This is about drowning in a blood flood, unholy hands raised to the heavens and hypocritical knees planted in supplication for Passover and preservation from the Boko Haram insurgency when what we should be doing is collectively shouldering the responsibility for making Nigeria what it once was – the giant of Africa.
This is about the abduction of the #Chibok girls, the cry to #BringBackOurGirls, the constant politicizing of terror by the PDP and APC, the increased hunger amidst impressive but intangible economic indices, the swift sweep of missing funds under bureaucratic carpets, the porous borders and seemingly foolish intelligent officers plagued with moles, the underpaid and unappreciated men in uniforms, the ticking time bomb in the middle of National unity and the acceptance of reality – that death lurks everywhere, his fangs dripping with blood ready to sink it into the next defenseless and faceless victim is what this is about.

And no, this is not just about terror and the collective failure of Northern leadership to curtail violence by empowering the region economically and developing educational systems, creating forums and providing platforms for youth engagement but about the flagrant negligence, impenitent selfishness and acquainted insincerity of Nigerians in their dealings at all levels. Yes, we are all to blame for not caring, for not speaking out, for not demanding accountability and most notably for being easily corruptible.

So what caused this prodigious epiphany you ask?

I wouldn’t take a bullet for no one, not even myself even if I was given $20 a billion dollars but we dare ask men on our walls to walk on bombs and get sprayed with live bullets without properly compensating their families before and after they are called to serve their fatherland. It is easy for us to ask where our men who have sworn to protect the lives of Nigerians and defend the country at all cost are in the face of death without a single thought to the orphans and widows they are leaving behind.

Where are our fallen soldiers? Where are the men on whose watch we have not been totally consumed? Where are their families? What is the fate of their families now that they are no more? The Nigeria we know it to be is poor in statistics, zero recognition of real heroes and unbelievably insensitive in adequate and prompt compensation of men and women who have sacrificed their lives on altar of service and belief – all for what? Definitely not the present day Nigeria.

Why exactly do we ask others to die for a country they probably do not believe in? I will shout from rooftops of my heritage but make no mistake; I am not jumping off to show the world of my dying devotion and belief in my country. Let’s face it. An unmotivated and not-well-protected man in uniform will not stand in line of fire. We may as well get a one month course in use of weaponry and go guard the porous borders ourselves instead of hiding in our cozy homes and offices tweeting and penning open letters to a dense government.

If I were in a uniform, I would be sleeping on our walls.

Democracy in Nigeria is simply having a civilian president. End of story. We have made a terrible caricature of a concept so powerful and so positive, a concept dedicated to ensuring that a man’s life is made worthy. A government for the people by the people is largely defunct in this part of the world and basically has resulted in frustrating impunity with which elected leaders shabbily carry out what they were elected to do but generally have a clear-cut modus operandi – occupying positions to loot funds, give embossed notes, acquire landed properties, live on the lap of Nigeria’s luxury and send their children abroad to escape the continuing rot in the education sector amongst others. Sadly, most in these sensitive positions are far from being qualified, shameful products of ‘godfatherism’(a word that does not exist in any English dictionary but in Nigeria, describes the puppetry relationship between kingmakers and their acolytes in powers) and sentiments – another definition of democracy.

You see, to succeed especially in a team, ball droppers are made to catch the ball, some forcibly replaced or risk having the entire team look incompetent and particularly the team led take the chide for it. The constant call for the skin of the president is not at all to be misunderstood. If his team fails, he fails. The onus rests squarely on his shoulders to bridge the gap between the unmotivated, the saboteurs and laggards. To put it aptly, if the unemployed dies in a stampede, it shows that the president did not provide enough jobs, if girls are kidnapped by the Boko Haram, the president is clueless and nonchalant of the safety of his citizens, if missing funds are unaccounted for or not clearly explained, he condones corruption and if militants continue to operate in the Niger Delta – looting oil and kidnapping, then he fails because we are long overdue for refineries. We are quick to condemn because that is how the system works. Moreover, the president is quick to advertise feats of the agricultural and finance minister as successes of his administration. Same should go for the failures.

It is a simple case of acute reflection of bad decisions and practices of those in his cabinet generally referred to as the ball droppers. The president is surrounded by ball droppers who get a tap in the back and get on with the next blunder without as much as a reprisal but have resource-drains as committees set up in their wake. Anyone still in touch with committee set up to investigate Stella Oduah? No? I thought so. And no, I am not absolving the president of having ball droppers but what are the local government chairmen, governors, principals and northern leaders doing in their communities? What are the elected doing in the name of democracy to make existence worthy? One would have thought that they would help humanity whether the president is available or not mostly because of the office they occupy but instead, they criticize like the rest of us and get heavily paid for doing nothing.

The unhealthy tussle for power and ethnicity is the reason why terror is staring at us in the face. Does it strike you odd that the average Nigeria can see the problem and offer plausible solutions but not the government? We have had cases of brilliant men and women proffer solutions outside the circle but have now become as clueless as the word the moment they become part of the circle. Could this be the case of the color of money? Perhaps the brilliance in these men and women disappear when mouths become full. With the loot of public funds.

‘A generation of egocentric social media activists’, they call us but they miss the one point that makes these all the more admirable – we are speaking. Demanding accountability and initiating a worldwide revolution. We are doing what our parents failed to do and not on our watch will missing funds and incompetence be rewarded with silence but with hard, loud, somewhat comical demand for accountability and results. We refuse to be quieted because ‘we were not in the picture when Nigeria was born’ and have no knowledge of our beloved fatherland. Where are our books of history? Where are the scrolls of knowledge?
I will not tell the history of a time, a country that once was and now, like the ruins of Egypt, have become. I will tell of a country that will be and like the flourishing of the cedar in Lebanon, we will stand strong. Like the sphinx, Nigeria will rise from her ashes. For posterity sake, we must speak and act for he who speaks and does nothing is worse than an infidel. We owe Nigeria. We owe ourselves.

Uneñ Ameji is a writer and Real Estate Valuer, the author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger and thoughtful provocative contributions on online magazines and blogs; questioning the rule of law and positive for a better Nigeria. Follow @UnenAmeji on twitter for insightful conversations.

**All opinions are of the writer’s and does not represent the opinions of African Stories.

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