Restructuring the Tower of Babel. By Leye Akinmodiro

There is a recurrent malignant affliction  within the nations-space known as Nigeria. Fire of agitation is often ignited, precipitating nation-wide showdown between the citizens and their rulers. Scalding heat generated by the throngs of protesters billow towards the seats of power, creating an appearance of discomfort for their occupiers. “These blood-sucking villains will be brought to their knees this time”, the champions of the revolt boast. The ascendancy of Citizens’ Power and consummation of the people’s struggle is here to stay. Social justice at last!

But shortly after a few days the media tilts its beacons in a different direction and the columns of fire begin to collapse with stunning rapidity. Heaps of left-over ashes dot several spots of the national space, attempting to remind us of how we got here, but soon come under the jackboots of the powers that be. “We must move Nigeria forward!” the occupiers of those seats declare. Situation quickly returns to status quo, the people shrug it off with sterile detachment and business continues as usual. But time and again, the ominous specter of the unanswered National Question fiercely hurls itself onto national awareness regardless of the various attempts to crush it. This last time it roared onto the shore in the word popularly expressed as “Restructuring”.

I am not about to provoke a fresh round of discussions on this most vitriolic subject. I have since come to the conclusion that in any atmosphere of inhumanity, debates alone, no matter how persuasive in logic, are not sufficient to cast off the spells and chains that bind people into perpetual servitude. We are dealing a bunch of predatory and lunatic elites who care no inch about how you feel or what you think. Nevertheless, whereas we may sometimes be powerless in the face of tyranny, never should we at any time be unable to speak against it. So let us rewind on the after-party frivolities of the power drunks and expose their emptiness, nakedness and rapacious appetites. Let us uncover their deep-seated fears, deceits and hypocrisies. Not to the purpose of stirring any sense of shame, remorse, regret or sobriety in them. They are damned unconcerned, caring nothing about personal honour. But to the purpose of guiding us better the next time. Because there will be a next time soon.

This last blast appeared to have originated from the Easter Wing of the Nigerian Edifice by the fellow called Ninamdi Kanu. But the truth is we have always been here. The agitation for restructuring is not new in Nigeria; only that it came previously under different atmosphere and nomenclature, precipitating different reactions with different set of consequences. Each time, it strikes at the very foundation of the Nigeria System, raising the same fundamental question querying the legitimacy of a merciless Union which forcefully arrests diverse interests and aspirations against their natural will to spread and flourish. It pleads for an opportunity to debate and negotiate nationhood and terms of coexistence in an atmosphere that presently constricts, suffocates and diminishes humanity. It seeks to restore justice to the distinct nationalities and peoples who are demanding a return to their default settings, pre-colonial sovereignty or at least, regional autonomy, that guarantees the greatest motive force for uninhibited growth at individual pace. Self-Determination! Nothing less! The echo of restructuring has reverberated across time and space and its sound has remained clear and unmistakable, except for the Nimrodic oligarchy and its mischievous apologists.

Typical of every vile enterprise of injustice, the response of the Nigerian state has remained stone-cast and unyielding: “The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable”, the inheritors of the estate chant and, no volume of debates, regardless of how profound and flowering was going to alter that. They have one and only option, the bloody and lazy one, the merciless deployment of state violence which highlights their disdain for the cerebral approach to politics and governance. Intoxicated with the illusion of class and power, they spit and fart foul on us with such condescension and still expect us to chorus “Rankadede”. Three major groups cohabit in this sphere of conspiracy: the rootless, nomadic Fulani and their breeds, with their disregard for indigenous existence; the exploitative vulture known as corporate Nigeria with its unbridled consumerism; and the vast opportunists waiting for their turn to move up in rank in the criminal enterprise called Nigeria.

