Nigeria on Verge of Precipice, Say US Bodies, Bishop Kukah

Nigeria on Verge of Precipice, Say US Bodies, Bishop Kukah

…Failure of Nigeria May Upturn W/Africa, Europe, US …Buhari Administration Has Stoked Ethnic, Regional, Religious Divides …We Are Winning Terrorism War…Presidency The United States Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the Harvard Kennedy School, say that Nigeria as a nation, is on the verge of the precipice having showed all the signs of a failed

…Failure of Nigeria May Upturn W/Africa, Europe, US

…Buhari Administration Has Stoked Ethnic, Regional, Religious Divides

…We Are Winning Terrorism War…Presidency

The United States Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the Harvard Kennedy School, say that Nigeria as a nation, is on the verge of the precipice having showed all the signs of a failed nation.

A research finding released through the Council’s senior fellow and former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr John Campbell and Mr Robert Rotberg, founding director, Harvard Kennedy School’s Programme on Intrastate Conflict and president emeritus, World Peace Foundation, reveals that Nigeria is currently in its final phase, from which it would eventually collapse.

This seems to resonate with the scathing Easter homily of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Hassan Kukah, who laments that “Nigeria, still totters and wobbles as we screech towards a dangerous and avoidable canyon of dry bones.” He says, “ Nigerians can no longer recognise their country which has been battered and buffeted by men and women from the dark womb of time” adding with some glimmer of hope that, “We can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy.”

The US organisations insist their position is not based on emotion or the fancy of using pejorative words to describe the situation, but on “a body of political theory developed at the turn of this century and elaborated upon, case by case, ever since.”

The report says Nigeria has since moved from being a weak state to “a fully failed state,” having manifested all the signs of a failed country, including the inability of government to protect the citizens, large scale violence and festering insurgency.

According to the US bodies, President Muhammadu Buhari admitting that the Federal Government has lost control of the situation is the first step towards the restoration of stability, warning that Nigeria’s failure as a state comes with negative consequences for peace and security in West Africa sub-region as well as Europe and the US.

“Nigeria has long teetered on the precipice of failure. But now, unable to keep its citizens safe and secure, Nigeria has become a fully failed state of critical geopolitical concern. Its failure matters because the peace and prosperity of Africa and preventing the spread of disorder and militancy around the globe depend on a stronger Nigeria.

“Its economy is usually estimated to be Africa’s largest or second largest, after South Africa. Long West Africa’s hegemon, Nigeria played a positive role in promoting African peace and security.

“With state failure, it can no longer sustain that vocation, and no replacement is in sight. Its security challenges are already destabilising the West African region in the face of resurgent jihadism, making the battles of the Sahel that much more difficult to contain. And spillover from Nigeria’s failures ultimately affect the security of Europe and the United States.

“Indeed, thoughtful Nigerians over the past decade have debated, often fervently, whether their state has failed. Increasingly, their consensus is that it has,” the report published on on Thursday, asserts.

The report further says, “There are four kinds of nations: the strong, the weak, the failed, and the collapsed.

“According to previously published research estimates, of the 193 members of the United Nations, 60 or 70 are strong—the nations that rank highest in the listings of Freedom House, the human rights reports of the U. S. State Department, the anticorruption perception indices of Transparency International, and so on.

“There are three places that should be considered collapsed: Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

“Eighty or 90 U.N. members are weak. Weakness consists of providing many, but not all, of essential public goods, the most important of which are security and safety. If citizens are not secure from harm within national borders, governments cannot deliver good governance (the essential services that citizens expect) to their constituents.

Failed States

“Possibly a dozen or so states are failed, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Myanmar. Each lacks security, is unsafe, has weak rules of law, is corrupt, limits political participation and voice, discriminates within its borders against various classes and kinds of citizens, and provides educational and medical services sparingly. Most of all, failed states are violent.

“All failed states harbour some form of violent internal strife, such as civil war or insurgency. Nigeria now confronts six or more internal insurrections and the inability of the Nigerian state to provide peace and stability to its people has tipped a hitherto very weak state into failure.

“According to political theory, the government’s inability to thwart the Boko Haram insurgency is enough to diagnose Nigeria as a failed state. But there are many more symptoms. At a bare minimum, citizens expect their states to keep them secure from external attack and to keep them safe within their borders.

“The bargain that subjects long ago made with their sovereigns was being kept from harm in exchange for allegiance and taxation. When that quid pro quo breaks down, a state loses its coherence, its social fabric disintegrates, and warring factions subvert the social contract that should provide the fundamental foundation of the state.

“Nigeria now appears to have reached the point of no return. Indeed, few parts of Nigeria are today fully safe,” the report added.

Kukah’s Homily

Speaking in the same vein, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah in his incisive homily on Easter Sunday, titled, “To Mend a Broken Nation: The Easter Metaphor” which again stirred the hornet’s nests, says,

“Our dear country, Nigeria, still totters and wobbles as we screech towards a dangerous and avoidable canyon of dry bones. Nonetheless, we still cling to hope, a hope in the resurrected Christ, knowing as St. Paul; said, ‘this hope does not disappoint us’ (Rm.5:5).

“Nigerians can no longer recognise their country which has been battered and buffeted by men and women from the dark womb of time. It is no longer necessary to ask how we got here. The real challenge is how to find the slippery rungs on the ladder of ascent so we can climb out. Yet, we ask, ascend to where? For us as Christians, ascent is to the loving embrace of the resurrected Christ who is Lord of history.

“One would be tempted to ask, what is there to say about our tragic situation today that has not been said? Who is there to speak that has not spoken? Like the friends of Job, we stare at an imponderable tragedy as the nation unravels from all sides. The government has slid into hibernation mode. It is hard to know whether the problem is that those in power do not hear, see, feel, know, or just don’t care.

“Either way, from this crossroad, we must make a choice, to go forward, turn left or right or return home. None of these choices are easy, yet, guided by the light of the risen Christ, we can reclaim our country from its impending slide to anarchy.

“The greatest challenge now is how to begin a process of reconstructing our nation hoping that we can hang on and survive the 2023 elections. The real challenge before us now is to look beyond politics and face the challenge of forming character and faith in our country.

“Here, leaders of religion, Christianity and Islam, need to truthfully face the role of religion in the survival of our country. The Nigerian Constitution has very clearly delineated the fine boundaries between religion and politics. Yet many politicians continue to behave as if they are presiding over both the political and the spiritual realms in their states rather than governing in a Democracy.

“This conflict between Caesar and God is inbuilt in faith and is part of world history. Many religious leaders often measure their power by how close they are to Caesar, yet Caesar’s embrace is often full of thorns. The challenge is for the religious leader to know that both Caesar and those he represents are answerable to God who created them. The welfare of citizens constitutes the cornerstone for measuring the legitimacy of any political leader.

Religious Leaders

“As such, religious leaders must focus more on the issues of welfare, safety and security of ordinary citizens. They must raise their voice when these rights are being trampled upon. A leader must know when to call Caesar a fox and not a horse (Lk. 13:32).

“The greatest challenge for Nigeria is not even the 2023 elections. It is the prospects for the reconciliation of our people. Here, the Buhari administration sadly has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history.

“This carefully choreographed agenda has made Nigerians vulnerable and ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among our people. Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping. Notwithstanding these challenges, religious leaders must recover and deploy their moral authority and avoid falling victim to the schemes of politicians and their material enticements.

“Today, the values of Interfaith dialogue have come under severe strain and pressure with extremists from both sides of our faiths denigrating the idea of dialogue with their counterparts of other faiths. Ignorance and miseducation have combined with prejudice to create the falsehood that somehow, one religion is superior to the others. With so many ill equipped fraudsters posing as religious leaders, there is an obsession with defaming the others and widening our differences.

“We need to start thinking of a Nigeria beyond banditry and kidnapping and the endless circles of violence that have engulfed our communities and nation. We cannot continue to pretend that there are no religious undertones to the violence in the name of God that has given our religions a bad name. The way out is for the state to enforce the secular status of the Nigerian state so as to give citizens the necessary freedoms from the shackles of semi-feudal confusion over the status of religion and the state in a plural Democracy. We must be ready to embrace modernity and work out how to preserve our religions and cultures without turning religion into a tool for tyranny, exclusion, and oppression.

Repentant Terrorists

“In finding our way forward, the President must concede that it is within his powers to decide how we are going to end the war that has engulfed and is tearing down our nation. It seems that the federal government has shown far greater commitment to integrating so called repentant terrorists than getting our children back from kidnappers or keeping our universities open.

“Earlier last month, Operation Safe Corridor announced that it had graduated 599 members of various terrorist groups who have acquired new skills and are now ready to be integrated into society. The total comes to over a thousand now. It is plausible to note that the programme involves pyscho-social support, rehabilitation, vocational training, skill acquisition and start-ups.

“Despite all this, the larger issue is that their various communities have expressed their reluctance to receive their erring sons back. Nigerians have no access to the transcripts of the texts of the confessions of these terrorists not to talk of evidence of their commitment to not sin again. We have only the words of the terrorists and the same military that they have been fighting a war with.

“It speaks volumes when the President and his military hierarchy choose to believe these young men who took up arms and for years waged war against their country, killed, maimed and wasted thousands of lives, destroyed entire communities and now, they are being housed, fed, clothed with public funds. All this while their victims have been forced to make the various IDP camps their new homes! Where is the justice for the victims and the rest of the country they have destroyed?

“As a priest, I cannot be against a repentant sinner or criminals changing their ways. After all, the doors of forgiveness must always remain open. However, in this case, Nigerians have very little information as to the entire rehabilitation processes. Have these terrorists felt the heat or have they seen the light or, is their repentance a mere strategic and tactical repositioning?

“So far, we have no evidence that these terrorists have been able to confront their victims not to talk of seeking forgiveness from them. Something is wrong. We see these terrorists adorned in our national colours in their green and white kaftans, trousers, and looking like heroes of the state! Are we to assume that they have become acknowledged models for Nigerian youth? Perhaps the next graduating set might be treated to Presidential handshakes, receptions at the villa with full national colours!

“Only last week, as if in delayed solidarity, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, in a Statement stated that: ‘It appears that the continuous callous acts of mayhem, killings and arson happening almost on daily or weekly bases around us; either within communities or on the roads we ply, has automatically reset our human psyche that we now have accepted such dastardly acts as part of our lives, to the extent that we no longer feel it….Any government that is incapable of protecting the lives of its citizens has lost the moral justification of being there in the first place….our humanity is being eroded and that erosion is become a new normal.’

“Similarly, the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and the House of Representatives have finally called on the President to resign since, in their view it is now clear that he cannot protect his citizens. This has come three years after the Catholic Bishops’ Statement issued on April 26th, 2018 made the same call that was greeted with cynicism.

“The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, Mosques, infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our Roads and Rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well. So, we ask with the Psalmist, We look up to the hills, from where shall come our help? Our help shall come from the name of the Lord (Ps. 121:2).

2023 Elections

“2023 beckons and the stage is set. The challenge is whether we have learnt any lessons from the tragedy that has afflicted us in the last few years. The Presidency of Nigeria is not a human right based on ethnic, religious or regional sentiments. The next President of Nigeria must be a man or woman with a heart, a sense of empathy and a soul on fire that can set limits to what human indignities visited on citizens that he or she can tolerate.

“We have no need for any further empty messianic rhetoric laced with deceitful and grandiose religiousity. We need someone who can fix our broken nation, rid our people of the looming dangers of hunger and destitution. Our Presidential aspirants must show evidence from their legacies and antecedents that they know the country well enough and its severe wounds.

“Whoever wants to govern us must illustrate that he or she understands what has turned our nation into a national hospital and show us plans for our discharge from this horror. Support for INEC and its infrastructure is fundamental to a free and fair election and we condemn in very strong terms all those criminals who continue to threaten the society with violence. They should meet the full force of the law.

“I thank the President for accepting the report of the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy and granting pardon to over 150 Nigerians serving various terms of imprisonment. The more serious challenge is to immediately free all innocent Nigerians who are held captive and whose only crime is that they are living in Nigerians.

“With the news of the purchase of new sophisticated weapons, we hope that the President and the military will quickly roll out a strategy for routing this cancer that has afflicted our country. The general feeling is that the military has the capacity to end this tragedy. In reality, the military cannot fire beyond the radar set by their commander-in-chief. If the President can end this tragedy, he will immediately get the support of all citizens and hopefully leave office witih his head held high,” he maintained.

Nigerian Presidency

The Nigerian Presidency however assured on Monday that an end to terrorism and banditry in Northwest is in sight.

Pointing to the success recorded in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast, it said the escalation of terrorist activities in the Northwest would also be brought under control soon.

The Presidency said there was ongoing re-equipment and reorganisation of the security and intelligence forces.

The North has been reeling under serious terrorism and bandit attacks which have taken a turn for the worse.

There have been daily attacks, including kidnapping for ransom, insurgency, killings and incessant farmer-herder clashes, among others.

In a renewed wave of terror, gunmen on March 26 attacked facilities at the Kaduna Airport, killing an airport worker. Two days later, terrorists blew up rail tracks on the Abuja-Kaduna route, killing eight passengers, injuring 41 people and abducting many. Within hours, they also struck at a military base in Benigwari, also in Kaduna State, killing 16 soldiers and carting away arms and other equipments.

Train Attack Victims

But the Presidency appealed to the families of the train attack victims to be patient, assuring them that efforts were on to rescue their loved ones.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu said that much was being done and that the result would soon be apparent.

On the Boko Haram/bandits’ alliance and the impression that the security agencies had failed to carry out President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders, Shehu said the current security crisis was a recent development.

Quoting the international terrorism index, he said the Northeast security crisis, which the administration inherited, had been degraded by 90 per cent.

“This is why the military – the defence establishment, is re-strategising. They are reorganising with new technologies.

“We are hoping that in the coming weeks, people will see the real difference. We’re hoping incidents, such as the rail bombing, will never again happen,” Shehu said.

On success recorded in Northeast, he said: “Virtually all the major roads in Borno State have been re-opened. All the major markets have been re-opened.

“Trading across the border has resumed and if you see what the international terrorism index indicated recently, more than 90 per cent of Boko Haram terrorism is no longer happening.

“So, that is to say, that things are happening and Nigerians should appreciate the fact that the military, the intelligence and the police are working hard and they are getting results.

“I’m not denying that there has been a spike recently in some states, particularly Kaduna, Plateau, Niger Benue, and to some extent, Zamfara, which has witnessed a calming down of the situation for some time.

Degrading Threats

“Essentially, you’re talking about the government’s success in degrading sustainable threats, such as Boko Haram.

“That is not to say that there are not occasional threats; they might strike from time to time and this is in the nature of symmetric warfare.

“But the government is preparing well, is planning well, is making acquisitions – drone technology, airpower.

“We’ve just been given approval by the Americans to buy nearly $1 billion worth of military hardware – 12 helicopters.

“So, we’re getting somewhere and you know that the Super Tucanos have come; the drones, we have gotten two more.

“They were being assembled and the operators were being trained. All of these things are being hastened.

“Changes have happened in commands in the manning of this dangerous axis and the results will show.

“So, Nigerians should be patient with the administration. We are getting results. It may take time, but we’ll get there.”

The Presidency appealed to families of those taken hostage from the train attack to be patient as the government works to secure their freedom.

Shehu said: “Relatives of those taken as hostages by the terrorists, speaking during a media briefing in Kaduna on Friday, had told the Federal Government not to resume the Abuja-Kaduna train service until those being held had been set free from captivity.

“Government has already fixed the rail tracks. They’ve been tested and ready to resume train service.

“However, there is also concern about family members who are holding up this process and they insist that their family members must be brought home from the bandits before the service is restored.

“You can understand the emotion, and the government doesn’t want to appear to be insensitive.

“But again, by stopping this rail service, you’re also in a way exposing other families who have not been so affected by other dangers.

“There must be a meeting point and I’m sure that the security and intelligence community, with the police, will be able to work with the family members to reassure them that they will not be abandoned and that their family members will not be abandoned to their fate.”

The presidential spokesman explained why such rescue operations may take time.

“If the idea is to just bomb out everyone – the bandits, the terrorists and their captives, this can be done in a day.

“But this is a rescue operation and rescue will only be successful when you bring people out alive and well.

“If they are brought back in body bags, what’s the purpose?

“The family members should please bear with the administration as it works to ensure that the people who are trained to deal with this situation, give the direction on what to do,” Shehu said.

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