In Nigeria today, certain states and regions are considered unsafe, so much so that ordinary travel by non residents to, within or through those states/regions are done at great risk to one’s life. These situations are imposed by one form of agitation or another against the current form of government.
It is true that the situation of insecurity is spread across the country but certain states and regions where non-state actors compete with civil authorities for the instrument of coercion or seem to have completely overwhelmed state actors in dispensing violence are considered more affected.
I will exemplify this with the National Youth Service. In years past when a student graduated from the university or any of the higher institutions whose certificate mandates that the graduand undergoes the one year National Youth Service and is deployed to do so in any part of the federation, the graduate without any fear or worries, simply picked up his/her bags and heads for the state of posting. Apart from perhaps, the general apprehension which parents normally feel when their young wards venture far away from home for the first time, they generally slept with their eyes closed, assured that their wards are safe wherever they were. These days however, there are certain states or regions which are no go areas for young graduates and parents will do anything to ensure that their wards are not posted to those regions.
These social upheavals heightens towards every election cycle. They manifest in many forms and shape and rises to a crescendo during and post election periods. They are the pangs of a nation on the throes of much needed reforms.
The last elections, more than others, has witnessed the worst of these throes yet as the nation is literally bursting at the seams. Nigeria may have survived this round of elections, but will it survive the next? The country’s situation today, can be likened to that of a pregnant woman who has carried a pregnancy to term and is in labour. While the baby is ready and kicking to find its way out, the woman has deliberately refused to open her legs to let the it out. There is great harm and danger to mother and child unless the mother allow the natural process to take place or both will die. The next available option will be a forced surgical operation to save both if one is not already too weak to survive the rigour of going under the blade in an emergency operation.
This particular election has witnessed some of the few states, where everyone has found a home fast becoming battlegrounds for ethnic profiling, supremacy and bigotry. Peace is threatened in these states and there is high potential for spill over to other states if not properly managed. Yet it sounds all so familiar. A deja vu. Haven’t we seen this before? Should we go down this route again?
Nigeria may yet survive this as it has done in the past, but no one should pretend that everything is alright. The most urgent task before the next government therefore should be RESTRUCTURING of the federation to address the peculiarities of our people. History tells us that this is the right path to take. Therein lies our strength and peace
We cannot continue to tug at the nation’s delicate seams and not expect it to give way in dangerous proportions.