So when a delinquent upstart who was not even born when the issue of Nigerian unity was settled with a decisive finality, looked at Nimrod squarely in the eyes and began to propagate some infantile idealism that no longer exists, issuing marching orders to thousands of foot soldiers with deadly efficiency and cascading effects, it was time for the big boys to return to the trenches and crush any further irritation. “Nigeria will never DISINTEGRATE under my watch as Chief of Army Staff”, a dark-goggled Tukur Buratai barked. But first, you have to give the dog a bad name. Then you can justly hang it?. Restructuring began to acquire some nebulous definitions and laughable inflections, only to one single purpose: to discredit it!

A deafening cacophony of voices erupted; in the media, at town-hall meetings, at secretariats of political parties, in union buildings, at newspaper stands, in government offices, at the private studies of professors, and in the private homes of military generals, whether serving, retired or dying. For some restructuring was really nothing more than resource control which has been adequately taken care of in the 13 percent derivation for oil communities. For some others, restructuring was simply a matter of constitutional amendments and therefore rest with the National Assembly to do the needful. A retired general and Nigerian civil war hero, Olusegun Obasanjo, invented the ‘Restructuring of the Mind’. Ha ha! Another general and former military dictator, Yakubu Gowon harped on “Economic Restructuring”. The religious clerics wouldn’t allow their voices to be drowned. For them, what the country required was “Spiritual Restructuring”. At the height of this dramatic conflict, the ruling All Progressives Congress, in a fraudulent attempt to erect an authorized version, constituted a committee on the subject and appointed as the committee chairman, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, a self-declared, unapologetic sympathizer and paymaster of the Fulani Oligarchy killer-squad, to discuss about an issue that strongly bordered on peaceful coexistence among nationalities. Really?

Of course all these were orchestration to promote the illusion of democratic accommodations, poison genuine discussions on restructuring, and label its proponents as a bunch of dangerous and confused idealists. It offered the perfect alibi for General Buhari and his commanders. “Unleash the Python”, the Lion King thundered. “But be discrete about it. Dress it in a dance costume and guide it in a theatrical procession across the streets of Umuahia, Awka and environs. Bring that boy down on his knees! But remember, use your discretion”. Of course, not with the Biafra struggles already getting a whispering mention at international spaces.

They peddled all manners of sophistries about ‘Nigeria unity’ which they claimed comes under threat on the idea of restructuring, labeling the agitators as purveyors of hate and disunity. Dumb lies and cheap blackmail! I believe in the unity of the human race and in the universal brotherhood of nations. But the question is do I have to live in the same country as a Fulani or Igbo to foster unity among them? NO! Presently, Nigeria and Ghana are separate sovereign countries each with its own Constitution. Yet they remain at peace with each other. They are engaged in bilateral relations in economic and political developments. Nigeria supplies electricity to neighbouring Benin Republic and gas even further to the Republic of Togo. Putting it another way, we do not hate the people of Cameroun simply because they live in a separate country. In spite of all the pretensions about a united and indivisible Nigeria, there are more wars within it as one country than there are between Nigeria and another independent country. All of the violent conflicts and clashes that have given rise to the Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria were provoked in communities within the heart of Nigerian territory. There is something suspect with this version of ‘Nigerian Unity’.

The murderous Fulani have continued to charge, ever more menacing. Abubarkar Shekau and his hordes of suicide squads continue to survive unending ‘technical defeats’. Rots of political and economic shenanigans continued to litter the entire space in spite of all anti-corruption posturings. Yes, General Buhari and his henchmen have again successfully breathed down upon the people and against their will to spread and flourish, consolidating on a Tower of Babel that bends to their own will, whims and caprices. But how enduring are these shallow, fire brigade measures? Can they guarantee that there won’t be another Nnamdi Kanu who will be more serious, decisive and damning ten years from now?

Freedom is beyond rhetoric. It is up to the various national groupings entrapped in the belly of the Great Constrictor known as Nigeria to ACT.  They must resolve upon their own future and existence, quickly, sincerely and decisively. And in the direction of natural dialectics, it can only be “To your tents oh Israel.” Even the Nimrodic Dynasty and its Edifice finally caved in under its own internal contradictions.


Posted by Leye Akinmodiro