By: Franc Fagah Utoo

Nigeria and the entirety of its system is rapidly collapsing on all of us but, sadly, it is either we are applauding the accelerated fall because it is benefitting us or we are indifferent. We don't just seem to care as long as we've not been victims yet.
Anyone who's been to other countries that started with us, our peers at independence, would be ashamed of what has become of us and our leadership. I've been to some countries that were our peerage like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, Egypt, Qatar, India and Brunei. Nigeria stand behind these countries using every available indices of progression, even though we were ahead of most of them for the first 15 years of our Independence, to say the least.
Our country is perpetually at war with itself. It is not a war of parties; there are actually no difference in the parties except the acronyms. It is a constant war between the elites and the masses; the leaders and the led; the system and those outside it. Parties are only used to veil our ignorance and set us on a stupid clash between ourselves while the system continues to rape all of us viciously.
Unfortunately, the people vested with the responsibility of taking us out of the doldrums, the leadership, are the ones who have lost hope in this country more than the rest of us. One late night in August 2008, while I was a student in Malaysia, I was woken up to a call from Rt.Hon Hembe Herman of the House of Reps. Malaysia was hosting the Commonwealth Parliamentary session that year, he couldn't come but he gave my number to the then Speaker Dimeji Bankole and Hon. Samson Osagie from Edo state, as his brother they must meet in Malaysia. I met them the following day at The Ritz-Carlton hotel, Kuala Lumpur. The Nigerian contingent was led by the deputy president of the senate and there were many senators there. We got talking and I was bewildered when the senators were asking when are we going to get close to Malaysia; a country that was practicing to emulate us in the past. The other senators outrightly said we can NEVER be like Malaysia! I was like, for goodness sake, these are the people given the responsibility to engineer the process to take us even above these other countries, considering the abundance of our natural and human resources.
I have always had hope in the promises of this country until the events of the past few days. If a President who had ruled this country as a military dictator and had attempted to rule as a democrat on three futile times, crying, lamenting and gnashing his teeth in the process, but could allow the country to spiral back into the ages when he was finally at the helm of affairs, then there's cause to worry. Any President that is almost 80 years of age should be thinking of an enduring legacy of a strong institutional base for the country rather than continue to bask in the euphoria of a personal, partisan and family goals.
Events in the last one month had revealed that all our institutional values have eroded and the system is no longer standing on its feet. The Judiciary is no longer the last hope of the common man, it has become more political than parties. The Legislature is no longer the voice of the citizens, it is actually the robot of the Executive. It takes instructions and it acts accordingly. The Press is no longer the fourth estate of the realm and societal watch dog, they only watch for brown envelopes. INEC and its staff become richer than politicians after every election because elections are now bazaar meant for highest bidders. Police and Army now competes with thugs as to who shoot to kill or scare voters the most. They create a collabo for stealing ballot boxes like we saw in Kogi few days ago. Our laws are cobwebs that hook the poor but allowed the rich and mighty to bulldoze through. Our youths who were armed with guns during elections turned back these guns to kill themselves in the name of cultism and indulgence in the ever growing malaise of kidnapping, ritual and armed robbery. Religion which was invented to serve as a catalyst for grace and freedom have been elevated to a whole new level of craze in Nigeria. Rule of law has collapsed. Free speech and opinion is gagged.
We are sitting on a time bomb and our leadership has no answer. Our leadership is easily overwhelmed by the challenges of this country. The wrong set of people have been elevated to political leadership by the combination of luck and our collective docility. They lack vision and care not what will become of us. They are astonished by the developmental strides of countries they visit but are deficient in the ideas to replicate same back home.
But the biggest tragedy of our history remains the followership. We just believe we are good for nothing except mental slavery. We are easily tied with the garb of parties and we insult the hell out of ourselves and kill in many instances while the united rapists of our patrimony wine and dine and continue to play the fiddle in banquet halls while the system burns, and the nuts that held our system together continue to slack at rapid pace.
Our situation is terribly growing worse. With the way values are fast decaying and the intense rot in the system, galvanized by bad and egocentric leadership, the late Nigerian bestselling author, Chinua Achebe may have cause in his grave to re-echo his inimitable warning to us that, THERE WAS A COUNTRY.
©Franc Utoo, Esq

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