If you look at Nigeria circa 2007-2012 you would be thinking of France1775-1779. France was in desperate conditions: French men and women hated their country's leadership; it was a period of radical, political and social change. King Louis XVI was without money and needed to raise it somehow; Germany and Switzerland and other foreign countries had their troops massed at the boundaries looking for opportunity to pounce; the three estates were ill at ease, the 1st estate, the bishops and other senior church hierarchy was dissatisfied, the 2nd estate, the nobility was rattled and the 3rd estate the middle class (what is left of it) and the lower class was even more disgruntled than the other estates.
The estates general had not been called in nearly 150 years. And King Louis XVI made the mistake of his life by calling the estates general in May 1789. The rest they say is history. But suffice it to say that King Louise XVI did not make it through. The revolution consumed him and may of his fellow rulers and a good portion of the nobility. France as a country almost did not make it. But when it did so, thanks to the rise of Napoleon, it revolutionized all of Europe and became one of the foremost countries in the world.
Today's Nigeria looks unmistakably similar. The privileged religious elite (Tunde Bakare and the other face slapping so called pastors) are quite unhappy even as their congregations multiply and the number of jet planes they own increase. Their fellow Mallam (fellow travelers in riotous living) feel just as ruffled. The political/business class with their mansions in every livable city across the globe and mistresses everywhere (see Ibori, for example) are running from one hiding place to another hiding place and not even their mobile police escorts can protect them. The military, the police, the top civil servants, the innumerable ministers (federal and state) and the ubiquitous legislative personnel are all hiding.
As for the poor, they will always be with us. The poor may be the only people who are not gripped by fear although to be gripped by hunger may be just as bad.
Massed inside the Nigeria's border are Boko Haram, perhaps the only uniting force for Nigerians, for we now all agree that they are a menace to all: Igbo, Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Kanuri, Ijaw etc; also there are kidnappers who have no common religious, political or philosophical belief but still constitute a threat to anybody who has a kobo in his/her pocket. Massed outside the borders are the forces of the West led by America and the United Kingdom praying for the collapse of Nigeria so that they can loot the available high class oil via bunkering. America and her allies (America's former ambassadors are the generals in this army) are there are stoking the embers and cannot wait for 2015 for the country to fail. They need the replacement oil from the loss of Iraq, Iran, and the other Arab states.
Mr. Jonathan, everyday looks like the embattled King Louis XVI.
The calls to summon the estates general (sovereign national conference as it is now called in Nigeria) are rising with louder urgency.
The Chinese saying, that every challenge provides an opportunity, should be uppermost in Mr. Jonathan's thinking these days. He must study the French king's history to avoid his mistakes or the similar situation may consume him just as it did King Louis. Here are things to bear in mind:
1. Do not summon the sovereign national conference as Louis XVI did. If you do, you will quickly lose control of it and it would consume you as the estates general did the king. Instead make use of the modified SNG (FEC, NGC, heads of the legislatures, etc) which you used to quell the Buhari/Bakare storm in the tea cup.
2. Continue with the police reform. Accept the retirements of more senior officers not yet retired. Be bold; hire a senior member of the Switzerland police force, a foreigner for shore, but one who has absolutely no connection to anybody in the existing NP or government. Give him a 3 year contract to form a well trained police force. You will be accused of not being patriotic enough. What is needed is a true beginning not putting new wine in an old wine bottle. Do not bring in an American or British or Israeli. These people have axes to grind.
3. Continue with the reformation of the oil sector. The root of all evil is money and the root of Nigerian money is oil. If you reform this sector, reforming other sectors would be easier.
4. Speak to BH. Mr. Yar' Adua's magic might work again. But you must first know who the true leader of the fragmented organization is. Do not beg for peace but use the true Muslim leaders such as the Sultan of Sokoto to be your good faith ambassador. He can speak Islamism with them. But remember that what motivates them can be found in MENDS, OPC and MASSOB. They are just more violent than the rest. If you do not de-motivate them, the virus would soon infect the other similar organization. What BH may be actually saying is that the evil aspects of Western Education that have crept into Nigeria are bad. Many Nigerians deep down in them may not disagree.
5. You made promises about helping the poor cope with the fuel subsidy. You must be a man of your words. Let's hear about that first train to Diobu from PH in a month and also about the one fromLagosto Yaba. Are the promised buses from Enugu to Onitsha and the one from Kanoto Sokoto on the road yet? There must be no delayed gratification or the troops massed inside and outside will begin moving in and the guillotine for your head would be reaching finishing touches.
6. You have a top notch men and women on your economic team. Let them do their job. If people have evidence that Ms. Madueke has a multi-million mansion in Dubai or that Ms. Okonjo-Iweala has one in Tall Timbers or if Mr. Sanusi is a blood thirsty man do not pay any attention to any of it. Remember that these people have never been poor in their lives. If they quit your government they would be richer not poorer. There is a large dose of jealousy at play. But if you unearth any impropriety among any one of our public servants, pull out your cudgel and give them what we knew in the primary school as "German dozen." It is unfortunate that Mr. Eruchalu or Mr. Nnebedum or Mr. Onyekwelu or Mr. Aduba is no longer alive to deliver the goods. They were the true headmasters who knew not to spare the rod and spoil the child.
7. Your personal security while important should not be your guiding principle. You have put your hand on the plow and cannot look back. Take reasonable and necessary precaution but do not be afraid. I know an Nnewi man who named his daughter "Odera." It means what is written is written. Let that be your motto.
If you do the above and more, you will live long enough for a Napoleon to emerge and save Nigeria from the enemies within and from those massed at the border waiting for 2015. The problems did not start with you. You were not even a governor during the first Jos riots. You were nowhere near power when Abacha's election was annulled. You did not participate in the £20 robbery and any of the antecedents of the current turmoil. But you may be the Joshua to lead "my" people to the Promised Land. The Moses generation of Zik, Abubakar, Awo, Sarduana et al have led us out of the place of bondage.
Somebody is now needed to get us to the land of milk and honey.
You might as well be the one or die trying.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
January 27, 2012