The above title stems from the title of one of the classics of G. K. Chesterton, one of the most beloved 20th century writers. The title has been adopted to speak truth to power and the reality of our day, time, society and country. It seeks to defend the truth and help enlighten its readers, calling to mind people with acute perception to what needs be done. For this episode, focus shall be on Nigeria as a failed state, a nation crippled to her knees by her leaders, politicians, and people, who have sacrificed the good of the nation on the altar of greed, corruption, mismanagement, tribal and religious sentiments. For those who have read the book, “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, it is clear that the book speaks truth to the situation of our nation, that nations like Nigeria fail for obvious reasons such as leaders making poor policies, and institutions failing to do the needful when it comes to ensuring the good of the people.
It sums this by stating in clear terms the burgeoning issues on the origins of power, prosperity and poverty. Albeit not reading the text, the title itself draws you in to ask questions and challenge the status quo of any nation. Looking critically, the keen mind will surely acclaim that our dear nation is heading in the direction of a failed state. This statement is hinged on the obvious cases of uncaged and sponsored terrorism and insecurity which look like subtle genocides, a move towards land grabbing and conquest of territories, the incessant kidnapping and killing of innocent Nigerians in the open, with those school children hitting hard and leading to the closure of schools, much to the joy of the Boko Haram insurgents.
There are telltales of corruption of political (mis)leaders, mismanagement and embezzlement of public funds, incurred debt that will take eons to offset, a bad economy, a hedonistic and bureaucratic system that favours only a section of the country, a judicial system, armed by the executive arm of government, that attacks activists, truth-sayers and celebrates terrorists and bandits (A.K.A unknown gunmen) by bankrolling their accounts with state funds. Added to this litany of ills and social menaces are oppressive security agencies, rubber-stamp houses of assembly and representatives, unending feud/ strike actions between the various institutions and the federal government over unpaid salaries, and dilapidated institutions whose abandonment is felt by the poor since the rich politicians, their children, and friends can afford better education and healthcare abroad.
At the dawn of supposed dawn of democracy in 1999, Nigerians were thrilled at the prospect of a system of government that will be for the people, by the people and of the people. With the coming to power of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), people expected that the millennial goals of the developed nations would be ours. Unfortunately, for 16 years we have been served mere illusions of the reality. Hence, Nigerians clamoured for change which was very much touted by certain political gurus wielding brooms of power, and the promise of a leader with integrity and astuteness who would steer the nation and rid her of all evils was made. Then came in the All Progressive Congress (APC) who seized power in 2015 on the backs of many Nigerians, after many protests, social media agitations and prophecy of a much awaited messiah.
However, it is over 6 years now and the change promised is far from being realized. Rather, Nigerians have felt the brunt of their political shenanigans which have left many awed, dazed and empty of hope for tomorrow. The kidnapping of students is still ongoing and has become a lucrative source of income for bandits, people are still being killed in the North and South to the full knowledge of our leaders who treat such issues with kids gloves. Speaking against evils is still being met with judicial and extra judicial measures, activism is clawed at, the social rights of the people have been restricted through banning and monitoring of social media platforms, and the herders with evil intent are still prowling round looking for people to devour while the nation’s president and the presidency keep mute.
The story of Afghanistan is a reality everyone must hold dearly. It was a nation that birthed modern day terrorism on the helms of religion, and from there other sects emerged, including Boko Haram. Intelligence reports have revealed that Boko Haram sect is being sponsored by some big wigs and politicians in Nigeria. Months after this report was given, nothing has been done to arrest them or call them out. Well, this is Nigeria where such is expected because they have friends and families in high places. Nonetheless, except the people come to the realization that those in power currently and those coming after under the same political platforms have nothing to offer them, and until the quest for division and secession quells, the nation cannot move forward.
Nigeria is not poor but poorly managed; her failures as a state are the handiwork of her leaders. The future lies before us and what it will bring is obvious to anyone who seeks to see and search well. The fact that many are leaving the country en masse tells the sad reality of things. Still, unless the leaders arrest the situation or resign due to their irresponsibility and incompetence, things might not get any better but will move from worse to worst. God bless you!
• Rev. Fr. Kenneth Mereh is the Assistant Administrator of St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos.