Amby Uneze focuses on the recent revelation that the Director General of the Directorate of State Services presided over a recruitement exercise into the organisation that further emphasizes nepotism, tribalism and corruption
The amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates on 1 January 1914, by Sir Donald Fredrick Lugard climaxed the British policy of unification of Nigeria by ‘uniting’ the two halves of the country – Northern and Southern Protectorates – in what has since been known as the amalgamation. In an abstract written by Emmanuel Oladipo Ojo published in Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, he described Nigeria as ‘a British creation fashioned out between 1861 and 1914’.
He went on to state that the 1861 annexation of Lagos gave Britain a firm foothold in Nigeria; and, between that year and 1903, virtually every Nigerian nation capitulated to British imperial rule. The British thereafter administered the country they took five decades to create until Nigeria obtained flag independence on 1 October I960. This implies that Nigeria is one century old as a geographical entity and six decades old as an independent sovereign state.
The author contended that while the British may have created Nigeria; quite a large number of Nigerian leaders cremated it. Today, apart from the existence of legally constituted governments and the absence of pervasive internecine wars, Nigeria manifests virtually all the traits of a failed state. A country of inexplicable trajectories, despite enormous national wealth, intractable corruption has sentenced an overwhelming percentage of Nigerians to grinding poverty; health institutions are near total collapse resulting in high maternal deaths, preventable ailments and morbidity; social services such as potable water, power supply, good roads and a functional and dynamic educational system are either altogether non-existent or hopelessly inadequate and erratic thereby turning Nigerians into infrahumans.
He concluded that while Nigeria, as a politico-geographical entity, is neither disintegrating nor dismembering, pervasive corruption, intractable unemployment, endemic poverty and infrastructural deficit had ensured that millions of her citizens are socially muzzled and economically cremated.
Then, one may ask what are the reasons for amalgamation of Nigeria? If the unification was done for economic reasons rather than political, because the Northern Nigeria Protectorate had a budget deficit; and the colonial administration sought to use the budget surpluses in Southern Nigeria to offset this deficit, then, the reason may actually not be for unity purposes but for the interest of the colonial masters who wanted to reap bountifully from the rich Southern protectorate. To this end, the purpose of amalgamation became unnecessary when it was not to bring harmony, economic emancipation, progress and development of the country. What the colonial administration achieved to a discerning mind was to ‘rob Paul and pay Peter’ and while Peter continued to live in abundance; Paul (who happens to be the main source of the wealth) wallows in penury and abject poverty.
No wonder, Protectorate is defined as the relationship of a strong state toward a weaker state or territory that it protects and partly controls. Nigerians have not enjoyed their coming together as a nation. Instead of the amalgamation ushering in development and unity, peace and love as enshrined in the Coat of Arm as our motto; what the country experiences today in her 60th independent anniversary is nothing but anguish, maladministration, disunity, insecurity, killings, bad leadership, corruption and lack of development.
The present economical and socio-political situation in Nigeria today is a big departure from what the founding fathers of the country had anticipated. From the era of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Belewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo to the present leadership, they are miles apart in terms of concept and believe in the country. While the era of our founding fathers was hinged on progress and development in which peace, love and unity of the regions were the order of the day, what we see today is selfishness among the leaders, corruption, insecurity, and infrastructural decay. The country has become a shadow of itself.
Echoing their displeasure on how appointments have been going on in the Nigeria of today, Southern and Middle Belt leaders recently tackled President Muhammadu Buhari over lopsided recruitment by Department of Security Services (DSS) and accuse the agency of recruiting 535 Northerners and paltry 93 Southerners in a country every section has equal right.
The leaders condemned the latest recruitment exercise carried out by the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi where 535 northerners and 93 southerners were allegedly employed. Citing the People’s Gazette report based on official documents and contributions of senior intelligence officials, the leaders alleged that Bichi allegedly activated lopsided hiring process that flooded the DSS with personnel from the Northern part of Nigeria.
The leaders in a statement jointly issued by Mr. Yinka Odumakin (South-west); Chief Guy Ikokwu (South-east); Senator Bassey Henshaw, (South-south) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), lamented that barely 24 hours after both Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha warned separately that cracks on the Nigerian wall could lead to its break-up, a scandalous report came out in the Peoples Gazette showing how the DG of DSS has put a sharp knife to the rope holding what is left of Nigeria together through an insensitive and impunitous lopsided recruitment into the agency. They noted that this fits perfectly into the ethno-agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, which has manifested in running the country as if he heads only a section of it. The leaders said Bichi’s regional recruitment agenda came three years after his predecessor implemented a similar hiring process that failed to reflect Nigeria’s diversity.
The statement, which quoted copiously, a report on People’s Gazette, read in part: ‘’The Gazette’s findings obtained over a period of two weeks showed that the North has a massive share of the roughly 1,300 Nigerians currently undergoing cadet training at two different camps of the secret police in Lagos and Bauchi. Of the total 628 cadet trainees who had resumed at the Bauchi facility as of September 23, 2020, 535 trainees joined the service from either the North-east or the North-west. Only 93 were from either the South-east, South-south, South-west or North-central.
‘’The Gazette’s findings also show that at least 71 of those currently undergoing cadet training hail from Bichi Local Government Area of Kano State — the director-general’s home local government area. Officials said the number was more, but the Gazette could not independently confirm the higher figures — as well as a slew of other disturbing allegations of bigotry against, Mr. Bichi — prior to its publication.
“The list of candidates was not compiled by the state, but officials believe a state-by-state breakdown would exist at the headquarters in Abuja. In Lagos, the Gazette was unable to obtain official attendance records of trainees at the camp in Ojo, but multiple participants, including senior officials, said Mr. Bichi disregarded the federal character concept and skewed the process for Nigerians from the North.
“Some of us are worried less about the audacity of focusing on one part of the country to bring in new cadets than we are about its long-term implications,” a senior DSS official told the Gazette.
In the same vein, President Buhari’s eight new Supreme Court nominees are Nasir Isa Kwarra (Nasarawa) Chairman; Ali Silas Agara (Nasarawa); Mohammed Chiso A. Dottoji (Sokoto); Gidado Razak Folorunso (Kwara); Ibrahim Mohammed (Bauchi); Hon. Joseph Kwali Shazin (FCT); Ajayi Ayodeji Sunday (Ekiti); Garba A. G. Zakar (Jigawa); Mai Aliyu Muhammad (Yobe); Muhammad Muttaka Rini (Zamfara); Hon. Engr. Bala Almu Banya (Katsina); and Mrs. Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin (Lagos). The composition of these nominees indicates that six are Northerners, while only two are Southerners. There was emphatically, no nominee from South-east and South-south.
Under the present circumstance, some prominent Nigerians have been expressing their feeling on the need to reposition the country. About two weeks ago, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo let loose a slinger to the government. In the wake of the diversity problem and socio-economic troubles Nigeria is currently undergoing, Obasanjo argues that Nigeria is “fast drifting (in)to a failed and badly divided state.” For him, Nigeria has not only become the poverty capital of the world (a position formerly belonging to India), it has become terribly insecure. All these are a function of the trouble with integrating ethnic differences.
Professor Wole Soyinka corroborated this cogent assessment of the Nigeria situation. For him, “Nigeria is divided like never before.” It is precisely in the agreement of these two observers of the Nigerian condition that the anxiety that underlies this piece is founded. The reaction of the government to these criticisms has become almost mechanical in its recurrence. The point in strategic communication however, is to take any criticism serious no matter where it is coming from, and more so if they are backed by objective indices. The most significant index in this case is the worsening quality of life of Nigerians.
As if to corroborate the conclusion of the two statesmen, the Fragile States Index for 2020 ranks Nigeria 14, with a point of 97.3, and in the group of countries placed on the “alert” status. This position places Nigeria four positions away from sliding into the “high alert” status with countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And it is dangerously nine positions away from the “very high alert” and failed states like Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. These statistics has the advantage of bringing the fundamental significance of local debates about politics, governance and development down to earth. For many years, and since independence, Nigeria had been standing at the precipice of national calamity. There have been several tipping points that we have miraculously overcome. And we seem not to have learnt from history in order to rethink our national path. Unfortunately, we are still in the eye of the storm.
There have been so many significant and analytical predictions about the fall of this house called Nigeria. From the CIA to Goldman Sachs and even intellectuals like Karl Maier, Nigeria’s demographic and socio-economic indices are not good. There is always the persistent threat of a re-enactment of the horrors of the Arab Spring. And this is not the result of an empty threat analysis. The Nigerian youth unemployment, and untapped youth bulge leaves the Nigerian state at the mercy of an angry mass of young Nigerians who believe they have got a bad deal from the Nigerian government.
Prof. Tunji Olaopa, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary and Directing Staff, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, said
“We all therefore live in fear of that unknown spark that will conflagrate the simmering ember of disaffection. Add to this the “barbarians” outside the gate of the Nigerian state: the Boko Haram insurgents and the herdsmen menace, as well as the spate of banditry and kidnapping that keeps tearing at the seam of the Nigerian social fabric.
“At the governance level, Nigeria is gradually entering a post-oil phase within the context of a rapidly transforming global dispensation into a knowledge economy. The current pandemic and its massive impacts on the global economy has again brought home the sad facts about Nigeria’s prone-ness to economic recessions, and liquidity crisis. The diversification question has remained perpetually on the development agenda of Nigeria. And we have so far refused to answer it with the political will and courage it required. This is all the more daunting because Nigeria significantly lacks ideologically propelled political parties with the capacity to aggregate issues that are cogent to Nigeria’s progress.
“The capacity of the members of the two major parties to move effortlessly from one to the other signals their ideological bankruptcy. And Nigeria’s ideological drift. No wonder the neocolonial traps, in the form of Chinese loans and IMF stabilization conditionalities, always seem appealing. We have been in a state of crippling insolvency for as long as we can remember, and soon as the world oil market price slumps on the volatility curve”, he stated.
In his contribution on ‘Nigeria at 60: Are Diamonds Forever?’ Dr. Cosmas Odoemena, a medical practitioner in Lagos contended that Nigeria is an underachiever, just better than nothing. He said, “at 60, it’s time for stocktaking. A country is like a machine, it’s how you operate it that determines how it works. It’s also like GIGO in computer: garbage in, garbage out. We must make up our mind to infuse the right things into Nigeria, to work to get Nigeria to move in the right direction — we must make progress.
But, for there to be progress there must be peace. But without unity there can’t be peace. For Nigeria, it’s a cruel catch-22. It then means that we must endeavour to do some fundamental things to now take the other steps.
Until every Nigerian has a sense of belonging to the country, until there is a fair way to share political power, until there is peace and unity, disintegration will continue to glare at it menacingly — behind a facade of celebration.
Finally, it becomes pertinent to end up this piece with the infamous quotation of President Buhari in his nationwide speech to the nation to mark the 60th independent anniversary “democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognizes the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.”
The present economical and socio-political situation in Nigeria today is a big departure from what the founding fathers of the country had anticipated. From the era of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Belewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo to the present leadership, they are miles apart in terms of concept and believe in the country. While the era of our founding fathers was hinged on progress and development in which peace, love and unity of the regions were the order of the day, what we see today is selfishness among the leaders, corruption, insecurity, and infrastructural decay
Credit: This Day