Ignorance is the disease

May 21, 2019

Today, complaint is often made of what we call the failure of the Nigerian dream. We lament how monstrously, forces of society accomplish and fail to fulfil their work. We lament how the ruling class function in profligacy and chaos. Nigeria laments the insensibility of governance.

But today, as usual, we fail to look inwards. Perhaps because we fear we would find in you and me, the summary of all other failures and disorganisation. A sort of heart, from which every kind of confusion and horror gravitates in our fatherland.

The complaint was often made that our problems persist because we refused to convene a Sovereign National Conference (SNC). There is the argument that our afflictions worsen because President Muhammadu Buhari refuses to implement the recommendations of his predecessor’s shady SNC.

Perhaps there is depth and a semblance of truth in such frivolous mindset even as it becomes more glaring that a trillion SNCs will not save Nigeria.

This is because any consensus or ‘practicable solutions’ proffered at the conference would be the result of self-serving efforts of generations of shady characters comprising ex-convicts, hired assassins, treasury looters, armed robbers, advance fee fraudsters, indulgent clerics and bloodthirsty political godfathers, to mention a few. What manner of humaneness could result from such gathering?

That we undermine ourselves and underestimate our worth are old stories told.

There is a tragedy inherent in our customary lamentation every time our conscience is roused with a damning incident or report, like Boko Haram’s abduction of Chibok girls and murder of ICRC’s Hauwa Leman.

In a fit of rage, tribal bigots suggest that we go our separate ways. They tout ‘true federalism and secession in one breadth, describing them as worthy solutions to Nigeria’s afflictions.

Secession is the anthem that we should shun. It is the fruit of ‘reason’ that we need to be wary of and I will continue to say this, hoping every prospective muscle – that is, the youth – by which the separatists hope to achieve their dreams of dissolution, would listen and let the masterminds risk their hides and deploy their children and wives to actualise their fantasies.

The biggest misconception about ‘secession,’ ‘insurgency,’ ‘self-determination ‘or whatever the prejudiced choose to call it, is that, it could be peaceful, and that, the outcome would be a patriotic, humane dispensation.

It’s all dirty, greedy politics. Tribal bigots want the youth to fly the flags of their dream nations. They want everybody to brandish a bumper sticker that bellows: “Death to the Federal Republic of Nigeria!” They call anyone that’s anti-war and anti-chaos: “pacifist,” “traitor” or whatever colourful adjective suits their rage.

Then, they promise the youth a prosperous future and better fate in their dream nation. Astonishingly, youth that ought to know better, buy into their farce, and they begin to dream and talk of the great uprising that would set them free from the living hell Nigeria has become.

Such dangerous beliefs led to the blooming of terrorist groups like Boko Haram, among others. The disillusioned youth becomes willing muscle to criminal masterminds in charge of such groups and he engages in bootless pursuits at the end of which he accomplishes some individualised goal – the satisfaction of sentiment, a murderous lust or material gain – which to him is everything.

Eventually, he dies before his time; if he doesn’t, he morphs into the proverbial breathing corpse, who suddenly realises in his twilight, that, he had squandered God’s greatest gifts to him: life, talent and intellect.

Then the smokescreen of youth and hastily prized platitudes begin to peter out and he realises, that, his miraculous talisman is a paltry plated coin – less suitable for the social transaction than a contemptible kobo.

To prevent the manifestation of such youth, what evils should we set out to abolish in our modern society? We must answer the question: “What evils afflict us with misguided youth?” To this, I bet very many well-meaning people would cite ‘poverty.’

Face to face, every day, with shameful contrasts of riches and destitution, high dividends and low wages, and the futility of trying to adjust the balance by means of charity, they would answer, that, they stand for the abolition of poverty.

But poverty is merely a symptom, ignorance is the disease. The extremes of riches and destitution bloom inevitably upon the extremes of misgovernance and ignorance, by which the electorate are kept in bondage. We are not enslaved because we are poor; we are enslaved because we are ignorant.

Every attempt to conceive a better ordering of society than the destructive, pitiless chaos, in which Nigeria has sunk, is by no means modern. It is as old as Plato, whose “Republic” set the model for the Utopias of subsequent philosophers and self-styled revolutionaries.

Tribal bigots contemplate a new world in the light of an ideal. They claim to feel a great sorrow by the evils that characterise Nigeria, and they claim to be driven by an urgent desire to lead their ethnic groups to the realisation of the collective good.

It is this desire which has been the primary force moving the pioneers of anarchism and horrid tyrannies – as it moved the creators of ideal commonwealths in the past.

It is incense for suspicious revolutionaries claiming to fight for the interests of ethnic divides. In this, there is nothing new. What is new and unpardonably offensive is the pretension of such characters to heartfelt sorrow and shared grief in the suffering of the masses.

This has enabled cynical and anarchist political movements to grow out of the frustrations and hopes of Nigeria’s youth and predominantly impressionable thinkers, whose thought processes and politics are anything but humane.

This makes the agitation of the Nigerian separatists worrisome and markedly dangerous to the survival of the youth and the state.

The process of re-sensitising the youth away from the establishment of chaos and genocide advocated by the bigoted will be greatly accelerated by the abolition of the current political order.

However, this can only be achieved by the nation’s youth – who are unfortunately enthralled by the platitudes and desperate politics of Nigeria’s ruling class.

It is no doubt the stock in trade of the latter to refer to violent uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Zanzibar, Tanganyika, India-Pakistan, Mali and parts of Asia among others, as worthy indicators of Nigeria’s need to follow suit.

Whenever they dazzle with such informed commentary, tell them to lead the violence they advocate with their wives, children and closest relatives.

Many activists, youth leaders and self-acclaimed political heroes today have their wives and children tucked away in secure schools and neighbourhoods abroad even as they goad impoverished, clueless youth back home to untimely doom.

If it is true that there is an appreciable number of youth capable of powering revolts for ethnic self-determination, the end of which is the dissolution of Nigeria, why can’t the same youth power the social regeneration and reclamation of the state from the clutches of the predatory ruling class, ethnic bigots and dissolution activists?

The current political dispensation and acute tribal bigotry must eventually yield to the influences of education and culture if the youth could aspire to progressive ideals. But such transformation calls for remarkable wisdom and tolerance.

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